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9/3/2017
2 Kings 5-8
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The Healing of Naaman

2 Kings 5:1     Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. 2 Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. 5 And the king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”

     He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. 6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”

     8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.

     15 Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present from your servant.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing!” He urged him to accept, but he refused. 17 Then Naaman said, “If not, please let two mule-loads of earth be given to your servant; for your servant will no longer offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god except the Lord. 18 But may the Lord pardon your servant on one count: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow down in the house of Rimmon, when I do bow down in the house of Rimmon, may the Lord pardon yourservant on this one count.” 19 He said to him, “Go in peace.”

Gehazi’s Greed

     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.


The Miracle of the Ax Head

2 Kings 6:1     Now the company of prophets said to Elisha, “As you see, the place where we live under your charge is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan, and let us collect logs there, one for each of us, and build a place there for us to live.” He answered, “Do so.” 3 Then one of them said, “Please come with your servants.” And he answered, “I will.” 4 So he went with them. When they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was felling a log, his ax head fell into the water; he cried out, “Alas, master! It was borrowed.” 6 Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick, and threw it in there, and made the iron float. 7 He said, “Pick it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it.

The Aramean Attack Is Thwarted

     8 Once when the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he took counsel with his officers. He said, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” 9 But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Take care not to pass this place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 The king of Israel sent word to the place of which the man of God spoke. More than once or twice he warned such a place so that it was on the alert.

     11 The mind of the king of Aram was greatly perturbed because of this; he called his officers and said to them, “Now tell me who among us sides with the king of Israel?” 12 Then one of his officers said, “No one, my lord king. It is Elisha, the prophet in Israel, who tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber.” 13 He said, “Go and find where he is; I will send and seize him.” He was told, “He is in Dothan.” 14 So he sent horses and chariots there and a great army; they came by night, and surrounded the city.

     15 When an attendant of the man of God rose early in the Morning and went out, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. His servant said, “Alas, master! What shall we do?” 16 He replied, “Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed: “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 When the Arameans came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, please, with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked. 19 Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city; follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.

     20 As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men so that they may see.” The Lord opened their eyes, and they saw that they were inside Samaria. 21 When the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, “Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” 22 He answered, “No! Did you capture with your sword and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let them go to their master.” 23 So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.

Ben-hadad’s Siege of Samaria

     24 Some time later King Ben-hadad of Aram mustered his entire army; he marched against Samaria and laid siege to it. 25 As the siege continued, famine in Samaria became so great that a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and one-fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. 26 Now as the king of Israel was walking on the city wall, a woman cried out to him, “Help, my lord king!” 27 He said, “No! Let the Lord help you. How can I help you? From the threshing floor or from the wine press?” 28 But then the king asked her, “What is your complaint?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son; we will eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son and we will eat him.’ But she has hidden her son.” 30 When the king heard the words of the woman he tore his clothes—now since he was walking on the city wall, the people could see that he had sackcloth on his body underneath— 31 and he said, “So may God do to me, and more, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat stays on his shoulders today.” 32 So he dispatched a man from his presence.

     Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. Before the messenger arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “Are you aware that this murderer has sent someone to take off my head? When the messenger comes, see that you shut the door and hold it closed against him. Is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?” 33 While he was still speaking with them, the king came down to him and said, “This trouble is from the Lord! Why should I hope in the Lord any longer?” 2 Kings 7:1 But Elisha said, “Hear the word of the Lord: thus says the Lord, Tomorrow about this time a measure of choice meal shall be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.” 2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, “Even if the Lord were to make windows in the sky, could such a thing happen?” But he said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat from it.”

The Arameans Flee

     3 Now there were four leprous men outside the city gate, who said to one another, “Why should we sit here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘Let us enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there; but if we sit here, we shall also die. Therefore, let us desert to the Aramean camp; if they spare our lives, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.” 5 So they arose at twilight to go to the Aramean camp; but when they came to the edge of the Aramean camp, there was no one there at all. 6 For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the sound of chariots, and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “The king of Israel has hired the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to fight against us.” 7 So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys leaving the camp just as it was, and fled for their lives. 8 When these leprous men had come to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent, ate and drank, carried off silver, gold, and clothing, and went and hid them. Then they came back, entered another tent, carried off things from it, and went and hid them.

     9 Then they said to one another, “What we are doing is wrong. This is a day of good news; if we are silent and wait until the Morning light, we will be found guilty; therefore let us go and tell the king’s household.” 10 So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and told them, “We went to the Aramean camp, but there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied, the donkeys tied, and the tents as they were.” 11 Then the gatekeepers called out and proclaimed it to the king’s household. 12 The king got up in the night, and said to his servants, “I will tell you what the Arameans have prepared against us. They know that we are starving; so they have left the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking, ‘When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city.’ ” 13 One of his servants said, “Let some men take five of the remaining horses, since those left here will suffer the fate of the whole multitude of Israel that have perished already; let us send and find out.” 14 So they took two mounted men, and the king sent them after the Aramean army, saying, “Go and find out.” 15 So they went after them as far as the Jordan; the whole way was littered with garments and equipment that the Arameans had thrown away in their haste. So the messengers returned, and told the king.

     16 Then the people went out, and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a measure of choice meal was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord. 17 Now the king had appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate; the people trampled him to death in the gate, just as the man of God had said when the king came down to him. 18 For when the man of God had said to the king, “Two measures of barley shall be sold for a shekel, and a measure of choice meal for a shekel, about this time tomorrow in the gate of Samaria,” 19 the captain had answered the man of God, “Even if the Lord were to make windows in the sky, could such a thing happen?” And he had answered, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat from it.” 20 It did indeed happen to him; the people trampled him to death in the gate.


The Shunammite Woman’s Land Restored

2 Kings 8:1     Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Get up and go with your household, and settle wherever you can; for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come on the land for seven years.” 2 So the woman got up and did according to the word of the man of God; she went with her household and settled in the land of the Philistines seven years. 3 At the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she set out to appeal to the king for her house and her land. 4 Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.” 5 While he was telling the king how Elisha had restored a dead person to life, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. Gehazi said, “My lord king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” 6 When the king questioned the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the revenue of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”

Death of Ben-hadad

     7 Elisha went to Damascus while King Ben-hadad of Aram was ill. When it was told him, “The man of God has come here,” 8 the king said to Hazael, “Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God. Inquire of the Lord through him, whether I shall recover from this illness.” 9 So Hazael went to meet him, taking a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camel loads. When he entered and stood before him, he said, “Your son King Ben-hadad of Aram has sent me to you, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this illness?’ ” 10 Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover’; but the Lord has shown me that he shall certainly die.” 11 He fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was ashamed. Then the man of God wept. 12 Hazael asked, “Why does my lord weep?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel; you will set their fortresses on fire, you will kill their young men with the sword, dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their pregnant women.” 13 Hazael said, “What is your servant, who is a mere dog, that he should do this great thing?” Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you are to be king over Aram.” 14 Then he left Elisha, and went to his master Ben-hadad, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me that you would certainly recover.” 15 But the next day he took the bed-cover and dipped it in water and spread it over the king’s face, until he died. And Hazael succeeded him.

Jehoram Reigns over Judah (2 Chr 21:1–20)

     16 In the fifth year of King Joram son of Ahab of Israel, Jehoram son of King Jehoshaphat of Judah began to reign. 17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 18 He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 19 Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah, for the sake of his servant David, since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his descendants forever.

     20 In his days Edom revolted against the rule of Judah, and set up a king of their own. 21 Then Joram crossed over to Zair with all his chariots. He set out by night and attacked the Edomites and their chariot commanders who had surrounded him; but his army fled home. 22 So Edom has been in revolt against the rule of Judah to this day. Libnah also revolted at the same time. 23 Now the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? 24 So Joram slept with his ancestors, and was buried with them in the city of David; his son Ahaziah succeeded him.

Ahaziah Reigns over Judah (2 Chr 22:1–6)

     25 In the twelfth year of King Joram son of Ahab of Israel, Ahaziah son of King Jehoram of Judah began to reign. 26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri of Israel. 27 He also walked in the way of the house of Ahab, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was son-in-law to the house of Ahab.

     28 He went with Joram son of Ahab to wage war against King Hazael of Aram at Ramoth-gilead, where the Arameans wounded Joram. 29 King Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Arameans had inflicted on him at Ramah, when he fought against King Hazael of Aram. King Ahaziah son of Jehoram of Judah went down to see Joram son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was wounded.

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



What I'm Reading

Why Doesn’t God Reform People Rather Than Punish Them in Hell?

By J. Warner Wallace 8/31/2017

     Some struggle to understand how a loving God could create a place like Hell. Others, while understanding and accepting the relationship between mercy and justice, freedom and consequence, victory and punishment, still imagine a better way. If God is all-loving, why doesn’t He simply “reform” people rather than allow them to continue in their sin and eventually punish them in Hell? Even human prison systems understand the value of reform; isn’t a God who punishes his children in Hell a sadistic and vengeful God?

     We expect that a loving God would care enough about us to offer a chance to change rather than simply punish us vindictively for something we’ve done in the past. As it turns out, God (as he is described in the Bible) understands the difference between discipline and punishment, and He is incredibly patient with us, allowing us an entire lifetime to change our minds and reform our lives. This is easier to understand when we think carefully about the definitions of “discipline” and “punishment”:

     Discipline Looks Forward | All of us understand the occasional necessity of disciplining our children. When we discipline, we are motivated by love rather than vengeance. We hope to change the future behavior of our kids by nudging them in a new direction with a little discomfort. God also loves His children in this way and allows them the opportunity to reform under his discipline. This takes place during our mortal lifetime; God disciplines those He loves in this life because He is concerned with eternity. Discipline, by its very definition, is “forward-looking” and must therefore occur in this world with an eye toward our eternal destiny:

     Hebrews 12:9-11 | Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

     Punishment Looks Backward | There are times as a parent, however, when our loving efforts to discipline and reform are unsuccessful; our kids are sometimes rebellious to the point of exhaustion. In these times, our love requires us to deliver on our repeated warnings. Our loving sense of justice requires us to be firm, even when it hurts us to do so. Our other children are watching us as well, and our future acts of mercy will be meaningless if we fail to act justly on wrongdoing. In times like these, we have no alternative but to punish acts that have occurred in the past. Punishment need not be vindictive or vengeful. It is simply the sad but deserving consequence awaiting those who are unwilling to be reformed in this life.

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

The Work of the Cross

By Mike Robinson 7/19/2017

     And he [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

     He planted His cross in the midst of the mad and roaring current of selfishness, aggravated to malignity, and uttered from it the mighty cry of expiring love. And the waters heard Him, and from that moment they began to be refluent about His cross. From that moment, a current deeper and broader and mightier began to set heavenward; and it will continue to be deeper and broader and mightier till its glad waters shall encompass the earth, and toss themselves as the ocean. And not alone did earth hear the cry. It pierced the regions of immensity. Heaven heard it, and hell heard it, and the remotest star shall hear it, testifying to the love of God in His unspeakable gift, and to the supremacy of that blessedness of giving which could be reached only through death—the death of the cross (Mark Hopkins).

     Christ on the Cross was more saturated in fury and judgment than blood and sweat. Jesus was hounded and pounded more by God’s wrath in making propitiation than by crossbeam, nail, and mallet. Christ was crucified, killed, and executed; God’s holy justice flung on Jesus by what John Murray termed “The holy revulsion of God’s being against which is the contradiction of His holiness.” God’s wrath was stockpiled and then poured out on Jesus at the Cross. All the sin and wickedness reserved, as it added up and was stacked up, and then poured out on Jesus. Thus God’s judgment for our sin was put away. We deserved wrath and judgment, but God hurled it on Jesus in our place.

     Edwards mused, “And yet he is infinitely gracious and merciful. Though his justice be so strict with respect to all sin, and every breach of the law, yet he has grace sufficient for every sinner, and even the chief of sinners. And it is not only sufficient for the most unworthy to show them mercy, and bestow some good upon them, but to bestow the greatest good; yea, it is sufficient to bestow all good upon them, and to do all things for them. There is no benefit or blessing that they can receive, so great but the grace of Christ is sufficient to bestow it on the greatest sinner that ever lived. And not only so, but so great is his grace, that nothing is too much as the means of this good. It is sufficient not only to do great things, but also to suffer in order to do it, and not only to suffer, but to suffer most extremely even unto death, the most terrible of natural evils; and not only death, but the most ignominious and tormenting, and every way the most terrible that men could inflict; yea, and greater sufferings than men could inflict, who could only torment the body. He had sufferings in his soul, that were the more immediate fruits of the wrath of God against the sins of those he undertakes for” (Jonathan Edwards). Jesus died to expiate our sins and propitiate the wrath of God. Thank you Lord!

     The consequence of the Cross is forgiveness. The Cross is the remedy for the infection of sin. Jesus hung on the Cross to remove sin and rinse the sin syndrome from our soul inasmuch as the blood of Christ paid the debt, propitiated wrath, and rinsed believers clean.

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     CAA author Mike A. Robinson utilizes recent research in Christian apologetics, philosophy, and biblical truth as he provides books that make an impact on average people. These high-impact works train you to evangelize atheists, cult members, false religionists and agnostics. The deep intellectual truths that modern and ancient Christian scholars and philosophers have produced are formatted in simple and easy-to-follow steps. This fresh approach makes it real and assists you to be an effective witness in your personal evangelism to the followers of Richard Dawkins, Joseph Smith, the Watchtower, Buddha, Islam, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, other anti-theists and cultists.

Mike Robinson Books:

The Absence of Contradictory Evidence for Moses and the Exodus

By Mike Robinson 6/15/2017

     Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen (Exodus 14:21-23).

     "It must be initially stated that Moses was in a position to write the Pentateuch. He was educated in the royal court of Egypt, which was highly advanced academically. He had firsthand knowledge of the geography of Egypt and the Sinai, with plenty of time—forty years in wandering and forty more years beyond that—to compose his work. At the same time that Moses lived, there were uneducated slaves working in the Egyptian turquoise mines writing on the walls, thus demonstrating the extent of writing in Moses’ day (Josh McDowell)."

     There is no archaeological evidence that controverts the historicity of the Exodus. Many more excavations of the Sinai need to be completed—uncovering items and textual evidence concealed by sand for 3,000 years is a formidable endeavor.

     "If you remember that the sufficiency of Scripture is a sufficiency of divine words, that will help us to understand the role of extrabiblical data, both in ethics and theology. People sometimes misunderstand the doctrine of sufficiency by thinking that it excludes the use of any extrabiblical information… (John Frame)."

     Christianity Today offered compelling evidence for the events surrounding the story of the Exodus: “While … most skeptical scholars agree that the Israelites were in Canaan by the year 1208 B.C. This date was set a century ago with the discovery of the Merneptah Stele. This seven-foot high, black granite stone contains a victory hymn of Pharaoh Merneptah, which proclaims, ‘The Canaan is plundered with every hardship … and … Israel is laid waste, his seed is no more.’ Not surprisingly, the minimalists downplay its significance, claiming it simply refers to an insignificant early nomadic tribe—a proto-Israel, if you will. But the undeniable fact is that a pharaoh considered Israel's defeat worth inscribing on stone, and that a people called Israel lived in Canaan by that time. Just as fascinating are pictorial carvings on a temple wall in Luxor, Egypt, which Egyptologist Frank Yurco believes depict the destruction of Ashkelon, Gezer, Yano'am, and the Israelites mentioned in the Merneptah Stele.” Even though tons of sand and time are in the way, fascinating evidence has been unearthed concerning the Exodus out of Egypt.

Click here to read all of the article

     CAA author Mike A. Robinson utilizes recent research in Christian apologetics, philosophy, and biblical truth as he provides books that make an impact on average people. These high-impact works train you to evangelize atheists, cult members, false religionists and agnostics. The deep intellectual truths that modern and ancient Christian scholars and philosophers have produced are formatted in simple and easy-to-follow steps. This fresh approach makes it real and assists you to be an effective witness in your personal evangelism to the followers of Richard Dawkins, Joseph Smith, the Watchtower, Buddha, Islam, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, other anti-theists and cultists.

Mike Robinson Books:

Calvin On Christ's Cry Of Abandon

By Steven Wedgeworth 7/31/2017

     Pastor Tim Keller has posted a follow-up to the ideas and concepts that Mark Jones highlighted a few days ago concerning Christ’s cry of abandon from the cross. There’s a lot that could be said, but so far it’s simply worth nothing that it is a very good conversation that opens up lots of avenues for further discussion. In his most recent post, Pastor Keller cites Calvin for explanation and context, and he embraces many important distinctions. As I was reading along, I decided to cross-reference Calvin and ended up going down a fun sort of rabbit hole. As it turns out, Calvin wrote quite a lot on this particular topic. It’s fascinating. Calvin treats the whole matter with biblical integrity and careful attention to dogmatic theology, and the whole excursion serves a sort of theological education.

     In what follows, I would like to give this all more exposure. I will list Calvin’s most significant statements on Christ’s cry of despair on the Cross and give a brief commentary on each, noticing his comment affirmations, denials, and emphases. I may not have found every relevant passage in Calvin’s writings, but I have tried to catalog the major ones. If readers find others, they may feel free to pass them along.

     1538 Catechism Of The Church Of Geneva

     John Hesselink has published an edition of the catechism Calvin wrote in 1538. This was a summary form of the first edition of his Institutes, and it served as the city confession of faith for a time. It can now be found in Hesselink’s Calvin’s First Catechism: A Commentary (Louisville: WJK, 1997). The 20th chapter of that catechism explains the Apostles’ Creed, a creed which Calvin says “contains nothing merely human but has been assembled from very sure testimonies of Scripture.” When Calvin gets to the part of the creed that says Christ “descended into hell,” he makes these remarks:

     It is said that he descended into hell. This means that he had been afflicted by God, and felt the dread and severity of divine judgment, in order to intercede with God’s wrath and make satisfaction to his justice in our name, thus paying our debts and lifting our penalties, not for his own iniquity (which never existed) but for ours.

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     Steven Wedgeworth, can't find any bio info.

6 Misconceptions About the New Testament

By Leah Baugh 7/31/2017

     1. The Gospels give contradictory accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. | Ask any detective or journalist and they will tell you that eyewitness accounts of the same event are never exactly alike. We have an overwhelming amount of redundancy between the four Gospels, more overlap than dissimilarity. When there are differences, they are minor and do not significantly change the basic account. If anything, it would be more suspicious if everyone told exactly the same details, as if they had collaborated beforehand to get their story straight.

     2. Paul and Jesus teach different things. | People argue that since the Gospels are full of Jesus’ teachings on the kingdom of God while Paul’s focus seems to be on justification, Paul must be teaching something Jesus never taught nor intended to teach. Revelation throughout the Bible unfolds in an organic step-by-step way, rather than all at once. Christ inaugurated what the apostles built upon through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, a concept may be present despite the lack of specific vocabulary naming the concept. Christ clearly indicated that salvation could only come through him (Jn. 3:16-17Jn. 14:6) despite never using the word “justification.” Likewise, Paul also taught that Christians who trust in Christ have an eternal inheritance, are called sons of God, and will be resurrected when Christ returns. All these things are elements of the kingdom Christ also taught.

     3. James and Paul teach two different salvations. | Throughout his epistles, Paul emphasizes over and over again justification by faith alone. This is especially clear in Romans and Galatians. The book of James would seem to teach a contradictory salvation of faith plus works (Jm. 2:14-17). However, the book of James never denies faith is necessary for salvation. Its focus on works is to show that live faith, like a live tree, blossoms and bears fruit. Faith that is dead does not bear good fruit and so proves itself to be worthless. This is not denying justification by faith but simply showing that justification and sanctification are connected, albeit in a strict order. Justification always comes first as an act of God while sanctification comes afterward as an ongoing work of God.

     4. Christianity is a primitive religion that the apostles made up to fit the needs of the community. | The argument goes that Christianity is no longer suited to the modern world, that the apostles supposedly edited, adapted, and transformed Jesus to fit the needs of their community. However, this is very unlikely. The apostles wrote their Gospels not long after Jesus ascended and at a time when there were still many people alive who had known Jesus, been healed by Jesus, and heard Jesus’ teachings. Luke mentions Cleopas (Lk. 24) as someone who can confirm that Luke was reporting truthfully. If anyone had doubts that the apostles were changing Jesus’ teachings, they could have gone to plenty of people and compared the two. It is highly unlikely the apostles would have changed Jesus’ theology while there were still people who could say they were lying.

     5. The Bible must have errors because of all the variants among the manuscripts. | The similarities between the core teachings of the New Testament manuscripts far outweigh the dissimilarities. Additionally, the differences are so minor that they do not change the meaning of the theology in any significant ways. This is remarkable given the fact that manuscripts were tediously copied by hand. For instance, many of the variations are copying mistakes that leave out a word like “and” or “but” or mix up the order of two words like “Jesus Christ” copied to “Christ Jesus.”

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     Leah Baugh grew up in Southern California where she rode horses and helped out with the family garden. She studied chemistry in college before turning to theology and receiving a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. She enjoys traveling, making soap, playing music, writing fiction, and spending time with friends. Her greatest desire is that people from all nations would come to know Jesus and grow in their understanding of his Word.

The Doctrine of Perseverance The Earnest Pursuit of Assurance

By John Piper 4/17/1988

     Suppose that you are a gymnast. You’re doing a floor exercise in competition and have made a good beginning. You are in the middle of your routine and suddenly find a strange weariness coming over you. You start to get a little wobbly in your arms and legs.

     You set yourself up for a series of back handsprings that is supposed to come to a climax in a double back flip with a full twist. As you turn and begin your handsprings, the weakness causes a terrible uncertainty to come into your mind. You hit your last handspring to try to get the height you need for the double back flip. Your elbows buckle very slightly. And as you leave the ground the strangest thing happens. Everything goes into slow motion. You seem to be moving just an inch per second. And as you ascend and begin to tuck, you hear a voice from the side of the mat. And you recognize it as the voice of your coach.

     What I am picturing here is the church of the Hebrews to whom this letter was written. They are the gymnast in this picture, and the writer of Hebrews is their coach. As he writes today’s text he is catching them in midair. If they can hear him and respond, they will land on their feet, complete the routine, and perhaps get a good score, say, 8.5 or 9.1. But if they don’t hear him, their uncertainty and weariness may cause them to give out half way through the flip, come down on their head, and break their neck. The text might also be catching you in midair this morning. If so, I hope you listen carefully to the coach so that you land on your feet and finish the life of faith and obedience God has called you to.

     The Progress and Problem of the Church in Hebrews | Let me show you where I get this idea of his catching them in midair. Consider, first of all, Hebrews 6:10: “God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake [lit., in his name] in serving the saints, as you still do.

     Now, from that verse, it looks as though this church is doing all right, doesn’t it? They have done works of love, they have done them in the name of God — that is, in reliance on him and for his glory — they have served the saints, and still are serving them. This is why I said the gymnastic routine of their life had a good beginning and even going into this handspring looks like about a 9.1. Only the sharpest judges and a good coach can detect the problem at this point. What problem?

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John Piper Books:

“Super Hanc Petram”: Matt. 16.18 In Hilary Of Poitiers

By E.J. Hutchinson 7/21/2017

     It is well known (at least, I think it is) that a prominent strand of the exegesis of Matt. 16.18 (“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” ESV) makes the “rock” not Peter himself, nor the apostles in general, nor even the apostolic office as such, but rather Peter’s confession of faith (“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” v. 16). It is found, for example, in John Chrysostom. It is also found in Hilary of Poitier’s On the Trinity.

     Thus in On the Trinity 6.36 Hilary, in an argument that Christ is the Son of God by nature and not by adoption, writes: 1

     "A belief that the Son of God is Son in name only and not in nature, is not the faith of the Gospels and of the Apostles. If this be a mere title, to which adoption is His only claim; if He be not the Son in virtue of having proceeded forth from God, whence, I ask, was it that the blessed Simon Bar-Jona confessed to Him, You are the Christ, the Son of the living GodMatthew 16:16? Because He shared with all mankind the power of being born as one of the sons of God through the sacrament of regeneration? If Christ be the Son of God only in this titular way, what was the revelation made to Peter, not by flesh and blood, but by the Father in heaven? What praise could he deserve for making a declaration which was universally applicable? What credit was due to Him for stating a fact of general knowledge? If He be Son by adoption, wherein lay the blessedness of Peter’s confession, which offered a tribute to the Son to which, in that case, He had no more title than any member of the company of saints? The Apostle’s faith penetrates into a region closed to human reasoning. He had, no doubt, often heard, He that receives you receives Me, and He that receives Me receives Him that sent Me. Matthew 10:40 Hence he knew well that Christ had been sent; he had heard Him, Whom he knew to have been sent, making the declaration, All things are delivered unto Me of the Father, and no one knows the Son but the Father, neither knows any one the Father save the Son. What then is this truth, which the Father now reveals to Peter, which receives the praise of a blessed confession? It cannot have been that the names of ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ were novel to him; he had heard them often. Yet he speaks words which the tongue of man had never framed before:— You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. For though Christ, while dwelling in the body, had avowed Himself to be the Son of God, yet now for the first time the Apostle’s faith had recognised in Him the presence of the Divine nature. Peter is praised not merely for his tribute of adoration, but for his recognition of the mysterious truth; for confessing not Christ only, but Christ the Son of God. It would clearly have sufficed for a payment of reverence, had he said, You are the Christ, and nothing more. But it would have been a hollow confession, had Peter only hailed Him as Christ, without confessing Him the Son of God.And so his words You are declare that what is asserted of Him is strictly and exactly true to His nature. Next, the Father’s utterance, This is My Son, had revealed to Peter that he must confess You are the Son of God, for in the words This is, God the Revealer points Him out, and the response, You are, is the believer’s welcome to the truth. And this is the rock of confession whereon the Church is built. But the perceptive faculties of flesh and blood cannot attain to the recognition and confession of this truth. It is a mystery, Divinely revealed, that Christ must be not only named, but believed, the Son of God. Was it only the Divine name; was it not rather the Divine nature that was revealed to Peter? If it were the name, he had heard it often from the Lord, proclaiming Himself the Son of God. What honour, then, did he deserve for announcing the name? No; it was not the name; it was the nature, for the name had been repeatedly proclaimed."

     On what foundation is the church, for Hilary, built? On the foundation the confession of the revealed mystery that Christ the Savior is truly God, not by participation or by adoption, but by nature. This truth is revealed by God; it is believed on in the heart and confessed with the mouth by man–and thus there is a church.

     1 I was directed to this passage by E.P. Meijering, Melanchthon and Patristic Thought: The Doctrines of Christ and Grace, the Trinity and the Creation, p. 90; Melanchthon refers to this passage in De potestate Papae (CR 3, col. 277).

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     E. J. Hutchinson | Associate Professor of Classics, Hillsdale College. Director, Collegiate Scholars Program (formerly Honors Program), Hillsdale College | 33 East College Street | Kendall 211 | Hillsdale, MI 49242

     Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA. Ph.D., Classics, 2009. | Dissertation: “Quid facit cum evangeliis Maro?: The Cultural Background of Sedulius' Intertextual Argument with Vergil in the Paschale carmen.”

     Affiliated Fellow, American Academy in Rome, 2005-2006, Classical Summer School, American Academy in Rome, 2004, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA. M.A., Classics, 2004, Thesis: “Exegesis and Exclusion: Concepts of Lex in the Apotheosis of Prudentius.”

     Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI. B.A. summa cum laude, Classics (Departmental Honors), 2002.




  • A Broken Hallelujah
  • Evangelism: Dirty Word?
  • Faith Found

#1 Don Mews  
Atlantic School of Theology


 

#2 Karen Pitt   
Atlantic School of Theology


 

#3 Vivien Hannon   
Atlantic School of Theology


 


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.” This is how the Treaty of Paris began, which ended the eight-year long American Revolutionary War. The Treaty continued: “It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the heart of… Prince George the Third… to forget all past misunderstandings… between the two countries…” The Treaty was signed this day by the American leaders Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, the second President, and John Jay, the first Chief Justice, and ends with the phrase: “Done at Paris, this third day of September in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


It takes a world with trouble in it
to train people for their high calling
as children of God
and to carve on the soul
the profile of Christ.
--- James S. Stewart


One's own religion is after all
a matter between oneself and one's Maker
and no one else's.
--- Mohandas Gandhi


Night is a time of rigor,
but also of mercy.
There are truths which one can see only when it’s dark.
--- Isaac Bashevis Singer  Teibele and her demon

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 4.

     The Idumeans Being Sent For By The Zealots, Came Immediately To Jerusalem; And When They Were Excluded Out Of The City, They Lay All Night There. Jesus One Of The High Priests Makes A Speech To Them; And Simon The Idumean Makes A Reply To It.

     1. Now, by this crafty speech, John made the zealots afraid; yet durst he not directly name what foreign assistance he meant, but in a covert way only intimated at the Idumeans. But now, that he might particularly irritate the leaders of the zealots, he calumniated Ananus, that he was about a piece of barbarity, and did in a special manner threaten them. These leaders were Eleazar, the son of Simon, who seemed the most plausible man of them all, both in considering what was fit to be done, and in the execution of what he had determined upon, and Zacharias, the son of Phalek; both of whom derived their families from the priests. Now when these two men had heard, not only the common threatenings which belonged to them all, but those peculiarly leveled against themselves; and besides, how Artanus and his party, in order to secure their own dominion, had invited the Romans to come to them, for that also was part of John's lie; they hesitated a great while what they should do, considering the shortness of the time by which they were straitened; because the people were prepared to attack them very soon, and because the suddenness of the plot laid against them had almost cut off all their hopes of getting any foreign assistance; for they might be under the height of their afflictions before any of their confederates could be informed of it. However, it was resolved to call in the Idumeans; so they wrote a short letter to this effect: That Ananus had imposed on the people, and was betraying their metropolis to the Romans; that they themselves had revolted from the rest, and were in custody in the temple, on account of the preservation of their liberty; that there was but a small time left wherein they might hope for their deliverance; and that unless they would come immediately to their assistance, they should themselves be soon in the power of Artanus, and the city would be in the power of the Romans. They also charged the messengers to tell many more circumstances to the rulers of the Idumeans. Now there were two active men proposed for the carrying this message, and such as were able to speak, and to persuade them that things were in this posture, and, what was a qualification still more necessary than the former, they were very swift of foot; for they knew well enough that these would immediately comply with their desires, as being ever a tumultuous and disorderly nation, always on the watch upon every motion, delighting in mutations; and upon your flattering them ever so little, and petitioning them, they soon take their arms, and put themselves into motion, and make haste to a battle, as if it were to a feast. There was indeed occasion for quick despatch in the carrying of this message, in which point the messengers were no way defective. Both their names were Ananias; and they soon came to the rulers of the Idumeans.

     2. Now these rulers were greatly surprised at the contents of the letter, and at what those that came with it further told them; whereupon they ran about the nation like madmen, and made proclamation that the people should come to war; so a multitude was suddenly got together, sooner indeed than the time appointed in the proclamation, and every body caught up their arms, in order to maintain the liberty of their metropolis; and twenty thousand of them were put into battle-array, and came to Jerusalem, under four commanders, John, and Jacob the son of Sosas; and besides these were Simon, the son of Cathlas, and Phineas, the son of Clusothus.

     3. Now this exit of the messengers was not known either to Ananus or to the guards, but the approach of the Idumeans was known to him; for as he knew of it before they came, he ordered the gates to be shut against them, and that the walls should be guarded. Yet did not he by any means think of fighting against them, but, before they came to blows, to try what persuasions would do. Accordingly, Jesus, the eldest of the high priests next to Artanus, stood upon the tower that was over against them, and said thus: "Many troubles indeed, and those of various kinds, have fallen upon this city, yet in none of them have I so much wondered at her fortune as now, when you are come to assist wicked men, and this after a manner very extraordinary; for I see that you are come to support the vilest of men against us, and this with so great alacrity, as you could hardly put on the like, in case our metropolis had called you to her assistance against barbarians. And if I had perceived that your army was composed of men like unto those who invited them, I had not deemed your attempt so absurd; for nothing does so much cement the minds of men together as the alliance there is between their manners. But now for these men who have invited you, if you were to examine them one by one, every one of them would be found to have deserved ten thousand deaths; for the very rascality and offscouring of the whole country, who have spent in debauchery their own substance, and, by way of trial beforehand, have madly plundered the neighboring villages and cities, in the upshot of all, have privately run together into this holy city. They are robbers, who by their prodigious wickedness have profaned this most sacred floor, and who are to be now seen drinking themselves drunk in the sanctuary, and expending the spoils of those whom they have slaughtered upon their unsatiable bellies. As for the multitude that is with you, one may see them so decently adorned in their armor, as it would become them to be had their metropolis called them to her assistance against foreigners. What can a man call this procedure of yours but the sport of fortune, when he sees a whole nation coming to protect a sink of wicked wretches? I have for a good while been in doubt what it could possibly be that should move you to do this so suddenly; because certainly you would not take on your armor on the behalf of robbers, and against a people of kin to you, without some very great cause for your so doing. But we have an item that the Romans are pretended, and that we are supposed to be going to betray this city to them; for some of your men have lately made a clamor about those matters, and have said they are come to set their metropolis free. Now we cannot but admire at these wretches in their devising such a lie as this against us; for they knew there was no other way to irritate against us men that were naturally desirous of liberty, and on that account the best disposed to fight against foreign enemies, but by framing a tale as if we were going to betray that most desirable thing, liberty. But you ought to consider what sort of people they are that raise this calumny, and against what sort of people that calumny is raised, and to gather the truth of things, not by fictitious speeches, but out of the actions of both parties; for what occasion is there for us to sell ourselves to the Romans, while it was in our power not to have revolted from them at the first, or when we had once revolted, to have returned under their dominion again, and this while the neighboring countries were not yet laid waste? whereas it is not an easy thing to be reconciled to the Romans, if we were desirous of it, now they have subdued Galilee, and are thereby become proud and insolent; and to endeavor to please them at the time when they are so near us, would bring such a reproach upon us as were worse than death. As for myself, indeed, I should have preferred peace with them before death; but now we have once made war upon them, and fought with them, I prefer death, with reputation, before living in captivity under them. But further, whether do they pretend that we, who are the rulers of the people, have sent thus privately to the Romans, or hath it been done by the common suffrages of the people? If it be ourselves only that have done it, let them name those friends of ours that have been sent, as our servants, to manage this treachery. Hath any one been caught as he went out on this errand, or seized upon as he came back? Are they in possession of our letters? How could we be concealed from such a vast number of our fellow citizens, among whom we are conversant every hour, while what is done privately in the country is, it seems, known by the zealots, who are but few in number, and under confinement also, and are not able to come out of the temple into the city. Is this the first time that they are become sensible how they ought to be punished for their insolent actions? For while these men were free from the fear they are now under, there was no suspicion raised that any of us were traitors. But if they lay this charge against the people, this must have been done at a public consultation, and not one of the people must have dissented from the rest of the assembly; in which case the public fame of this matter would have come to you sooner than any particular indication. But how could that be? Must there not then have been ambassadors sent to confirm the agreements? And let them tell us who this ambassador was that was ordained for that purpose. But this is no other than a pretense of such men as are loath to die, and are laboring to escape those punishments that hang over them; for if fate had determined that this city was to be betrayed into its enemies' hands, no other than these men that accuse us falsely could have the impudence to do it, there being no wickedness wanting to complete their impudent practices but this only, that they become traitors. And now you Idumeans are come hither already with your arms, it is your duty, in the first place, to be assisting to your metropolis, and to join with us in cutting off those tyrants that have infringed the rules of our regular tribunals, that have trampled upon our laws, and made their swords the arbitrators of right and wrong; for they have seized upon men of great eminence, and under no accusation, as they stood in the midst of the market-place, and tortured them with putting them into bonds, and, without bearing to hear what they had to say, or what supplications they made, they destroyed them. You may, if you please, come into the city, though not in the way of war, and take a view of the marks still remaining of what I now say, and may see the houses that have been depopulated by their rapacious hands, with those wives and families that are in black, mourning for their slaughtered relations; as also you may hear their groans and lamentations all the city over; for there is nobody but hath tasted of the incursions of these profane wretches, who have proceeded to that degree of madness, as not only to have transferred their impudent robberies out of the country, and the remote cities, into this city, the very face and head of the whole nation, but out of the city into the temple also; for that is now made their receptacle and refuge, and the fountain-head whence their preparations are made against us. And this place, which is adored by the habitable world, and honored by such as only know it by report, as far as the ends of the earth, is trampled upon by these wild beasts born among ourselves. They now triumph in the desperate condition they are already in, when they hear that one people is going to fight against another people, and one city against another city, and that your nation hath gotten an army together against its own bowels. Instead of which procedure, it were highly fit and reasonable, as I said before, for you to join with us in cutting off these wretches, and in particular to be revenged on them for putting this very cheat upon you; I mean, for having the impudence to invite you to assist them, of whom they ought to have stood in fear, as ready to punish them. But if you have some regard to these men's invitation of you, yet may you lay aside your arms, and come into the city under the notion of our kindred, and take upon you a middle name between that of auxiliaries and of enemies, and so become judges in this case. However, consider what these men will gain by being called into judgment before you, for such undeniable and such flagrant crimes, who would not vouchsafe to hear such as had no accusations laid against them to speak a word for themselves. However, let them gain this advantage by your coming. But still, if you will neither take our part in that indignation we have at these men, nor judge between us, the third thing I have to propose is this, that you let us both alone, and neither insult upon our calamities, nor abide with these plotters against their metropolis; for though you should have ever so great a suspicion that some of us have discoursed with the Romans, it is in your power to watch the passages into the city; and in case any thing that we have been accused of is brought to light, then to come and defend your metropolis, and to inflict punishment on those that are found guilty; for the enemy cannot prevent you who are so near to the city. But if, after all, none of these proposals seem acceptable and moderate, do not you wonder that the gates are shut against you, while you bear your arms about you."

     The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 24:5-6
     by D.H. Stern

5     A wise man is strong;
     yes, a man of knowledge grows in strength.
6     For with clever strategy you wage your war,
     and victory comes from having many advisers.

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


                The waters of satisfaction scattered

     … nevertheless he would not drink thereof but poured it out unto the Lord. --- 2 Samuel 23:16.

     What has been like water from the well of Bethlehem to you recently—love, friendship, spiritual blessing? Then at the peril of your soul, you take it to satisfy yourself. If you do, you cannot pour it out before the Lord. You can never sanctify to God that with which you long to satisfy yourself. If you satisfy yourself with a blessing from God, it will corrupt you; you must sacrifice it, pour it out, do with it what common sense says is an absurd waste.

     How am I to pour out unto the Lord natural love or spiritual blessing? In one way only—in the determination of my mind. There are certain acts of other people which one could never accept if one did not know God, because it is not within human power to repay them. But immediately I say—‘This is too great and worthy for me, it is not meant for a human being at all, I must pour it out unto the Lord’; then these things pour out in rivers of living water all around. Until I do pour these things out before the Lord, they endanger those I love as well as myself because they will turn to lust. We can be lustful in things which are not sordid and vile. Love has to get to its transfiguration point of being poured out unto the Lord.

     If you have become bitter and sour, it is because when God gave you a blessing you clutched it for yourself; whereas if you had poured it out unto the Lord, you would have been the sweetest person out of heaven. If you are always taking blessings to yourself and never learn to pour out anything unto the Lord, other people do not get their horizon enlarged through you.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

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


                The Journey (Poetry for Supper)

And if you go up that way, you will meet with
     a man,
Leading a horse, whose eyes declare:
There is no God. Take no notice.
There will be other roads and other men
With the same creed, whose lips yet utter
Friendlier greeting, men who have learned
To pack a little of the sun's light
In their cold eyes, whose hands are waiting
For your hand. But do not linger.
A smile is payment; the road runs on
With many turnings towards the tall
Tree to which the believer is nailed.


Selected poems, 1946-1968

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     D’RASH


     We have been taught “It is better to give than to receive.” This chapter of Midrash seems to put a new spin on this axiom: One who gives also receives. If we return to the example of Moses and the elders, we realize that if Moses had not acted as the intermediary for the elders, God would have had no reason to visit Moses. Thus, not only was Moses not diminished by the experience; he actually benefited from it. By helping the elders, not only was his “candle” not diminished, but its life was actually extended by contact with the divine.

     We can compare the Midrash’s example to the experience of helping a less fortunate person. It may be better to give than to receive in a philosophical sense, but giving often also enhances the giver. By visiting a shut-in, helping a homeless person, or befriending an outcast of society, we rekindle the flickering spirit—not only in the other’s soul but in our own as well. The other is enriched, while we are not diminished.

     If we return to the biblical story of Moses and the elders, we remember that the original impetus for God’s empowering seventy elders was a threat to Moses’ leadership. By “lighting a fire” in these elders, Moses actually helped his own cause. When we are enthusiastic, others join us. When we care, others benefit. But more often than not, the real beneficiary is the one who gives, for kindling a flame in another is often the surest method of keeping the flame alive in ourselves.

     ANOTHER D’RASH / There’s a Yiddish proverb that tells us, “If it didn’t cost money to give to tzedakah (charity), the world would be filled with tzadikim (righteous people).” But it does cost money to give to tzedakah. And for most people, material resources are limited. Even if we are moved to give, we lack the means to do all that needs to be done.

     It’s nice to think we can kindle another flame and lose nothing of our own fire. But most giving isn’t about sharing an endless resource; it’s about transferring a limited blessing from one person to another. As long as we’re speaking in fire metaphors, let’s not forget the name that contemporary society gives to what happens when you give too much of yourself: burnout.

     How do we reconcile these two very different perspectives on giving? Perhaps it is as simple as recognizing that there are two very different kinds of giving. Eliasaph son of Deuel gave a gift of two hundred shekels worth of silver in the form of a bowl and a basin, a material possession, transferred from the tribe of Gad to the Tabernacle. Moses gave a gift of his experience, his wisdom, and his spirit to the seventy elders, a spiritual possession, shared with the seventy, and at the same time, maintained by Moses.

     Perhaps the Yiddish proverb is to remind us of the reality of the material world in which we live. And perhaps the Midrashic proverb is to remind us of the possibility of the spiritual world we might also inhabit.


Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     September 3

     In my Father’s house are many rooms. --- John 14:2.

     The disciples seemed sorrowful at the news of Christ’s going away, but Christ comforts them that in his Father’s house where he was going there was room for them too. (Selected RS Thomas of Jonathan Edwards ) When the disciples perceived that Christ was going away, they expressed a desire to go with him. Peter asked him where he went, that he might follow. Christ told him that he could not follow him now, but that he would follow him afterwards. But Peter said, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?”
(John 13:37). Christ signifies that he was going home to his Father’s house, and he encourages the disciples that they will be with him there in due time, in that there was a room provided not only for them, but for all that would ever believe in him to the end of the world, and though he went before, he only went to prepare a place for those who would follow.

     Yes, there is room in this house of God for great numbers, for all people who are or ever will be: “Sir,… what you ordered has been done, but there is still room”
(Luke 14:22).

      It is not with the heavenly temple as it often is with houses of public worship in this world, that they fill up and become too small and scanty for those that would meet in them, so that there is not convenient room for all. The disciples demonstrated a great desire to be where Christ was, and Christ therefore, to encourage them that it would be as they desired, tells them that in his Father’s house where he was going were many rooms, that is, room enough for them.

     There is mercy enough in God to admit an innumerable multitude into heaven. There is mercy enough for all, and there is merit enough in Christ to purchase heavenly happiness for millions of millions, for all the human race that ever were, are, or will be. And there is a sufficiency in the fountain of heaven’s happiness to supply and fill and satisfy all, and there is in all respects enough for the happiness of all.
--- Jonathan Edwards


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

On This Day
     Gregory the Great  September 3

     None of us are all good, and few of us are all bad. We often struggle with decisions, sometimes finding our well-intended efforts producing unfortunate results. Thus with Gregory. Born in Rome about 500 years after Christ, his family provided wealth and rank, and he became mayor of Rome at 33. After his father’s death, Gregory gave his inheritance to the church and the poor, turned his mansion into a monastery, and became a monk.

     He was consecrated as Pope Gregory I on September 3, 590, and did much good. He had been burdened for the evangelization of England since seeing blond, blue-eyed British boys being sold in the Roman slave markets. “They are Anglos,” he reportedly said. “Let them become angels.” He sent Augustin to evangelize the British Isles.

     Gregory also appointed wise and competent men as church leaders, and he fought apostasy. He encouraged the Visigoths to turn from heresy to orthodox doctrine. He wrote evangelistic tracts to barbarian tribes, and upheld biblical morality. He prepared a training manual for clergy. He wrote liturgy and popularized the Gregorian chant.

     But Gregory also established the dogmas of purgatory and the Mass. He encouraged the worship of relics (the remains of deceased Christians), and popularized unlikely legends about the saints. He glorified the past and held tradition equal with Scripture. He drew wild, allegorical lessons from the pages of the Bible. And he claimed universal jurisdiction over Christendom.

     With Western Europe in chaos and the Roman Empire shattered, Gregory assumed broad civil control. He ruled most of Italy. He raised an army and defeated the Lombards. He negotiated treaties to avoid Rome’s destruction. He ransomed captured individuals. He collected taxes and supplied food and services to the poor. He, in effect, turned the church into the state.

     In so doing, Gregory became the father of the medieval papacy—with all the good and bad that that entailed.

     Jesus answered, “My kingdom doesn’t belong to this world. … I was born into this world to tell about the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth knows my voice.”
--- John 18:36,37b.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - September 3

     “Thou whom my soul loveth.” --- Song of Solomon 1:7.

     It is well to be able, without any “if” or “but,” to say of the Lord Jesus—“Thou whom my soul loveth.” Many can only say of Jesus that they hope they love him; they trust they love him; but only a poor and shallow experience will be content to stay here. No one ought to give any rest to his spirit till he feels quite sure about a matter of such vital importance. We ought not to be satisfied with a superficial hope that Jesus loves us, and with a bare trust that we love him. The old saints did not generally speak with “buts,” and “ifs,” and “hopes,” and “trusts,” but they spoke positively and plainly. “I know whom I have believed,” saith Paul. “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” saith Job. Get positive knowledge of your love of Jesus, and be not satisfied till you can speak of your interest in him as a reality, which you have made sure by having received the witness of the Holy Spirit, and his seal upon your soul by faith.

     True love to Christ is in every case the Holy Spirit’s work, and must be wrought in the heart by him. He is the efficient cause of it; but the logical reason why we love Jesus lies in himself. Why do we love Jesus? Because he first loved us. Why do we love Jesus? Because he “gave himself for us.” We have life through his death; we have peace through his blood. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor. Why do we love Jesus? Because of the excellency of his person. We are filled with a sense of his beauty! an admiration of his charms! a consciousness of his infinite perfection! His greatness, goodness, and loveliness, in one resplendent ray, combine to enchant the soul till it is so ravished that it exclaims, “Yea, he is altogether lovely.” Blessed love this—a love which binds the heart with chains more soft than silk, and yet more firm than adamant!


          Evening - September 3

     "The Lord trieth the righteous.”
--- Psalm 11:5.

     All events are under the control of Providence; consequently all the trials of our outward life are traceable at once to the great First Cause. Out of the golden gate of God’s ordinance the armies of trial march forth in array, clad in their iron armour, and armed with weapons of war. All providences are doors to trial. Even our mercies, like roses, have their thorns. Men may be drowned in seas of prosperity as well as in rivers of affliction. Our mountains are not too high, and our valleys are not too low for temptations: trials lurk on all roads. Everywhere, above and beneath, we are beset and surrounded with dangers. Yet no shower falls unpermitted from the threatening cloud; every drop has its order ere it hastens to the earth. The trials which come from God are sent to prove and strengthen our graces, and so at once to illustrate the power of divine grace, to test the genuineness of our virtues, and to add to their energy. Our Lord in his infinite wisdom and superabundant love, sets so high a value upon his people’s faith that he will not screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened. You would never have possessed the precious faith which now supports you if the trial of your faith had not been like unto fire. You are a tree that never would have rooted so well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro, and made you take firm hold upon the precious truths of the covenant grace. Worldly ease is a great foe to faith; it loosens the joints of holy valour, and snaps the sinews of sacred courage. The balloon never rises until the cords are cut; affliction doth this sharp service for believing souls. While the wheat sleeps comfortably in the husk it is useless to man, it must be threshed out of its resting place before its value can be known. Thus it is well that Jehovah trieth the righteous, for it causeth them to grow rich towards God.

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

Amazing Grace
     September 3

          GLORIOUS THINGS OF THEE ARE SPOKEN

     John Newton, 1725–1807

     Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. Psalm 48:1, 2, 3 KJV)

     Of the many hymn texts by the noted English clergyman, John Newton, this one is generally considered to be one of his finest and most joyous. In the Old Testament, the city of Zion was the place where God dwelt among His people. It was a haven of refuge, a treasured place. In our New Testament age, Zion refers to the church, a community of God’s people, a living and dynamic organism. Newton’s hymn refers to God’s strong protection of His people, His promise to supply their needs, and His presence to lead His own by the cloud and fire as He did the Israelites of old.

     With all its shortcomings and faults, the local church is still God’s means of meeting the needs of mankind. As Christians, we are to promote the church, supporting it with enthusiasm and finding our spiritual strength and fellowship in it. Then as members of Christ’s universal church, we are commanded to be His worthy representatives to the entire world. We must be actively involved in ministering the “streams of living waters” which “never fail from age to age.”

     John Newton, the convicted slave trader and sea captain, never stopped praising God for His “sure repose”— “whose Word cannot be broken”—who formed us “for His own abode.”

•     Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God; He whose word cannot be broken formed thee for His own abode: On the Rock of Ages founded, what can shake thy sure repose? With salvation’s walls surrounded, thou mayst smile at all thy foes.
•     See, the streams of living waters, springing from eternal love, well supply thy sons and daughters and all fear of want remove: Who can faint while such a river ever flows their thirst to assuage? Grace which, like the Lord, the Giver, never fails from age to age.
•     Round each habitation hov’ring, see the cloud and fire appear for a glory and a cov’ring, showing that the Lord is near! Glorious things of Thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God; He whose word cannot be broken formed thee for His own abode.


     For Today: Psalm 87:3; Isaiah 33:20, 21; Matthew 16:18; Romans 12:5

     Be thankful for your local church and what it means in your life. Ask for God’s special blessing on your pastor, the board members, and your fellow church members. Allow this hymn to help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Sunday, September 3, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 17, Sunday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 148, 149, 150
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 114, 115
Old Testament     1 Kings 8:22–30 (31–40)
New Testament     1 Timothy 4:7b–16
Gospel     John 8:47–59

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 148, 149, 150

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!

3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He established them forever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the LORD!

1 Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
2 Let Israel be glad in its Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with victory.
5 Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their couches.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with fetters
and their nobles with chains of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment decreed.
This is glory for all his faithful ones.
Praise the LORD!

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 114, 115

1 When Israel went out from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
2 Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.

3 The sea looked and fled;
Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.

5 Why is it, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
6 O mountains, that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?

7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the LORD,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 who turns the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of water.

1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.
2 Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”

3 Our God is in the heavens;
he does whatever he pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
they make no sound in their throats.
8 Those who make them are like them;
so are all who trust in them.

9 O Israel, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.

12 The LORD has been mindful of us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
13 he will bless those who fear the LORD,
both small and great.

14 May the LORD give you increase,
both you and your children.
15 May you be blessed by the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

16 The heavens are the LORD’s heavens,
but the earth he has given to human beings.
17 The dead do not praise the LORD,
nor do any that go down into silence.
18 But we will bless the LORD
from this time on and forevermore.
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
1 Kings 8:22–30 (31–40)

22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven. 23 He said, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, 24 the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand. 25 Therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ 26 Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant my father David.

27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! 28 Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O LORD my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; 29 that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive.

[     31 “If someone sins against a neighbor and is given an oath to swear, and comes and swears before your altar in this house, 32 then hear in heaven, and act, and judge your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing their conduct on their own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding them according to their righteousness.

33 “When your people Israel, having sinned against you, are defeated before an enemy but turn again to you, confess your name, pray and plead with you in this house, 34 then hear in heaven, forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them again to the land that you gave to their ancestors.

35 “When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, and then they pray toward this place, confess your name, and turn from their sin, because you punish them, 36 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk; and grant rain on your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.

37 “If there is famine in the land, if there is plague, blight, mildew, locust, or caterpillar; if their enemy besieges them in any of their cities; whatever plague, whatever sickness there is; 38 whatever prayer, whatever plea there is from any individual or from all your people Israel, all knowing the afflictions of their own hearts so that they stretch out their hands toward this house; 39 then hear in heaven your dwelling place, forgive, act, and render to all whose hearts you know—according to all their ways, for only you know what is in every human heart— 40 so that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our ancestors.     ]

New Testament
1 Timothy 4:7b–16

7 Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, 8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

11 These are the things you must insist on and teach. 12 Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Gospel
John 8:47–59

47 Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”

48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. 51 Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.


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



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