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9/30/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
1 Kings 2     Galatians 6     Ezekiel 33     Psalm 81-82


1 Kings 2

David's Instructions to Solomon

1 Kings 2 1 When David's time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3 and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4 that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

5 “Moreover, you also know what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner the son of Ner, and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed, avenging in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war on the belt around his waist and on the sandals on his feet. 6 Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. 7 But deal loyally with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for with such loyalty they met me when I fled from Absalom your brother. 8 And there is also with you Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim. But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9 Now therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.”

The Death of David

10 Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. 11 And the time that David reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.

Solomon's Reign Established

13 Then Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, “Do you come peacefully?” He said, “Peacefully.” 14 Then he said, “I have something to say to you.” She said, “Speak.” 15 He said, “You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign. However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother's, for it was his from the Lord. 16 And now I have one request to make of you; do not refuse me.” She said to him, “Speak.” 17 And he said, “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” 18 Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak for you to the king.”

19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her and bowed down to her. Then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the king's mother, and she sat on his right. 20 Then she said, “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Make your request, my mother, for I will not refuse you.” 21 She said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as his wife.” 22 King Solomon answered his mother, “And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also, for he is my older brother, and on his side are Abiathar the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah.” 23 Then King Solomon swore by the Lord, saying, “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life! 24 Now therefore as the Lord lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today.” 25 So King Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he struck him down, and he died.

26 And to Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go to Anathoth, to your estate, for you deserve death. But I will not at this time put you to death, because you carried the ark of the Lord God before David my father, and because you shared in all my father's affliction.” 27 So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, thus fulfilling the word of the Lord that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.

28 When the news came to Joab—for Joab had supported Adonijah although he had not supported Absalom—Joab fled to the tent of the Lord and caught hold of the horns of the altar. 29 And when it was told King Solomon, “Joab has fled to the tent of the Lord, and behold, he is beside the altar,” Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, “Go, strike him down.” 30 So Benaiah came to the tent of the Lord and said to him, “The king commands, ‘Come out.’” But he said, “No, I will die here.” Then Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, “Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.” 31 The king replied to him, “Do as he has said, strike him down and bury him, and thus take away from me and from my father's house the guilt for the blood that Joab shed without cause. 32 The Lord will bring back his bloody deeds on his own head, because, without the knowledge of my father David, he attacked and killed with the sword two men more righteous and better than himself, Abner the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33 So shall their blood come back on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever. But for David and for his descendants and for his house and for his throne there shall be peace from the Lord forevermore.” 34 Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up and struck him down and put him to death. And he was buried in his own house in the wilderness. 35 The king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in place of Joab, and the king put Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar.

36 Then the king sent and summoned Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and do not go out from there to any place whatever. 37 For on the day you go out and cross the brook Kidron, know for certain that you shall die. Your blood shall be on your own head.” 38 And Shimei said to the king, “What you say is good; as my lord the king has said, so will your servant do.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days.

39 But it happened at the end of three years that two of Shimei's servants ran away to Achish, son of Maacah, king of Gath. And when it was told Shimei, “Behold, your servants are in Gath,” 40 Shimei arose and saddled a donkey and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants. Shimei went and brought his servants from Gath. 41 And when Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and returned, 42 the king sent and summoned Shimei and said to him, “Did I not make you swear by the Lord and solemnly warn you, saying, ‘Know for certain that on the day you go out and go to any place whatever, you shall die’? And you said to me, ‘What you say is good; I will obey.’ 43 Why then have you not kept your oath to the Lord and the commandment with which I commanded you?” 44 The king also said to Shimei, “You know in your own heart all the harm that you did to David my father. So the Lord will bring back your harm on your own head. 45 But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord forever.” 46 Then the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck him down, and he died.

So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.


Galatians 6

Bear One Another's Burdens

Galatians 6 1 Brothers,[a] if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.

6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Final Warning and Benediction

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which[b] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.


Ezekiel 33

Ezekiel Is Israel's Watchman

Ezekiel 33

1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, 3 and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.

7 “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

Why Will You Die, Israel?

10 “And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ 11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

12 “And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness[a] when he sins. 13 Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die. 14 Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.

17 “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. 19 And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this. 20 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”

Jerusalem Struck Down

21 In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, a fugitive from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has been struck down.” 22 Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me the evening before the fugitive came; and he had opened my mouth by the time the man came to me in the morning, so my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute.

23 The word of the Lord came to me: 24 “Son of man, the inhabitants of these waste places in the land of Israel keep saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he got possession of the land; but we are many; the land is surely given us to possess.’ 25 Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord God: You eat flesh with the blood and lift up your eyes to your idols and shed blood; shall you then possess the land? 26 You rely on the sword, you commit abominations, and each of you defiles his neighbor's wife; shall you then possess the land? 27 Say this to them, Thus says the Lord God: As I live, surely those who are in the waste places shall fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in strongholds and in caves shall die by pestilence. 28 And I will make the land a desolation and a waste, and her proud might shall come to an end, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that none will pass through. 29 Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have made the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations that they have committed.

30 “As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it;    To come before God every day and read your Bible is tough. How can you not think about the unkind things you’ve said, kind words you have not said, and thoughts you wish you’d never had? I used to wonder how folks could go to church on Sunday and raise hell Monday through Friday, but look here. People are coming to hear what Ezekiel has to say and they are even discussing it, but they are not obeying it. Brother this and Sister that is a language I hear often. Remember the old commercial, “Where’s the beef?” We are indeed accountable for what we say, but also for what we do.   for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain.    This is nicer than saying self-centered, self-absorbed, self-righteous, agenda driven. Being agenda driven has no place in the Church if the agenda is not God's.    32 And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. 33 When this comes—and come it will!—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”


Psalm 81

Oh, That My People Would Listen to Me

Psalm 81 To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. Of Asaph.

1 Sing aloud to God our strength;
shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
2 Raise a song; sound the tambourine,
the sweet lyre with the harp.
3 Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
at the full moon, on our feast day.

4 For it is a statute for Israel,
a rule[b] of the God of Jacob.
5 He made it a decree in Joseph
when he went out over[c] the land of Egypt.
I hear a language I had not known:
6 “I relieved your[d] shoulder of the burden;
your hands were freed from the basket.
7 In distress you called, and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah
8 Hear, O my people, while I admonish you!
O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
9 There shall be no strange god among you;
you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
10 I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

11 “But my people did not listen to my voice;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.
13 Oh, that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
14 I would soon subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes.
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him,
and their fate would last forever.
16 But he would feed you[e] with the finest of the wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”


Psalm 82

Rescue the Weak and Needy

Psalm 82 A Psalm of Asaph.

1 God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

6 I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
7 nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!

ESV Study Bible



What I'm Reading

How Could John, a Poor, Uneducated Fisherman, Write the Gospel of John?

By J. Warner Wallace 9/29/2017

     A fellow Christian Case Maker I met at Frank Turek’s CrossExamined Academy is teaching a church group about the reliability of the New TestamentA question was raised about the Apostle John: “How could John, an uneducated fisherman, have written such a literate and theologically rich gospel account?” After all, John was just a fisherman; was he educated enough to accomplish something this sophisticated? Irenaeus, certainly thought so. This historic Bishop of Lugdunum, was the student of Polycarp and Ignatius (two men who were taught directly by the Apostle John). Irenaeus identified the Apostle John as the author of the fourth Gospel, reflecting the historic understanding of the earliest Christians. In spite of this, many skeptics are eager to dismiss the authorship of John (often in an attempt to further discredit the supernatural New Testament claims related to Jesus) by doubting John’s level of education and degree of literacy. There are, however several good reasons to resist the notion that John, the son of Zebedee, was too illiterate to have written the fourth Gospel:

     John May Have Been Educated After All | Don’t be too quick to dismiss John as uneducated. Hebrew children were required to memorize the first five books of Torah before they were twelve years old. Young students were also required to discuss these texts and write them. There is good reason to believe John and James were not exempt from this requirement. In fact, the internal evidence from the Gospel suggests John and James were more than familiar with the rabbis and Jewish teachers of their day. Take, for example, this description of Jesus’ arrest and arrival at the residence of Annas (the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest):

     John 18:15-16 | Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter in.

     This “other disciple” is none other than John, the son of Zebedee, and he is described as someone who was well known to the high priest. In fact, he was known adequately enough to gain admission for himself and Peter. Interestingly, while Peter was here in Anna’s courtyard, he was identified by his simple Galilean accent (see Luke 22:59). No one ever identified John in this way, however. John may have been a fisherman, but this doesn’t mean he was necessarily uneducated or unsophisticated. Paul was also quick to identify himself as a tentmaker, but obviously had access to a good education.

     John May Have Employed a Scribe | But even if John was under-educated, this does not preclude the reasonable use of a scribe. An assistant of this nature (known as an “amanuensis”) was commonplace at this point in history. Paul repeatedly used a scribe to help him as he dictated his letters to the Church. Tertius helped Paul write the letter to the Romans (Romans 16:22), and Paul admitted using a scribe to help him with 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:21). If John wrote his Gospel and letters in a similar manner, it is reasonable to infer his use of a scribe. If this was the case, the degree of Greek sophistication would be attributed to the scribe rather than to John. When skeptics point to differences in the form of Greek seen in some of John’s writings (when compared with one another), they most certainly are ignoring the use of an “amanuensis”.

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

The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

By Albert Mohler 3/6/2017

     The theorized submission of the Trinity to a human being -- or to all human beings -- is a theological innovation of the most extreme and dangerous sort.

     The publishing world sees very few books reach blockbuster status, but William Paul Young’s The Shack has now exceeded even that. The book, originally self-published by Young and two friends, has now sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into over thirty languages. It is now one of the best-selling paperback books of all time, and its readers are enthusiastic.

     According to Young, the book was originally written for his own children. In essence, it can be described as a narrative theodicy — an attempt to answer the question of evil and the character of God by means of a story. In this story, the main character is grieving the brutal kidnapping and murder of his seven-year-old daughter when he receives what turns out to be a summons from God to meet him in the very shack where the man’s daughter had been murdered. In the shack, “Mack” meets the divine Trinity as “Papa,” an African-American woman; Jesus, a Jewish carpenter; and “Sarayu,” an Asian woman who is revealed to be the Holy Spirit. The book is mainly a series of dialogues between Mack, Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu. Those conversations reveal God to be very different than the God of the Bible. “Papa” is absolutely non-judgmental, and seems most determined to affirm that all humanity is already redeemed.

     The theology of The Shack is not incidental to the story. Indeed, at most points the narrative seems mainly to serve as a structure for the dialogues. And the dialogues reveal a theology that is unconventional at best, and undoubtedly heretical in certain respects.

     While the literary device of an unconventional “trinity” of divine persons is itself sub-biblical and dangerous, the theological explanations are worse. “Papa” tells Mack of the time when the three persons of the Trinity “spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God.” Nowhere in the Bible is the Father or the Spirit described as taking on human existence. The Christology of the book is likewise confused. “Papa” tells Mack that, though Jesus is fully God, “he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being.” When Jesus healed the blind, “He did so only as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.”

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Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

Albert Mohler Books:

Is Biblical Teaching on Sex Hateful and Repressive?

By Sean McDowell 9/28/2017

     Let’s face it; we live in a world saturated with sex. Our movies, music, novels, politics, and even advertisements are dominated by sex. Essentially, the celebrated view of sex in our culture is: if it feels good, do it. According to the ideas propagated by the late Hugh Hefner, and others in the sexual revolution, anything that prevents someone from experiencing consensual sex in whatever fashion he or she desires is viewed as harmful and repressive.

     But is this narrative really true? In the updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict, my father and I lay out the positive evidence for Christianity. But first, we felt it was critical to “clear the fog” by responding to common charges such as this. So, is biblical teaching on sex hateful and repressive?

     While Christians have certainly failed at times to teach and model the biblical view of sex, it is false to assume that God hates sex. In fact, the opposite is true—God created sex and said that it was good! Proverbs 5:18-19 says to “rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” And the Song of Solomon speaks of the power and beauty of sexual intimacy. Sex, as God designed it, is a wonderful thing. He designed it for four reasons:

     Procreation. Even though children don’t always result, sex is a baby-making act by its very nature. In Genesis 1:28, God says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” It’s worth noting that this is actually a command from God (it is also a blessing). Few complain about this command!

     Unity. One of the most powerful aspects of sex is its ability to bond people together. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” In the act of sex, a man and woman become fully united. Sex is not merely a physical act; it involves an emotional, relational, spiritual, and even transcendent connection.

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     Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, a part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.Books By Sean McDowell

Sean McDowell Books:

Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
More Than a Carpenter

What’s the Purpose of … the Church?

By Tim Challies 9/29/2017

     Whatever else we may know about Christians, we know this: Christians are supposed to go to church. Every Sunday, Christians gather together to worship God and spend time in fellowship. But do we actually know why we do this? Do we pause to consider the purpose of the local church? In this series of articles we are considering the purpose of many things we may take for granted, and so far we have looked at marriage, sex, and children. Today we are broadening our perspective from family to the church.

     It is important to note that our concern here is not the universal church, which is comprised of all Christians of all times and places. Rather, we are answering the question: What is the purpose of the local church? In other words, why do we as Christians gather together in local congregations?

     Common Views of The Church | As we consider why we gather week by week, we can quickly identify two common but unbiblical views on the purpose of the local church.

     The first is that the local church exists for evangelism. In this view, the primary purpose of the local church is to draw unchurched people to the Christian faith. Church, then, is primarily evangelistic in its purpose. This is the heart of the “seeker-sensitive church” movement that was championed by Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, with Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church serving as its primary text. Because reaching the lost is the ultimate purpose of the church, everything the church does—from preaching to worship to the design of the building—should be determined by the perceived needs or desires of the unchurched. We must do anything and everything we can to make church a place where they feel welcome and comfortable. Warren says, “Once you know your target [unbelievers], it will determine many of the components of your seeker service: music style, message topics, creative arts, and more.” This view insists that the more we learn to think like unbelievers, the better we will do in drawing them to the church and, from the church, to Jesus Christ. “It is my deep conviction,” says Warren, “that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart. … The most likely place to start is with the person’s felt needs.”

     A second common view is that the local church exists for discipleship. According to this view, the purpose of the church is to serve the needs of Christians. Many people push back against the seeker-sensitive church movement and declare, “The church exists for discipleship! It exists to serve and strengthen Christians!” They claim that instead of putting all its energy into evangelism, the church should put all its energy into discipleship. Instead of making decisions based on the preferences of unbelievers, the church should make decisions based on the preferences of Christians. In this way, building up the body of Christ becomes the ultimate purpose of the local church.

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     Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and have written five books:

     I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.

Tim Challies Books:




  • God Shows Up for You
  • Christian Mission
  • Gospel Diagnostician

#1 Tim Muehlhoff  Biola University

 

#2 Greg Ganssle   Biola University

 

#3 Greg Ganssle   Biola University

 


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     God is real!
     (Sept 30)    Bob Gass

     ‘The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?’

(Ps 27:1) The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? ESV

     What hope or help does the atheist or agnostic have? None! Writer and editorialist W.O. Saunders said in American Magazine: ‘I’d like to introduce you to one of the loneliest and unhappiest individuals on earth…the man who doesn’t believe in God. I can introduce you to such a man because I myself am one, and in introducing myself you shall have an introduction to the agnostic or sceptic in your own neighbourhood, for he is everywhere in the land. You’ll be surprised to know that the agnostic envies your faith in God, your settled belief in a heaven after life, and your blessed assurance that you’ll meet with your loved ones in an afterlife where there’ll be neither sadness nor pain. He’d give anything to be able to embrace that faith and be comforted by it, but for him there is only the grave and the persistence of matter. After the grave all he can see is the disintegration of the protoplasm and psychoplasm of which my body and personality are composed, but in this materialist view, I find neither ecstasy nor happiness…He may put on a brave front but he isn’t happy…He sometimes yearns for a staff on which to lean. He, too, carries a cross. For him, this earth is but a tricky raft adrift in the unfathomable waters of eternity with no horizon in sight. His heart aches for every precious life upon the raft - drifting, drifting, drifting, whither no one knows. But when you put your trust in Christ, you can say with confidence, “The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?”’

Is 56-58
Col 4

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Seven times he came to America, preaching across the Colonies, sometimes to crowds of over 30,000 people. This Great Awakening spread like fire. Benjamin Franklin not only attended his meetings and printed his RS Thomas, but built an auditorium for him to speak in, afterwards donating it as the first building of the University of Pennsylvania. Who was he: George Whitefield, who died this day, September 30, 1770. Of Whitefield’s preaching, Franklin wrote: “It was wonderful to see… one could not walk thro’ the town in an Evening without hearing Psalms sung in different families of every street.”

American Minute

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


     Common prayer is not necessarily public. To recite the Litany on a sick-bed is common prayer. Christ felt the danger of common prayer as public prayer (Matt. vi. 5, 6). And this is specially so when the public prayer is “extempore.” To keep that real calls for an amount of private prayer which perhaps is not for every one. “Extempore” prayers are apt to be private prayers in public, like the Pharisee’s in the temple, with too much idiosynerasy for public use; or else they lose the spontaneity of private prayer, and turn as formal as a liturgy can be, though in another (and perhaps deadlier) way. The prayers of the same man inevitably fall more or less into the same forms and phrases. But private prayer may be more common in its note than public prayer should be private in its tone. Our private prayer should be common in spirit. We are doing in the act what many are doing. In the retired place we include in sympathy and intercession a world of other men which we exclude in fact. The world of men disappears from around us but not from within. We are not indifferent to its weal or woe in our seclusion. In the act of praying for ourselves we pray for others, for no temptation befalls us but what is common to man; and in praying for others we pray with them. We pray for their prays and the success of their prayers. It is an act of union. We can thus be united even with churches that refuse to pray or unite with us.

     Moreover, it is common prayer, however solitary, that prevails most, as being most in tune with the great first goal of God’s grace—the community. So this union in prayer gives to prayer an ethical note of great power and value. If we really pray with others, it must clear, and consolidate, and exalt our moral relations with them everywhere. Could we best the man with whom and for whom we really pray? There is a great democratic note in common prayer which is also true prayer. “Eloquence and ardour have not done so much for Christ’s cause as the humble virtues, the united activity, and the patient prayers of thousands of faithful people whose names are quite unknown.” And we are united thus not only to the living but to the long dead. “He who prays is nearer Christ than even the apostles were,” certainly than the apostles before the Cross and Resurrection.

     We have been warned by a man of genius that the bane of so much religion is that it clings to God with its weakness and not with its strength. This is very true of that supreme act of religion of which our critics know least—of the act of prayer. So many of us pray because we are driven by need rather than kindled by grace. Our prayer is a cry rather than a hymn. It is a quest rather than a tryst. it trembles more than it triumphs. It asks for strength rather than exerts it. How different was the prayer of Christ! All the divine power of the Eternal Son went to it. It was the supreme form taken by His Sonship in its experience and action. Nothing is more striking in Christ’s life than His combination of selflessness and power. His consciousness of power was equal to anything, and egoism never entered Him. His prayer was accordingly. It was the exercise of His unique power rather than of His extreme need. It came from His uplifting and not His despair. It was less His duty than His joy. It was more full of God’s gift of grace than of man’s poverty of faith, of a holy love than of a seeking heart. In His prayer He poured out neither His wish nor His longing merely, but His will. And He knew He was heard always. He knew it with such power and certainty that He could distribute His value, bless with His overflow, and promise His disciples they would be heard in His name. It was by His prayer that He countered and foiled the godless power in the world, the kingdom of the devil. “Satan hath desired to have thee—but I have prayer for thee.” His prayer means so much for the weak because it arose out of this strength and its exercise. It was chiefly in His prayer that He was the Messiah, and the Revealer and Wielder of the power and kingship of God. His power with God was so great that it made His disciples feel it could only be the power of God; He prayer in the Eternal Spirit whereby He offered Himself to God. And it was so great because it was spent on God alone. So true is it that the kingdom of God comes not with observation, that the greatest things Christ did for it were done in the night and not in the day; His prayers meant more than His miracles. And His great triumph was when there were none to see, as they all forsook Him and fled. He was mightest in His action for men not when He was acting on men but on God. He felt the dangers of the publicity where His work lay, and He knew that they were only to be met in secrecy. He did most for His public in entire solitude; there He put forth all His power. His nights were not always the rest of weakness from the day before, but often the storing of strength for the day to come. Prayer (if we let Christ teach us of it) is mightiest in the mightiest. It is the ether round the throne of the Most High. Its power answers to the omnipotence of grace. And those who feel they owe everything to God’s grace need have no difficulty about the range of prayer. They may pray for everything.

     A word, as I close this chapter, to the sufferers. We pray for the removal of pain, pray passionately, and then with exhaustion, sick from hope deferred and prayer’s failure. But there is a higher prayer than that. It is a greater thing to pray for pain’s conversion than for its removal. It is more of grace to pray that God would make a sacrament of it. The sacrament of pain! That we partake not simply, nor perhaps chiefly, when we say, or try to say, with resignation, “Thy will be done.” It is not always easy for the sufferer, if he remain clear-eyed to see that it is God’s will. It may have been caused by an evil mind, or a light fool, or some stupid greed. But, now it is there, a certain treatment of it is God’s will; and that is to capture and exploit it for Him. It is to make it serve the soul and glorify God. It is to consecrate its elements and make it sacramental. It is to convert it into prayer.


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

The Soul of Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7


The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion
because if a mother can kill her own child,
what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me?
There is nothing between.
--- Mother Teresa


Sometimes love is stronger than a man's convictions.
--- Isaac Bashevis Singer


If we walk in the Spirit daily, surrendered to His power, we have the right to expect anything we need to hear from God.
--- Charles Stanley     ISBN-13: 978-0785264149


The road of denial leads to the precipice of destruction
--- John Bunyan

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 7.

     How One Of The Towers Erected By The Romans Fell Down Of Its Own Accord; And How The Romans After Great Slaughter Had Been Made Got Possession Of The First Wall. How Also Titus Made His Assaults Upon The Second Wall; As Also Concerning Longinus The Roman, And Castor The Jew.

     1. Now, on the next night, a surprising disturbance fell upon the Romans; for whereas Titus had given orders for the erection of three towers of fifty cubits high, that by setting men upon them at every bank, he might from thence drive those away who were upon the wall, it so happened that one of these towers fell down about midnight; and as its fall made a very great noise, fear fell upon the army, and they, supposing that the enemy was coming to attack them, ran all to their arms. Whereupon a disturbance and a tumult arose among the legions, and as nobody could tell what had happened, they went on after a disconsolate manner; and seeing no enemy appear, they were afraid one of another, and every one demanded of his neighbor the watchword with great earnestness, as though the Jews had invaded their camp. And now were they like people under a panic fear, till Titus was informed of what had happened, and gave orders that all should be acquainted with it; and then, though with some difficulty, they got clear of the disturbance they had been under.

     2. Now these towers were very troublesome to the Jews, who otherwise opposed the Romans very courageously; for they shot at them out of their lighter engines from those towers, as they did also by those that threw darts, and the archers, and those that flung stones. For neither could the Jews reach those that were over them, by reason of their height; and it was not practicable to take them, nor to overturn them, they were so heavy, nor to set them on fire, because they were covered with plates of iron. So they retired out of the reach of the darts, and did no longer endeavor to hinder the impression of their rams, which, by continually beating upon the wall, did gradually prevail against it; so that the wall already gave way to the Nico, for by that name did the Jews themselves call the greatest of their engines, because it conquered all things. And now they were for a long while grown weary of fighting, and of keeping guards, and were retired to lodge in the night time at a distance from the wall. It was on other accounts also thought by them to be superfluous to guard the wall, there being besides that two other fortifications still remaining, and they being slothful, and their counsels having been ill concerted on all occasions; so a great many grew lazy and retired. Then the Romans mounted the breach, where Nico had made one, and all the Jews left the guarding that wall, and retreated to the second wall; so those that had gotten over that wall opened the gates, and received all the army within it. And thus did the Romans get possession of this first wall, on the fifteenth day of the siege, which was the seventh day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] when they demolished a great part of it, as well as they did of the northern parts of the city, which had been demolished also by Cestius formerly.

     3. And now Titus pitched his camp within the city, at that place which was called "the Camp of the Assyrians," having seized upon all that lay as far as Cedron, but took care to be out of the reach of the Jews' darts. He then presently began his attacks, upon which the Jews divided themselves into several bodies, and courageously defended that wall; while John and his faction did it from the tower of Antonia, and from the northern cloister of the temple, and fought the Romans before the monuments of king Alexander; and Sireoh's army also took for their share the spot of ground that was near John's monument, and fortified it as far as to that gate where water was brought in to the tower Hippicus. However, the Jews made violent sallies, and that frequently also, and in bodies together out of the gates, and there fought the Romans; and when they were pursued all together to the wall, they were beaten in those fights, as wanting the skill of the Romans. But when they fought them from the walls, they were too hard for them; the Romans being encouraged by their power, joined to their skill, as were the Jews by their boldness, which was nourished by the fear they were in, and that hardiness which is natural to our nation under calamities; they were also encouraged still by the hope of deliverance, as were the Romans by their hopes of subduing them in a little time. Nor did either side grow weary; but attacks and rightings upon the wall, and perpetual sallies out in bodies, were there all the day long; nor were there any sort of warlike engagements that were not then put in use. And the night itself had much ado to part them, when they began to fight in the Morning; nay, the night itself was passed without sleep on both sides, and was more uneasy than the day to them, while the one was afraid lest the wall should be taken, and the other lest the Jews should make sallies upon their camps; both sides also lay in their armor during the night time, and thereby were ready at the first appearance of light to go to the battle. Now among the Jews the ambition was who should undergo the first dangers, and thereby gratify their commanders. Above all, they had a great veneration and dread of Simon; and to that degree was he regarded by every one of those that were under him, that at his command they were very ready to kill themselves with their own hands. What made the Romans so courageous was their usual custom of conquering and disuse of being defeated, their constant wars, and perpetual warlike exercises, and the grandeur of their dominion; and what was now their chief encouragement—Titus who was present every where with them all; for it appeared a terrible thing to grow weary while Caesar was there, and fought bravely as well as they did, and was himself at once an eye-witness of such as behaved themselves valiantly, and he who was to reward them also. It was, besides, esteemed an advantage at present to have any one's valor known by Caesar; on which account many of them appeared to have more alacrity than strength to answer it. And now, as the Jews were about this time standing in array before the wall, and that in a strong body, and while both parties were throwing their darts at each other, Longinus, one of the equestrian order, leaped out of the army of the Romans, and leaped into the very midst of the army of the Jews; and as they dispersed themselves upon the attack, he slew two of their men of the greatest courage; one of them he struck in his mouth as he was coming to meet him, the other was slain by him by that very dart which he drew out of the body of the other, with which he ran this man through his side as he was running away from him; and when he had done this, he first of all ran out of the midst of his enemies to his own side. So this man signalized himself for his valor, and many there were who were ambitious of gaining the like reputation. And now the Jews were unconcerned at what they suffered themselves from the Romans, and were only solicitous about what mischief they could do them; and death itself seemed a small matter to them, if at the same time they could but kill any one of their enemies. But Titus took care to secure his own soldiers from harm, as well as to have them overcome their enemies. He also said that inconsiderate violence was madness, and that this alone was the true courage that was joined with good conduct. He therefore commanded his men to take care, when they fought their enemies, that they received no harm from them at the same time, and thereby show themselves to be truly valiant men.

     4. And now Titus brought one of his engines to the middle tower of the north part of the wall, in which a certain crafty Jew, whose name was Castor, lay in ambush, with ten others like himself, the rest being fled away by reason of the archers. These men lay still for a while, as in great fear, under their breastplates; but when the tower was shaken, they arose, and Castor did then stretch out his hand, as a petitioner, and called for Caesar, and by his voice moved his compassion, and begged of him to have mercy upon them; and Titus, in the innocency of his heart, believing him to be in earnest, and hoping that the Jews did now repent, stopped the working of the battering ram, and forbade them to shoot at the petitioners, and bid Castor say what he had a mind to say to him. He said that he would come down, if he would give him his right hand for his security. To which Titus replied, that he was well pleased with such his agreeable conduct, and would be well pleased if all the Jews would be of his mind, and that he was ready to give the like security to the city. Now five of the ten dissembled with him, and pretended to beg for mercy, while the rest cried out aloud that they would never be slaves to the Romans, while it was in their power to die in a state of freedom. Now while these men were quarrelling for a long while, the attack was delayed; Castor also sent to Simon, and told him that they might take some time for consultation about what was to be done, because he would elude the power of the Romans for a considerable time. And at the same time that he sent thus to him, he appeared openly to exhort those that were obstinate to accept of Titus's hand for their security; but they seemed very angry at it, and brandished their naked swords upon the breast-works, and struck themselves upon their breast, and fell down as if they had been slain. Hereupon Titus, and those with him, were amazed at the courage of the men; and as they were not able to see exactly what was done, they admired at their great fortitude, and pitied their calamity. During this interval, a certain person shot a dart at Castor, and wounded him in his nose; whereupon he presently pulled out the dart, and showed it to Titus, and complained that this was unfair treatment; so Caesar reproved him that shot the dart, and sent Josephus, who then stood by him, to give his right hand to Castor. But Josephus said that he would not go to him, because these pretended petitioners meant nothing that was good; he also restrained those friends of his who were zealous to go to him. But still there was one Eneas, a deserter, who said he would go to him. Castor also called to them, that somebody should come and receive the money which he had with him; this made Eneas the more earnestly to run to him with his bosom open. Then did Castor take up a great stone, and threw it at him, which missed him, because he guarded himself against it; but still it wounded another soldier that was coming to him. When Caesar understood that this was a delusion, he perceived that mercy in war is a pernicious thing, because such cunning tricks have less place under the exercise of greater severity. So he caused the engine to work more strongly than before, on account of his anger at the deceit put upon him. But Castor and his companions set the tower on fire when it began to give way, and leaped through the flame into a hidden vault that was under it, which made the Romans further suppose that they were men of great courage, as having cast themselves into the fire.

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

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

Proverbs 25:28
     by D.H. Stern

28     Like a city breached, without walls,
     is a person who lacks self-control.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Glimpsing the Triune God
     From Simply Christian - N.T. Wright

     How, then, can we summarize the Christian understanding of God? What does it mean, theologically speaking, to learn to stare at the sun?

     God is the creator and lover of the world. Jesus spoke of God as “the Father who sent me,” indicating that, as he says elsewhere, “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” ( John 14:9). Look hard at Jesus, especially as he goes to his death, and you will discover more about God than you could ever have guessed from studying the infinite shining heavens or the moral law within your own conscience. God is the one who satisfies the passion for justice, the longing for spirituality, the hunger for relationship, the yearning for beauty.

     And God, the true God, is the God we see in Jesus of Nazareth, Israel’s Messiah, the world’s true Lord. The earliest Christians spoke of God and Jesus in the same breath and, so to speak, on the same side of the equation. When Paul quoted the most famous slogan of Jewish monotheism (“Hear, O Israel; YHWH our God, YHWH is One”), he explained “the Lord”—that is, YHWH—in terms of Jesus, and “God” in terms of “the Father”: “For us,” he wrote, “there is one God (the Father, from whom are all things and we to him), and one Lord ( Jesus the Messiah, through whom are all things and we through him)” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Even earlier, he had written that if you want to know who the real God is, as opposed to the non-gods of paganism, you must think in terms of the God who, to fulfill his age-old plan to rescue the world, sent first his Son and then the Spirit of his Son (Galatians 4:4–7).

     The church’s official “doctrine of the Trinity” wasn’t fully formulated until three or four centuries after the time of Paul. Yet when the later theologians eventually worked it all through, it turned out to consist, in effect, of detailed footnotes to Paul, John, Hebrews, and the other New Testament books, with explanations designed to help later generations grasp what was already there in principle in the earliest writings.

     But it would be a mistake to give the impression that the Christian doctrine of God is a matter of clever intellectual word games or mind games. For Christians it’s always a love game: God’s love for the world calling out an answering love from us, enabling us to discover that God not only happens to love us (as though this was simply one aspect of his character) but that he is love itself. That’s what many theological traditions have explored as the very heart of God’s own being, the love which passes continually between Father, Son, and Spirit. Indeed, some have suggested that one way of understanding the Spirit is to see the Spirit as the personal love which the Father has for the Son and the Son for the Father. In that understanding, we are invited to share in this inner and loving life of God, by having the Spirit live within us. Some of the most evocative names and descriptions of God in the New Testament are ways of drawing us in to this inner life. “The one who searches the hearts,” writes Paul, “knows what the Spirit is thinking, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people according to God’s will” (Romans 8:27). “The heart-searcher”—there’s a divine name to ponder.

     And it’s all because of Jesus. Once we glimpse the doctrine—or the fact!—of the Trinity, we dare not slide back into a generalized sense of a religion paying distant homage to a god who (though somewhat more complicated than we had previously realized) is merely a quasi-personal source of general benevolence. Christian faith is much more hard-edged, more craggy, than that. Jesus exploded into the life of ancient Israel—the life of the whole world, in fact—not as a teacher of timeless truths, nor as a great moral example, but as the one through whose life, death, and resurrection God’s rescue operation was put into effect, and the cosmos turned its great corner at last. All worldviews are challenged to the core by this claim. When they in turn challenge Christianity, it stands up remarkably well. It is because of Jesus that Christians claim they know who the creator God of the world really is. It is because he, a human being, is now with the Father in the dimension we call “heaven” that Christians came so quickly to speak of God as both Father and Son. It is because he remains as yet in heaven while we are on earth (though the Spirit makes him present to us) that Christians came to speak of the Spirit, too, as a distinct member of the divine Trinity. It is all because of Jesus that we speak of God the way we do.

     And it is all because of Jesus that we find ourselves called to live the way we do. More particularly, it is through Jesus that we are summoned to become more truly human, to reflect the image of God into the world.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                The commission of the call

     Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake. --- Col. 1:24.

     We make calls out of our own spiritual consecration, but when we get right with God He brushes all these aside, and rivets us with a pain that is terrific to one thing we never dreamed of, and for one radiant, flashing moment we see what He is after, and we say—“Here am I, send me.”

     This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. God can never makes us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with. If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way! But when He uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.

     I wonder what kind of finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you, and you have been like a marble and escaped? You are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you, the wine would have been remarkably bitter. To be a sacramental personality means that the elements of the natural life are presenced by God as they are broken providentially in His service. We have to be adjusted to God before we can be broken bread in His hands. Keep right with God and let Him do what He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

No, Senor
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                No, Senor

We were out in the hard country.
  The railroads kept crossing our path,
  Signed with important names,
  Salamanca to Madrid.
  Malaga to Barcelona.
  Sometimes an express went by,
  Tubular in the newest fashion;
  The faces were a blurred frieze,
  A hundred or so city people
  Digesting their latest meal,
  Over coffee, over a cigarette,
  Discussing the news from Viet Nam,
  Fondling imaginary wounds
  Of the last war, honoring themselves
  In the country to which they belonged
  By proxy. Their landscape slipped by
  On a spool. We saw the asses
  Hobbling upon the road
  To the village, no Don Quixote
  Upon their backs, but all the burden
  Of a poor land, the weeds and grasses
  Of the mesa. The men walked
  Beside them; there was no sound
  But the hoarse music of the bells.


Selected poems, 1946-1968

The Tree
     Eugene Peterson

Jesse’s roots, composted with carcasses
    Of dove and lamb,
      parchments of ox and goat,
  Centuries of dried up prayers and bloody
  Sacrifice, now bear me Gospel fruit.

David’s branch, fed on kosher soil,
  Blossoms a messianic flower, and then
  Ripens into a kingdom crop, conserving
  The fragrance and warmth of spring
    for winter use.

Holy Spirit, shake our family tree;
  Release your ripened fruit
    to our outstretched arms.

I’d like to see my children sink their teeth
  Into promised land pomegranates

And Canaan grapes, bushel gifts of God,
  While I skip a grace rope to a Christ tune.


The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction

The Candle
     Eugene Peterson

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light:
Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
---
Isaiah 9:2.

Uncandled menorahs
     and oilless lamps abandoned
  By foolish virgins too much in a hurry to wait
  And tend the light are clues
     to the failed watch,
  The missed arrival,
     the midnight might-have-been.

Wick and beeswax make a guttering protest,
  Fragile, defiant flame against demonic
  Terrors that gust, invisible and nameless,
  Out of galactic ungodded emptiness.

Then deep in the blackness
     fires nursed by wise
Believers surprise with shining
     all groping derelicts

Bruised and stumbling in a world benighted.
  The sudden blazing backlights
     each head with a nimbus.

Shafts of storm-filtered sun
     search and destroy
  The Stygian desolation:
     I see. I see.


The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     IS THERE STILL MIDRASH TODAY?


     If we define Midrash as “homiletic or legal interpretations of the Bible,” that is, interpretive readings of sacred text, then the process of Midrash certainly continues today—in two formats. There are contemporary commentaries written on the Bible, often reflecting the needs and interests of the day. And secular culture commonly adapts religious themes for artistic purposes.

     As an example of the first, the “rabbi’s sermon” given in the modern synagogue is often a Midrash-like exposition on the week’s Torah reading; by attempting to relate Torah to life today, the sermon is the example par excellence of contemporary Midrash. It is not uncommon for a contemporary rabbi to hold an ancient midrashic text in one hand, and a news clipping from the daily paper in the other, as he or she tries to make sense out of the present by searching for meaning in the past.

     Works like Ellen Frankel’s The Five Books of Miriam are another prime example. This is a collection of modern midrashic statements put into the mouths of women to answer the question “What did women then, and what do women now, make of the events in this chapter?” Here is one such selection from The Five Books of Miriam:

     OUR DAUGHTERS ASK: Why does Jethro advise Moses to appoint only men to help him share the onerous burden of leadership? As it is written: “SEEK OUT CAPABLE MEN WHO FEAR GOD, TRUSTWORTHY MEN WHO SPURN ILL-GOTTEN GAIN” (
Exodus 18:21). We can’t believe that there weren’t capable, God-fearing women among the people.

     THE SAGES IN OUR OWN TIME ANSWER: We must be careful not to judge Jethro by the standards of twentieth-century Western democracy. After all, in his time and place, women generally did not occupy such leadership roles.

     LILITH THE REBEL COUNTERS: But we can hold today’s Jethros in our own communities to such standards! Especially since the burdens of leadership have not gotten any lighter—and since capable, God-fearing, trustworthy women now stand ready to share them.

     The Five Books that were once attributed to Moses have now been expanded to include the insights of all of our Miriams as well.

     Midrash can be “done” by Christians, as well as by Jews, though the process would have a different name and would draw on a different set of techniques and values, since “Midrash” is a uniquely Jewish product. In
Deuteronomy, chapters 31–34
, Moses gives his final farewell to the Israelite nation. Their leader tells them that although he will die on this side of the Jordan, they will get to the land that God has promised them. God instructs Moses to go to the top of a mountain, to see the land that the Israelites will soon enter but that he will not. Moses’ final speeches are poignant and moving: The greatest leader will see his goal accomplished by others, yet he himself will not arrive there.

     Compare these chapters in Deuteronomy to the famous “I See the Promised Land” speech by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., given on April 3, 1968:

     Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

     By ending with a stirring message about seeing the Promised Land from the mountaintop, the Reverend Dr. King evoked images of Moses entering the land. This Midrash turned out to be prophetic, for King was assassinated the very next day.

     One of the oldest collections of Midrash, if not the oldest, is the Passover Haggadah. The process of Midrash on the Exodus story remains alive and well in modern haggadot. There are literally hundreds of Haggadah interpretations, each giving its own spin on the verses from Exodus—an archaeological Haggadah, a feminist version, an Israeli version that focuses on the fulfillment of God’s promise to redeem us.

     Yet, the process of interpreting the Bible and of writing Midrash, especially on the Exodus theme, goes well beyond these works. In the biblical account, we are told that Moses was placed in a basket on the Nile by his mother, that Moses’ sister watched as the daughter of Pharaoh came to bathe in the Nile and saw the basket:

     Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter: “Shall I go and get you a Hebrew nurse to suckle the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter answered, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will pay your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who made him her son. She named him Moses, explaining, “I drew him out of the water.”

     Some time after that, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their labors.
(Exodus 2:7–10)

     The Bible does not tell us how Moses finds out he is a Hebrew, only that “he went out to his kinsfolk.” The few details in the biblical story led to many midrashic interpretations, including those in the 1998 movie The Prince of Egypt. This is from the story line of The Prince of Egypt:

     That night as Moses returns to his room, he discovers that Tzipporah has escaped. Intrigued by the rebellious girl, he follows her through the Hebrew settlement of Goshen where he comes upon his true siblings, Miriam and Aaron. Believing that Moses has returned to help them, Miriam reveals to Moses the truth about his identity, that he is the son of a Hebrew slave. Shocked and dismayed, Moses refuses to believe her and flees back to the palace. That night he has a nightmare about the slaughter of the newborn Hebrews many years ago.

     The movie’s authors and producers added many details to the terse biblical narrative. They have Tzipporah, Moses’ future wife, meeting him in Egypt, where in the biblical account he meets her later, in Midian. The Bible does not tell us exactly how Moses found out he is a Hebrew, while in the movie, “Miriam reveals to Moses the truth about his identity, that he is the son of a Hebrew slave.” These are plausible answers to questions about the Exodus story. Yet, they—as well as much of the Prince of Egypt animated feature—are a Midrash, filling in the holes for those curious about what exactly took place. And if we compare Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Midrash in The Prince of Egypt to Cecil B. De Mille’s in The Ten Commandments, we have an understanding of the distinct approaches of different interpreters of the same text—one reflecting the sensibilities of America in the 1950s, the other of an American Jew at the end of the twentieth century.

     The process of Midrash can also be seen in art, music, and literature. Chagall’s paintings are often modern expressions of traditional themes. The spiritual hymn “Let My People Go” took a well-known phrase from the Bible, one that Moses directed to Pharaoh, and reframed it as referring to blacks talking to Southern slave owners.

     Let’s look at a modern Midrash on Ecclesiastes, chapter 3. Here is a translation of verses 1 to 8 of that chapter:

To everything there is a season,
     And a time for every purpose under heaven:
     A time for being born and a time for dying,
     A time for planting and a time for uprooting the planted;
     A time for slaying and a time for healing;
     A time for tearing down and a time for building up;
     A time for weeping and a time for laughing,
     A time for wailing and a time for dancing;
     A time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,
     A time for embracing and a time for shunning embraces;
     A time for seeking and a time for losing,
     A time for keeping and a time for discarding;
     A time for ripping and a time for sewing,
     A time for silence and a time for speaking;
     A time for loving and a time for hating;
     A time for war and a time for peace.

     The 1960s hit “Turn, Turn, Turn,” sung by the Byrds and written by folk singer Pete Seeger, begins as a fairly straightforward musical presentation of the Bible text.

Chorus:
     To everything, turn, turn, turn,
     There is season, turn, turn, turn,
     And a time for every purpose under heaven.

     A time to be born, a time to die,
     A time to plant, a time to reap,
     A time to kill, a time to heal,
     A time to laugh, a time to weep.
Chorus …

     And the second stanza is also faithful to the biblical text:

     A time of love, a time of hate,
     A time of war, a time of peace,
     A time you may embrace,
     A time to refrain from embracing.
Chorus …

     Seeger leaves out certain verses and rearranges the sequence, but the song retains the flow of the biblical text—until the last lines. Where Ecclesiastes ends with “A time for war, and a time for peace,” the Byrds’ hit adds a 1960s anti-war postscript to reflect the mood of the time:

     A time to gain, a time to lose,
     A time to rend, a time to sow,
     A time to love, a time to hate,
     A time of peace, I swear it’s not too late.

     The author of Ecclesiastes states that there is a time for everything in life, predetermined by a power beyond our control. Pete Seeger’s song completely changes the meaning: War and peace are in the hands of human beings; the choices that people make can change the world.

     The list goes on and on: Leonard Bernstein’s Jeremiah is an example of music-as-Midrash. John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Thomas Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers, and (more recently) Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent each took a biblical theme and wove it into a story, creating a literary Midrash of its own.

     The Rabbis took the Bible seriously, searching for new and deeper meaning from the text and for an understanding (or, better, understandings) that spoke to their day and age. The Bible is the greatest example of a classic text, one which we go back to over and over, finding new meaning and inspiration in it time and time again, generation after generation. Our attempts to understand and interpret the Bible today—be they literary (like classic midrashim), musical, or artistic—demonstrate that we, too, are trying to incorporate sacred scripture into our own lives. If, as we claimed in Part I, “What Is Midrash,” “the process of Midrash began the very first time the Torah was read,” then surely the process of Midrash continues today, as we continue to read, ponder, and gain inspiration from the TANAKH.

     The Rabbis read the Bible seriously, and they created the Midrash. If we, today, read the Bible and the Midrash seriously, we can create our own midrashim, our interpretations, not only of the Bible but also of the Midrash itself. By confronting sacred text and engaging in a struggle with it, we affirm its sanctity and relevance in our lives. We engage in Midrash with a sense of awe, with an appreciation that we stand in the presence of something sacred, something holy, something of ultimate importance.


Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     September 30

     I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
---
Romans 12:1. KJV

     [Paul] discourses at large on the love of God toward us and points out God’s concern for us and [his] goodness, which cannot even be traced out. (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. XI: St. Chrysostom ) He next persuades those who have received the benefit to exhibit a way of life worthy of the gift. He beseeches them—not for any enjoyment he was likely to get himself but for what they would gain.

     And no wonder he beseeches when he puts God’s mercies before them. For since, he means, it is from the mercies of God you have those numberless blessings, reverence them, be moved to compassion by them, that you would show no conduct unworthy of them. I entreat you then, he means, by the very things through which you were saved to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (KJV). When he said “sacrifice,” to prevent any from thinking he bade them kill themselves, he at once added (Greek order) “living.” Then to distinguish it from the Jewish [sacrifice], he calls it “holy, acceptable unto God”—for theirs was a material one, and not very acceptable, either. So Paul also here bids us present our bodies as living sacrifices.

     And how is the body to become a sacrifice? Let your eye look on no evil thing, and it has become a sacrifice; let your tongue speak nothing filthy, and it has become an offering; let your hand do no lawless deed, and it has become a whole burnt offering. Or rather, this is not enough, but we must have good works also: let the hand give gifts for the poor, the mouth bless them that curse you, and the hearing find leisure evermore for lessons taught from Scripture.

     Let us then from our hands and feet and mouth and all other members yield a firstfruit to God. Such a sacrifice is well pleasing—as that of the Jews was even unclean. Not so ours. That presented the thing sacrificed dead; this makes the thing sacrificed to be living. For the law of this sacrifice is new, and so the sort of fire is a marvelous one. For it needs no wood under it, but our fire lives of itself and does not burn up the victim but rather makes it live. This was the sacrifice that God sought of old.
--- John Chrysostom


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

On This Day   September 30
     The Contrarian


     The Lord has often used people in church history whom we may not have liked had we lived during their days. Jerome, for example. He possessed a brilliant mind, a sharp tongue, hot blood, and thin skin. He was a contrarian, remembered as one of the church’s most irritable scholars and among the first of the great Bible translators who have spread the Gospel abroad.

     Jerome was an Italian, born about 330, who early fell in love with women and books. After indulging in the former, he joined an ascetic group to enjoy the latter; but his sandpaper personality caused the group to disintegrate. As Jerome struggled to control his sexual energy, he began advancing the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. He believed that after Jesus’ birth, Mary continued to live a virgin’s life; and his own Herculean efforts to remain celibate led to his so exalting virginity that he considered marriage beneficial only because it brought virgins into the world.

     Perhaps the answer for him was a hermit’s life in the desert, practicing severe self-disciplines. It didn’t work. He still dreamed of Roman dancing girls. Returning to Rome, he faced the temptations head-on and avoided the dancing girls. But he didn’t avoid Paula, a young widow who became, not a sexual partner, but a lifelong soulmate. In Rome in the early 380s he discovered his life’s work. Pope Damasus suggested he prepare a new Latin version of the Gospels and Psalms. Jerome set to work on it, and for the next 22 years he labored tirelessly as a Bible translator.

     His sharp tongue made trouble in Rome, so he and Paula moved to Bethlehem in 386. Near the birthplace of Jesus, they established separate monasteries for men and women where Jerome balanced his need for companionship with a corresponding need for solitude, study, and asceticism. He poured himself into the Latin translation of the Bible, his life’s crowning achievement. He died, white-haired and wrinkled, on September 30, 420.

     With my whole heart I agree with the Law of God. But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do. What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me … ? Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me.
--- Romans 7:22-25a.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - September 30

     “Sing forth the honour of his name, make his praise glorious.” --- Psalm 66:2.

     It is not left to our own option whether we shall praise God or not. Praise is God’s most righteous due, and every Christian, as the recipient of his grace, is bound to praise God from day to day. It is true we have no authoritative rubric for daily praise; we have no commandment prescribing certain hours of song and thanksgiving: but the law written upon the heart teaches us that it is right to praise God; and the unwritten mandate comes to us with as much force as if it had been recorded on the tables of stone, or handed to us from the top of thundering Sinai. Yes, it is the Christian’s duty to praise God. It is not only a pleasurable exercise, but it is the absolute obligation of his life. Think not ye who are always mourning, that ye are guiltless in this respect, or imagine that ye can discharge your duty to your God without songs of praise. You are bound by the bonds of his love to bless his name so long as you live, and his praise should continually be in your mouth, for you are blessed, in order that you may bless him; “this people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise”; and if you do not praise God, you are not bringing forth the fruit which he, as the Divine Husbandman, has a right to expect at your hands. Let not your harp then hang upon the willows, but take it down, and strive, with a grateful heart, to bring forth its loudest music. Arise and chant his praise. With every Morning’s dawn, lift up your notes of thanksgiving, and let every setting sun be followed with your song. Girdle the earth with your praises; surround it with an atmosphere of melody, and God himself will hearken from heaven and accept your music.

     “E’en so I love thee, and will love,
     And in thy praise will sing,

     Because thou art my loving God,
     And my redeeming King.”

          Evening - September 30

     “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” --- Ecclesiastes 9:4.

     Life is a precious thing, and in its humblest form it is superior to death. This truth is eminently certain in spiritual things. It is better to be the least in the kingdom of heaven than the greatest out of it. The lowest degree of grace is superior to the noblest development of unregenerate nature. Where the Holy Ghost implants divine life in the soul, there is a precious deposit which none of the refinements of education can equal. The thief on the cross excels Caesar on his throne; Lazarus among the dogs is better than Cicero among the senators; and the most unlettered Christian is in the sight of God superior to Plato. Life is the badge of nobility in the realm of spiritual things, and men without it are only coarser or finer specimens of the same lifeless material, needing to be quickened, for they are dead in trespasses and sins.

     A living, loving, Gospel sermon, however unlearned in matter and uncouth in style, is better than the finest discourse devoid of unction and power. A living dog keeps better watch than a dead lion, and is of more service to his master; and so the poorest spiritual preacher is infinitely to be preferred to the exquisite orator who has no wisdom but that of words, no energy but that of sound. The like holds good of our prayers and other religious exercises; if we are quickened in them by the Holy Spirit, they are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, though we may think them to be worthless things; while our grand performances in which our hearts were absent, like dead lions, are mere carrion in the sight of the living God. O for living groans, living sighs, living despondencies, rather than lifeless songs and dead calms. Better anything than death. The snarlings of the dog of hell will at least keep us awake, but dead faith and dead profession, what greater curses can a man have? Quicken us, quicken us, O Lord!

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

Amazing Grace
     September 30

          THE SPIRIT BREATHES UPON THE WORD

     William Cowper, 1731–1800

     Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

     The Bible is the only book whose Author is always present when one reads it.
--- Unknown

     We can never really be exposed to the truths of God’s Word without our lives being affected. Either we become more desirous of becoming like the author of the Book, or we become increasingly hardened to its truths. It has been said that we must know the Word of God in order to know the God of the Word. However, a study of God’s Word must never stop at merely gaining biblical knowledge. It must always lead us to a more intimate relationship with God Himself.

     Although William Cowper, the author of this hymn text, was regarded as one of the leading English poets of his day, he suffered periods of severe depression throughout his lifetime. Yet during times of normalcy he wrote great literary works and worked with John Newton to produce the important Olney Hymns hymnal of 1779, to which Cowper contributed 67 texts. “The Spirit Breathes Upon the Word” was from this collection.

     This hymn teaches an important truth: The same Spirit of God who authored the Bible is the One who enlightens it for our understanding and guidance—“The hand that gave it still supplies the gracious light and heat.” May we increasingly use this enlightened Word as we pursue the steps of Christ till they lead us to “brighter worlds above.”

     The Spirit breathes upon the Word, and brings the truth to sight; precepts and promises afford a sanctifying light.
     A glory gilds the sacred page, majestic like the sun: It gives a light to ev’ry age; it gives but borrows none.
     The Hand that gave it still supplies the gracious light and heat; His truths upon the nations rise; they rise but never set.
     Let everlasting thanks be Thine for such a bright display as makes a world of darkness shine with beams of heav’nly day.
     My soul rejoices to pursue the steps of Him I love, till glory breaks upon my view in brighter worlds above.


     For Today: Deuteronomy 4:2; Matthew 4:4; 24:35; 1 Timothy 3:14, 15; 2 Timothy 3:15–17; 1 Peter 2:2

     Determine to enter into a fresh study of God’s Word with the desire that the Holy Spirit will bring some new truth and insight into your daily life. Carry this musical truth with you ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, September 30, 2017 | After Pentecost


Proper 20, Saturday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 87, 90
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 136
Old Testament     2 Kings 11:1–20a
New Testament     1 Corinthians 7:10–24
Gospel     Matthew 6:19–24

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 87, 90

Psalm 87
Of the Korahites. A Psalm. A Song.

1 On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
2 the LORD loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God.     Selah

4 Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
Philistia too, and Tyre, with Ethiopia—
“This one was born there,” they say.

5 And of Zion it shall be said,
“This one and that one were born in it”;
for the Most High himself will establish it.
6 The LORD records, as he registers the peoples,
“This one was born there.”     Selah

7 Singers and dancers alike say,
“All my springs are in you.”

Psalm 90
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

3 You turn us back to dust,
and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.

5 You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning;
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.

7 For we are consumed by your anger;
by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
our years come to an end like a sigh.
10 The days of our life are seventy years,
or perhaps eighty, if we are strong;
even then their span is only toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.

11 Who considers the power of your anger?
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
12 So teach us to count our days
that we may gain a wise heart.

13 Turn, O LORD! How long?
Have compassion on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us,
and as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be manifest to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 136

Psalm 136

1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 O give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

4 who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 who spread out the earth on the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 who struck Egypt through their firstborn,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
17 who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed famous kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to his servant Israel,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 O give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Old Testament
2 Kings 11:1–20a

11 Now when Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mother, saw that her son was dead, she set about to destroy all the royal family. 2 But Jehosheba, King Joram’s daughter, Ahaziah’s sister, took Joash son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s children who were about to be killed; she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus she hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not killed; 3 he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the LORD, while Athaliah reigned over the land.

4 But in the seventh year Jehoiada summoned the captains of the Carites and of the guards and had them come to him in the house of the LORD. He made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the LORD; then he showed them the king’s son. 5 He commanded them, “This is what you are to do: one-third of you, those who go off duty on the sabbath and guard the king’s house 6 (another third being at the gate Sur and a third at the gate behind the guards), shall guard the palace; 7 and your two divisions that come on duty in force on the sabbath and guard the house of the LORD 8 shall surround the king, each with weapons in hand; and whoever approaches the ranks is to be killed. Be with the king in his comings and goings.”

9 The captains did according to all that the priest Jehoiada commanded; each brought his men who were to go off duty on the sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the sabbath, and came to the priest Jehoiada. 10 The priest delivered to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of the LORD; 11 the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house, to guard the king on every side. 12 Then he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the covenant; they proclaimed him king, and anointed him; they clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!”

13 When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the LORD to the people; 14 when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to custom, with the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!” 15 Then the priest Jehoiada commanded the captains who were set over the army, “Bring her out between the ranks, and kill with the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest said, “Let her not be killed in the house of the LORD.” 16 So they laid hands on her; she went through the horses’ entrance to the king’s house, and there she was put to death.

17 Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people, that they should be the LORD’s people; also between the king and the people. 18 Then all the people of the land went to the house of Baal, and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, before the altars. The priest posted guards over the house of the LORD. 19 He took the captains, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land; then they brought the king down from the house of the LORD, marching through the gate of the guards to the king’s house. He took his seat on the throne of the kings. 20 So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been killed with the sword at the king’s house.

New Testament
1 Corinthians 7:10–24

10 To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. 16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

17 However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. 20 Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.

21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. 22 For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. 24 In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.

Gospel
Matthew 6:19–24

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.


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



Jesus is the Son of God
Albert Mohler, Jr.





The Authority of Scripture
Albert Mohler, Jr.






Waiting on the Lord - Part 1
Dave Talley   Biola University





Waiting on the Lord - Part 2
Dave Talley   Biola University






Shepherds Conference 2017 | Session 11
Albert Mohler, Jr.





Why Does the Universe Look So Old?
Albert Mohler, Jr.