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9/4/2017
2 Kings 9-11
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Anointing of Jehu

2 Kings 9:1     Then the prophet Elisha called a member of the company of prophets and said to him, “Gird up your loins; take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2 When you arrive, look there for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi; go in and get him to leave his companions, and take him into an inner chamber. 3 Then take the flask of oil, pour it on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and flee; do not linger.”

     4 So the young man, the young prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. 5 He arrived while the commanders of the army were in council, and he announced, “I have a message for you, commander.” “For which one of us?” asked Jehu. “For you, commander.” 6 So Jehu got up and went inside; the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, “Thus says the Lord the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. 7 You shall strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord. 8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and no one shall bury her.” Then he opened the door and fled.

     11 When Jehu came back to his master’s officers, they said to him, “Is everything all right? Why did that madman come to you?” He answered them, “You know the sort and how they babble.” 12 They said, “Liar! Come on, tell us!” So he said, “This is just what he said to me: ‘Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel.’ ” 13 Then hurriedly they all took their cloaks and spread them for him on the bare steps; and they blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”

Joram of Israel Killed

     14 Thus Jehu son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. Joram with all Israel had been on guard at Ramoth-gilead against King Hazael of Aram; 15 but King Joram had returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Arameans had inflicted on him, when he fought against King Hazael of Aram. So Jehu said, “If this is your wish, then let no one slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.” 16 Then Jehu mounted his chariot and went to Jezreel, where Joram was lying ill. King Ahaziah of Judah had come down to visit Joram.

     17 In Jezreel, the sentinel standing on the tower spied the company of Jehu arriving, and said, “I see a company.” Joram said, “Take a horseman; send him to meet them, and let him say, ‘Is it peace?’ ” 18 So the horseman went to meet him; he said, “Thus says the king, ‘Is it peace?’ ” Jehu responded, “What have you to do with peace? Fall in behind me.” The sentinel reported, saying, “The messenger reached them, but he is not coming back.” 19 Then he sent out a second horseman, who came to them and said, “Thus says the king, ‘Is it peace?’ ” Jehu answered, “What have you to do with peace? Fall in behind me.” 20 Again the sentinel reported, “He reached them, but he is not coming back. It looks like the driving of Jehu son of Nimshi; for he drives like a maniac.”

     21 Joram said, “Get ready.” And they got his chariot ready. Then King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah set out, each in his chariot, and went to meet Jehu; they met him at the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 When Joram saw Jehu, he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” He answered, “What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?” 23 Then Joram reined about and fled, saying to Ahaziah, “Treason, Ahaziah!” 24 Jehu drew his bow with all his strength, and shot Joram between the shoulders, so that the arrow pierced his heart; and he sank in his chariot. 25 Jehu said to his aide Bidkar, “Lift him out, and throw him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I rode side by side behind his father Ahab how the Lord uttered this oracle against him: 26 ‘For the blood of Naboth and for the blood of his children that I saw yesterday, says the Lord, I swear I will repay you on this very plot of ground.’ Now therefore lift him out and throw him on the plot of ground, in accordance with the word of the Lord.”

Ahaziah of Judah Killed (2 Chr 22.7—9)

     27 When King Ahaziah of Judah saw this, he fled in the direction of Beth-haggan. Jehu pursued him, saying, “Shoot him also!” And they shot him in the chariot at the ascent to Gur, which is by Ibleam. Then he fled to Megiddo, and died there. 28 His officers carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his ancestors in the city of David.

     29 In the eleventh year of Joram son of Ahab, Ahaziah began to reign over Judah.

Jezebel’s Violent Death

     30 When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; she painted her eyes, and adorned her head, and looked out of the window. 31 As Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?” 32 He looked up to the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. 33 He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down; some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, which trampled on her. 34 Then he went in and ate and drank; he said, “See to that cursed woman and bury her; for she is a king’s daughter.” 35 But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. 36 When they came back and told him, he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, ‘In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; 37 the corpse of Jezebel shall be like dung on the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jezebel.’ ”


Massacre of Ahab’s Descendants

2 Kings 10:1     Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to the guardians of the sons of Ahab, saying, 2 “Since your master’s sons are with you and you have at your disposal chariots and horses, a fortified city, and weapons, 3 select the son of your master who is the best qualified, set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house.” 4 But they were utterly terrified and said, “Look, two kings could not withstand him; how then can we stand?” 5 So the steward of the palace, and the governor of the city, along with the elders and the guardians, sent word to Jehu: “We are your servants; we will do anything you say. We will not make anyone king; do whatever you think right.” 6 Then he wrote them a second letter, saying, “If you are on my side, and if you are ready to obey me, take the heads of your master’s sons and come to me at Jezreel tomorrow at this time.” Now the king’s sons, seventy persons, were with the leaders of the city, who were charged with their upbringing. 7 When the letter reached them, they took the king’s sons and killed them, seventy persons; they put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel. 8 When the messenger came and told him, “They have brought the heads of the king’s sons,” he said, “Lay them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until the Morning.” 9 Then in the Morning when he went out, he stood and said to all the people, “You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him; but who struck down all these? 10 Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the Lord, which the Lord spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for the Lord has done what he said through his servant Elijah.” 11 So Jehu killed all who were left of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his leaders, close friends, and priests, until he left him no survivor.

     12 Then he set out and went to Samaria. On the way, when he was at Beth-eked of the Shepherds, 13 Jehu met relatives of King Ahaziah of Judah and said, “Who are you?” They answered, “We are kin of Ahaziah; we have come down to visit the royal princes and the sons of the queen mother.” 14 He said, “Take them alive.” They took them alive, and slaughtered them at the pit of Beth-eked, forty-two in all; he spared none of them.

     15 When he left there, he met Jehonadab son of Rechab coming to meet him; he greeted him, and said to him, “Is your heart as true to mine as mine is to yours?” Jehonadab answered, “It is.” Jehu said, “If it is, give me your hand.” So he gave him his hand. Jehu took him up with him into the chariot. 16 He said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.” So he had him ride in his chariot. 17 When he came to Samaria, he killed all who were left to Ahab in Samaria, until he had wiped them out, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke to Elijah.

Slaughter of Worshipers of Baal

     18 Then Jehu assembled all the people and said to them, “Ahab offered Baal small service; but Jehu will offer much more. 19 Now therefore summon to me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers, and all his priests; let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal; whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu was acting with cunning in order to destroy the worshipers of Baal. 20 Jehu decreed, “Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal.” So they proclaimed it. 21 Jehu sent word throughout all Israel; all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was no one left who did not come. They entered the temple of Baal, until the temple of Baal was filled from wall to wall. 22 He said to the keeper of the wardrobe, “Bring out the vestments for all the worshipers of Baal.” So he brought out the vestments for them. 23 Then Jehu entered the temple of Baal with Jehonadab son of Rechab; he said to the worshipers of Baal, “Search and see that there is no worshiper of the Lord here among you, but only worshipers of Baal.” 24 Then they proceeded to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings.

     Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside, saying, “Whoever allows any of those to escape whom I deliver into your hands shall forfeit his life.” 25 As soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guards and to the officers, “Come in and kill them; let no one escape.” So they put them to the sword. The guards and the officers threw them out, and then went into the citadel of the temple of Baal. 26 They brought out the pillar that was in the temple of Baal, and burned it. 27 Then they demolished the pillar of Baal, and destroyed the temple of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.

     28 Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. 29 But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to commit—the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. 30 The Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what I consider right, and in accordance with all that was in my heart have dealt with the house of Ahab, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” 31 But Jehu was not careful to follow the law of the Lord the God of Israel with all his heart; he did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he caused Israel to commit.

Death of Jehu

     32 In those days the Lord began to trim off parts of Israel. Hazael defeated them throughout the territory of Israel: 33 from the Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the Wadi Arnon, that is, Gilead and Bashan. 34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, all that he did, and all his power, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 35 So Jehu slept with his ancestors, and they buried him in Samaria. His son Jehoahaz succeeded him. 36 The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.


Athaliah Reigns over Judah (2 Chr 22.10—12)

2 Kings 11:1     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.

Jehoiada Anoints the Child Joash (2 Chr 23.1—11)

     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!”

Death of Athaliah (2 Chr 23.12—24.1)

     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.

     21 Jehoash was seven years old when he began to reign.

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



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The Trinity is Not A Problem, It’s A Solution

By J. Warner Wallace 5/4/2016

     Some would say that the Bible presents an irreconcilable dilemma. Both the New and Old Testament declare that there is only one God. Verses like Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Isaiah 43:10, James 2:19, 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6 and 1 Timothy 2:5-6 make it rather clear; the writers of Jewish and Christian scripture proclaimed the existence of a single, solitary God. While this is the consistent message of the Bible, another thorny truth is also proclaimed: the Bible teaches that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are all God:

(Dt 6:4–r) 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. NRSV

(Is 43:10) 10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. NRSV

(Jas 2:19) 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! NRSV

(1 Co 8:4–6) 4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. NRSV

(1 Ti 2:5–6) 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. NRSV

     All Three Are the All-Powerful Creator (Omnipotent)

(Is 64:8) 8 But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. NRSV

(Jn 1:3) 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. NRSV

(Job 33:4) 4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. NRSV

     All Three Are All-Present (Omnipresent)

(1 Ki 8:27) 27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! NRSV

(Mt 28:20) 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” NRSV

(Ps 139:7–10) 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. NRSV

     All Three Are All-Loving (Omnibenevolent)

(Jn 3:16) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. NRSV

(Eph 5:25) 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, NRSV

(Ro 15:30–31) 30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, NRSV

     All Three Are Called “God”

(Php 1:2) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. NRSV

(Jn 1:1) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. NRSV

(Ac 5:3–4) 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” NRSV

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

In Awe of Her God Joni’s Fifty Years of Counting Quadriplegia Joy

By Vaneetha Rendall Risner 7/30/2017

     This weekend marks fifty years since the diving accident that left Joni Eareckson Tada with quadriplegia. Fifty years of relying on others to meet her physical needs. Fifty years of pressing on in the midst of weakness, fatigue, and pain. Fifty years of trusting God to provide.

     On July 30, 1967, when she was seventeen years old, Joni was paralyzed from the neck down after she dove into deceptively shallow water in the Chesapeake Bay. The early weeks and months were excruciating, and she despaired of even smiling again. But by God’s grace, fifty years later, she is full of grace and laughter, praising Jesus and counting it all joy.

     In her latest devotional, A Spectacle of Glory: God's Light Shining through Me Every Day, Joni shares, “I happened to hear recently the old Beatles classic ‘Here Comes the Sun’ — a song I listened to when I was first injured. It reminded me of the dark, depressing days in the hospital when I thought I would never smile again, would never see the sunlight of hope. And now, nearly fifty years later, I still find myself thinking, how in the world did I ever make it?

     “But here I am, living in joyful hope as though it were sunshine. How did that happen? Here’s how: day after day, month after month, year after year, I simply cast myself on Jesus. I clung to his name, crying out constantly, ‘O Jesus!’”

     The Worst Part | This week I had the privilege of speaking with Ama Cruz, who helps serve Joni and her husband Ken in their home. Every morning someone arrives from her wake-up crew, affectionately known as her “Get-Up Girls.” They get her ready regardless of whether Joni has slept well or not, whether she’s in agony or not, whether she wants to get up or not. Because she relies on helpers who are scheduled in advance, Joni doesn’t have the luxury of changing her mind at the last minute. Joni can’t hit the snooze alarm and decide she wants a little more sleep.

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     Vaneetha Rendall Risner is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to Desiring God. She blogs at danceintherain.com, although she doesn’t like rain and has no sense of rhythm. Vaneetha is married to Joel and has two daughters, Katie and Kristi. She and Joel live in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Vaneetha Rendall Risner Books

The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering

John Calvin, The Beatific Vision, And The Ene Of Mediation

By Steven Wedgeworth

     Dr. Hutchinson’s recent post on Augustine reminded me about a point of Calvin’s eschatology that I wanted to explore. Agreeing with Augustine, Calvin argues that there will come a time when Christ’s mediation will come to an end, and the godman will deliver the kingdom over to the Trinity (considered properly; its deity as such). Calvin then adds that we will behold God directly at this time, seeing the majesty of deity without a veil.

     This thought can be found in at least two places in Calvin’s work. First is his commentary on 1 Cor. 15:28:

     Farther, it must be observed, that he has been appointed Lord and highest King, so as to be as it were the Father’s Vicegerent in the government of the world — not that he is employed and the Father unemployed (for how could that be, inasmuch as he is the wisdom and counsel of the Father, is of one essence with him, and is therefore himself God?) But the reason why the Scripture testifies, that Christ now holds dominion over the heaven and the earth in the room of the Father is — that we may not think that there is any other governor, lord, protector, or judge of the dead and living, but may fix our contemplation on him alone. We acknowledge, it is true, God as the ruler, but it is in the face of the man Christ. But Christ will then restore the kingdom which he has received, that we may cleave wholly to God. Nor will he in this way resign the kingdom, but will transfer it in a manner from his humanity to his glorious divinity, because a way of approach will then be opened up, from which our infirmity now keeps us back. Thus then Christ will be subjected to the Father, because the veil being then removed, we shall openly behold God reigning in his majesty, and Christ’s humanity will then no longer be interposed to keep us back from a closer view of God.

     He expands upon these thoughts in his Institutes:

     The kingdom of God assuredly had no beginning, and will have no end: but because he was hid under a humble clothing of flesh, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and humbled himself (Phil. 2:8), and, laying aside the insignia of majesty, became obedient to the Father; and after undergoing this subjection was at length crowned with glory and honour (Heb. 2:7), and exalted to supreme authority, that at his name every knee should bow (Phil. 2:10); so at the end he will subject to the Father both the name and the crown of glory, and whatever he received of the Father, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). For what end were that power and authority given to him, save that the Father might govern us by his hand? In the same sense, also, he is said to sit at the right hand of the Father. But this is only for a time, until we enjoy the immediate presence of his Godhead. And here we cannot excuse the error of some ancient writers, who, by not attending to the office of Mediator, darken the genuine meaning of almost the whole doctrine which we read in the Gospel of John, and entangle themselves in many snares. Let us, therefore, regard it as the key of true interpretation, that those things which refer to the office of Mediator are not spoken of the divine or human nature simply. Christ, therefore, shall reign until he appear to judge the world, inasmuch as, according to the measure of our feeble capacity, he now connects us with the Father. But when, as partakers of the heavenly glory, we shall see God as he is, then Christ, having accomplished the office of Mediator, shall cease to be the vicegerent of the Father, and will be content with the glory which he possessed before the world was. Nor is the name of Lord specially applicable to the person of Christ in any other respect than in so far as he holds a middle place between God and us. To this effect are the words of Paul, “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him,” (1 Cor. 8:6); that is, to the latter a temporary authority has been committed by the Father until his divine majesty shall be beheld face to face. His giving up of the kingdom to the Father, so far from impairing his majesty, will give a brighter manifestation of it. God will then cease to be the head of Christ, and Christ’s own Godhead will then shine forth of itself, whereas it is now in a manner veiled. (Inst. 2.14.3)

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     Steven Wedgeworth is the pastor of Christ Church in Lakeland, Florida. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Trust. A graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS), Steven lives in Lakeland, FL with his wife, son, daughter, and two terriers.

Regeneration Is Monergistic

By Steven Lawson 5/24/2017

     There may be no truth in the Bible more deeply loved and greatly cherished than the subject of the new birth. Here is the grace-centered message of a new beginning for those whose lives have been ruined by sin. Here is the life-changing truth that sinful men can be made new. When the new birth is caused by God, old things pass away—old practices, old cravings, old habits, old addictions, and old associations. Behold, new things come—new desires, new pursuits, and new passions. An entirely new life begins. Nothing could be more positive than this. It is no wonder that the truth of the new birth is so beloved.

     Yet despite its great appeal, the new birth may be the most misunderstood doctrine in Scripture. Most people naively imagine that there is something they can do to cause themselves to be born again. They hear a well-meaning person say, “Believe and be born again,” and suppose that they can. So they try to effect their own regeneration. But this they cannot do. In attempting it, they are like someone who imagines he caused himself to be born physically. Did he meet with his parents and ask to be born? Did he initiate his own birth? Of course not. The truth is, the initiative in birth lies outside of the one being born. He is merely part of a process that started long before he came into being. His parents acted, then God acted. And as a result, that individual was brought into the world. He did not cause his own birth to happen.

     The same is true regarding spiritual birth. If you have experienced the new birth, it is not because you initiated it. Rather, it was an event that God brought about in you. More specifically, you were not born again because you exercised faith. In truth, the new birth preceded your faith and produced it. Saving faith is the fruit of regeneration, not the root of it. The biblically correct order of salvation—known in theological language as the ordo salutis—is not “Believe and be born again,” but the very opposite: “Be born again and believe.” The living God must act upon the spiritually dead soul and cause it to be born again. The new birth is by divine choice and sovereign initiative. God’s will affects the human will, not vice versa. Scripture intentionally uses the imagery of birth to underscore this essential truth of the sovereignty of God in regeneration.

     John Murray, one of the foremost theologians of the twentieth century, affirmed the divine initiative in the new birth when he wrote:

     “For entrance into the kingdom of God we are wholly dependent upon the action of the Holy Spirit, an action … which is compared to that on the part of our parents by which we were born into the world. We are as dependent upon the Holy Spirit as we are upon the action of our parents in connection with our natural birth. We were not begotten by our father because we decided to be. And we were not born of our mother because we decided to be. We were simply begotten and we were born. We did not decide to be born…. If this privilege is ours it is because the Holy Spirit willed it and here all rests upon the Holy Spirit’s decision and action. He begets or bears when and where He pleases.”

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     Steven J. Lawson is president of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to bring about biblical reformation in the church today, as well as the Professor of Preaching in the masters and doctoral programs at The Master's Seminary, Sun Valley, California. Steven J. Lawson Books:

Are You a Spectator on Sunday Morning?

By Michael Wittmer 7/29/2017

     Medieval worship was a spectator sport. Pious peasants would attend Latin Mass — a language they could not understand — and gape in amazement as the bread and wine turned into the body and blood of Jesus. This miracle happened when the priest said the magic words, Hoc est corpus meum (translated “This is my body”). This phrase is the origin of the magician’s phrase, hocus pocus. The peasants were rarely allowed to eat the bread and they were never entrusted with their Savior’s blood. They merely watched as the priest behind the altar consumed Jesus.

     The Reformation’s emphasis on the priesthood of all believers turned these spectators into participants. Ordinary Christians no longer needed a priestly class to intercede between them and God. Martin Luther translated the Bible into German so everyone could hear from God, wrote a German Mass so everyone could sing along, and said every Christian must be given both the bread and the cup.

     Worship was wrestled away from the professional, priestly class and opened wide for everyone who put their faith in Christ.

     Watching Worshipers | Modern worship is becoming a spectator sport. Pious evangelicals stand mute before the overwhelming volume of the praise band — a loud sound they cannot compete with or contribute to — and gape in amazement as this priestly class of talented musicians soars for impossibly high and sustained notes. The worship is typically ebullient, and also far beyond the reach of the ordinary person. Many don’t even try.

     Pastors, look around during worship this weekend. How many of God’s children are singing? How many simply stand there, watching the professional performance on the platform?

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     Michael Wittmer is Professor of Systematic Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. Michael Wittmer Books:

The Prayers You Need Most Are Not Your Own

By Bart Byl 7/21/2017

     You will not endure as a Christian without powerful, effective prayer.

     That might be a frightening thought at first blush. If you’re like me, your prayer life feels inadequate. You feel more like the faltering father of the demon-possessed boy (Mark 9:24) than a faith-filled Elijah (James 5:17–18).

     But that does not mean powerful, effective prayer for your needs does not exist. Because of our weakness in this period between Jesus’s first and second comings, the Father has sent us another Helper. Now, when we have no idea what to pray for, he steps in:

     Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

     The way the Spirit helps us is surprising. If we don’t know what to pray for, you’d expect the Holy Spirit would help by, you know, telling us what to pray for. If not that, perhaps he would help us understand God’s plans in Scripture better, or give us prophetic words about what he’s doing. But instead, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” The Holy Spirit constantly intercedes for us.

Click here to read all of the article

     Bart Byl is an entrepreneur and an MA student at Regent College. He lives in the former Soviet republic of Georgia with his wife and children, where he is involved in international student outreach.

Does My Sex Life Affect My Prayer Life?

By John Piper 7/17/2017

     Here’s the whole verse: “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” That’s where he stops. Here’s the rest of it: “But then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5).

     The Paradox | Now what’s paradoxical about this is that, on the one hand, Paul sees the suspension of sexual relations as a means of intensified devotion to prayer, presumably because the couple wants a breakthrough and some answer to prayer because the devil is doing something they don’t want him to do.

     They want to resist the devil — resist unrighteousness that he’s promoting. Abstaining from sexual relations for prayer is a way of making war on Satan.

     But then, on the other hand, Paul says the married couple should come back together and continue to have sexual relations so that Satan may not tempt you. This means that regular relations in marriage is a weapon against satanic triumphs. So abstaining from sexual relations for prayer is a weapon against Satan, and carrying on regular sexual relations is a weapon against Satan. That’s the paradox.

     Maintaining Balance | I think this is really important to see because it means that, in God’s design of the world and of human life, his pattern for ordinary things like sleeping, exercising, eating, and sexual relations in marriage all have their place in maintaining appropriate spiritual equilibrium that keeps us from being knocked off balance by Satan.

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

John Piper Books:




  • War on Terror
  • Welcoming the Alien
  • Green Chemistry

#1 Dinesh D'Souza  
Gordon College


 

#2 John Skillen   
Gordon College


 

#3 Amy Cannon   
Gordon College


 


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     In the dead of winter, 1842, clad in buckskin breeches, fur leggings and moccasins, he trekked 4000 miles, in a race against time, from his mission in the Oregon wilderness to Washington, DC to plead with President Tyler not to give the land to Britain. He then led the first wagon trains across the Oregon Trail. This was Dr. Marcus Whitman, born this day, September 4, 1802. President Harding described: “Never… has there been a finer example of civilization following Christianity… Missionaries led under… the cross and… settlers… close behind under the star-spangled symbol.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


The quest for the eternal,
all-beautiful, all-true and all-pure,
and the quest to be close to the poor
and the most broken people appear to be so contradictory.
And yet, in the broken heart of Christ,
these two quests are united.
--- Jean Vanier


The Christian life is not a playground; it is a battleground, and we must be on our guard at all times.
--- Warren Wiersbe”   The Bumps Are What You Climb On: Encouragement for Difficult Days


The essence of Christian obedience is not do’s and don’ts but personal allegiance to Jesus.
--- Timothy Keller

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     4. Thus spake Jesus; yet did not the multitude of the Idumeans give any attention to what he said, but were in a rage, because they did not meet with a ready entrance into the city. The generals also had indignation at the offer of laying down their arms, and looked upon it as equal to a captivity, to throw them away at any man's injunction whomsoever. But Simon, the son of Cathlas, one of their commanders, with much ado quieted the tumult of his own men, and stood so that the high priests might hear him, and said as follows: "I can no longer wonder that the patrons of liberty are under custody in the temple, since there are those that shut the gates of our common city 8 to their own nation, and at the same time are prepared to admit the Romans into it; nay, perhaps are disposed to crown the gates with garlands at their coming, while they speak to the Idumeans from their own towers, and enjoin them to throw down their arms which they have taken up for the preservation of its liberty. And while they will not intrust the guard of our metropolis to their kindred, profess to make them judges of the differences that are among them; nay, while they accuse some men of having slain others without a legal trial, they do themselves condemn a whole nation after an ignominious manner, and have now walled up that city from their own nation, which used to be open to even all foreigners that came to worship there. We have indeed come in great haste to you, and to a war against our own countrymen; and the reason why we have made such haste is this, that we may preserve that freedom which you are so unhappy as to betray. You have probably been guilty of the like crimes against those whom you keep in custody, and have, I suppose, collected together the like plausible pretenses against them also that you make use of against us; after which you have gotten the mastery of those within the temple, and keep them in custody, while they are only taking care of the public affairs. You have also shut the gates of the city in general against nations that are the most nearly related to you; and while you give such injurious commands to others, you complain that you have been tyrannized over by them, and fix the name of unjust governors upon such as are tyrannized over by yourselves. Who can bear this your abuse of words, while they have a regard to the contrariety of your actions, unless you mean this, that those Idumeans do now exclude you out of your metropolis, whom you exclude from the sacred offices of your own country? One may indeed justly complain of those that are besieged in the temple, that when they had courage enough to punish those tyrants whom you call eminent men, and free from any accusations, because of their being your companions in wickedness, they did not begin with you, and thereby cut off beforehand the most dangerous parts of this treason. But if these men have been more merciful than the public necessity required, we that are Idumeans will preserve this house of God, and will fight for our common country, and will oppose by war as well those that attack them from abroad, as those that betray them from within. Here will we abide before the walls in our armor, until either the Romans grow weary in waiting for you, or you become friends to liberty, and repent of what you have done against it."

     5. And now did the Idumeans make an acclamation to what Simon had said; but Jesus went away sorrowful, as seeing that the Idumeans were against all moderate counsels, and that the city was besieged on both sides. Nor indeed were the minds of the Idumeans at rest; for they were in a rage at the injury that had been offered them by their exclusion out of the city; and when they thought the zealots had been strong, but saw nothing of theirs to support them, they were in doubt about the matter, and many of them repented that they had come thither. But the shame that would attend them in case they returned without doing any thing at all, so far overcame that their repentance, that they lay all night before the wall, though in a very bad encampment; for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.

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

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

Proverbs 24:7
     by D.H. Stern

7     Wisdom is too lofty for a fool;
he keeps his mouth shut at the city gate.

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


                His

     Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me. --- John 17:6.

     The missionary is one in whom the Holy Ghost has wrought this realization—
“Ye are not your own.” To say ‘I am not my own,’ is to have reached a great point in spiritual nobility. The true nature of the life in the actual whirl is the deliberate giving up of myself to another in sovereign preference, and that other is Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit expounds the nature of Jesus to me in order to make me one with my Lord, not that I might go off as a showroom exhibit. Our Lord never sent any of the disciples out on the ground of what He had done for them. It was not until after the Resurrection, when the disciples had perceived by the power of the Holy Spirit Whom He was, that Jesus said ‘Go.’

     “If any man come to Me and hate not …, he cannot be My disciple,” not — he cannot be good and upright, but—he cannot be one over whom Jesus writes the word ‘Mine.’ Any one of the relationships Our Lord mentions may be a competitive relationship. I may prefer to belong to my mother, or to my wife, or to myself; then says Jesus, you cannot be My disciple. This does not mean I will not be saved, but it does mean that I cannot be ‘His.’

     Our Lord makes a disciple His own possession, He becomes responsible for him.
“Ye shall be witnesses unto Me.” The spirit that comes in is not that of doing anything for Jesus, but of being a perfect delight to Him. The secret of the missionary is—I am His, and He is carrying out His enterprises through me.

     Be entirely His.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

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


                The Cry (Poetry for Supper)

Don't think it was all hate
  That grew there; love grew there, too,
  Climbing by small tendrils where
  The warmth fell from the eyes' blue

Flame. Don't think even the dirt
  And the brute ugliness reigned
  Unchallenged. Among the fields
  Sometimes the spirit, enchained

So long by the gross flesh, raised
  Suddenly there its wild note of praise.


Selected poems, 1946-1968

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Numbers 12:5–8


     One says [only] partial praise of a person in his presence.

     BIBLE TEXT /
Numbers 12:5–8 / The Lord came down in a pillar of cloud, stopped at the entrance of the Tent, and called out, “Aaron and Miriam!” The two of them came forward; and He said, “Hear these My words: When a prophet of the Lord arises among you, I make Myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; he is trusted throughout My household. With him I speak mouth to mouth, plainly and not in riddles, and he beholds the likeness of the Lord.”

     MIDRASH TEXT / Sifrei Be-ha’alotekha 102 / [He] called out “Aaron and Miriam!” The two of them came forward. Why didn’t Moses go out with them? So that Israel would not say that Moses, too, was included with them in [God’s] anger.

     Another interpretation: The text comes to teach you manners, for whenever a person wants to speak to his friend, he shouldn’t say “Come here”; rather, let him draw him in concerning what he wants to speak to him about.

     Another interpretation: So that he [Moses] would not hear negative things about Aaron.

     Another interpretation: One doesn’t speak a person’s praise in his presence. Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah says, “We learn that one says [only] partial praise of a person in his presence. Thus we learned with Noah: ‘for you alone have I found righteous before Me in this generation’ (
Genesis 7:1). But when not in his presence. He [God] says, ‘This is the line of Noah.—Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his age’ ” (Genesis 6:9).

     Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Yosé ha-G’lili says, “We learn that one says [only] partial praise of He-Who-Spoke-and the-World-Came Into-Being, as it says, ‘Say to God, “How awesome are Your deeds” ’ (
Psalm 66:3). If one says [only] partial praise of He-Who-Spoke-and the-World-Came Into-Being, how much more so [does one say only partial praise] of flesh and blood.”

     CONTEXT Miriam and Aaron, the older sister and brother of Moses, spoke out against their younger sibling on two accounts. They were upset both that his wife was a Cushite, and that God had not acknowledged speaking through them as well as through Moses. In response to this criticism of Moses, God summoned Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to the Tent of Meeting. But then God, as our verses show, addressed only Aaron and Miriam: [He] called out “Aaron and Miriam!” God told them angrily that Moses was a unique prophet, and God’s special relationship with him was justified. Apparently as a punishment, Miriam was then stricken with snow-white scales over her body.

     Our Midrash questions why—at first—all three were summoned, but subsequently only Miriam and Aaron were addressed. Four different explanations are offered. The first answer—So that Israel would not say that Moses, too, was included with them in [God’s] anger—and the third answer—So that he [Moses] would not hear negative things about Aaron—are attempts to understand God’s actions. The other two interpretations are the Rabbis’ attempts to learn practical or ethical lessons from the somewhat unusual way that God called on and then spoke to Aaron and Miriam. From the second response—The text comes to teach you manners—we see that God didn’t just summon the two siblings and then criticize them. Initially, all three were brought forward; only afterwards were Moses’ brother and sister called to task for their attacks.

     One doesn’t speak a person’s praise in his presence. The fourth interpretation brings a final bit of wisdom, derived from the different ways God spoke to Moses and Noah. The Rabbis note that God spoke one way in their presence and differently about them when they weren’t there. Thus, it is only when God is alone with Miriam and Aaron that Moses is described in such exemplary tones. The same is true of Noah: To his face, God tells Noah “for you alone have I found righteous.” But when the Torah describes him in the third person, the additional adjective “blameless” is added to Noah’s praise: “Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his age.”

     Rabbi Elazar derives the same reason for the way God is addressed in the Bible. In Psalm 66, the only adjective used about God is “awesome,” when it is clear that the Psalmist could have gone on and on. The lesson learned comes from a logical inference, called in Hebrew קֹל וָחֹמֶר/kol va-ḥomer, “simple and severe.” If we are this restrained with praise of God (where there is no issue of “swelling God’s head”), how much more so must we be restrained with praise of human beings, flesh and blood, whose heads can most certainly be swelled!


Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     September 4

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

     Let all be thus exhorted to seek admittance to a room in heaven. (Selected RS Thomas of Jonathan Edwards ) When the disciples perceived that Christ was going away, they expressed a desire to go with him. Peter asked him where he went, that he might follow. Christ told him that he could not follow him now, but that he would follow him afterwards. But Peter said, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?”
(John 13:37). If those enjoy a high privilege who have seats in kings’ courts or in apartments in kings’ palaces—especially those who have dwellings there equal in quality to the king’s children—then how great a privilege will it be to have a room assigned to us as God’s children in his heavenly palace! How great is their glory and honor that are admitted to the household of God!

     And seeing there are many rooms there, rooms enough for us all, our folly will be the greater if we neglect to seek a place in heaven, having our minds foolishly taken up about the worthless, fading things of this world.

     Consider how little a while you have any place of abode in this world. [Here] you have a dwelling amongst the living, a house or room of your own, or at least one that is at present for your use. But in a very little while, the place that now knows you in this world will know you no more. The residence you have here will be empty of you; you will be carried dead out of it or will die at a distance from it and never enter it anymore—or any other dwelling in this world. Your room or dwelling place in this world, however convenient or comfortable it may be, is only a tent that will soon be taken down. Your stay is as it were but for a night. Your body itself is only a house of clay that will quickly decay and tumble down, and you will have no other dwelling here in this world but the grave.

     Therefore, take warning, and don’t be such fools as to neglect seeking a place and room in heaven. Let it be your main care to secure an everlasting dwelling for hereafter.

     Consider that when you die, if you have no room in the house of God in heaven, you must have your place in the dwelling of devils. There is no middle place between them, and when you go from here, you must go to one or the other of these. Consider how miserable those must be who shall dwell with devils to all eternity. Devils are foul spirits, God’s great enemies. Their dwelling is a place of darkness, utmost filthiness, abomination, darkness, disgrace, and torment. O, how would you rather ten thousand times have no place of abode at all, have no being, than to have [such] a place!
--- Jonathan Edwards


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

On This Day
     The Niger Expedition  September 4

     In 1840 three strands of purpose—missionary advance, humanitarian resolve, and slavery abolition—merged into the Niger Expedition, brainchild of Foxwell Buxton of the Church Missionary Society and of the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade. The British government funded the enterprise, and all England followed the course of the three new state-of-the-art steamships named Albert, Wilberforce, and Soudan. The iron vessels had a novel system of ventilation using chemical filters to “neutralize” the swamp gases thought to produce malaria.

     The fleet sailed in early 1841, loaded with sailors, scientists, agriculturists, philanthropists, liberated slaves (as interpreters) and missionaries, J. F. Schon and Samuel Adjai Crowther. They arrived in African waters in mid-August; but on September 4, 1841 the chief medical officer, Dr. McWilliams, logged that “fever of a most malignant character” had broken out and the whole expedition was paralyzed. The sick were loaded onto the Soudan to return to healthier harbors, and the Wilberforce followed her.

     The Albert forged up the Niger River alone, but soon the captain and crew were sick. Men threw themselves overboard in their deliriums. The dead were buried on the riverbanks by the missionaries. With no one left to navigate the ship, Dr. McWilliams did his best to control the reeling ship, using a textbook found in the captain’s cabin. But he had to repeatedly leave the bridge to attend the sick and dying. Of the 145 Europeans on board, 130 contracted malaria and many died.

     But the mission wasn’t a complete failure. The missionaries returned with valuable recommendations that led to establishing a missionary center in Fourah Bay for training liberated slaves to evangelize West Africa. Within four years its foundation stone was laid on the very spot where 40 years before a factory had stood that engaged in the slave trade. And the rafters of the new roof were made almost entirely from the masts of old slave ships.

  Tell the whole world to sing a new song to the LORD!
  Tell those who sail the ocean and those who live far away
  To join in the praise.
  Tell the tribes of the desert and everyone in the mountains
  To celebrate and sing.
  Let them announce his praises everywhere.
    --- Isaiah 42:10-12


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - September 4

     “I will; be thou clean.” --- Mark 1:41.

     Primeval darkness heard the Almighty fiat, “light be,” and straightway light was, and the word of the Lord Jesus is equal in majesty to that ancient word of power. Redemption like Creation has its word of might. Jesus speaks and it is done. Leprosy yielded to no human remedies, but it fled at once at the Lord’s “I will.” The disease exhibited no hopeful signs or tokens of recovery, nature contributed nothing to its own healing, but the unaided word effected the entire work on the spot and for ever. The sinner is in a plight more miserable than the leper; let him imitate his example and go to Jesus, “beseeching him and kneeling down to him.” Let him exercise what little faith he has, even though it should go no further than “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean”; and there need be no doubt as to the result of the application. Jesus heals all who come, and casts out none. In reading the narrative in which our Morning’s text occurs, it is worthy of devout notice that Jesus touched the leper. This unclean person had broken through the regulations of the ceremonial law and pressed into the house, but Jesus so far from chiding him broke through the law himself in order to meet him. He made an interchange with the leper, for while he cleansed him, he contracted by that touch a Levitical defilement. Even so Jesus Christ was made sin for us, although in himself he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. O that poor sinners would go to Jesus, believing in the power of his blessed substitutionary work, and they would soon learn the power of his gracious touch. That hand which multiplied the loaves, which saved sinking Peter, which upholds afflicted saints, which crowns believers, that same hand will touch every seeking sinner, and in a moment make him clean. The love of Jesus is the source of salvation. He loves, he looks, he touches us, WE LIVE.


          Evening - September 4

     "Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have.”
--- Leviticus 19:36.

     Weights, and scales, and measures were to be all according to the standard of justice. Surely no Christian man will need to be reminded of this in his business, for if righteousness were banished from all the world beside, it should find a shelter in believing hearts. There are, however, other balances which weigh moral and spiritual things, and these often need examining. We will call in the officer to-night.

     The balances in which we weigh our own and other men’s characters, are they quite accurate? Do we not turn our own ounces of goodness into pounds, and other persons’ bushels of excellence into pecks? See to weights and measures here, Christian. The scales in which we measure our trials and troubles, are they according to standard? Paul, who had more to suffer than we have, called his afflictions light, and yet we often consider ours to be heavy—surely something must be amiss with the weights! We must see to this matter, lest we get reported to the court above for unjust dealing. Those weights with which we measure our doctrinal belief, are they quite fair? The doctrines of grace should have the same weight with us as the precepts of the word, no more and no less; but it is to be feared that with many one scale or the other is unfairly weighted. It is a grand matter to give just measure in truth. Christian, be careful here. Those measures in which we estimate our obligations and responsibilities look rather small. When a rich man gives no more to the cause of God than the poor contribute, is that a just ephah and a just hin? When ministers are half starved, is that honest dealing? When the poor are despised, while ungodly rich men are held in admiration, is that a just balance? Reader, we might lengthen the list, but we prefer to leave it as your Evening’s work to find out and destroy all unrighteous balances, weights, and measures.

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

Amazing Grace
     September 4

          O BREATH OF LIFE

     Bessie P. Head, 1850–1936

     I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known. Habakkuk 3:2

     Set us afire, Lord, stir us, we pray— while the world perishes, we go our way
     Purposeless, passionless, day after day; set us afire, Lord, stir us, we pray!
--- Unknown


     When the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost for the birth of the church, it was in response to the fervent prayers of God’s people. This is still the principle for an effective ministry of any church —determined, persistent prayer for the Holy Spirit’s enabling power to accomplish our mission for God.

     Vitality is essential to any Christian ministry; complacency is deadly. There must be the fervency of divine life infused into us by God the Holy Spirit. Just as a healthy vine manifests itself in producing foliage and fruit, so it is with a healthy Christian—he will bear evidence of an infectious enthusiasm for the furtherance of the Gospel and a life that produces the fruits of the Spirit.

     This song of pleading for Holy Spirit power was written by Mrs. Bessie Head, a member of the Church of England. She was the author of numerous hymn texts, several of which appeared in the 1937 Keswick Hymn Book, including this hymn.

     It would be helpful if each believer, as well as each local church, would use this musical prayer often as a theme song. We need God’s continual reviving, renewing, refreshing, comforting, and equipping power if we are to effectively “spread the light” and meet the needs of this hour.

     O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us. Revive Thy Church with life and pow’r; O Breath of life, come, cleanse, renew us, and fit Thy Church to meet this hour.
     O Wind of God, come bend us, break us, till humbly we confess our need; then in Thy tenderness remake us, revive, restore, for this we plead.
     O Breath of Love, come breathe within us, renewing thought and will and heart; Come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us, revive Thy Church in ev’ry part.
     O Heart of Christ, once broken for us, ’tis there we find our strength and rest; our broken contrite hearts now solace, and let Thy waiting Church be blest.
     Revive us, Lord! Is zeal abating while harvest fields are vast and white? Revive us, Lord, the world is waiting. Equip Thy Church to spread the light.


     For Today: Psalm 85:6; Jeremiah 20:9; Luke 11:13; Acts 3:19; Romans 5:5

     Why is it that we as individual believers and as a local church easily become complacent about the things of God? What steps can be taken to change this? Carry this musical prayer with you as you reflect on this serious matter ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Monday, September 4, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 17, Monday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 25
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 9, 15
Old Testament     2 Chronicles 6:32–7:7
New Testament     James 2:1–13
Gospel     Mark 14:53–65

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 25

Of David.

1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.

6 Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O LORD!

8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who are they that fear the LORD?
He will teach them the way that they should choose.

13 They will abide in prosperity,
and their children shall possess the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my distress.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 O guard my life, and deliver me;
do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all its troubles.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 9, 15

To the leader: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David.
1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

3 When my enemies turned back,
they stumbled and perished before you.
4 For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.

5 You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemies have vanished in everlasting ruins;
their cities you have rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.

7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever,
he has established his throne for judgment.
8 He judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with equity.

9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

11 Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion.
Declare his deeds among the peoples.
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

13 Be gracious to me, O LORD.
See what I suffer from those who hate me;
you are the one who lifts me up from the gates of death,
14 so that I may recount all your praises,
and, in the gates of daughter Zion,
rejoice in your deliverance.

15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.
16 The LORD has made himself known, he has executed judgment;
the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.     Higgaion. Selah

17 The wicked shall depart to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.

18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

19 Rise up, O LORD! Do not let mortals prevail;
let the nations be judged before you.
20 Put them in fear, O LORD;
let the nations know that they are only human.     Selah

A Psalm of David.

1 O LORD, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy hill?

2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
and speak the truth from their heart;
3 who do not slander with their tongue,
and do no evil to their friends,
nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
but who honor those who fear the LORD;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
5 who do not lend money at interest,
and do not take a bribe against the innocent.

Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Old Teestament
2 Chronicles 6:32–7:7

32 “Likewise when foreigners, who are not of your people Israel, come from a distant land because of your great name, and your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm, when they come and pray toward this house, 33 may you hear from heaven your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigners ask of you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.

34 “If your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to you toward this city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, 35 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause.

36 “If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near; 37 then if they come to their senses in the land to which they have been taken captive, and repent, and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, and have done wrong; we have acted wickedly’; 38 if they repent with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity, to which they were taken captive, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their ancestors, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name, 39 then hear from heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their pleas, maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you. 40 Now, O my God, let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to prayer from this place.

41 “Now rise up, O LORD God, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation,
and let your faithful rejoice in your goodness.
42 O LORD God, do not reject your anointed one.
Remember your steadfast love for your servant David.”

7 When Solomon had ended his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying,

“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”

4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before the LORD. 5 King Solomon offered as a sacrifice twenty-two thousand oxen and one hundred twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. 6 The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the LORD that King David had made for giving thanks to the LORD—for his steadfast love endures forever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry. Opposite them the priests sounded trumpets; and all Israel stood.

7 Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the LORD; for there he offered the burnt offerings and the fat of the offerings of well-being because the bronze altar Solomon had made could not hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat parts.

New Testament
James 2:1–13

2 My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2 For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3 and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

Gospel
Mark 14:53–65

53 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. 54 Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. 56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. 57 Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’ ” 59 But even on this point their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 Jesus said, “I am; and

‘you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power,’
and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’ ”

63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? 64 You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. 65 Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.


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



Cultural World of NT L1 Honor and Shame
David A. deSilva, Ph.D.





Jacob & Esau
Ravi Zacharias






Cultural World of NT L2 1 Peter Honor and Shame
David A. deSilva, Ph.D.





Cultural World of NT L3 Patronage and Reciprocity
David A. deSilva, Ph.D.






Cultural World of NT L4 Hebrews--Patronage and Reciprocity
David A. deSilva, Ph.D.





Evangelical Imperative for Evangelical Intellectual Life
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Understanding the Psalms    
Baruch HaLevy   Gordon College





The Anguish of Exile and the Joy of Jerusalem    
Jon Levenson   Gordon College






Orthodoxy and Evangelical Renewal    
Frederica Mathewes-Green   
Gordon College






Cultural World of NT L5 Family and Household
David A. deSilva, Ph.D.






Psalms, L26 Wisdom Psalms Genre
Dr. Bruce Waltke





Psalms, L27 Wisdom Psalms Genre, Psalm 19
Dr. Bruce Waltke






Psalms, L28, Editing of the Psalter
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