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Jonah 1-4
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Jonah Tries to Run Away from God

Jonah 1:1     Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

     4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. 6 The captain came and said to him, “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish.”

     7 The sailors said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, so that we may know on whose account this calamity has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us why this calamity has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 “I am a Hebrew,” he replied. “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were even more afraid, and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so.

     11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, O Lord, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life. Do not make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

     17 But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Jonah 2:1     Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,

“I called to the Lord out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
3     You cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
4     Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
how shall I look again
upon your holy temple?’
5     The waters closed in over me;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped around my head
6     at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the Pit,
O Lord my God.
7     As my life was ebbing away,
I remembered the Lord;
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
8     Those who worship vain idols
forsake their true loyalty.
9     But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Deliverance belongs to the Lord!”

     10 Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land.

Conversion of Nineveh

Jonah 3:1     The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2 “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

     6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8 Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”

     10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

Jonah’s Anger

Jonah 4:1     But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3 And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

     6 The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

Jonah Is Reproved

     9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” 10 Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

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

  • Reinhold Niebuhr
  • Real Word
  • The Promise of The Image

#1 Andrew Bacevich  
Gordon College


#2 John Behr   
Gordon College


#3 Matthew Schmalz   
Gordon College


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     (Sept 8)    Bob Gass

     The Bible says, ‘The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right’ (Psalm 84:11 NLT). Sometimes we pray for a certain thing, believing it’s good for us. But God, who has a plan for your life, knows what would be ‘good’ and what wouldn’t be. Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, said if God had answered all her prayers when she was young, she’d have married the wrong man - several times. Two teardrops were floating down the river of life. One asked the other, ‘Who are you?’ The second replied, ‘I'm the teardrop from the girl who loved a man and lost him. Who are you?’ The first teardrop replied, ‘I am the teardrop of the girl who got him.’ That’s the way life goes, isn’t it? We cry over what we don’t have, not realising we might have cried twice as hard if God had given it to us. The expression ‘walking by faith’ means trusting the plan God has already worked out, and will reveal to you on a need-to-know basis. Paul said, ‘I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content’ (Philippians 4:11 NKJV). Clearly his contentment didn’t come from his surroundings, since he spent all but seven years of his ministry in prison. So, where did it come from? The knowledge that God ‘makes everything work out according to his plan’. Does that mean Paul understood every detail of God’s plan? No, but when he didn’t understand the plan, he trusted the Planner! And that’s where Paul’s peace, joy, and contentment came from. The same goes for you.

(Ps 84:11) 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. ESV

(Php 4:11) 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. ESV

Is 9-10
Gal 2

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Near this day, September 8, 70 AD, the city of Jerusalem fell. Historian Josephus recorded that Roman General Titus finally smashed through the defenses of Jerusalem, destroying the city and the Temple. Over a million perished in the siege. Through the centuries, people of faith have desired to pilgrimage there, including Abraham Lincoln. Mrs. Lincoln recalled his last words as they sat in Ford’s Theater: “He said he wanted to visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footprints of the Saviour. He was saying there was no city he so much desired to see as Jerusalem.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Every one, though born of God in an instant,
yet undoubtedly grows by slow degrees.
--- from a letter in the Works of John Wesley

     As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their "right" place.
--- Henri J.M. Nouwen

Look at Jesus Christ. Every time he was in trouble he used the Word of God. When he was tempted he used the Word. When he was suffering on the cross he used the Word.
--- Timothy Keller

From this greatness and immensity of God also your soul must reverently stay all its busy, bold inquiries, and know that God is to us, and to every creature, incomprehensible. If you could fathom or measure him, and know his greatness by a comprehensive knowledge, he were not God. A creature can comprehend nothing but a creature. You may know God, but not comprehend him; as your foot treads on the earth, but does not cover all the earth. The sea is not the sea, if you can hold it in a spoon.
--- Richard Baxter Adapted from Richard Baxter & William Orme, The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter: Volume XIII (London: James Duncan. 1830), 29.

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 6.

     How The Zealots When They Were Freed From The Idumeans, Slew A Great Many More Of The Citizens; And How Vespasian Dissuaded The Romans When They Were Very Earnest To March Against The Jews From Proceeding In The War At That Time.

     1. The Idumeans complied with these persuasions; and, in the first place, they set those that were in the prisons at liberty, being about two thousand of the populace, who thereupon fled away immediately to Simon, one whom we shall speak of presently. After which these Idumeans retired from Jerusalem, and went home; which departure of theirs was a great surprise to both parties; for the people, not knowing of their repentance, pulled up their courage for a while, as eased of so many of their enemies, while the zealots grew more insolent not as deserted by their confederates, but as freed from such men as might hinder their designs, and plot some stop to their wickedness. Accordingly, they made no longer any delay, nor took any deliberation in their enormous practices, but made use of the shortest methods for all their executions and what they had once resolved upon, they put in practice sooner than any one could imagine. But their thirst was chiefly after the blood of valiant men, and men of good families; the one sort of which they destroyed out of envy, the other out of fear; for they thought their whole security lay in leaving no potent men alive; on which account they slew Gorion, a person eminent in dignity, and on account of his family also; he was also for democracy, and of as great boldness and freedom of spirit as were any of the Jews whosoever; the principal thing that ruined him, added to his other advantages, was his free speaking. Nor did Niger of Peres escape their hands; he had been a man of great valor in their war with the Romans, but was now drawn through the middle of the city, and, as he went, he frequently cried out, and showed the scars of his wounds; and when he was drawn out of the gates, and despaired of his preservation, he besought them to grant him a burial; but as they had threatened him beforehand not to grant him any spot of earth for a grave, which he chiefly desired of them, so did they slay him [without permitting him to be buried]. Now when they were slaying him, he made this imprecation upon them, that they might undergo both famine and pestilence in this war, and besides all that, they might come to the mutual slaughter of one another; all which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men, and was what came most justly upon them, when not long afterward they tasted of their own madness in their mutual seditions one against another. So when this Niger was killed, their fears of being overturned were diminished; and indeed there was no part of the people but they found out some pretense to destroy them; for some were therefore slain, because they had had differences with some of them; and as to those that had not opposed them in times of peace, they watched seasonable opportunities to gain some accusation against them; and if any one did not come near them at all, he was under their suspicion as a proud man; if any one came with boldness, he was esteemed a contemner of them; and if any one came as aiming to oblige them, he was supposed to have some treacherous plot against them; while the only punishment of crimes, whether they were of the greatest or smallest sort, was death. Nor could any one escape, unless he were very inconsiderable, either on account of the meanness of his birth, or on account of his fortune.

     2. And now all the rest of the commanders of the Romans deemed this sedition among their enemies to be of great advantage to them, and were very earnest to march to the city, and they urged Vespasian, as their lord and general in all cases, to make haste, and said to him, that "the providence of God is on our side, by setting our enemies at variance against one another; that still the change in such cases may be sudden, and the Jews may quickly be at one again, either because they may be tired out with their civil miseries, or repent them of such doings." But Vespasian replied, that they were greatly mistaken in what they thought fit to be done, as those that, upon the theater, love to make a show of their hands, and of their weapons, but do it at their own hazard, without considering, what was for their advantage, and for their security; for that if they now go and attack the city immediately, "they shall but occasion their enemies to unite together, and shall convert their force, now it is in its height, against themselves. But if they stay a while, they shall have fewer enemies, because they will be consumed in this sedition: that God acts as a general of the Romans better than he can do, and is giving the Jews up to them without any pains of their own, and granting their army a victory without any danger; that therefore it is their best way, while their enemies are destroying each other with their own hands, and falling into the greatest of misfortunes, which is that of sedition, to sit still as spectators of the dangers they run into, rather than to fight hand to hand with men that love murdering, and are mad one against another. But if any one imagines that the glory of victory, when it is gotten without fighting, will be more insipid, let him know this much, that a glorious success, quietly obtained, is more profitable than the dangers of a battle; for we ought to esteem these that do what is agreeable to temperance and prudence no less glorious than those that have gained great reputation by their actions in war: that he shall lead on his army with greater force when their enemies are diminished, and his own army refreshed after the continual labors they had undergone. However, that this is not a proper time to propose to ourselves the glory of victory; for that the Jews are not now employed in making of armor or building of walls, nor indeed in getting together auxiliaries, while the advantage will be on their side who give them such opportunity of delay; but that the Jews are vexed to pieces every day by their civil wars and dissensions, and are under greater miseries than, if they were once taken, could be inflicted on them by us. Whether therefore any one hath regard to what is for our safety, he ought to suffer these Jews to destroy one another; or whether he hath regard to the greater glory of the action, we ought by no means to meddle with those men, now they are afflicted with a distemper at home; for should we now conquer them, it would be said the conquest was not owing to our bravery, but to their sedition."

     3. And now the commanders joined in their approbation of what Vespasian had said, and it was soon discovered how wise an opinion he had given. And indeed many there were of the Jews that deserted every day, and fled away from the zealots, although their flight was very difficult, since they had guarded every passage out of the city, and slew every one that was caught at them, as taking it for granted they were going over to the Romans; yet did he who gave them money get clear off, while he only that gave them none was voted a traitor. So the upshot was this, that the rich purchased their flight by money, while none but the poor were slain. Along all the roads also vast numbers of dead bodies lay in heaps, and even many of those that were so zealous in deserting at length chose rather to perish within the city; for the hopes of burial made death in their own city appear of the two less terrible to them. But these zealots came at last to that degree of barbarity, as not to bestow a burial either on those slain in the city, or on those that lay along the roads; but as if they had made an agreement to cancel both the laws of their country and the laws of nature, and, at the same time that they defiled men with their wicked actions, they would pollute the Divinity itself also, they left the dead bodies to putrefy under the sun; and the same punishment was allotted to such as buried any as to those that deserted, which was no other than death; while he that granted the favor of a grave to another would presently stand in need of a grave himself. To say all in a word, no other gentle passion was so entirely lost among them as mercy; for what were the greatest objects of pity did most of all irritate these wretches, and they transferred their rage from the living to those that had been slain, and from the dead to the living. Nay, the terror was so very great, that he who survived called them that were first dead happy, as being at rest already; as did those that were under torture in the prisons, declare, that, upon this comparison, those that lay unburied were the happiest. These men, therefore, trampled upon all the laws of men, and laughed at the laws of God; and for the oracles of the prophets, they ridiculed them as the tricks of jugglers; yet did these prophets foretell many things concerning [the rewards of] virtue, and [punishments of] vice, which when these zealots violated, they occasioned the fulfilling of those very prophecies belonging to their own country; for there was a certain ancient oracle of those men, that the city should then be taken and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a sedition should invade the Jews, and their own hand should pollute the temple of God. Now while these zealots did not [quite] disbelieve these predictions, they made themselves the instruments of their accomplishment.

     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 24:13-14
     by D.H. Stern

13     My son, eat honey, for it is good;
     honeycomb drippings are sweet to your taste.
14     Know that wisdom is similar[ly sweet] to your soul;
     if you find it, then you will have a future,
     what you hope for will not be cut off.

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

                Do it yourself

     Determinedly Demolish some Things.

     Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God. ---
2 Cor. 10:5.

     Deliverance from sin is not deliverance from human nature. There are things in human nature, such as prejudices, which the saint has to destroy by neglect; and other things which have to be destroyed by violence, i.e., by the Divine strength imparted by God’s Spirit. There are some things over which we are not to fight, but to stand still in and see the salvation of God; but every theory or conception which erects itself as a rampart against the knowledge of God is to be determinedly demolished by drawing on God’s power, not by fleshly endeavour or compromise (
v. 4).

      It is only when God has altered our disposition and we have entered into the experience of sanctification that the fight begins. The warfare is not against sin; we can never fight against sin: Jesus Christ deals with sin in Redemption. The conflict is along the line of turning our natural life into a spiritual life, and this is never done easily, nor does God intend it to be done easily. It is done only by a series of moral choices. God does not make us holy in the sense of character; He makes us holy in the sense of innocence, and we have to turn that innocence into holy character by a series of moral choices. These choices are continually in antagonism to the entrenchments of our natural life, the things which erect themselves as ramparts against the knowledge of God. We can either go back and make ourselves of no account in the Kingdom of God, or we can determinedly demolish these things and let Jesus bring another son to glory.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Judgment Day (Tares)
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                Judgment Day (Tares)

Yes, that's how I was,
  I know that face,
  That bony figure
  Without grace
  Of flesh or limb;
  In health happy,
  Careless of the claim
  Of the world's sick
  Or the world's poor;
  In pain craven--
  Lord, breathe once more
  On that sad mirror,
  Let me be lost
  In mist for ever
  Rather than own
  Such bleak reflections.
  Let me go back
  On my two knees
  Slowly to undo
  The knot of life
  That was tied there.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Numbers 19:2, 3, 5, 6, 9

     Let his mother come and wipe up the filth.

     BIBLE TEXT / Numbers 19:2, 3, 5, 6, 9 / This is the ritual law that the Lord has commanded: Instruct the Israelite people to bring you a red cow without blemish.… It shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered.… The cow shall be burned … and the priest shall take cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson stuff, and throw them into the fire consuming the cow.… A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the cow and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, to be kept for water of lustration for the Israelite community. It is for cleansing.

     MIDRASH TEXT / Numbers Rabbah 19, 8 / An idol worshiper asked Rabban Yoḥanan hen Zakkai, This ritual that you are performing seems like witchcraft. You bring a cow, burn it, pound it [to ashes], and take the ashes; and you sprinkle upon one who has become impure by contact with the dead two or three drops and say to him, ‘You are purified!’ ”

     He [Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai] said to him, “Has the spirit of madness ever entered you?” He [the idol worshiper] said to him, “No.” “Have you ever seen a person into whom the spirit of madness has entered?” He [the idol worshiper] said to him, “Yes.” He [Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai] said to him, “And what do you do for him?” He [the idol worshiper] said to him, “We bring roots and burn them to smoke under him, and we sprinkle water on it and the spirit flees.” He [Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai] said to him, “Let your ears hear what comes out of your mouth! This spirit is the spirit of impurity, as it is written, ‘And I will also make the “prophets” and the unclean spirit vanish from the land’ (Zechariah 13:2). Water of purification is sprinkled upon him and it flees.”

     After he [the idol worshiper] had left, his students said to him [Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai], “Our master: You put him off with a reed, but what would you say to us?” He said to them, “I swear—the dead do not make one impure, and the water does not purify. Rather, the Holy One, praised is He, said, ‘It is a ritual law that I have enacted; it is a decree that I have decreed. You may not transgress My decrees, as it is written, “This is the ritual law.” ’ ”

     And why are all the sacrifices males but this one is a female [cow]? Rabbi Aivu said, “A parable: The son of a handmaiden ‘dirtied’ the king’s palace. The king said, ‘Let his mother come and wipe up the ‘filth.’ ” So too, the Holy One, praised is He, said, ‘Let the cow come and atone for the incident of the calf.’ ”


     An idol worshiper asked Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai. In the Midrash and Talmud we find many discussions between the Rabbis and the non-Jews with whom they came in contact on the subjects of religion and philosophy. It may be that one people was simply curious about the other’s rituals, and what we have here is a record of a friendly interchange of neighbors. But it may also be true that these discussions were not always so friendly. The Rabbis were often put into the situation of defending Judaism from the attacks of those who tried to ridicule the Torah and win over the Jews to another set of beliefs. This was especially true during the time of Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai, in first-century Israel. Sometimes, on the other hand, the Rabbis put their own doubts and critical questions into the mouths of others, like this “idol worshiper.”

     The question being debated concerns the פָּרָה אֲדֻמָּה/parah adumah, the purification ritual involving the “Red Heifer”: You bring a cow, burn it, pound it [to ashes], and take the ashes; and you sprinkle upon one who has become impure by contact with the dead two or three drops and say to him, “You are purified!” The idol worshiper attacks this ritual as nonsense. Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai responds by saying it is not so different from the exorcism rites in which the idol worshiper himself believes. The Rabbi’s choice of a prooftext is very interesting. The context of the thirteenth chapter in the book of Zechariah deals with a purification ritual, perhaps the same one that the Torah portion (Numbers 19) is discussing. In what was possibly a rebuff to this idolater, Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai quotes only the second half of the verse, the part dealing with unclean spirits. The first half of the verse—known to the Rabbi and his students, but surely unknown to the idol worshiper—reads as follows: “In that day, too—declares the Lord of Hosts—I will erase the very names of the idols from the land; they shall not be uttered any more.” From this “silent curse,” we get a sense of the bitter rivalry that existed between Jews and non-Jews in Rabbinic times.

     When the idol worshiper leaves, the students say to their teacher, “Our master, You put him off with a reed, but what would you say to us?” The reed is soft and flimsy, without real substance. And they can’t believe that he believes in the flimsy explanation he gave the idol worshiper. What is the real meaning of this strange ritual? The answer given, It is a ritual law, is that the Red Heifer falls into the category of laws known as חֻקִּים/ḥukim, rituals that have no clear logical basis (at least so far as mere mortals can perceive). It is a command of God; while we can’t explain or understand it, we are obligated to obey it.

     The final question of our Midrash is And why are all the sacrifices males but this one is a female [cow]? In other cases, the animal brought for a sacrifice must be male. Rabbi Aivu sees a connection to the incident of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32), the idol built and worshiped by the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai in the absence of Moses. Since the sin of the people, there, in Exodus 32, involved a female calf, the purification ritual for the people, here, in Numbers 19, also involved an adult female cow.

     That fact became the basis for the parable about the handmaiden’s son who dirtied the king’s palace. To Rabbi Aivu, the son symbolizes the people Israel, which “dirtied” itself through the sin of the Golden Calf. This act of idolatry is represented as dirtying the king’s palace; in Rabbinic parables, the king is God. The mother, symbolized by the Red Heifer, was brought in to wipe up the filth. Let the cow come and atone for the incident of the calf.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     September 8

     My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working. --- John 5:17.

     It is characteristic of the Christian Gospel that its Savior should be a worker. (
George H. Morrison, “Some Features of Christ’s Working,” source document downloaded from Web site of Tom Garner, www.txdirect.net/~tgarner/ghmor2.htm, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) In the old world, work was a thing for slaves and serfs, not for freeborn people. Thus work and greatness rarely went together, and nothing was more alien to paganism than a toiling God. Jesus has changed all that. It was a revolution when Jesus taught “God loves.” But it was hardly less revolutionary when he taught “God works.”

     And he not only taught it, he lived it too. People saw in Christ a life of endless toil. Jesus stooped to the very humblest tasks, and he has left us an example, that we should follow in his steps.

     What is striking about the work of Jesus is the magnitude of his aim compared with the ordinariness of his methods.

     It is a great thing to command an army or to be a minister of state guiding a people toward their national destiny. But the aims of general or of diplomat seem almost insignificant when compared with the purposes of Jesus. He claims a universal sovereignty and runs it out to every sphere. He is to be the test in moral questions. He is to shape our law and mold our literature. He is the conqueror of death. The purposes of Jesus [are] far more stupendous than humanity had ever dreamed of.

     And it is the apparent ordinariness of his methods that strikes us. Had he a pen of fire? He never wrote a line, except in the sand. Was unlimited wealth at his command? “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). Were his first followers people of influence? Simon and Andrew were fishers. Or would he use the sword like Mohammed? “Put your sword back in its place,… for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (26:52). It seems impossible that in such ways Christ would achieve his purpose.

     It is a simple lesson for every man and woman who seeks to serve in the true Christian spirit. Surrounded by the ordinary, we should be facing heavenward. Poorly equipped in all things else, we should be mightily equipped in noble hope. If I am Christ’s, I cannot measure possibilities by methods. If I am Christ’s, I cherish the loftiest hope, and I am content to work for it in lowliest ways.
--- George H. Morrison

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

On This Day
     Terrible Day At Anagni  September 8

     Proverbs 16:18—Too much pride will destroy you—finds a perfect illustration in Benedetto Gaetani. Gaetani, a clergyman, carried himself with aplomb, serving the Vatican well in various capacities across Europe. When he became Pope Boniface VIII in 1294, he determined to raise the papacy to its highest point. His crown contained 48 rubies, 72 sapphires, 45 emeralds, and 66 large pearls. The Roman pontiff, he said, “is most high over princes, and monarchs receive their light from him as the moon receives its light from the sun.” He sometimes appeared before pilgrims crying, “I am Caesar. I am emperor.”

     France’s young King Philip IV would have none of it, and he continually outmaneuvered Boniface in diplomatic skirmishes. Things came to a head when Philip arrested the pope’s legate. Boniface roared back with a document known as Ausculta fili—Give ear, my son—charging Philip with arrogance toward the clergy and with plundering church property. Philip assembled the French Parliament and asserted independence from the church.

     The pope then issued another edict, the most extreme assertion of papal power in church history, called Unam sanctam. The pope is the vicar of Christ, it said, and every human must obey him. The pope further announced that on September 8, 1303, he would appear at the church of Anagni, Italy, near his summer residence, and with great solemnity pronounce a ban on Philip.

     September 8th never came. On September 7 Philip’s commandos attacked the papal residence and burst in on the 86-year-old pope. He was roughly treated. His palace was looted and the cathedral was burned, its relics destroyed. Its most priceless possession, a vase reportedly containing milk from Mary’s breasts, was shattered.

     Boniface remained prisoner for three days till forces loyal to him retook the palace. But the old man never recovered. He lost his mind and began beating his head against the wall. He refused to eat. A month later he died. The event is known to history as the “Terrible Day at Anagni,” and it marked the beginning of the decline of the papacy in medieval Europe.

     Too much pride will destroy you.
     You are better off to be humble and poor
     Than to get rich from what you take by force.
     Proverbs 16:18,19.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - September 8

     "From me is thy fruit found." --- Hosea 14:8.

     Our fruit is found from our God as to union. The fruit of the branch is directly traceable to the root. Sever the connection, the branch dies, and no fruit is produced. By virtue of our union with Christ we bring forth fruit. Every bunch of grapes have been first in the root, it has passed through the stem, and flowed through the sap vessels, and fashioned itself externally into fruit, but it was first in the stem; so also every good work was first in Christ, and then is brought forth in us. O Christian, prize this precious union to Christ; for it must be the source of all the fruitfulness which thou canst hope to know. If thou wert not joined to Jesus Christ, thou wouldst be a barren bough indeed.

     Our fruit comes from God as to spiritual providence. When the dew-drops fall from heaven, when the cloud looks down from on high, and is about to distil its liquid treasure, when the bright sun swells the berries of the cluster, each heavenly boon may whisper to the tree and say, “From me is thy fruit found.” The fruit owes much to the root—that is essential to fruitfulness—but it owes very much also to external influences. How much we owe to God’s grace-providence! in which he provides us constantly with quickening, teaching, consolation, strength, or whatever else we want. To this we owe our all of usefulness or virtue.

     Our fruit comes from God as to wise husbandry. The gardener’s sharp-edged knife promotes the fruitfulness of the tree, by thinning the clusters, and by cutting off superfluous shoots. So is it, Christian, with that pruning which the Lord gives to thee. “My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Since our God is the author of our spiritual graces, let us give to him all the glory of our salvation.

          Evening - September 8

     “The exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.”
--- Ephesians 1:19, 20.

     In the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, there was put forth nothing short of a divine power. What shall we say of those who think that conversion is wrought by the free will of man, and is due to his own betterness of disposition? When we shall see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners of their own free will turning to Christ. It is not the word preached, nor the word read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy Ghost. This power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; Death himself could not hold Jesus in his bonds: even thus irresistible is the power put forth in the believer when he is raised to newness of life. No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell nor sinners upon earth, can stay the hand of God’s grace when it intends to convert a man. If God omnipotently says, “Thou shalt,” man shall not say, “I will not.” Observe that the power which raised Christ from the dead was glorious. It reflected honour upon God and wrought dismay in the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner. It was everlasting power. “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” So we, being raised from the dead, go not back to our dead works nor to our old corruptions, but we live unto God. “Because he lives we live also.” “For we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God.” “Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Lastly, in the text mark the union of the new life to Jesus. The same power which raised the Head works life in the members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!

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

Amazing Grace
     September 8

          HOLY, HOLY, HOLY

     Reginald Heber, 1783–1826

     Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. Psalm 95:6, 7

     “O Lord, grant that I may desire Thee, and desiring Thee, seek Thee, and seeking Thee, find Thee, and finding Thee, be satisfied with Thee forever.”
--- Augustine

     “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8). These are the words of worship that believers will proclaim in heaven one day. This majestic text based on these words was written approximately 150 years ago by an Anglican minister, Reginald Heber, and it is still one of the hymns most frequently used in our corporate worship.

     Worship is the cornerstone of a believer’s spiritual life. The bedrock of the local church is its worship service, and all aspects of the church’s ministry are founded here. It is only as a Christian truly worships that he begins to grow spiritually. Learning to worship and praise God, then, should be a believer’s lifetime pursuit. Our worship reflects the depth of our relationship with God. We must learn to worship God not only for what He is doing in our personal lives, but above all for who He is—His being, character, and deeds.

     Reginald Heber was a highly respected minister, writer, and church leader, serving for a time as the Bishop of Calcutta. His early death at the age of 43 was widely mourned throughout the Christian world. One year after his death, a collection of 57 of his hymns was published by his widow and many friends as a tribute to his memory and faithful ministry. It is from this collection of 1827 that these words were taken:

     Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! Early in the Morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!
     Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, which wert and art and evermore shalt be.
     Holy, Holy, Holy! Tho the darkness hide Thee, tho the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see. Only Thou art holy—there is none beside Thee perfect in pow’r, in love and purity.
     Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea; Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

     For Today: Psalm 145:8–21; Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:5–11; 5:13

     What does the term worship mean to you? How could your life of worship be improved? Use this hymn to help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Friday, September 8, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 17, Friday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 31
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 35
Old Testament     1 Kings 11:26–43
New Testament     James 4:13–5:6
Gospel     Mark 15:22–32

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 31

To the leader. A Psalm of David.
1 In you, O LORD, I seek refuge;
do not let me ever be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me.
2 Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me.

3 You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
4 take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

6 You hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the LORD.
7 I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have taken heed of my adversities,
8 and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.

9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
and my bones waste away.

11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
a horror to my neighbors,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror all around!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
16 Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.
17 Do not let me be put to shame, O LORD,
for I call on you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go dumbfounded to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be stilled
that speak insolently against the righteous
with pride and contempt.

19 O how abundant is your goodness
that you have laid up for those who fear you,
and accomplished for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of everyone!
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from human plots;
you hold them safe under your shelter
from contentious tongues.

21 Blessed be the LORD,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was beset as a city under seige.
22 I had said in my alarm,
“I am driven far from your sight.”
But you heard my supplications
when I cried out to you for help.

23 Love the LORD, all you his saints.
The LORD preserves the faithful,
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 35

Of David.

1 Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
and rise up to help me!
3 Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers;
say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”

4 Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life.
Let them be turned back and confounded
who devise evil against me.
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the LORD driving them on.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the LORD pursuing them.

7 For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug a pit for my life.
8 Let ruin come on them unawares.
And let the net that they hid ensnare them;
let them fall in it—to their ruin.

9 Then my soul shall rejoice in the LORD,
exulting in his deliverance.
10 All my bones shall say,
“O LORD, who is like you?
You deliver the weak
from those too strong for them,
the weak and needy from those who despoil them.”

11 Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me about things I do not know.
12 They repay me evil for good;
my soul is forlorn.
13 But as for me, when they were sick,
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting.
I prayed with head bowed on my bosom,
14 as though I grieved for a friend or a brother;
I went about as one who laments for a mother,
bowed down and in mourning.

15 But at my stumbling they gathered in glee,
they gathered together against me;
ruffians whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;
16 they impiously mocked more and more,
gnashing at me with their teeth.

17 How long, O LORD, will you look on?
Rescue me from their ravages,
my life from the lions!
18 Then I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.

19 Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me,
or those who hate me without cause wink the eye.
20 For they do not speak peace,
but they conceive deceitful words
against those who are quiet in the land.
21 They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, “Aha, Aha,
our eyes have seen it.”

22 You have seen, O LORD; do not be silent!
O Lord, do not be far from me!
23 Wake up! Bestir yourself for my defense,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
24 Vindicate me, O LORD, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and do not let them rejoice over me.
25 Do not let them say to themselves,
“Aha, we have our heart’s desire.”
Do not let them say, “We have swallowed you up.”

26 Let all those who rejoice at my calamity
be put to shame and confusion;
let those who exalt themselves against me
be clothed with shame and dishonor.

27 Let those who desire my vindication
shout for joy and be glad,
and say evermore,
“Great is the LORD,
who delights in the welfare of his servant.”
28 Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all day long.

Old Testament
1 Kings 11:26–43

26 Jeroboam son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, rebelled against the king. 27 The following was the reason he rebelled against the king. Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the gap in the wall of the city of his father David. 28 The man Jeroboam was very able, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious he gave him charge over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph. 29 About that time, when Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Ahijah had clothed himself with a new garment. The two of them were alone in the open country 30 when Ahijah laid hold of the new garment he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 He then said to Jeroboam: Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, “See, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and will give you ten tribes. 32 One tribe will remain his, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. 33 This is because he has forsaken me, worshiped Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and has not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, as his father David did. 34 Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom away from him but will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of my servant David whom I chose and who did keep my commandments and my statutes; 35 but I will take the kingdom away from his son and give it to you—that is, the ten tribes. 36 Yet to his son I will give one tribe, so that my servant David may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name. 37 I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires; you shall be king over Israel. 38 If you will listen to all that I command you, walk in my ways, and do what is right in my sight by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you, and will build you an enduring house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. 39 For this reason I will punish the descendants of David, but not forever.” 40 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam; but Jeroboam promptly fled to Egypt, to King Shishak of Egypt, and remained in Egypt until the death of Solomon.

41 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, all that he did as well as his wisdom, are they not written in the Book of the Acts of Solomon? 42 The time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. 43 Solomon slept with his ancestors and was buried in the city of his father David; and his son Rehoboam succeeded him.

New Testament
James 4:13–5:6

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” 14 Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

5 Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. 2 Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. 4 Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.

Mark 15:22–32

22 Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

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

Intelligent Design    
Randall D. Isaac   Gordon College

Leading from the Inside Out    
Discussion   Gordon College

Illusions and Real Life    
Greg Carmer   Gordon College

Hell: Don't Go There    
Mario Bergner   Gordon College

Fine-Tuning the Existence of God    
Al Moritz   Gordon College

Real Life Relationships    
Greg Carmer   Gordon College

Together as One - Contentment    
Tom Haugen   Gordon College