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2/17/2024     Yesterday     Tomorrow

Numbers 14 - 15

Numbers 14

The People Rebel

Numbers 14:1     Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” According to Tan. B. IV, 84; BaR 16.3: Sifre D., 24; Midrash Tannaim 12. the people told Moses 4 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. 6 And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.

11 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

     Jewish sources paint a traumatic story of this night of weeping. They say the people cried long and loud, because of the report of the spies, that continued to be retold and retold throughout the camp. Basically the people believed the spies with the bad report more than God. Remember, they had God's presence among them, but so do we. How many times do I believe situations and circumstances more than God, despite God's past faithfulness? Even now I struggle to believe in good things though God has promised to guide the footsteps of the righteous. Righteous means in good relationship with God. Am I in good relationship with God? If I were wouldn't my faith be stronger? Relationship is not works. We wrongfully blame God for our own sin. We are called to live by faith. Lack of faith is sin.

     The people's lack of faith and loud weeping were the reason, Yelammedenu in Yalkut I, 743 on Num. 14:1, also Sifre D. On the “night of weeping”, see Sotah 65a; Taʿanit 29a; Yerushalmi 4, 68d; Tan. B. IV, 690; Tan. Shelah 12; BaR 16.20; ER 29, 145; Ekah 1.60–61; Targum Yerushalmi Num. 14:1; Jerome on Zech. 8:18–19. that God decreed to destroy the Temple on the ninth day of Ab. On the ninth day of Ab the people had wept without cause. Little did they know their lack of faith would mean that future generations of Israel would weep with good cause.

Moses Intercedes for the People

13 But Moses said to the LORD, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, 14 and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, O LORD, are in the midst of this people. For you, O LORD, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, 16 ‘It is because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’ 17 And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, 18 ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ 19 Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”

God Promises Judgment

20 Then the LORD said, “I have pardoned, according to your word. 21 But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, 22 none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, 23 shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. 24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. 25 Now, since the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valleys, turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.”

26 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 27 “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the LORD, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: 29 your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, 30 not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. 31 But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ 35 I, the LORD, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”

36 And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land— 37 the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the LORD. 38 Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive.

Israel Defeated in Battle

39 When Moses told these words to all the people of Israel, the people mourned greatly. 40 And they rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, “Here we are. We will go up to the place that the LORD has promised, for we have sinned.” 41 But Moses said, “Why now are you transgressing the command of the LORD, when that will not succeed? 42 Do not go up, for the LORD is not among you, lest you be struck down before your enemies. 43 For there the Amalekites and the Canaanites are facing you, and you shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned back from following the LORD, the LORD will not be with you.” 44 But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed out of the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah.

Numbers 15

Laws About Sacrifices

Numbers 15:1     The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land you are to inhabit, which I am giving you, 3 and you offer to the LORD from the herd or from the flock a food offering or a burnt offering or a sacrifice, to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering or at your appointed feasts, to make a pleasing aroma to the LORD, 4 then he who brings his offering shall offer to the LORD a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour, mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil; 5 and you shall offer with the burnt offering, or for the sacrifice, a quarter of a hin of wine for the drink offering for each lamb. 6 Or for a ram, you shall offer for a grain offering two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a third of a hin of oil. 7 And for the drink offering you shall offer a third of a hin of wine, a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 8 And when you offer a bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, to fulfill a vow or for peace offerings to the LORD, 9 then one shall offer with the bull a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour, mixed with half a hin of oil. 10 And you shall offer for the drink offering half a hin of wine, as a food offering, a pleasing aroma to the LORD.

11 “Thus it shall be done for each bull or ram, or for each lamb or young goat. 12 As many as you offer, so shall you do with each one, as many as there are. 13 Every native Israelite shall do these things in this way, in offering a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 14 And if a stranger is sojourning with you, or anyone is living permanently among you, and he wishes to offer a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD, he shall do as you do. 15 For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the LORD. 16 One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.”

17 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 18 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land to which I bring you 19 and when you eat of the bread of the land, you shall present a contribution to the LORD. 20 Of the first of your dough you shall present a loaf as a contribution; like a contribution from the threshing floor, so shall you present it. 21 Some of the first of your dough you shall give to the LORD as a contribution throughout your generations.

Laws About Unintentional Sins

22 “But if you sin unintentionally, and do not observe all these commandments that the LORD has spoken to Moses, 23 all that the LORD has commanded you by Moses, from the day that the LORD gave commandment, and onward throughout your generations, 24 then if it was done unintentionally without the knowledge of the congregation, all the congregation shall offer one bull from the herd for a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma to the LORD, with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the rule, and one male goat for a sin offering. 25 And the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the people of Israel, and they shall be forgiven, because it was a mistake, and they have brought their offering, a food offering to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD for their mistake. 26 And all the congregation of the people of Israel shall be forgiven, and the stranger who sojourns among them, because the whole population was involved in the mistake.

27 “If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering. 28 And the priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. 29 You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the people of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them. 30 But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”

A Sabbathbreaker Executed

32 While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. 34 They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. 35 And the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36 And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the LORD commanded Moses.   ??? Does this bother you?? If so, please read "Stoned To Death For Gathering Wood To Start A Fire??" at the bottom, just above the videos.

Tassels on Garments

37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. 39 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. 40 So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD your God.”

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

There’s More to Being a Dragon Slayer Than Simply Slaying Dragons

By J. Warner Wallace 2/14/2018

     Forgive me as I step outside my apologetics “box” for a minute and post my thoughts on one aspect of what it means to be a man. Maybe this post isn’t all that removed from my usual efforts to make a case for the Christian worldview, particularly with all the recent talk in the blogosphere related to the egalitarian / complementarian debate. I do have some observations related to “Christian masculinity”, and these ideas came to mind recently in a conversation with my son.

     It’s probably no surprise that so much literature has been devoted to the fairy tale relationship between princes and princesses. As my daughters were growing up, we watched many Disney movies featuring a princess of one nature or another. In all of these tales, a prince rescued the princess, and most of these princes had to overcome some type of “dragon”. There is a universal need, it seems, to locate and identify ourselves within this narrative. We are either princes or princesses, and all of us have an innate need to rescue or be rescued. This classic form of storytelling reflects our human identity and condition. There is much we can learn from studying its nuances.

     I am an older guy with thirty-three years of experience as a would-be dragon slayer (I met my wife Susie in 1979). I’ve tried to be very thoughtful about my approach to my marriage; I’ve learned a few things about the nature of princes in my own meager attempt to be a good one. My chief observation is this: there’s more to being a dragon slayer than simply slaying dragons. In fact, the dragon slaying part is really not what ought to define or motivate us as princes. We are dragon slayers not because we can kill the dragon, but because we have a princess to rescue. It’s our relationship to this princess that truly defines us, and at the end of the day, we can only call ourselves successful if our princesses know that they were the focus of our efforts. Our princesses must know that they were important enough to be saved and that we, as their dragon slayers, were committed to that effort.

     I’ve known a lot of police officers over the years. They were all excellent dragon slayers, but not all of them were excellent men or husbands. In fact, it seemed like many of them had been through more than their fair share of marriages and struggled deeply in their personal relationships. Some of them believed that their ability to slay the dragon was all that was necessary to define themselves as good men. They were good cops, tough and courageous, but seldom thought about what made them valuable to their wives. Dragon slaying was enough at first, but along the way they lost their focus and desire to lay down everything to save their princesses. They continued to be tough and courageous in one aspect of their lives but forgot to be tender and sacrificial in the most important area of their lives. Without a princess to save, none of us can truly call ourselves dragon slayers.

     Christian complementarianism maintains that God created men and women with the same essential (innate) dignity and personhood, but with different and complementary functions within their marital and relational settings and within the setting of God’s family (the Church). Some find this view troubling and sexist (especially when it comes to church leadership). But the Christian call to husbands and wives is the same. It is to “submit to one another” (Ephesians 5:21). This looks a bit different for each of us as, depending on whether we are a husband or a wife. Some of my Christian brothers are fond of focusing primarily on those portions of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that deals with a wife’s submission to her husband, but the important call for all of us as dragon slayers is found in Ephesians 5:25…

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James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.

The Most Insidious Sin

By Lenny Esposito 10/16/15

The Bible warns against the sin of pride quite a bit. God tells Jeremiah, "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth" (Jer. 9:23-24). James reminds us "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6), and Proverbs declares "Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished." (Prov. 16:5).

     Sexual failings are pretty much guaranteed to grab attention. Even in local churches, people who have fallen to sexual sin, be it adultery, homosexuality, or pregnancy outside of wedlock will cause people to talk. We tend to think sins like these are "major;" ones that carry a stigma unlike lying or addiction. Even as the culture becomes more and more sexually charged, sexual sins are held to almost a different standard. But there is a sin that is more problematic in the church than abusing sexual desire, one that no one points and whispers about: the sin of pride.

     The Leaven of Puffing Up | How much do you think about the sin of pride? How do you guard against it? While there are ministries that offer filtering of pornography for your internet connection, what filters are there for one's pride? As an apologist, I know first-hand just how easy it is to fall into pride. Anyone in a position where he or she is teaching or leading others can almost effortlessly fall into this sin. As the Bakkers built their Heritage USA center, it should have been obvious that they were no longer doing ministry toward others but constructing a monument to themselves.

     Pastors and apologists can fall into the same trap. They are trying to do God's work. They preach, they witness, and they defend the faith which is good and important work. TI truly is ministry. However, when one begins to believe the ministry is so important that they don‘t have time to sit and listen to people or their calling has a higher value than another's, they've begun to elevate not God's blessing upon them but their won self-worth. That's why I believe pride is the most insidious of sins; it is the leaven that corrupts by puffing up an individual from the inside. It replaces one's reliance on God with a reliance on one's own ability.

     The Bible warns against the sin of pride quite a bit. God tells Jeremiah, "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth" (Jer. 9:23-24). James reminds us "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6), and Proverbs declares "Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished." (Prov. 16:5).

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     Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
     Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
     Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.

A Survey Of Old Testament Introduction

By Gleason Archer Jr.

Aramaisms as a Criterion for Lateness

     The architects of the Documentary Hypothesis assumed that the presence of an Aramaic word in a biblical text was an indication of post-exilic origin. It was not until the Babylonian captivity that the Jews began to abandon their ancestral Hebrew and adopt the more widely spoken Aramaic language, which was used in commerce and international correspondence throughout a large portion of the Persian empire from the Tigris to the Nile. By  Ezra’s time (according to  Neh. 8:8 ), the Hebrew Torah required interpreters for the congregation to understand its import, and very likely this explanation was given in Aramaic, which was now the household speech of the Jewish populace. Prior to the Exile, however, only the well-educated nobility and civil servants understood Aramaic, as we may gather from the incident in 701 B.C. when the Assyrian Rabshakeh was urged to keep his remarks in Aramaic, lest the Jewish soldiers nearby might understand his Hebrew (  2 Kings 18:26 ). Consequently it is unthinkable, argued the Wellhausians, that any authentic pre-exilic Hebrew would have contained Aramaisms.

     But this assumption of the preservation of Hebrew and Aramaic in watertight compartments prior to the captivity has been quite discredited by more recent archaeological discoveries. For instance, the inscription of King Zakir of Hamath composed about 820 B.C. (Lidzbarski’s Ephemeris fur Semitische Epigraphik 3:3) shows a most remarkable admixture of Canaanite (or Hebrew) in its Aramaic text. For example, it uses the Hebrew ʾš for “man” rather than the usual Aramaic ʾnš; it employs the Hebrew nsʾ for “lift up” rather than the Aramaic nṭl. Likewise also the Panammu Inscription from the first half of the eighth century, composed in the north Syrian principality of Ya’udi, shows the same intrusion of Hebrew or Canaanite forms; for example, ʾnk instead of ʾn for “I,” ntn instead of yhb for “give,” šm instead of tmʾ for “there,” and yšb instead of ytb for “sit, dwell.”

     It should be noted that these Hebraisms in Aramaic cannot be accounted for as peculiarities of Jewish Aramaic, since these inscriptions were composed by non-Jews in regions fairly remote from Palestine. That this intermingling of Canaanite and Aramaic was of very early origin is indicated by the Ugaritic literature of fifteenth century Ras Shamrah. Ugaritic was a dialect of West Semitic closely related to Hebrew, and yet as early as the time of Moses we find such an intrusion of Aramaisms as to give some scholars grounds for arguing that Ugaritic was basically an Aramaic dialect which had absorbed many Canaanisms.

     The  Genesis record makes it clear that Aramaic influences were at work in Hebrew from its earliest stages. After his long sojourn in Aramaic-speaking Haran, Abraham and all his household must have been very fluent in that language before they migrated to Canaan and gradually adopted the tongue of its inhabitants. Isaac’s bride, Rebekah, came to him from Aramaic-speaking Padan-aram; likewise both of Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel. When Jacob’s uncle Laban overtook him at Gilead, we are told in  Gen. 31:47 that Laban called the witness cairn Yegar-śāhedūtā (“the heap of witness”), whereas Jacob called it by the same thing in Canaanite: Gal˓ēd (“Gilead”). In the period between the Conquest and the reign of Saul (1400–1010 B.C.) the contacts with Aramaic-speaking peoples were doubtless minimal, but with the extension of Hebrew power under David and Solomon to the borders of Hamath and the west bank of the Euphrates, there must have been a rich exchange of cultural influences and linguistic contacts with Aramaic speaking Damascus, Hadrach, Zobah, and Hamath. These would have been particularly noticeable in the dialect of the northern Hebrew tribes contiguous to these Syrian principalities. During the United Monarchy, there would very naturally have been a broadening of Hebrew vocabulary to include Aramaic and North Israelite terms or grammatical traits, particularly in the language of poetry. Hence the comparative frequency of Aramaisms in some of the later Davidic  Psalms and in  Ecclesiastes and  Song of Solomon.

     These considerations furnish a good basis for concluding, first, that the presence of an Aramaism is no decisive evidence for assigning a post-exilic date to a biblical document in which it occurs; second, that the literary genre makes a difference as to the frequency with which Aramaisms may occur in a given text. Of course if in narrative prose there is a consistent and sustained Aramaic influence at work, extending even to idioms and grammatical formations, then it may be validly deduced that the Hebrew author was equally at home in Aramaic. Yet such a situation is demonstrable only in books which purport to be exilic or post-exilic, such as the Hebrew section of  Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and (to a certain extent) in  Esther. (Interestingly enough, no such Aramaic influence is demonstrable for post-exilic prophets, such as  Haggai, Zechariah, and  Malachi. For some reason they adhered to a relatively pure Hebrew diction, despite the prevalence of Aramaic in their day. They were probably so steeped in the language of the Torah that they were consciously biased in favor of Mosaic purity as they spoke in the name of the Lord.)

     On the other hand, it should be emphasized that Documentarian critics have tended to exaggerate the Aramaic elements discoverable in the Hebrew Scriptures. A great number of Hebrew words which they have classified as Aramaisms turn out, on closer examination, to have a very good claim to the status of authentic Hebrew words, or else to be derivable from Phoenician, Babylonian, or Arabic dialects, rather than from Aramaic. For example, many critics have carelessly assumed that Hebrew nouns ending in -ôn are necessarily Aramaic because the -ān ending is so common in Aramaic. Yet the fact of the matter is that this ending is also found with fair frequency in Babylonian and Arabic, and further proof is necessary to demonstrate that it could not have been native in Hebrew from Canaanite times; and that it was derivable only from Aramaic and not from Babylonian (Akkadian) or Arabic. Of the sixty-three nouns ending in -ôn or -ān in the Pentateuch (and which are therefore asserted to be Aramaic) the Aramaic Targum of Onkelos renders only twelve by the same nouns ending in -n; it renders the remaining fifty-one by other nouns entirely (and most of them without any ending in -n). At the same time, in the entire Targum of the Torah, Onkelos exhibits only sixty-three nouns in -n, whereas the Hebrew original itself has the same number, sixty-three. This seems to be rather tenuous evidence for the proposition that -n is indigenous only to Aramaic and necessarily an Aramaism in Hebrew! (Cf. Wilson, SIOT, pp. 147–48.)

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

A Dozen Book Favorites, Part 2

By Kenneth Richard Samples 1/9/2018

     As I wrote in part one of this series, only human beings are readers. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle thought the distinguishing feature of people is their ability to use language. And humans use their unique language ability to think, speak, write, and read.

     From a historic Christian viewpoint, the idea of human uniqueness is grounded in the biblical truth that people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). This imago Dei endowment makes people capable of hunting and gathering truth. And since Christians affirm a propositional (words, statements) revelation from God in the Bible, they join with the Jewish tradition as People of the Book. Thus, reading is a great gift and privilege, but one may also argue that it is a responsibility according to our exalted created nature.

     12 Book Favorites | This is part two of a three-part series on some of my favorite books. (See here for part one.) The topics cover theology, philosophy, apologetics, and education. I also note how the books have been helpful to me. The books are listed in alphabetical order, not order of preference:

     5. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

     In the preface of this work, Lewis presents the idea of “mere Christianity,” which reflects far more than a book title. This term refers to a group of essential and “agreed, or common, or central” Christian doctrines (such as the Trinity, the incarnation, and the atonement) that all branches of historic Christendom affirm. Thus, the book carefully explains and defends the central beliefs and values of common Christianity. Mere Christianity was the first Christian book that I ever read, and it powerfully impacted my thinking.

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     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.

Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 21

The King Rejoices in the LORD’s Strength
21 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

8 Your hand will find out all your enemies;
your right hand will find out those who hate you.
9 You will make them as a blazing oven
when you appear.
The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
and fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
and their offspring from among the children of man.
11 Though they plan evil against you,
though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12 For you will put them to flight;
you will aim at their faces with your bows.

13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!
We will sing and praise your power.

ESV Study Bible

Genesis 50; Luke 3; Job 16-17; 1 Corinthians 4

By Don Carson 2/17/2018

     THE LAST CHAPTER OF GENESIS includes a section that is both pathetic and glorious (Gen. 50:15-21).

     Everything that is sad and flawed in this family resurfaces when Jacob dies. Joseph’s brothers fear that their illustrious sibling may have suppressed vengeful resentment only until the death of the old man. Why did they think like this? Was it because they were still lashed with guilt feelings? Were they merely projecting onto Joseph what they would have done had they been in his place?

     Their strategy involves them in fresh sin: they lie about what their father said, in the hope that an appeal from Jacob would at least tug at Joseph’s heartstrings. In this light, their abject submission (“We are your slaves,” 50:18) sounds less like loyal homage than desperate manipulation.

     By contrast, Joseph weeps (50:17). He cannot help but see that these groveling lies betray how little he is loved or trusted, even after seventeen years (47:28) of nominal reconciliation. His verbal response displays not only pastoral gentleness – “he reassured them and spoke kindly to them,” promising to provide for them and their families (50:21) – it also reflects a man who has thought deeply about the mysteries of providence, about God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. “Don’t be afraid,” he tells them. “Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (50:19-20).

     The profundity of this reasoning comes into focus as we reflect on what Joseph does not say. He does not say that during a momentary lapse on God’s part, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, but that God, being a superb chess player, turned the game around and in due course made Joseph prime minister of Egypt. Still less does he say that God’s intention had been to send Joseph down to Egypt in a well-appointed chariot, but unfortunately Joseph’s brothers rather mucked up the divine plan, forcing God to respond with clever countermoves to bring about his own good purposes. Rather, in the one event – the selling of Joseph into slavery – there were two parties, and two quite different intentions. On the one hand, Joseph’s brothers acted, and their intentions were evil; on the other, God acted, and his intentions were good. Both acted to bring about this event, but while the evil in it must be traced back to the brothers and no farther, the good in it must be traced to God.

     This is a common stance in Scripture. It generates many complex philosophical discussions. But the basic notion is simple. God is sovereign, and invariably good; we are morally responsible, and frequently evil.

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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

     Don Carson Books |  Go to Books Page

A Bright and Burning Light: Robert Charles Sproul, February 13, 1939-December 14, 2017

By Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. 12/14/2017

     Most merciful Father, who hast been pleased to take unto thyself the soul of this thy servant; Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that having served thee with constancy on earth, we may be joined hereafter with thy blessed saints in glory everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--- The Book of Common Prayer

We cannot determine truth by counting noses.

–R.C. Sproul

     For me, the story begins as a teenager stuck in a desperate struggle with huge theological questions in the 1970s. Of course, R.C. Sproul, with firm conviction and a friendly smile, would rightly insist that the story begins in the gracious will of our sovereign, eternal, and omnipotent God. Actually, those were some of the big theological questions that had me by the throat.

     I had been confronted by teachers in high school who had declared their own atheism and ridiculed theism. I was surrounded by a culture of increasing moral relativism and the first wave of what would later be called post-modernism. I knew Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and I wanted to be faithful to him. But how?

     My struggle was spiritual and moral, but it was also irreducibly intellectual. How could I know and defend the Christian faith? I did not even know where to begin. At home and at church, I was surrounded by sweet Christians who loved me and invested their lives in me. But I had big questions they could not answer. Questions that gnawed at me and kept me awake at night. Questions that I feared could not be answered. Questions that I had no idea Christians had grappled with for centuries.

     Thankfully, I found help. I found other Christians who were struggling with the same questions, and some of them passed to me cassette tapes. At that time, the cassette was a recent invention. For me, these tapes were a lifeline – bringing me expository preaching from Dr. John MacArthur and lectures from this strangely infectious and compelling teacher at an oddly named center in Western Pennsylvania. The teacher was R.C. Sproul.

     Those tapes from R.C. Sproul were not my own. They had been passed to me after several others had listed to them. They squeaked. Nevertheless, I pounced on them like a hungry tiger. I received the tapes out of sequence. No matter – I just gained confidence and understanding with every tape.

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

     Albert Mohler Books |  Go to Books Page

The Problem Of The Old Testament

By James Orr 1907


We now approach the central problem of the age and origin of the book. Was the Book of  Deuteronomy, as the critics, with nearly united voice, allege, a production of the age of Josiah, or of one of his immediate predecessors? If not, what were the circumstances of its origin? It is extremely important to observe that for most of the critics this question is already settled before they begin.  Deuteronomy is universally allowed to presuppose, and to be dependent on, the laws and history contained in JE, and, these writings being brought down by general consent to the ninth or eighth century B.C., a later date for  Deuteronomy necessarily follows. We decline to bind ourselves in starting by this or any similar assumption. It may well be that the result of the argument will rather be to push the date of JE farther back, than to make  Deuteronomy late. Reasons for the late date are found in the narrative of the finding of “the book of the law” in  2 Kings 22, in statements of  Deuteronomy itself, and in the character of its laws, compared with the earlier code, and with the history. It seems to us, on the other hand, that, under these very heads, insoluble difficulties arise, which really amount to a disproof of the critical theory. Reversing the usual procedure, it will be our aim, first, to set forth these difficulties which call for a revisal of the current view, then to weigh the force of the considerations adduced in its support.

1. Investigation naturally begins with the narrative of the finding of “the book of the law” in the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah (B.C. 622), which criticism holds to be the first appearance of  Deuteronomy . The story, in brief, is that, during repairs in the temple, Hilkiah the high priest found a book, identified and described by him as “the book of the law.” He announced his discovery to Shaphan the scribe, who, after reading the book himself, presented and read it to the king. Josiah was extraordinarily moved by what he heard, confessed the guilt of the “fathers” in not hearkening to the words of this book, sent to inquire of Jehovah at the prophetess Huldah, finally, after the holding of a great assembly, and the renewal of the nation’s covenant with God on the basis of the book, instituted and carried through the remarkable “reformation” connected with his name. There is no reason to doubt that the book which called forth this reformation, embraced, if it did not entirely consist of, the Book of  Deuteronomy. The critical theory, in its usual form, is, that the book was composed at or about this time, and was deposited in the temple, with the express design of bringing about just such a result. Is this credible or likely?

(1) Now, if anything is clear on the face of the narrative above summarised, it surely is, that this finding of the book of the law in the temple was regarded by everybody concerned as the genuine discovery of an old lost book, and that the “book of the law” of Moses. This is evident as well from the terms in which the book is described (“the book of the law,” “the book of the covenant,” “the law of Moses”), as from the profound impression it produced on king and people, and from the covenant and reformation founded on it. Hilkiah, who announced its discovery in the words, “I have found the book of the law in the house of Jehovah,” the king, who was vehemently distressed “because our fathers have not hearkened to the words of this book,” Huldah the prophetess, who confirmed the threatenings of the book, had no other idea of it. There is not a whisper of doubt regarding its genuineness from any side — from priests at the temple, whose revenues it seriously interfered with, from prophets, on many of whom it bore hardly less severely, from the people, whose mode of life and religious habits it revolutionised, from priests of the high places, whom it deposed, and whose worship it put down as a high crime against Jehovah. The critics themselves do not dispute, but freely allow, that it was taken for a genuinely Mosaic book, and that it was this fact which gave it its authority. The last thing, we may be certain, that would enter the minds of Josiah or of those associated with him, was that the book which so greatly moved them was one newly composed by prophetic or priestly men of their own circles. This was a point, moreover, on which we may be sure that king and people would not be readily deceived. People at no time are easily deceived where their own interests or privileges are concerned, but in this case there were special difficulties. A new book, after all, does not look like an old one; and if high priest, scribe, king, prophetess, were misled into thinking that they were dealing with an old Mosaic book, when the parchment in their hands was one on which the ink was hardly dry, they must have been simpletons to a degree without parallel in history. On the other hand, assume the book to have been old, mouldy, defaced, and what are we to say of its recent origin? Did its authors, as Oettli asks, disfigure the book to make it look old?

(2) To these objections, there is but one plain answer, if the Josianic origin of the book is to be upheld, and that is an answer which the more influential leaders of the new school do not hesitate to give — the book was a result of pious fraud, or of a deliberate intention to deceive. It was a “pseudograph”; in popular speech, a “forgery.” This, without any disguise, is the view taken of the matter by Reuss, Graf, Kuenen, Wellhausen, Stade, Cornill, Cheyne, etc., as by Colenso, and many older critics. Many believing scholars, to their credit, repudiate it, but their scruples are treated by the real masters of the school as the result of timidity and weak compromise. Yet, as Klostermann says, in criticising it, “What a swallowing of camels is here!” It is a view which, despite the excuse attempted to be made for it by talk about the “less strict” notions of truth in those days, shocks the moral sense, and is not for a moment to be entertained of a circle to which the prophet  Jeremiah, with his scathing denunciations of lying and deceit, and of the “false pen of the scribes” that “wrought falsely,” belonged. Not that even on this supposition the difficulty of the transaction is removed. Hilkiah might be a party with prophets and priests in an intrigue to palm off a “book of the law” on the unsuspecting king; but how should he be able to use such language to Shaphan as, “I have found the book of the law”? or how should Josiah speak of the disobedience of the “fathers” to commandments which he must have been aware were not known to them? Is it not apparent that, though “the book of the law” had long been neglected, disobeyed, and allowed to become practically a dead letter, men still knew of the existence of such a book, and had sufficient idea of its contents to be able to recognise it when this old temple copy, which had evidently been left to lie covered with its dust, one does not know how long, in some recess, was suddenly brought to light. It is nothing to the point to urge, in answer, that, had  Deuteronomy existed earlier, there could not have been that long course of flagrant violation of its precepts which Josiah deplores. The whole condition of Jerusalem and Judah at this time, as described in  2 Kings 23 , was in flagrant violation of far more fundamental statutes than that of the central sanctuary in  Deuteronomy . Let one read, e.g., the account of the state of things under Manasseh, or in Josiah’s time, alongside of such a sentence as the following from Dr. Driver: “Now if there is one thing which (even upon the most strictly critical premises) is certain about Moses, it is that he laid the greatest stress upon Jehovah’s being Israel’s only God, who tolerated no other God beside Him, and who claimed to be the only object of the Israelite’s allegiance.” And are there no parallels in history, both to the condition of neglect into which the book of the law had fallen, and to the startling effect of the timely rediscovery of a book long forgotten?

(3) In light of these facts, it is not a little singular that Dr. Driver, in repelling the charge that “if the critical view of  Deuteronomy be correct, the book is a ‘forgery,’ the author of which sought to shelter himself under a great name, and to secure by a fiction recognition or authority for a number of laws ‘invented’ by himself” — should not make it clearer than he does that this opinion — represented by him as a groundless “objection” of opponents — is, so far as the pseudographic character of the work is concerned, precisely and explicitly that of the heads of the school with which “the critical view” he defends is specially associated. It is the theory also, we cannot help agreeing, to which we are logically brought, if it is assumed that  Deuteronomy is really a product of the age of Josiah, in which it was found. Dr. Driver himself, however, and, as already said, most believing scholars, separate themselves from this obnoxious hypothesis of deceit, and, to explain the “discovery” of the book by Hilkiah, commonly suppose that it belongs to a somewhat earlier period — e.g., to the reign of Manasseh, or that of Hezekiah, or the age immediately before Hezekiah. The moral qualms which lead to these theories are to be respected, but those who adopt them now labour under the disadvantage that, having cut themselves away from the age of Josiah, they have no fixed principle to go by, and, apart from a priori assumptions in regard to the course of development, there is no particular reason why they should stop where they do, and not carry the date of  Deuteronomy much higher still. They find themselves exposed also to the attacks of the advocates of the Josiah date, who point out the unsuitability of  Deuteronomy to Manasseh’s gloomy reign (“the calm and hopeful spirit which the author displays, and the absence even of any covert allusion to the special troubles of Manasseh’s reign”); but, above all, urge what Kuenen calls “the great, and in my opinion fatal objection,” “that it makes the actual reformation the work of those who had not planned it, but were blind tools in the service of the unknown projector.” It would, indeed, be strange procedure on the part of anyone composing a work in the spirit of Moses, yet not desiring to pass it off as other than his own, to deposit it secretly in the temple, there to lie undiscovered for perhaps a century — finally, in the irony of history, on its coming to light, to be accepted as a work of Moses, and continuously regarded as such by the Jewish and Christian world for over two millenniums! “Fatal” objections thus seem to lie at the door of all these hypotheses, and we are driven to ask whether some other explanation is not imperative.

(4) It may be added that the critics are seriously at variance on another point, viz., whether the author of  Deuteronomy in Josiah’s — or an earlier — age is to be sought for among the prophets or the priests. It seems a curious question to ask, after starting with the view that  Deuteronomy was a “prophetic” programme; yet it is one of no small importance in its bearings on origin, and the reasons against either view, on the critical premises, seem extremely strong. If a prophet, why, unlike the practice of other prophets, did he adopt this device of clothing his message in the form of addresses of Moses, and whence the strength of his interest in the sanctuary, its worship, and its feasts? As Kuenen, who favours the view of the priestly origin, points out: “It is obvious from  Deut. 24:8, and still more from chaps.  17:18, 31:9, that the Deuteronomist had relations with the priesthood of Jerusalem. In chap.  14:3–21 he even incorporates a priestly torah on clean and unclean animals into his book of law.” But then, on the other hand, if a priest, how account for the remodelling of the older laws in a direction inimical to the prerogatives of the Jerusalem priesthood? The last thing one would look for from a priest would be the concocting of ordinances which meant the sharing of his temple perquisites with all Levites who chose to claim them. The idea, again, of a joint composition by prophets and priests is not favoured by the conditions of the age, and is opposed to the unity of style and spirit in the book. This apparent conflict of interests, so difficult to harmonise with the time of Josiah, seems to point to an origin far nearer the fountainhead.

     The Problem of the Old Testament

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream

By John Bunyan 1678


     Now I saw in my dream, that by this time the pilgrims were got over the Enchanted Ground, and entering into the country of Beulah, whose air was very sweet and pleasant,

Isaiah 62:4–12 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the LORD delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

6 On your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
they shall never be silent.
You who put the LORD in remembrance,
take no rest,
7 and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it a praise in the earth.
8 The LORD has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
“I will not again give your grain
to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink your wine
for which you have labored;
9 but those who garner it shall eat it
and praise the LORD,
and those who gather it shall drink it
in the courts of my sanctuary.”

10 Go through, go through the gates;
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
clear it of stones;
lift up a signal over the peoples.
11 Behold, the LORD has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
“Behold, your salvation comes;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.”
12 And they shall be called The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the LORD;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.

Song 2:10–12 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
11 for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.

the way lying directly through it, they solaced themselves there for a season. Yea, here they heard continually the singing of birds, and saw every day the flowers appear in the earth, and heard the voice of the turtle in the land. In this country the sun shineth night and day: wherefore this was beyond the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and also out of the reach of Giant Despair; neither could they from this place so much as see Doubting Castle. Here they were within sight of the city they were going to; also here met them some of the inhabitants thereof; for in this land the shining ones commonly walked, because it was upon the borders of heaven. In this land also the contract between the Bride and the Bridegroom was renewed; yea, here, “as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so doth God rejoice over them.” Here they had no want of corn and wine; for in this place they met with abundance of what they had sought for in all their pilgrimage. Here they heard voices from out of the city, loud voices, saying, “Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh! Behold, his reward is with him!” Here all the inhabitants of the country called them “the holy People, the redeemed of the Lord, sought out,” etc.

     Now, as they walked in this land, they had more rejoicing than in parts more remote from the kingdom to which they were bound; and drawing near to the city, they had yet a more perfect view thereof: It was builded of pearls and precious stones, also the streets thereof were paved with gold; so that, by reason of the natural glory of the city, and the reflection of the sunbeams upon it, Christian with desire fell sick; Hopeful also had a fit or two of the same disease: wherefore here they lay by it a while, crying out because of their pangs, “If you see my Beloved, tell him that I am sick of love.”

     But, being a little strengthened, and better able to bear their sickness, they walked on their way, and came yet nearer and nearer, where were orchards, vineyards, and gardens, and their gates opened into the highway. Now, as they came up to these places, behold the gardener stood in the way; to whom the pilgrims said, Whose goodly vineyards and gardens are these? He answered, they are the King’s, and are planted here for his own delight, and also for the solace of pilgrims. So the gardener had them into the vineyards, and bid them refresh themselves with the dainties,

Deut. 23:24 “If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. 25 If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.   ESV

he also showed them there the King’s walks and arbors where he delighted to be: And here they tarried and slept.

     Now I beheld in my dream, that they talked more in their sleep at this time than ever they did in all their journey; and, being in a muse thereabout, the gardener said even to me, Wherefore musest thou at the matter? It is the nature of the fruit of the grapes of these vineyards, “to go down so sweetly as to cause the lips of them that are asleep to speak.”

Song 7:and your mouth like the best wine.
It goes down smoothly for my beloved,
gliding over lips and teeth.

     So I saw that when they awoke, they addressed themselves to go up to the city. But, as I said, the reflection of the sun upon the city (for the city was pure gold,

Rev. 21:18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass.   ESV

was so extremely glorious, that they could not as yet with open face behold it, but through an instrument made for that purpose.

2 Cor. 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.   ESV

So I saw, that as they went on, there met them two men in raiment that shone like gold, also their faces shone as the light.

     These men asked the pilgrims whence they came; and they told them. They also asked them where they had lodged, what difficulties and dangers, what comforts and pleasures, they had met with in the way; and they told them. Then said the men that met them, You have but two difficulties more to meet with, and then you are in the City.

     Christian then and his companion asked the men to go along with them: so they told them that they would; But, said they, you must obtain it by your own faith. So I saw in my dream, that they went on together till they came in sight of the gate.

     Now I further saw, that betwixt them and the gate was a river; but there was no bridge to go over, and the river was very deep. At the sight, therefore, of this river the pilgrims were much stunned; but the men that went with them said, You must go through, or you cannot come at the gate.

     The pilgrims then began to inquire if there was no other way to the gate. To which they answered, Yes; but there hath not any, save two, to wit, Enoch and Elijah, been permitted to tread that path since the foundation of the world, nor shall until the last trumpet shall sound. The pilgrims then, especially Christian, began to despond in their mind, and looked this way and that, but no way could be found by them by which they might escape the river. Then they asked the men if the waters were all of a depth. They said, No; yet they could not help them in that case; for, said they, you shall find it deeper or shallower as you believe in the King of the place.

     Then they addressed themselves to the water, and entering, Christian began to sink, and crying out to his good friend Hopeful, he said, I sink in deep waters; the billows go over my head; all his waves go over me. Selah.

     Then said the other, Be of good cheer, my brother: I feel the bottom, and it is good. Then said Christian, Ah! my friend, the sorrows of death have compassed me about, I shall not see the land that flows with milk and honey. And with that a great darkness and horror fell upon Christian, so that he could not see before him. Also here he in a great measure lost his senses, so that he could neither remember nor orderly talk of any of those sweet refreshments that he had met with in the way of his pilgrimage. But all the words that he spoke still tended to discover that he had horror of mind, and heart-fears that he should die in that river, and never obtain entrance in at the gate. Here also, as they that stood by perceived, he was much in the troublesome thoughts of the sins that he had committed, both since and before he began to be a pilgrim. It was also observed that he was troubled with apparitions of hobgoblins and evil spirits; for ever and anon he would intimate so much by words.

     Hopeful therefore here had much ado to keep his brother’s head above water; yea, sometimes he would be quite gone down, and then, ere a while, he would rise up again half dead. Hopeful did also endeavor to comfort him, saying, Brother, I see the gate, and men standing by to receive us; but Christian would answer, It is you, it is you they wait for; for you have been hopeful ever since I knew you. And so have you, said he to Christian. Ah, brother, (said he,) surely if I was right he would now arise to help me; but for my sins he hath brought me into the snare, and hath left me. Then said Hopeful, My brother, you have quite forgot the text where it is said of the wicked, “There are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm; they are not troubled as other men, neither are they plagued like other men.”

Psa. 73:4-5 For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
5 They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.

These troubles and distresses that you go through in these waters, are no sign that God hath forsaken you; but are sent to try you, whether you will call to mind that which heretofore you have received of his goodness, and live upon him in your distresses.

     Then I saw in my dream, that Christian was in a muse a while. To whom also Hopeful added these words, Be of good cheer, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole. And with that Christian brake out with a loud voice, Oh, I see him again; and he tells me, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.”

Isa. 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Then they both took courage, and the enemy was after that as still as a stone, until they were gone over. Christian, therefore, presently found ground to stand upon, and so it followed that the rest of the river was but shallow. Thus they got over.

     Now, upon the bank of the river, on the other side, they saw the two shining men again, who there waited for them. Wherefore, being come out of the river, they saluted them, saying, We are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those that shall be the heirs of salvation. Thus they went along towards the gate. Now you must note, that the city stood upon a mighty hill; but the pilgrims went up that hill with ease, because they had these two men to lead them up by the arms: they had likewise left their mortal garments behind them in the river; for though they went in with them, they came out without them. They therefore went up here with much agility and speed, though the foundation upon which the city was framed was higher than the clouds; they therefore went up through the region of the air, sweetly talking as they went, being comforted because they safely got over the river, and had such glorious companions to attend them.

     The talk that they had with the shining ones was about the glory of the place; who told them that the beauty and glory of it was inexpressible. There, said they, is “Mount Sion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect.”

Heb. 12:22–24 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.   ESV

You are going now, said they, to the paradise of God, wherein you shall see the tree of life, and eat of the never-fading fruits thereof: and when you come there you shall have white robes given you, and your walk and talk shall be every day with the King, even all the days of eternity.

Rev. 2: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’   ESV

Rev 3:4-5 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.   ESV

Rev 22:5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.   ESV

There you shall not see again such things as you saw when you were in the lower region upon earth; to wit, sorrow, sickness, affliction, and death; “For the former things are passed away.”

Rev. 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”   ESV

You are going now to Abraham, to Isaac, and Jacob, and to the prophets, men that God hath taken away from the evil to come, and that are now “resting upon their beds, each one walking in his righteousness.” The men then asked, What must we do in the holy place? To whom it was answered, You must there receive the comfort of all your toil, and have joy for all your sorrow; you must reap what you have sown, even the fruit of all your prayers, and tears, and sufferings for the King by the way.

Gal. 6:7-8 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.   ESV

In that place you must wear crowns of gold, and enjoy the perpetual sight and vision of the Holy One; for “there you shall see him as he is.”

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.   ESV

There also you shall serve him continually with praise, with shouting and thanksgiving, whom you desired to serve in the world, though with much difficulty, because of the infirmity of your flesh. There your eyes shall be delighted with seeing, and your ears with hearing the pleasant voice of the Mighty One. There you shall enjoy your friends again that are gone thither before you; and there you shall with joy receive even every one that follows into the holy place after you. There also you shall be clothed with glory and majesty, and put into an equipage fit to ride out with the King of Glory. When he shall come with sound of trumpet in the clouds, as upon the wings of the wind, you shall come with him; and when he shall sit upon the throne of judgment, you shall sit by him; yea, and when he shall pass sentence upon all the workers of iniquity, let them be angels or men, you also shall have a voice in that judgment, because they were his and your enemies. Also, when he shall again return to the city, you shall go too with sound of trumpet, and be ever with him.

1 Thess. 4:14–17 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.   ESV

Jude 14-15 14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”   ESV

Dan. 7:9-10 9 “As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

1 Cor. 6:2-3 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!   ESV

     Now, while they were thus drawing towards the gate, behold a company of the heavenly host came out to meet them: to whom it was said by the other two shining ones, These are the men that have loved our Lord when they were in the world, and that have left all for his holy name; and he hath sent us to fetch them, and we have brought them thus far on their desired journey, that they may go in and look their Redeemer in the face with joy. Then the heavenly host gave a great shout, saying, “Blessed are they that are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb.”

Rev. 19:9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”   ESV

There came out also at this time to meet them several of the King’s trumpeters, clothed in white and shining raiment, who, with melodious noises and loud, made even the heavens to echo with their sound. These trumpeters saluted Christian and his fellow with ten thousand welcomes from the world; and this they did with shouting and sound of trumpet.

     Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

February 17
1 Samuel 18:1 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

1 Samuel 18:3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.

     The beautiful record of the friendship between Jonathan, the heir to the throne of Israel, and David, the outlawed hero whom the people revered, is one of the most interesting and affecting stories in all literature. The Greek tale of Damon and Pythias is perhaps its nearest counterpart in secular literature.

     It illustrates in a remarkable way that heart devotion to Christ, “great David’s greater Son,” which should characterize every truly converted soul. David’s victory over Goliath typifies Christ’s triumph over “him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). It was this that won Jonathan’s heart and caused him to love David as his own soul. He should have challenged the giant, but David took his place. Henceforth the youthful victor had the preeminence in the mind of the prince-royal, who stripped himself to honor the deliverer of Israel (1 Samuel 18:1-4).

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

1 Samuel 18:1 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.

Jesus, these eyes have never seen
That radiant form of Thine;
The veil of sense hangs dark between
Thy blessed face and mine.

I see Thee not, I hear Thee not,
Yet art Thou oft with me;
And earth hath ne’er so dear a spot
As where I meet with Thee.

Yet though I have not seen, and still
Must rest in faith alone;
I love Thee, dearest Lord, and will,
Unseen, but not unknown.

When death these mortal eyes shall seal,
And still this throbbing heart,
The rending veil shall Thee reveal,
All glorious as Thou art.
--- Ray Palmer

The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 16.


This chapter contains four leading heads--I. A general consideration of the whole subject, including a discussion of a necessary question concerning the justice of God and his mercy in Christ, sec. 1-4. II. How Christ fulfilled the office of Redeemer in each of its parts, sec. 5-17. His death, burial, descent to hell, resurrection, ascension to heaven, seat at the right hand of the Father, and return to judgment. III. A great part of the Creed being here expounded, a statement is given of the view which ought to be taken of the Creed commonly ascribed to the Apostles, sec. 18. IV. Conclusion, setting forth the doctrine of Christ the Redeemer, and the use of the doctrine, sec. 19.


1. Every thing needful for us exists in Christ. How it is to be obtained.

2. Question as to the mode of reconciling the justice with the mercy of God. Modes of expression used in Scripture to teach us how miserable our condition is without Christ.

3. Not used improperly; for God finds in us ground both of hatred and love.

4. This confirmed from passages of Scripture and from Augustine.

5. The second part of the chapter, treating of our redemption by Christ. First generally. Redemption extends to the whole course of our Saviour's obedience, but is specially ascribed to his death. The voluntary subjection of Christ. His agony. His condemnation before Pilate. Two things observable in his condemnation. 1. That he was numbered among transgressors. 2. That he was declared innocent by the judge. Use to be made of this.

6. Why Christ was crucified. This hidden doctrine typified in the Law, and completed by the Apostles and Prophets. In what sense Christ was made a curse for us. The cross of Christ connected with the shedding of his blood.

7. Of the death of Christ. Why he died. Advantages from his death. Of the burial of Christ. Advantages.

8. Of the descent into hell. This article gradually introduced into the Church. Must not be rejected, nor confounded with the previous article respecting burial.

9. Absurd exposition concerning the Limbus Patrum. This fable refuted.

10. The article of the descent to hell more accurately expounded. A great ground of comfort.

11. Confirmation of this exposition from passages of Scripture and the works of ancient Theologians. An objection refuted. Advantages of the doctrine.

12. Another objection that Christ is insulted, and despair ascribed to him in its being said that he feared. Answer, from the statements of the Evangelists, that he did fear, was troubled in spirit, amazed, and tempted in all respects as we are, yet without sin. Why Christ was pleased to become weak. His fear without sin. Refutation of another objection, with an answer to the question, Did Christ fear death, and why? When did Christ descend to hell, and how? What has been said refutes the heresy of Apollinaris and of the Monothelites.

13. Of the resurrection of Christ. The many advantages from it. 1. Our righteousness in the sight of God renewed and restored. 2. His life the basis of our life and hope, also the efficacious cause of new life in us. 3. The pledge of our future resurrection.

14. Of the ascension of Christ. Why he ascended. Advantages derived from it.

15. Of Christ's seat at the Father's right hand. What meant by it.

16. Many advantages from the ascension of Christ. 1. He gives access to the kingdom which Adam had shut up. 2. He intercedes for us with the Father. 3. His virtue being thence transfused into us, he works effectually in us for salvation.

17. Of the return of Christ to judgment. Its nature. The quick and dead who are to be judged. Passages apparently contradictory reconciled. Mode of judgment.

18. Advantages of the doctrine of Christ's return to judgment. Third part of the chapter, explaining the view to be taken of the Apostles' Creed. Summary of the Apostles' Creed.

19. Conclusion of the whole chapter, showing that in Christ the salvation of the elect in all its parts is comprehended.

1. All that we have hitherto said of Christ leads to this one result, that condemned, dead, and lost in ourselves, we must in him seek righteousness, deliverance, life and salvation, as we are taught by the celebrated words of Peter, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved," (Acts 4:12). The name of Jesus was not given him at random, or fortuitously, or by the will of man, but was brought from heaven by an angel, as the herald of the supreme decree; [254] the reason also being added, "for he shall save his people from their sins," (Matt. 1:21). In these words attention should be paid to what we have elsewhere observed, that the office of Redeemer was assigned him in order that he might be our Saviour. Still, however, redemption would be defective if it did not conduct us by an uninterrupted progression to the final goal of safety. Therefore, the moment we turn aside from him in the minutest degree, salvation, which resides entirely in him, gradually disappears; so that all who do not rest in him voluntarily deprive themselves of all grace. The observation of Bernard well deserves to be remembered: The name of Jesus is not only light but food also, yea, oil, without which all the food of the soul is dry; salt, without which as a condiment whatever is set before us is insipid; in fine, honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, joy in the heart, and, at the same time, medicine; every discourse where this name is not heard is absurd (Bernard in Cantica., Serm. 15). But here it is necessary diligently to consider in what way we obtain salvation from him, that we may not only be persuaded that he is the author of it, but having embraced whatever is sufficient as a sure foundation of our faith, may eschew all that might make us waver. For seeing no man can descend into himself, and seriously consider what he is, without feeling that God is angry and at enmity with him, and therefore anxiously longing for the means of regaining his favour (this cannot be without satisfaction), the certainty here required is of no ordinary description,--sinners, until freed from guilt, being always liable to the wrath and curse of God, who, as he is a just judge, cannot permit his law to be violated with impunity, but is armed for vengeance.

2. But before we proceed farther, we must see in passing, how can it be said that God, who prevents us with his mercy, was our enemy until he was reconciled to us by Christ. For how could he have given us in his only-begotten Son a singular pledge of his love, if he had not previously embraced us with free favour? As there thus arises some appearance of contradiction, I will explain the difficulty. The mode in which the Spirit usually speaks in Scripture is, that God was the enemy of men until they were restored to favour by the death of Christ (Rom. 5:10); that they were cursed until their iniquity was expiated by the sacrifice of Christ (Gal. 3:10, 13); that they were separated from God, until by means of Christ's body they were received into union (Col. 1:21, 22). Such modes of expression are accommodated to our capacity, that we may the better understand how miserable and calamitous our condition is without Christ. For were it not said in clear terms, that Divine wrath, and vengeance, and eternal death, lay upon us, we should be less sensible of our wretchedness without the mercy of God, and less disposed to value the blessing of deliverance. For example, let a person be told, Had God at the time you were a sinner hated you, and cast you off as you deserved, horrible destruction must have been your doom; but spontaneously and of free indulgence he retained you in his favour, not suffering you to be estranged from him, and in this way rescued you from danger,--the person will indeed be affected, and made sensible in some degree how much he owes to the mercy of God. But again, let him be told, as Scripture teaches, that he was estranged from God by sin, an heir of wrath, exposed to the curse of eternal death, excluded from all hope of salvation, a complete alien from the blessing of God, the slave of Satan, captive under the yoke of sin; in fine, doomed to horrible destruction, and already involved in it; that then Christ interposed, took the punishment upon himself and bore what by the just judgment of God was impending over sinners; with his own blood expiated the sins which rendered them hateful to God, by this expiation satisfied and duly propitiated God the Father, by this intercession appeased his anger, on this basis founded peace between God and men, and by this tie secured the Divine benevolence toward them; will not these considerations move him the more deeply, the more strikingly they represent the greatness of the calamity from which he was delivered? In short, since our mind cannot lay hold of life through the mercy of God with sufficient eagerness, or receive it with becoming gratitude, unless previously impressed with fear of the Divine anger, and dismayed at the thought of eternal death, we are so instructed by divine truth, as to perceive that without Christ God is in a manner hostile to us, and has his arm raised for our destruction. Thus taught, we look to Christ alone for divine favour and paternal love.

3. Though this is said in accommodation to the weakness of our capacity, it is not said falsely. For God, who is perfect righteousness, cannot love the iniquity which he sees in all. All of us, therefore, have that within which deserves the hatred of God. Hence, in respect, first, of our corrupt nature; and, secondly, of the depraved conduct following upon it, we are all offensive to God, guilty in his sight, and by nature the children of hell. But as the Lord wills not to destroy in us that which is his own, he still finds something in us which in kindness he can love. For though it is by our own fault that we are sinners, we are still his creatures; though we have brought death upon ourselves he had created us for life. Thus, mere gratuitous love prompts him to receive us into favour. But if there is a perpetual and irreconcilable repugnance between righteousness and iniquity, so long as we remain sinners we cannot be completely received. Therefore, in order that all ground of offence may be removed, and he may completely reconcile us to himself, he, by means of the expiation set forth in the death of Christ, abolishes all the evil that is in us, so that we, formerly impure and unclean, now appear in his sight just and holy. Accordingly, God the Father, by his love, prevents and anticipates our reconciliation in Christ. Nay, it is because he first loves us, that he afterwards reconciles us to himself. But because the iniquity, which deserves the indignation of God, remains in us until the death of Christ comes to our aid, and that iniquity is in his sight accursed and condemned, we are not admitted to full and sure communion with God, unless, in so far as Christ unites us. And, therefore, if we would indulge the hope of having God placable and propitious to us, we must fix our eyes and minds on Christ alone, as it is to him alone it is owing that our sins, which necessarily provoked the wrath of God, are not imputed to us.

4. For this reason Paul says, that God "has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world," (Eph. 1:3, 4). These things are clear and conformable to Scripture, and admirably reconcile the passages in which it is said, that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," (John 3:16); and yet that it was "when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son," (Rom. 5:10). But to give additional assurance to those who require the authority of the ancient Church, I will quote a passage of Augustine to the same effect: "Incomprehensible and immutable is the love of God. For it was not after we were reconciled to him by the blood of his Son that he began to love us, but he loved us before the foundation of the world, that with his only begotten Son we too might be sons of God before we were any thing at all. Our being reconciled by the death of Christ must not be understood as if the Son reconciled us, in order that the Father, then hating, might begin to love us, but that we were reconciled to him already, loving, though at enmity with us because of sin. To the truth of both propositions we have the attestation of the Apostle, God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,' (Rom. 5:8). Therefore he had this love towards us even when, exercising enmity towards him, we were the workers of iniquity. Accordingly in a manner wondrous and divine, he loved even when he hated us. For he hated us when we were such as he had not made us, and yet because our iniquity had not destroyed his work in every respect, he knew in regard to each one of us, both to hate what we had made, and love what he had made." Such are the words of Augustine (Tract in Jo. 110).

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • A Blind Beggar
  • Returning King
  • Christ-Rejecters

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Seven seconds (1)
     2/17/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Let your light…shine before men.’

(Mt 5:16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. ESV

     Jesus said, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.’ When you’re in darkness, you see the light before you see the carrier of the light, right? The old saying, ‘First impressions are lasting impressions,’ is true. One communications expert says: ‘You’ve got just seven seconds to make the right first impression. As soon as you make your entrance, you broadcast verbal and nonverbal signals that determine how others see you. In business those crucial first seven seconds can decide whether you win that new account, or succeed in a tense negotiation. Are you confident? Comfortable? Sincere? Glad to be there? In that first seven seconds, you shower your audience with subtle “clues”. And whether people realise it or not, they respond immediately to your facial expressions, gestures, stance, and energy. They react to your voice – the tone and pitch. Audiences, whether one or one hundred, instinctively size up your motives and attitudes.’ Whether you’re speaking, selling, interviewing, or dating, your appearance, attitude, and approach make all the difference in the world. People can tell a lot in seven seconds. They may decide they don’t want to hear anything you have to say, or they may be struck by how much they’re drawn to you. Henry Ward Beecher said: ‘There are persons so radiant, so genial, so kind, so pleasure-bearing, that you instinctively feel in their presence that they do you good, whose coming into a room is like bringing a shining lamp there.’

Leviticus 11-12
Matthew 26:1-25

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     A baseball star, Billy Sunday played for the Chicago White Sox in the 1890’s. Born in an Iowa log cabin, his father, a Union Army soldier, died of an pneumonia and Billy grew up in an orphanage. While recovering from a baseball injury, he began attending YMCA meetings. A national sensation occurred this day, February 17, 1889, when Billy Sunday preached his first sermon as an evangelist in Chicago. Over the next 46 years 100 million people would hear him. In his animated style, Billy Sunday said: “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     An awful solemnity is upon the earth, for the last vestige of earthly security is gone. It has always been gone, and religion has always said so, but we haven't believed it. And some of us Quakers are not yet undeceived, and childishly expect our little cushions for our little bodies, in a world inflamed with untold ulcers. Be not fooled by the pleasantness of the Main Line life, and the niceness of Germantown existence, and the quiet coolness of your well-furnished homes. For the plagues of Egypt are upon the world, entering hovel and palace, and there is no escape for you or for me. There is an inexorable amount of suffering in all life, blind, aching, unremovable, not new but only terribly intensified in these days.

     One comes back from Europe aghast at having seen how lives as graciously cultured as ours, but rooted only in time and property and reputation, and self-deluded by a mild veneer of religious respectability but unprepared by the amazing life of commitment to the Eternal in holy obedience, are now doomed to hopeless, hopeless despair. For if you will accept as normal life only what you can understand, then you will try only to expel the dull, dead weight of Destiny, of inevitable suffering which is a part of normal life, and never come to terms with it or fit your soul to the collar and bear the burden of your suffering which must be borne by you, or enter into the divine education and drastic discipline of sorrow, or rise radiant in the sacrament of pain.

     One comes back from Europe to plead with you, you here in these seats, you my pleasant but often easy-living friends, to open your lives to such a baptism of Eternity now as turns this world of tumbling change into a wilderness in your eyes and fortifies you with an unshakable peace that passes all understanding and endures all earthly shocks without soul­ destroying rebelliousness. Then and then only can we, weaned from earth, and committed wholly to God alone, hope to become voices crying in this wilderness of Philadelphia and London, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight in this desert a high­way for our God" (Isa. 40:3). These are old truths. But now is no time for enticing novelties but for a return to the everlasting truths of life and suffering and Eternity and unreserved commitment to Him who is over all.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Uncertainty as to our relationship with God is one of the most enfeebling and dispiriting of things. It makes a man heartless. It takes the pith out of him. He cannot fight; he cannot run. He is easily dismayed and gives way. He can do nothing for God. But when we know that we are of God, we are vigorous, brave, invincible. There is no more quickening truth than this of assurance.
--- Horatius Bonar

What is the essential difference between the Christian and the not-a-Christian, between the spiritual beauty and the moral beauty? It is the distinction between the Organic and the Inorganic. Moral beauty is the product of the natural man, spiritual beauty of the spiritual man.
--- Henry Drummond

The tears of Christ are the pity of God. The gentleness of Jesus is the long-suffering of God. The tenderness of Jesus is the love of God. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father."
--- Alexander MacLaren

Our knowledge of God, self and Scripture are all interrelated, and our capacity to understand any one of these elements will add to our ability to understand the others.
--- Mark R. McMinn

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 2/17
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     Chapter III.   1749-1756. His Marriage -- The Death of his Father -- His Journeys into the upper part of New jersey, and afterwards into Pennsylvania -- Considerations on keeping Slaves, and Visits to the Families of Friends at several times and places -- An Epistle from the General Meeting -- His journey to Long Island -- Considerations on Trading and on the Use of Spirituous Liquors and Costly Apparel -- Letter to a Friend.

     ABOUT this time, believing it good for me to settle, and thinking seriously about a companion, my heart was turned to the Lord with desires that he would give me wisdom to proceed therein agreeably to his will, and he was pleased to give me a well-inclined damsel, Sarah Ellis, to whom I was married the 18th of eighth month, 1749.

     In the fall of the year 1750 died my father, Samuel Woolman, of a fever, aged about sixty years. In his lifetime he manifested much care for us his children, that in our youth we might learn to fear the Lord; and often endeavored to imprint in our minds the true principles of virtue, and particularly to cherish in us a spirit of tenderness, not only towards poor people, but also towards all creatures of which we had the command.

     After my return from Carolina in 1746, I made some observations on keeping slaves, which some time before his decease I showed to him; he perused the manuscript, proposed a few alterations, and appeared well satisfied that I found a concern on that account. In his last sickness, as I was watching with him one night, he being so far spent that there was no expectation of his recovery, though he had the perfect use of his understanding, he asked me concerning the manuscript, and whether I expected soon to proceed to take the advice of friends in publishing it? After some further conversation thereon, he said, "I have all along been deeply affected with the oppression of the poor negroes; and now, at last, my concern for them is as great as ever."

     By his direction I had written his will in a time of health, and that night he desired me to read it to him, which I did; and he said it was agreeable to his mind. He then made mention of his end, which he believed was near; and signified that though he was sensible of many imperfections in the course of his life, yet his experience of the power of truth, and of the love and goodness of God from time to time, even till now, was such that he had no doubt that on leaving this life he should enter into one more happy.

     The next day his sister Elizabeth came to see him, and told him of the decease of their sister Anne, who died a few days before; he then said, "I reckon Sister Anne was free to leave this world?" Elizabeth said she was. He then said, "I also am free to leave it"; and being in great weakness of body said, "I hope I shall shortly go to rest." He continued in a weighty frame of mind, and was sensible till near the last.

     Second of ninth month, 1751. -- Feeling drawings in my mind to visit Friends at the Great Meadows, in the upper part of West Jersey, with the unity of our Monthly Meeting, I went there, and had some searching laborious exercise amongst Friends in those parts, and found inward peace therein.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 10:12-14
     by D.H. Stern

12     Hate stirs up disputes,
but love covers all kinds of transgressions.

13     On the lips of the intelligent is found wisdom,
but a stick is in store for the back of a fool.
14     Wise people hide their knowledge,
but when a fool speaks, ruin is imminent.

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

                The inspiration of spiritual initiative

     Arise from the dead. --- Eph. 5:14.

     All initiative is not inspired. A man may say to you—‘Buck up, take your disinclination by the throat, throw it overboard, and walk out into the thing!’ That is ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes in and says, in effect, ‘Buck up,’ we find that the initiative is inspired.

     We all have any number of visions and ideals when we are young, but sooner or later we find that we have no power to make them real. We cannot do the things we long to do, and we are apt to settle down to the visions and ideals as dead, and God has to come and say—“Arise from the dead.” When the inspiration of God does come, it comes with such miraculous power that we are able to arise from the dead and do the impossible thing. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life comes after we do the ‘bucking up.’ God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome. When the inspiration of God comes, and He says—“Arise from the dead,” we have to get up; God does not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand—“Stretch forth thy hand,” and as soon as the man did so, his hand was healed, but he had to take the initiative. If we will do the overcoming, we shall find we are inspired of God because He gives life immediately.

My Utmost for His Highest

Is A Museum Peace?
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                Is A Museum Peace?

  Peace? I asked. Am I the keeper
  Of the heart's relics, blowing the dust
  In my own eyes? I am a man;
  I never wanted the drab role
  Life assigned me, an actor playing
  To the past's audience upon a stage
  Of earth and stone; the absurd label
  Of birth, of race hanging askew
  About my shoulders. I was in prison
  Until you came; your voice was a key
  Turning in the enormous lock
  Of hopelessness. Did the door open
  To let me out or yourselves in?
  from a Welsh Testament


The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The Sixteenth Chapter / Bearing With The Faults Of Others

     UNTIL God ordains otherwise, a man ought to bear patiently whatever he cannot correct in himself and in others. Consider it better thus—perhaps to try your patience and to test you, for without such patience and trial your merits are of little account. Nevertheless, under such difficulties you should pray that God will consent to help you bear them calmly.

     If, after being admonished once or twice, a person does not amend, do not argue with him but commit the whole matter to God that His will and honor may be furthered in all His servants, for God knows well how to turn evil to good. Try to bear patiently with the defects and infirmities of others, whatever they may be, because you also have many a fault which others must endure.

     If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we ask. We would have them bound by laws, yet we will allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how seldom we think of others as we do of ourselves.

     If all were perfect, what should we have to suffer from others for God’s sake? But God has so ordained, that we may learn to bear with one another’s burdens, for there is no man without fault, no man without burden, no man sufficient to himself nor wise enough. Hence we must support one another, console one another, mutually help, counsel, and advise, for the measure of every man’s virtue is best revealed in time of adversity—adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     February 17

     Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
--- Luke 22:60–62.

     Our Lord’s look at Peter was a revival of all Peter’s looking to Jesus. ( C.H. Spurgeon's sermons on men of the New Testament (Library of Spurgeon's sermons) ) The Lord’s look at Peter took effect because Peter was looking at the Lord. Do you catch it? If the Lord had turned and looked at Peter and Peter’s back had been turned, that look would not have reached Peter nor affected him. The eyes met to produce the desired result. Notwithstanding all Peter’s wanderings, he was anxious about his Lord and therefore looked to see what was done with him. Even while he warmed his hands at the fire, he kept looking into the inner hall. His eyes were constantly looking in the direction of the Lord Jesus. While he wandered about among the maids and serving men, talking to them—fool that he was—yet still he would steal a glance to see how it fared with the man he loved. He had not given up the habit of looking to his Lord. If he had not still, in a measure, looked to his Master, how would the look of Jesus have been observed by him? [Christ’s] eye must look through your eye to get to your heart. The remainders of faith are the sparks among the ashes of piety, and the Lord blows on these to raise a fire. If you have given up the outward forms of religion, it is a grievous fault. But if you still inwardly look to the Crucified, there is something in you to work on, there is an eye that can receive the look of Jesus. Oh, that you who have this lingering faith in the Lord may now receive a look from him that will work in you a bitter, salutary, saving repentance, without which you can never be restored!

     The whole process may not have occupied more than a second of time—“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter”—less time to do than it takes to tell. Yet in that instant an endless work was done.

     That look of Christ also opened the sluices of Peter’s heart. He went out and wept bitterly. There was a gall in the tears he wept, for they were the washings of his bitter sorrow. Dear friends, if we have sinned with Peter, God grant us the grace to weep with Peter. Sin, even though it be forgiven, is a bitter thing.
--- C. H. Spurgeon

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

On This Day   February 17
     Modern Martyrs

     In 1971 Idi Amin overturned the government of Uganda while President Obote was out of the country. He immediately dissolved Parliament, suspended the constitution, and outlawed political activity. His army began raiding homes and arresting foes. All Asians were expelled. Americans were killed. Robbers were shot on sight. A reign of terror ensued.

     On January 30, 1977, Anglican Bishop Festo Kivengere preached to a large outdoor crowd, charging, “God entrusts governments with authority. But authority has been misused in our country by force.” The audience trembled, for in the crowd were officers of the dreaded State Research Bureau. The following Saturday, soldiers arrested Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum, dragging him from his bed at 1:30 A.M. Church leaders immediately sent a letter to Amin, saying, This is the climax of what has been constantly happening to our Christians. We have buried many who have died as a result of being shot and there are many more whose bodies have not yet been found.

     On February 17 Uganda Radio announced Luwum’s death in a car wreck. The real story was pieced together later. Luwum had been taken to Amin’s torture chamber and permitted to hold a brief prayer meeting with other prisoners. Then he was shoved into a Land Rover and driven to a compound near the capital. Amin himself came to the lodge, demanding Luwum sign a prepared confession of plotting to overthrow the government. A war of wills followed, and at length Luwum was forced to strip. He was whipped mercilessly.

     Still Luwum refused to sign the confession, praying for his tormentors instead. This sent Amin into a rage. He screamed obscenities, struck the archbishop, and commanded the soldiers to repeatedly molest him. Finally Amin drew his pistol and shot Luwum twice through the heart.

     Ironically, Protestants in Uganda had been planning for the 100th birthday of Christianity in their country. A group of gifted young Christians was producing a play about the first martyrs in Uganda. A week after Luwum’s death, the young people themselves became martyrs, their bodies later found a few miles outside Kampala.

     Be on your guard! You will be taken to courts and beaten with whips in their meeting places. And because of me, you will have to stand before rulers and kings to tell about your faith. But before the end comes, the good news must be preached to all nations.
--- Mark 13:9,10.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 17

     “Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.” --- Genesis 25:11.

     Hagar had once found deliverance there and Ishmael had drank from the water so graciously revealed by the God who liveth and seeth the sons of men; but this was a merely casual visit, such as worldlings pay to the Lord in times of need, when it serves their turn. They cry to him in trouble, but forsake him in prosperity. Isaac dwelt there, and made the well of the living and all-seeing God his constant source of supply. The usual tenor of a man’s life, the dwelling of his soul, is the true test of his state. Perhaps the providential visitation experienced by Hagar struck Isaac’s mind, and led him to revere the place; its mystical name endeared it to him; his frequent musings by its brim at eventide made him familiar with the well; his meeting Rebecca there had made his spirit feel at home near the spot; but best of all, the fact that he there enjoyed fellowship with the living God, had made him select that hallowed ground for his dwelling. Let us learn to live in the presence of the living God; let us pray the Holy Spirit that this day, and every other day, we may feel, “Thou God seest me.” May the Lord Jehovah be as a well to us, delightful, comforting, unfailing, springing up unto eternal life. The bottle of the creature cracks and dries up, but the well of the Creator never fails; happy is he who dwells at the well, and so has abundant and constant supplies near at hand. The Lord has been a sure helper to others: his name is Shaddai, God All-sufficient; our hearts have often had most delightful intercourse with him; through him our soul has found her glorious Husband, the Lord Jesus; and in him this day we live, and move, and have our being; let us, then, dwell in closest fellowship with him. Glorious Lord, constrain us that we may never leave thee, but dwell by the well of the living God.

          Evening - February 17

     “Whereas the Lord was there.” --- Ezekiel 35:10.

     Edom’s princes saw the whole country left desolate, and counted upon its easy conquest; but there was one great difficulty in their way—quite unknown to them—“The Lord was there”; and in his presence lay the special security of the chosen land. Whatever may be the machinations and devices of the enemies of God’s people, there is still the same effectual barrier to thwart their design. The saints are God’s heritage, and he is in the midst of them, and will protect his own. What comfort this assurance yields us in our troubles and spiritual conflicts! We are constantly opposed, and yet perpetually preserved! How often Satan shoots his arrows against our faith, but our faith defies the power of hell’s fiery darts; they are not only turned aside, but they are quenched upon its shield, for “the Lord is there.” Our good works are the subjects of Satan’s attacks. A saint never yet had a virtue or a grace which was not the target for hellish bullets: whether it was hope bright and sparkling, or love warm and fervent, or patience all-enduring, or zeal flaming like coals of fire, the old enemy of everything that is good has tried to destroy it. The only reason why anything virtuous or lovely survives in us is this, “the Lord is there.”

     If the Lord be with us through life, we need not fear for our dying confidence; for when we come to die, we shall find that “the Lord is there”; where the billows are most tempestuous, and the water is most chill, we shall feel the bottom, and know that it is good: our feet shall stand upon the Rock of Ages when time is passing away. Beloved, from the first of a Christian’s life to the last, the only reason why he does not perish is because “the Lord is there.” When the God of everlasting love shall change and leave his elect to perish, then may the Church of God be destroyed; but not till then, because it is written, JEHOVAH SHAMMAH, “The Lord is there.”

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     February 17


     Words and Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1838–1876

     As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
(John 15:9)

     The wonder of Jesus’ deep love for each of us has been expressed in this text in beautiful but childlike language by the noted musician of early Gospel music, Philip P. Bliss. After attending a service where the hymn “O How I Love Jesus” was sung repeatedly, Bliss thought, “Have I not been singing enough about my poor love for Jesus and shall I not rather sing of His great love for me?” Soon he completed both the words and music of one of the all-time favorite children’s hymn, which is widely sung and enjoyed by adults as well.

     Philip Bliss was the dynamic and very talented song writer and associate of evangelists D. L. Moody and Major Daniel W. Whittle. Bliss’ commanding height and impressive personality made his singing and song leading outstanding features in any evangelistic service. His gift for writing Gospel hymns was also exceptional. Still widely used today are such other Bliss favorites as: “Wonderful Words of Life,” “It Is Well With My Soul,” “Hold the Fort,” “Hallelujah, What a Savior,” and “Almost Persuaded.” One of his music colleagues, George C. Stebbins, stated:

     There has been no writer of verse since his time who has shown such a grasp of the fundamental truths of the Gospel, or such a gift for putting them into a poetic and singable form.

     The third stanza of this simple but very appealing hymn is especially meaningful when we realize that Philip Bliss died suddenly at the age of 38 in a tragic train accident. His many stirring hymns, however, have lived on. They all focus clearly on important biblical truths, but none is more moving than the reminder in this text that Jesus loves even me.

     I am go glad that our Father in heav’n tells of His love in the Book He has giv’n; wonderful things in the Bible I see—this is the dearest that Jesus loves me.
     Tho I forget Him and wander away, still He doth love me wherever I stray; back to His dear loving arms would I flee when I remember that Jesus loves me.
     O if there’s only one song I can sing when in His beauty I see the great King, this shall my song in eternity be: “O what a wonder that Jesus loves me!”
     Chorus: I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me; I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves even me.

     For Today: Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 4:9–12.

     Take time to thank your Lord once more for His great love for you personally, a love that cannot be comprehended but can only be gratefully accepted by faith. Sing as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Numbers 14-15
     Jon Courson

Numbers 12-14
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Numbers 15:32-36
Stick With Grace
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Numbers 15
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Numbers 15:37-41
I'm In The Fringe Crowd
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Numbers 13-14
Jon Courson

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Numbers 15-18
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Numbers 13-14
Achieving Your Destiny
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Numbers 14-15
     Skip Heitzig

Numbers 15
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Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Numbers 14-15
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Numbers 15 - 17
Korah's Rebellion and Aaron's Staff
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Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Numbers 14-15
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Unbelief Numbers 14:1-5
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Copy Caleb Numbers 14:6-25
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The Peril Of Presumption Numbers 14:40-45
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Numbers 14:20-45, 15:1-41
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