2/23/2023 Yesterday Tomorrow
Numbers 28 - 30
Daily OfferingsNumbers 28:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel and say to them, ‘My offering, my food for my food offerings, my pleasing aroma, you shall be careful to offer to me at its appointed time.’ 3 And you shall say to them, This is the food offering that you shall offer to the LORD: two male lambs a year old without blemish, day by day, as a regular offering. 4 The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; 5 also a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with a quarter of a hin of beaten oil. 6 It is a regular burnt offering, which was ordained at Mount Sinai for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD. 7 Its drink offering shall be a quarter of a hin for each lamb. In the Holy Place you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the LORD. 8 The other lamb you shall offer at twilight. Like the grain offering of the morning, and like its drink offering, you shall offer it as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.
Sabbath Offerings9 “On the Sabbath day, two male lambs a year old without blemish, and two tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, and its drink offering: 10 this is the burnt offering of every Sabbath, besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.
Monthly Offerings11 “At the beginnings of your months, you shall offer a burnt offering to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; 12 also three tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for each bull, and two tenths of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for the one ram; 13 and a tenth of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering for every lamb; for a burnt offering with a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD. 14 Their drink offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, a third of a hin for a ram, and a quarter of a hin for a lamb. This is the burnt offering of each month throughout the months of the year. 15 Also one male goat for a sin offering to the LORD; it shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.
Passover Offerings16 “On the fourteenth day of the first month is the LORD’s Passover, 17 and on the fifteenth day of this month is a feast. Seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. 18 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, 19 but offer a food offering, a burnt offering to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, and seven male lambs a year old; see that they are without blemish; 20 also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil; three tenths of an ephah shall you offer for a bull, and two tenths for a ram; 21 a tenth shall you offer for each of the seven lambs; 22 also one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you. 23 You shall offer these besides the burnt offering of the morning, which is for a regular burnt offering. 24 In the same way you shall offer daily, for seven days, the food of a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. It shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. 25 And on the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work.
Offerings for the Feast of Weeks26 “On the day of the firstfruits, when you offer a grain offering of new grain to the LORD at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, 27 but offer a burnt offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old; 28 also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for each bull, two tenths for one ram, 29 a tenth for each of the seven lambs; 30 with one male goat, to make atonement for you. 31 Besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall offer them and their drink offering. See that they are without blemish.
Offerings for the Feast of TrumpetsNumbers 29:1 “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets, 2 and you shall offer a burnt offering, for a pleasing aroma to the LORD: one bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; 3 also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the ram, 4 and one tenth for each of the seven lambs; 5 with one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you; 6 besides the burnt offering of the new moon, and its grain offering, and the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offering, according to the rule for them, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD.
Offerings for the Day of Atonement7 “On the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation and afflict yourselves. You shall do no work, 8 but you shall offer a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma: one bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old: see that they are without blemish. 9 And their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the one ram, 10 a tenth for each of the seven lambs: 11 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the sin offering of atonement, and the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offerings.
Offerings for the Feast of Booths12 “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall keep a feast to the LORD seven days. 13 And you shall offer a burnt offering, a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD, thirteen bulls from the herd, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old; they shall be without blemish; 14 and their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for each of the thirteen bulls, two tenths for each of the two rams, 15 and a tenth for each of the fourteen lambs; 16 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the regular burnt offering, its grain offering and its drink offering.
17 “On the second day twelve bulls from the herd, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 18 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 19 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offerings.
20 “On the third day eleven bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 21 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 22 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.
23 “On the fourth day ten bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 24 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 25 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the regular burnt offering, its grain offering and its drink offering.
26 “On the fifth day nine bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 27 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 28 also one male goat for a sin offering; besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.
29 “On the sixth day eight bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 30 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 31 also one male goat for a sin offering; besides the regular burnt offering, its grain offering, and its drink offerings.
32 “On the seventh day seven bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs a year old without blemish, 33 with the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 34 also one male goat for a sin offering; besides the regular burnt offering, its grain offering, and its drink offering.
35 “On the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly. You shall not do any ordinary work, 36 but you shall offer a burnt offering, a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD: one bull, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish, 37 and the grain offering and the drink offerings for the bull, for the ram, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities; 38 also one male goat for a sin offering; besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.
39 “These you shall offer to the LORD at your appointed feasts, in addition to your vow offerings and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your grain offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings.”
40 So Moses told the people of Israel everything just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Men and VowsNumbers 30:1 Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, “This is what the LORD has commanded. 2 If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
Women and Vows3 “If a woman vows a vow to the LORD and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house in her youth, 4 and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the LORD will forgive her, because her father opposed her.
6 “If she marries a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, 7 and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he opposes her, then he makes void her vow that was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she bound herself. And the LORD will forgive her. 9 (But any vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, anything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her.) 10 And if she vowed in her husband’s house or bound herself by a pledge with an oath, 11 and her husband heard of it and said nothing to her and did not oppose her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she bound herself shall stand. 12 But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning her pledge of herself shall not stand. Her husband has made them void, and the LORD will forgive her. 13 Any vow and any binding oath to afflict herself, her husband may establish, or her husband may make void. 14 But if her husband says nothing to her from day to day, then he establishes all her vows or all her pledges that are upon her. He has established them, because he said nothing to her on the day that he heard of them. 15 But if he makes them null and void after he has heard of them, then he shall bear her iniquity.”
16 These are the statutes that the LORD commanded Moses about a man and his wife and about a father and his daughter while she is in her youth within her father’s house.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
The Prophetic Period According to Wellhausen
By Gleason Archer Jr.
Beginning with Amos, who is considered by the critics of this school to have been the earliest of the writing prophets, a revolutionary new change of direction is supposed to have taken place in the religious thinking of Israel. This creative thinker from the hill country of rural Judea came with an epoch-making new idea, the idea of monotheism: there is no God but Yahweh Himself, and all the gods of the heathen are imaginary! Those who followed Amos, men like Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah, enthusiastically embraced this new emphasis on monotheism and contributed to its ultimate triumph in the religion of Israel. In Jeremiah’s time this movement produced its classic manifesto in the book of Deuteronomy, in which the uniqueness and supremacy of Jehovah were proclaimed with prophetic fervor and then attributed to the venerable figure of Moses. In many respects, according to these critics, this prophetic period (760–587 B.C.) represents the highest and purest achievement of the religion of Israel. As interpreted and expurgated by nineteenth-century Liberalism, these Hebrew prophets pretty largely hewed to the line of the Liberal gospel, with its emphasis upon social justice and salvation by good works or noble character. From this standpoint the postprophetic movement initiated by Ezekiel and the Priestly School represented a retrogression into ritualism and formalism and emphasis upon such priestly functions as atoning sacrifices.
In this connection it is interesting (perhaps even amusing) to read this vivid description of the radical change between the preprophetic period and the age of the prophets, as expressed by Lewis Browne: The prophets of the eighth century “transformed a jealous demon who roared and belched fire from the crater of a volcano into a transcendent spirit of love. They took a bloody and remorseless protector of a desert people, and without realizing it, changed him into the merciful Father of all mankind. In fine, they destroyed Yahweh and created God!” This is surely a masterpiece of misstatement and misrepresentation, shot through with fallacies from beginning to end, but it illustrates the perverted notion of Hebrew religion taught in many quarters today as a popularization of the Wellhausen hypothesis. Suffice it to say that there is surely no parallel to this to be found anywhere else in human history, that neither the introducers of a radically new concept of God nor those to whom they introduced it realized that there was anything new about it. Both the prophets themselves and their audiences seemed to labor under the impression that it was the God of Moses whose message they were transmitting. They claimed to be summoning their countrymen to return once more to the ancestral God of the patriarchs, to the God of Mount Sinai and the Exodus (cf. Hos. 11:1; 12:9, 13; Amos 2:10; 9:7; Mic. 6:4; 7:15 ), not to any new, watered-down deity capable of nothing but sweetness and light. Lewis Browne would be well advised to reread Isa. 24, 34, and 63, if he supposes that any of the thunder and smoke was removed from God’s judicial wrath by the innovating prophets of the newer, more enlightened age.
In order to demonstrate this opposition to sacrifice as having been indeed the emphasis of the prophets, the architects of the Development Hypothesis felt that they had only to cite a few proof texts and to interpret them in their own special way (out of context). Thus it was possible to show that the great prophets of the eighth and seventh centuries rejected any system of blood sacrifice as a valid way of access to God, even denying that it had any Mosaic validity. There were four favorite passages which they used for this purpose.
Amos 5:21–26: “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Yea, though ye offer me your burnt-offerings and meal-offerings, I will not accept them.… But let justice roll down as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream. Did ye bring unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? Yea, ye have borne the tabernacle of your king [Sakkuth your king, RSV] and the shrine of your images [Kaiwan your star-god, RSV], the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.” (Actually the tense of “borne” can be rendered: “Ye were bearing,” or even—although this is against the context — “Ye will bear.”) The Documentarians interpret this question to imply the answer: “No, we never did bring God sacrifices and offerings during the Exodus wanderings.” Much more reasonably Amos’ question may be taken at face value to mean: “Did you offer sacrifices to Me at that time? Yes, you did, but what impure and unacceptable sacrifices they were (just like those you offer Me in this corrupt generation), for you also carried on the clandestine worship of idols, even in the days of Moses!” This surely is the interpretation which best accords with the stream of the argument which Amos is developing in this chapter.
Micah 6:6–8: “Wherewith shall I come before Jehovah?… Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? Will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams?… He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?” This is construed to mean that Micah rejects the principle of sacrifice altogether, and that God desires only a virtuous life to satisfy His requirements for salvation. But this is to foist a modern Liberal notion upon the teaching of the ancient prophet. It is obvious from the context that Micah was dealing with the problem of religious formalism accompanied by an ungodly and immoral life on the part of the Jewish worshiper. Even the most lavish and extravagant offerings upon the altar cannot make up for the lack of heart submission and of a sincere purpose to obey the will of God in matters of practical ethics. Acceptable worship must proceed from a surrendered life. There is no rejection of the sacrificial cultus as such, but only as a hypocritical substitute for true godliness.
Why Christians Must Stand Against Anti-Semitism
By Joe Carter 2/22/2017
The Story: Several dozens anti-Semitic threats and acts of vandalism have occurred over the past few weeks, causing Jewish Americans throughout the country to fear for their safety.
The Background: Over the weekend vandals toppled about 170 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. The FBI and Department of Justice are also investigating a rash of bomb threats to Jewish centers across the United States. Since January 54 Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in 27 states and one Canadian province have received 69 bomb threats, including 11 on Monday.
According to ABC News, David Posner, director of strategic performance at JCC Association of North America, said that while the JCCs that received the threats have all resumed operations “with a heightened level of security,” he added, “we will not be cowed by threats intended to disrupt people’s lives.”
Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition, the editor of the NIV, Lifehacks Bible, Hardcover: Practical Tools for Successful Spiritual Habits, and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.
Why Does God Compare People To Sheep?
By Dave Wager 2/21/2017
Many of us want to believe we are strong, independent, intelligent, adventurous, and even invincible. In the Bible however, God compares us to sheep – over and over. Not a flattering comparison, but there are many reasons for this. First, since we are the sheep of His pasture, we are dependent on Him. We also have a Good Shepherd who feeds us and tends to our needs.
If we dwell in the shelter God provides, and if we abide in the shadow of the Almighty as Psalm 91:1 suggests, then we are protected. When we stay close enough to Jesus our Shepherd, we can rest in His shadow and grow in His presence. Our responsibility is to stay close to Him, keep listening to His voice, and to not stray. Though we often follow many people and things in this life, we were made to follow after God, our Leader.
Dave Wager: President, Silver Birch Ranch and Nicolet Bible Institute
Zwingli, Matter, Mind
By Peter J. Leithart 2/22/2017
In her meticulous and revealing study of The Eucharist in the Reformation, Lee Palmer Wandel argues that Luther and Zwingli divided at Marburg because their respective positions were incommensurate, incomprehensible each to the other. Specifically, they “divided over the nature of Christ's body,” but that point of division represented radically different conceptions of body, matter, and God's relation to creation.
Zwingli insisted that “Christ's body could not be corporeally present in every morsel of bread; indeed it horrified him to think of human beings taking Christ's physical body into their mouths and grinding it between their teeth.” The bread must be a sign, else Christ's body ceases to be a human body by becoming ubiquitous, “spread all over simultaneously” (102).
Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History. Mentioned in this article:
Image and Imagination of the Religious Self in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (PROTEUS)
The Eucharist in the Reformation
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 23The LORD Is My Shepherd
23 A Psalm Of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
By Don Carson 2/23/2018
One of the tasks imposed on those who wish to read the canonical Gospels sensitively is to see how the various units are linked. Casual readers remember individual stories about Jesus from their Sunday school days, but do not always reflect on the links that weld these stories into a complete Gospel. Moreover, the individual evangelists did not arrange their material exactly the same way as the others, so the special flavor of each gospel is often lost unless the distinctive links are thoughtfully pondered.
An instructive example is found in Luke 9:49-50. The preceding verses (9:46-48) find Jesus’ disciples arguing as to which of them would be greatest (in the consummated kingdom, presumably). Knowing their thoughts, Jesus teaches them an embarrassing lesson, employing a little child to make his point. Important people honey up to even more important people. Those who follow Jesus welcome the least powerful members of society – the little children. What Jesus demands is an outlook fundamentally at variance with that of the world: “For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest” (9:48).
It is at this juncture that 9:49-50 comes into play. John comments that he and the others saw a man driving out demons in Jesus’ name, “and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” Jesus forbids them this course of action, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” At first glance this is a somewhat different topic from that of the preceding verses. Then again, maybe not: the connections call for reflection. John’s complaints no longer sound like godly concern for orthodoxy, but like power-hungry moaning more concerned that those who preach and heal belong to the right party than that the mission itself be advanced. So this is pathetically tied to the debate over who would be the greatest. Personal aggrandizement will inevitably prove an unstable base for making wise assessments of the ministry of others.
The following verses (9:51-56) find Jesus in Samaria. When the Samaritans prove inhospitable, Jesus’ disciples are quite prepared to call fire down upon them. Jesus rebukes them. Since these verses follow the themes already elucidated, the attitude the disciples here betray is clarified. Their passion for judgment against the Samaritans is motivated less by a genuine grasp of and devotion to Christ Jesus, than by a power-hungry self-focus.
The closing verses of the chapter highlight the same contrast (9:57-62). The three who protest the loudest about how eagerly they will follow Jesus are firmly put in their place: they have not counted the cost of discipleship, and so their pious protestations take on the ugly hue of self-love.
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
What About Job 23:14
By Richard S. AdamsI have been wrestling with this very thing. “For he will complete what he appoints for me.” Do we not all yearn for this? Why are we here? What are we to do? Will God accomplish in me, (notice it is God who does the accomplishing, the completing, not me) God’s will or will I die a useless vessel, a cracked pot that never watered the seeds along the way? (That anxious thought is not scriptural, but it can be real in our spirit none the less.)
Have you noticed the wonderful feeling from doing physical work, the sense of accomplishment, the joy of doing a job well? Then there is the feeling of being spent, but nothing is accomplished. When I die I so much want the former and not the latter. Do you?
A couple of years ago we were house sitting for one of Lily's clients. This retired couple went to the Congo to see gorillas! As Lily finished cleaning their kitchen I walked around and around and around their paved, almost figure eight drive-way. The first part of the figure eight was one hundred eighty steps. Inside that section were several old, tall, and stately trees that littered their pavement with golden leaves. The other part of the figure eight was one hundred ten walking steps. On its perimeter was a barn. Within its boundary was a building for storage. It was surrounded by trees, but since they were on the outside of the driveway there were not as many leaves to rustle around my feet.
I walked around and around, scuffing through the leaves, trying to focus all of my attention on being present to the colors, the smell of rain, and the touch of the cool breeze. I have discovered it is impossible for me to be present to the present and still worry about tomorrow. The work is becoming truly present to the present. Why were they off to see gorillas when their home and its surroundings were so beautiful? Does familiarity really breed contempt?
As I walked I did what I do so often, wondered why I am here. If, as Job says, God wants to do something through me ... what is it? I remember thinking how available Lily and I are to go anywhere and do anything, yet we remain, seemingly motionless, scuffling through littered driveway leaves.
Job cried for justice. I long to justify my existence. Who can justify their existence? Justification is in the Lord. God says to Job, to me, to you, trust in the Lord with all your heart ... love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.
Do I need to go to Africa to see gorillas to love the Lord with all my heart? Do I need to go to the coast to love the Lord with all my heart? Do I need to come to Ken and Hana's beautiful home to love the Lord with all my heart? Maybe I just need to be still, wherever I am, and love the Lord with all my heart.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox 1/2009 to 7/2018.
Jan 23 Potholes
Jan 24 The Hornet
Jan 26 Dealing With Disappointment
Jan 27 Lost
Jan 28 Life Support, A Non-Stop Flight
Feb 5 Prosperity and the Camp Fire
Feb 7 Job 6:14-23
Feb 10 Spontaneous Generation
Feb 14 Hindsight
Feb 18 The Cure For Despair
Feb 22 RE: Job's Friends
Feb 23 Job 23:14
Feb 25 No Time To Text
Mar 5 Polemics and Caricature
Mar 17 A Walk In The Rain
Apr 20 Death and My Master's Voice
Apr 26 The Unexpected Blessing Returns
May 10 Ruth | Relationships
June 18 Lincoln City 6/2/18
July 14 Tom - Gen and Revelation
July 15 Knowledge and World Peace
July 16 The Church as Lobbyist
Aug 3 Have You Noticed
Nov 27 The Way The World Is
Nov 30 The Renewal Of Israel
Dec 11 Open Door
Dec 20 Replacement Theology
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
II. INITIAL INCREDIBILITIES OF THE THEORY
There are, it seems to us, three huge incredibilities which attach to this theory of the origin of the Levitical legislation, and to these, at the outset, as illustrative of the difficulties in which the modern criticism involves itself, we would refer.
1. There is no mistaking in this case the serious nature of the moral issue. In the case of “the book of the law” brought to light in Josiah’s reign, there is at least always open the assumption of a literary artifice which involved no dishonest intention on the part of the writer. Here, on the other hand, there can be no evading of the meaning of the transaction. What we have is the deliberate construction of an elaborate Code of laws with the express design of passing it off upon the people in the name of Moses. It is not a sufficient reply to urge that much in the law was simply the codification of pre-exilian usage. A codification of ancient law — if that were all that was meant — even though it involved some degree of re-editing and expansion, is a process to which no one could reasonably take exception, provided it were proved that it had actually taken place. But though this notion is, as we shall see, a good deal played with, the Wellhausen theory is assuredly not fairly represented, when, with a view to turn the edge of an objection, it is spoken of as mainly a work of “codification.” The very essence of the theory, as Kuenen and Wellhausen expound it, is, that in all that gives the Priestly Code its distinctive character, it is something entirely new. There never, e.g., existed such an ark or tabernacle as the Code describes with minute precision. The tabernacle is a pure fiction, obtained by halving the dimensions of the temple, and making it portable. There never was a choice of Aaron and his sons to be priests, or a separation of the Levites to be ministers to the priests. There never was a tithe system for the support of priests and Levites; there never were Levitical cities; there never were sin- and trespass - offerings, or a day of atonement, such as the Code prescribes; there never were feasts having the historical origin and reference assigned to them in the law. These institutions were not only not Mosaic, but they never existed at all; and the constructors of this Code knew it, for they were themselves the inventors. This cannot be evaded by saying, as is sometimes done, that it was a well-recognised custom to attribute all new legislation to Moses. For first, apart from the singular problem which this raises for the critics who attribute no laws to Moses, such a custom simply did not exist; and, second, this is not a case of mere literary convention, but one of serious intention, with a view to gaining a real advantage by the use of the lawgiver’s authority. The nearest parallel, perhaps, that suggests itself is the promulgation in Europe in the ninth century of our era of the great collection of spurious documents known as the Isidorian Decretals, carrying back the loftiest claims of the mediæval Papacy to apostolic men of the first century. No one hesitates to speak of these spurious decretals, which gained acceptance, and were for long incorporated in the Canon law, by their rightful name of “forgeries.” Can we help giving the same designation to the handiwork of these exilian constructors of a pseudo-Mosaic Code? It is futile to speak, in excuse, of the different standards of literary honesty in those days. It is not overstepping the mark to say, as before, that men like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Ezra, were as capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, as conscious of the sin of deceit, as zealous for the honour of God, as incapable of employing lying lips, or a lying pen, in the service of Jehovah, as any of our critics to-day. We simply cannot conceive of these men as entering into such a conspiracy, or taking part in such a fraud, as the Wellhausen theory supposes. For it was undeniably as genuine Mosaic ordinances that it was meant to pass off these laws upon the people. Let only the effect be imagined had Ezra interpolated his reading with the occasional explanation that this or that principal ordinance, given forth by him as a law of Moses in the wilderness, was really a private concoction of some unknown priest in Babylon — perchance his own!
2. Besides the moral, there confronts us, in the second place, a historical incredibility. We do not dwell on the peculiar taste of these exilian scribes, of whose very existence, it must be remembered, we have not a morsel of evidence, who, out of their own heads, occupied themselves with tireless ingenuity in elaborating these details of tabernacle, encampments, and ceremonial, planning new laws, festivals, and regulations for imaginary situations — devising everything with such care, and surrounding it with so perfect an air of the wilderness, that, as Wellhausen owns, no trace of the real date by any chance shines through. Neither do we dwell on the singular unity of mind which must have pervaded their ranks to enable them to concert so well-compacted and coherent a scheme as, on any showing, the Levitical law is. We shall assume that some peculiarly constituted minds might delight in evolving these fanciful things, and might even, at a sufficient distance of time, get their romance by mistake accepted as history. The thing which needs explanation is, how the scheme, once conceived, should be able to get under weigh as it did, in the actual circumstances of the return from the exile. That problem has only to be faced to show how incredible is the critical solution.
We turn to the account of the production and reading of the law by Ezra in Neh. 8, as before we did to the narrative of the finding of “the book of the law” in 2 Kings, and are there presented with a plain, unvarnished tale, which bears upon its face every mark of truth. We read how the people of Jerusalem, gathered “as one man into the broad place that was before the water-gate,” asked Ezra the scribe “to bring the book of the law of Moses, which Jehovah had commanded to Israel.” Ezra, who before has been described as “a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which Jehovah, the God of Israel, had given,” and as coming from Babylon with the law of God in his hand, now, at the people’s request, produced the book, and from an improvised “pulpit of wood” read its contents to the congregation “from morning till midday,” while others who stood by “gave the sense.” This was repeated from the first to the last day of the feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month. Everything in the narrative is plain and above board. There is not a hint that anything contained in this “book of the law” was new, though the knowledge of much that it contained had evidently been lost. The entire congregation listen to it with unquestioning faith as “the law of Moses.” They hear all its enactments about priests and Levites, its complicated regulations about sacrifices, about sin-offerings, about tithes, but do not raise a question. Nothing, on the premises of the theory, could be more surprising. Tithes of corn and oil, not to say of cattle, for the support of the Levitical order, had never before been heard of, but the people submit to the burden without dissent. They hear of a day of atonement, and of the solemn and elaborate ritual by which it is to be annually observed, but it does not occur to them that this institution has been unknown in all the past of their history. The Levites, descendants, on the theory, of Ezekiel’s degraded idolatrous priests — of whose degradation, however, to this lower rank, history contains no mention — show no amazement when they learn for the first time that their tribe was specially set apart by Jehovah for His service in the wilderness, and had then a liberal provision made for their wants; that cities even had been appointed for them to dwell in. Many of the more learned in the gathering — men versed in genealogies and priestly traditions — must have been well aware that the most striking of the ordinances which Ezra was reading from his roll, were unhistorical inventions, yet they take it all in. There was, as the Book of Nehemiah itself clearly shows, a strongly disaffected party, and a religiously faithless party, in the city, — a faction keenly opposed to Ezra and Nehemiah, — but no one raises a doubt. Priests and people, we learn from Malachi, were alike shamefully remiss in the discharge of their obligations, yet they never question the genuineness of any article in the Code. The very Samaritans — the bitterest of the Jews’ enemies in this period — receive not long after the whole law at the hands of the Jews as the undoubted law of Moses. Is anything in the “traditional” theory more astounding, or harder to believe, than all this is? There is another fact. Ezra’s reading of the law was in 444 B.C. But nearly a century earlier, in 536 B.C., at the time of the first return under Zerubbabel, we find no inconsiderable part of the law already in operation. Priests and Levites are there; the high priest is there; a complete organisation of worship is there, morning and evening sacrifices are there, set feasts are there, etc. Even if details are challenged, the central facts in this narrative, e.g., the presence of priests and Levites, and of an organisation of worship, cannot be overthrown.
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream (Part 2)
By John Bunyan 1678Yet Christiana had like to have been in, and that not once or twice. Now they had no sooner got over, but they thought they heard words that said unto them, “Blessed is she that believeth; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
Luke 1:45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” ESV
Then they went on again; and said Mercy to Christiana, had I as good ground to hope for a loving reception at the Wicket-gate as you, I think no Slough of Despond would discourage me.
Well, said the other, you know your sore, and I know mine; and, good friend, we shall all have enough evil before we come to our journey’s end. For can it be imagined that the people who design to attain such excellent glories as we do, and who are so envied that happiness as we are, but that we shall meet with what fears and snares, with what troubles and afflictions they can possibly assault us with that hate us? ... and in 2019 the Christian is hated, more and more in America, especially when you know the murder of babies is an abomination.
And now Mr. Sagacity left me to dream out my dream by myself. Wherefore, methought I saw Christiana, and Mercy, and the boys, go all of them up to the gate: to which, when they were come, they betook themselves to a short debate about how they must manage their calling at the gate, and what should be said unto him that did open to them: so it was concluded, since Christiana was the eldest, that she should knock for entrance, and that she should speak to him that did open, for the rest. So Christiana began to knock, and as her poor husband did, she knocked and knocked again. But instead of any that answered, they all thought they heard as if a dog came barking upon them; a dog, and a great one too; and this made the women and children afraid. Nor durst they for a while to knock any more, for fear the mastiff should fly upon them. Now, therefore, they were greatly tumbled up and down in their minds, and knew not what to do: knock they durst not, for fear of the dog; go back they durst not, for fear the keeper of that gate should espy them as they so went, and should be offended with them; at last they thought of knocking again, and knocked more vehemently than they did at first. Then said the keeper of the gate, Who is there? So the dog left off to bark, and he opened unto them.
Then Christiana made low obeisance, and said, Let not our Lord be offended with his handmaidens, for that we have knocked at his princely gate. Then said the keeper, Whence come ye? And what is it that you would have?
Christiana answered, We are come from whence Christian did come, and upon the same errand as he; to wit, to be, if it shall please you, graciously admitted by this gate into the way that leads unto the Celestial City. And I answer, my Lord, in the next place, that I am Christiana, once the wife of Christian, that now is gotten above.
With that the keeper of the gate did marvel, saying, What, is she now become a pilgrim that but a while ago abhorred that life? Then she bowed her head, and said, Yea; and so are these my sweet babes also.
Then he took her by the hand and led her in, and said also, Suffer little children to come unto me; and with that he shut up the gate. This done, he called to a trumpeter that was above, over the gate, to entertain Christiana with shouting, and the sound of trumpet for joy. So he obeyed, and sounded, and filled the air with his melodious notes.
Now all this while poor Mercy did stand without, trembling and crying, for fear that she was rejected. But when Christiana had got admittance for herself and her boys, then she began to make intercession for Mercy.
CHR. And she said, My Lord, I have a companion that stands yet without, that is come hither upon the same account as myself: one that is much dejected in her mind, for that she comes, as she thinks, without sending for; whereas I was sent for by my husband’s King to come.
Now Mercy began to be very impatient, and each minute was as long to her as an hour; wherefore she prevented Christiana from a fuller interceding for her, by knocking at the gate herself. And she knocked then so loud that she made Christiana to start. Then said the keeper of the gate, Who is there? And Christiana said, It is my friend.
So he opened the gate, and looked out, but Mercy was fallen down without in a swoon, for she fainted, and was afraid that no gate should be opened to her.
Then he took her by the hand, and said, Damsel, I bid thee arise.
Oh, sir, said she, I am faint; there is scarce life left in me. But he answered, that one once said, “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came unto thee, into thy holy temple.”
Jonah 2:7 When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple. ESV
Fear not, but stand upon thy feet, and tell me wherefore thou art come.
MER. I am come for that unto which I was never invited, as my friend Christiana was. Hers was from the King, and mine was but from her. Wherefore I fear I presume.
KEEP. Did she desire thee to come with her to this place?
MER. Yes; and, as my Lord sees, I am come. And if there is any grace and forgiveness of sins to spare, I beseech that thy poor handmaid may be a partaker thereof.
Then he took her again by the hand, and led her gently in, and said, I pray for all them that believe on me, by what means soever they come unto me. Then said he to those that stood by, Fetch something and give it to Mercy to smell on, thereby to stay her faintings; so they fetched her a bundle of myrrh, and a while after she was revived.
And now were Christiana and her boys, and Mercy, received of the Lord at the head of the way, and spoken kindly unto by him. Then said they yet further unto him, We are sorry for our sins, and beg of our Lord his pardon, and further information what we must do.
I grant pardon, said he, by word and deed; by word in the promise of forgiveness, by deed in the way I obtained it. Take the first from my lips with a kiss, and the other as it shall be revealed.
Song 1:Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine; ESV
John 20:20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. ESV
Now I saw in my dream, that he spake many good words unto them, whereby they were greatly gladdened. He also had them up to the top of the gate, and showed them by what deed they were saved; and told them withal, that that sight they would have again as they went along in the way, to their comfort.
So he left them awhile in a summer parlor below, where they entered into talk by themselves; and thus Christiana began. O how glad am I that we are got in hither.
MER. So you well may; but I, of all, have cause to leap for joy.
CHR. I thought one time, as I stood at the gate, because I had knocked and none did answer, that all our labor had been lost, especially when that ugly cur made such a heavy barking against us.
MER. But my worst fear was after I saw that you was taken into his favor, and that I was left behind. Now, thought I, it is fulfilled which is written, “Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
Matt. 24:41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. ESV
I had much ado to forbear crying out, Undone! And afraid I was to knock any more; but when I looked up to what was written over the gate, I took courage. I also thought that I must either knock again, or die; so I knocked, but I cannot tell how, for my spirit now struggled between life and death.
CHR. Can you not tell how you knocked? I am sure your knocks were so earnest that the very sound of them made me start; I thought I never heard such knocking in all my life; I thought you would come in by a violent hand, or take the kingdom by storm.
Matt. 11:12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. ESV
MER. Alas! to be in my case, who that so was could but have done so? You saw that the door was shut upon me, and there was a most cruel dog thereabout. Who, I say, that was so faint-hearted as I, would not have knocked with all their might? But pray, what said my Lord to my rudeness? Was he not angry with me?
CHR. When he heard your lumbering noise, he gave a wonderful innocent smile; I believe what you did pleased him well, for he showed no sign to the contrary. But I marvel in my heart why he keeps such a dog: had I known that before, I should not have had heart enough to have ventured myself in this manner. But now we are in, we are in, and I am glad with all my heart.
MER. I will ask, if you please, next time he comes down, why he keeps such a filthy cur in his yard; I hope he will not take it amiss. Do so, said the children, and persuade him to hang him; for we are afraid he will bite us when we go hence.
So at last he came down to them again, and Mercy fell to the ground on her face before him, and worshiped, and said, “Let my Lord accept the sacrifice of praise which I now offer unto him with the calves of my lips.”
So he said unto her, Peace be to thee; stand up. But she continued upon her face, and said, “Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee; yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments.”
Jer. 12:Righteous are you, O LORD,
when I complain to you;
yet I would plead my case before you.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all who are treacherous thrive? ESV
He answered and said, That dog has another owner; he also is kept close in another man’s ground, only my pilgrims hear his barking; he belongs to the castle which you see there at a distance, but can come up to the walls of this place. He has frighted many an honest pilgrim from worse to better, by the great voice of his roaring. Indeed, he that owneth him doth not keep him out of any good-will to me or mine, but with intent to keep the pilgrims from coming to me, and that they may be afraid to come and knock at this gate for entrance. Sometimes also he has broken out, and has worried some that I loved; but I take all at present patiently. I also give my pilgrims timely help, so that they are not delivered to his power, to do with them what his doggish nature would prompt him to. But what my purchased one, I trow, hadst thou known never so much beforehand, thou wouldest not have been afraid of a dog. The beggars that go from door to door, will, rather than lose a supposed alms, run the hazard of the bawling, barking, and biting too of a dog; and shall a dog, a dog in another man’s yard, a dog whose barking I turn to the profit of pilgrims, keep any from coming to me? I deliver them from the lions, and my darling from the power of the dog.
Psa. 22:21-22 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: ESV
MER. Then said Mercy, I confess my ignorance; I spake what I understood not; I acknowledge that thou doest all things well.
CHR. Then Christiana began to talk of their journey, and to inquire after the way. So he fed them and washed their feet, and set them in the way of his steps, according as he had dealt with her husband before.
Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
February 232 Samuel 12:13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.” ESV
I have sinned.
2 Samuel 24:10 But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”
1 Samuel 15:24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the LORD.”
1 Samuel 15:30 Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the LORD your God.”
Job 7:20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind?
Why have you made me your mark?
Why have I become a burden to you?
Job 33:27 He sings before men and says:
‘I sinned and perverted what was right,
and it was not repaid to me.
Psalm 32:3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Psalm 51:4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Proverbs 25:12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
I shutter when I think about Jonathan and Abner from the previous day's readings. I never considered their choices were scorning the LORD, but Jonathan chose his father over God's choice and Abner left the city of refuge, the sheepfold, God's protection. It is a scary thing to make the wrong choice, even unintentionally. How many times have I utterly scorned the LORD?
In considering the subject of forgiveness of sins we need to remember that Scripture presents it in several different aspects. There is, first of all. the forgiveness which God gives to all who believe upon His Son (Acts 10:43; 13:38-39). This is perfect and complete, and is never repeated. The basis of it is the work of the cross, the blood of Christ shed for our redemption (Ephesians 1:7). He who comes to God as a sinner and puts his trust in the Lord Jesus passes from death to life (John 5:24) and is now a child of God, justified before His throne and accounted clear of every charge (Romans 8:33-34). His responsibility as a sinner having to do with the judgment of God is over for eternity. But now a new responsibility begins: that of a child having to do with his Father. If the child sins he loses fellowship and needs restorative forgiveness. This is granted when he comes to his Father in contrition, confessing his failure (1 John 1:9). There is a third and very important aspect of forgiveness which we may call governmental. In the government of God there are certain consequences of a temporal (and often a physical) character, which follow the commission of sin. These consequences go on for years, or God may in mercy remit them, if we walk humbly before Him. In David’s case most serious governmental consequences followed long after Nathan assured the penitent king the Lord had put away his sin.
Acts 10:43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Acts 13:38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Romans 8:33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ESV
My sins forgiven, my fears removed,
I know that Thou hast ever loved.
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
THE BENEFITS OF CHRIST MADE AVAILABLE TO US BY THE SECRET OPERATION OF THE SPIRIT.
The three divisions of this chapter are,--I. The secret operation of the Holy Spirit, which seals our salvation, should be considered first in Christ the Mediator as our Head, sec. 1 and 2. II. The titles given to the Holy Spirit show that we become members of Christ by his grace and energy, sec. 3. III. As the special influence of the Holy Spirit is manifested in the gift of faith, the former is a proper introduction to the latter, and thus prepares for the second chapter, sec. 4.
1. The Holy Spirit the bond which unites us with Christ. This the result of faith produced by the secret operation of the Holy Spirit. This obvious from Scripture.
2. In Christ the Mediator the gifts of the Holy Spirit are to be seen in all their fulness. To what end. Why the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of the Father and the Son.
3. Titles of the Spirit,--1. The Spirit of adoption. 2. An earnest and seal. 3. Water. 4. Life. 5. Oil and unction. 6. Fire. 7. A fountain. 8. The word of God. Use of these titles.
4. Faith being the special work of the Holy Spirit, the power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit usually ascribed to it.
1. We must now see in what way we become possessed of the blessings which God has bestowed on his only-begotten Son, not for private use, but to enrich the poor and needy. And the first thing to be attended to is, that so long as we are without Christ and separated from him, nothing which he suffered and did for the salvation of the human race is of the least benefit to us. To communicate to us the blessings which he received from the Father, he must become ours and dwell in us. Accordingly, he is called our Head, and the first-born among many brethren, while, on the other hand, we are said to be ingrafted into him and clothed with him,  all which he possesses being, as I have said, nothing to us until we become one with him. And although it is true that we obtain this by faith, yet since we see that all do not indiscriminately embrace the offer of Christ which is made by the gospel, the very nature of the case teaches us to ascend higher, and inquire into the secret efficacy of the Spirit, to which it is owing that we enjoy Christ and all his blessings. I have already treated of the eternal essence and divinity of the Spirit (Book 1 chap. 13 sect. 14,15); let us at present attend to the special point, that Christ came by water and blood, as the Spirit testifies concerning him, that we might not lose the benefits of the salvation which he has purchased. For as there are said to be three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, so there are also three on the earth, namely, water, blood, and Spirit. It is not without cause that the testimony of the Spirit is twice mentioned, a testimony which is engraven on our hearts by way of seal, and thus seals the cleansing and sacrifice of Christ. For which reason, also, Peter says, that believers are "elect" "through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," (1 Pet. 1:2). By these words he reminds us, that if the shedding of his sacred blood is not to be in vain, our souls must be washed in it by the secret cleansing of the Holy Spirit. For which reason, also, Paul, speaking of cleansing and purification, says, "but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God," (1 Cor. 6:11). The whole comes to this that the Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ effectually binds us to himself. Here we may refer to what was said in the last Book concerning his anointing.
2. But in order to have a clearer view of this most important subjects we must remember that Christ came provided with the Holy Spirit after a peculiar manner, namely, that he might separate us from the world, and unite us in the hope of an eternal inheritance. Hence the Spirit is called the Spirit of sanctification, because he quickens and cherishes us, not merely by the general energy which is seen in the human race, as well as other animals, but because he is the seed and root of heavenly life in us. Accordingly, one of the highest commendations which the prophets give to the kingdom of Christ is, that under it the Spirit would be poured out in richer abundance. One of the most remarkable passages is that of Joel, "It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh," (Joel 2:28). For although the prophet seems to confine the gifts of the Spirit to the office of prophesying, he yet intimates under a figure, that God will, by the illumination of his Spirit, provide himself with disciples who had previously been altogether ignorant of heavenly doctrine. Moreover, as it is for the sake of his Son that God bestows the Holy Spirit upon us, and yet has deposited him in all his fulness with the Son, to be the minister and dispenser of his liberality, he is called at one time the Spirit of the Father, at another the Spirit of the Son: "Ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," (Rom. 8:9); and hence he encourages us to hope for complete renovation: "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you," (Rom. 8:11). There is no inconsistency in ascribing the glory of those gifts to the Father, inasmuch as he is the author of them, and, at the same time, ascribing them to Christ, with whom they have been deposited, that he may bestow them on his people. Hence he invites all the thirsty to come unto him and drink (John 7:37). And Paul teaches, that "unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ," (Eph. 4:7). And we must remember, that the Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ, not only inasmuch as the eternal Word of God is with the Father united with the Spirit, but also in respect of his office of Mediator; because, had he not been endued with the energy of the Spirit, he had come to us in vain. In this sense he is called the "last Adam," and said to have been sent from heaven "a quickening Spirit," (1 Cor. 15:45), where Paul contrasts the special life which Christ breathes into his people, that they may be one with him with the animal life which is common even to the reprobate. In like manner, when he prays that believers may have "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God," he at the same time adds, "the communion of the Holy Ghost," without which no man shall ever taste the paternal favor of God, or the benefits of Christ. Thus, also, in another passage he says, "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us," (Rom. 5:5).
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
- Not In Seminary
- Serve and Served
- Prayers of God's People
#1 John Huffman |
#2 John Huffman |
#3 Emmett G. Price III |
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Strengthen your faith (1)
2/23/2018 Bob Gass
'The act of faith…set them above the crowd.’
(Heb 11:2) For by it the people of old received their commendation. ESV
The Bible says: ‘The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd’ (vv. 1-2 MSG). The heroes of faith listed in Hebrews chapter eleven were far from perfect. Noah believed God, built the ark, and saved his family. But when he came out of the ark he got drunk. Abraham was known as a ‘friend of God’, yet he lied to save his own neck and ended up compromising his wife’s safety. When God told Sarah she’d give birth to a child at ninety years old, she laughed – and you’d probably have done the same. And how about Joseph? He was a slave with a prison record who ended up second in command when it came to ruling Egypt. Then there’s Rahab the harlot; we wouldn’t let her sing in the church choir, yet God listed her as a woman of great faith. And how about Jacob, who duped his brother and deceived his father-in-law in business in order to enrich himself? Would you do business with him? Then there was King David, whose womanising led to murder and national scandal. Even Gideon and Samuel, two spiritual giants, raised children who went astray spiritually. Every one of these people was as human as you are. They faltered, fumbled the ball, and went through times of failure. Their only claim to fame is they believed God and He honoured their faith – and He will do the same for you each time you put your trust in Him.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
The Panama Canal Zone was acquired for ten million dollars by the United States on this day, February 23, 1904. In his address to Congress, President William Taft referred to it, saying: “Our defense of the Panama Canal, together with our enormous world trade and our missionary outposts on the frontiers of civilization, require us to recognize our position as one of the foremost in the family of nations.” President Taft continued, we must “clothe ourselves with sufficient naval power… to give weight to our influence in those directions of progress that a powerful Christian nation should advocate.”
by Alistair Begg
A fable is told of two grasshoppers that were thrown into a pail of milk. The first grasshopper began immediately to sulk and give up, and he drowned in the milk.
But the second grasshopper began to kick like crazy and work hard at getting out of the pail. In the process, he churned the milk into butter—and then walked out of the pail on top of that block of butter.
Put two people in the same jail cell and one will see only the bars on the window while the other will see the stars beyond the bars. Which would you see?
John Bunyan spent twelve years in a jail in Bedford, England. He was in jail because he refused to preach according to the rules of the day. He wasn’t a Church of England clergyman, but he loved to preach.
So the authorities told him, “Bunyan, cut it out or we’ll put you in jail.”
Bunyan answered, “I can’t ‘cut it out.’ I have to preach.” And he preached everywhere he went. So they arrested and jailed John Bunyan, and he languished in his cell for twelve years.
Now, those were rotten circumstances. But within a short time, we are told, there was music coming from Bunyan’s cell. He had taken one of the legs of his three-legged stool and carved it into a flute.
John Bunyan did something else in his cell. He wrote Pilgrim's Progress (Bunyan): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations., a book that has become the classic after the Bible in the history of Christianity. Millions have been impacted by a work written in the worst of circumstances by a forgotten prisoner in seventeenth-century England.
The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances
Thomas R. Kelly
The final grounds of holy Fellowship are in God. Lives immersed and drowned in God are drowned in love, and know one another in Him, and know one another in love. God is the medium, the matrix, the focus, the solvent. As Meister Eckhart suggests, he who is wholly surrounded by God, enveloped by God, clothed with God, glowing in selfless love toward Him-such a man no one can touch except he touch God also. Such lives have a common meeting point; they live in a common joyous enslavement. They go back into a single Center where they are at home with Him and with one another. It is as if every soul had a final base, and that final base of every soul is one single Holy Ground, shared in by all. Persons in the Fellowship are related to one another through Him, as all mountains go down into the same earth. They get at one another through Him. He is actively moving in all, coordinating those who are pliant to His will and suffusing them all with His glory and His joy.
The relation of each to all, through God, is real, objective, and existential. It is an eternal relationship which is shared in by every stick and stone and bird and beast and saint and sinner of the universe. On all the wooing love of God falls urgently, persuadingly. But he who, having will, yields to the loving urgency of that Life which knocks at his heart, is entered and possessed and transformed and transfigured. The scales fall from his eyes when he is given to eat of the tree of knowledge, the fruit of which is indeed for the healing of the nations, and he knows himself and his fellows as comrades in Eden, where God walks with them in the cool of the day. As there is a mysterious many-ing of God, as He pours Himself forth into the universe, so there is a one-ing of those souls who find their way back to Him who is their home. And these are in the Holy Fellowship, the Blessed Community, of whom God is the head.
This community of life and love is far deeper than current views based upon modern logic would suppose. Logic finds, beneath every system of thought, some basic assumptions or postulates from which all other items of belief are derived. It is said that those who share in a system of thought are those who hold basic assumptions in common. But these assumptions are of the intellect, subsequent products, efforts to capture and clarify and make-intelligible to ourselves and to others some fragment of that immediacy of experience which is the soul of life itself. Such as assumptions we must make, but they are experimental, variant, conditioned by our culture period. But Holy Fellowship reaches behind these intellectual frames to the immediacy of experience in God, and seeks contact in this fountain head of real, dynamic connectedness. Theological quarrels arise out of differences in assumptions. But Holy Fellowship, freely tolerant of these important yet more superficial clarifications, lives in the Center and rejoices in the unity of His love.
And this Fellowship is deeper than democracy, conceived as an ideal of group living. It is a theocracy wherein God rules and guides and directs His listening children. The center of authority is not in man, not in the group, but in the creative God Himself. Nor do all members share equally in spiritual discernment, but upon some falls more clearly the revealing light of His guiding will. "Weighty Friends," with delicate attunement both to heaven and to earth, bulk large in practical decisions. It would be a mistake indeed to suppose that Holy Fellowship is chained fast to one political system, or bound up inextricably with the fortunes of any one temporal structure of society. For the swaying fortunes of democracy and of fascism and of communism are of time, but the Fellowship in God is of all times and is eternal. It is certainly true that some temporal systems are more favorable than are others to the flowering of the Fellowship. But within alI groups and nations and creeds it springs up, smiling at differences, for, existing in time, it is rooted in the Eternal One.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Take care of your life
and the Lord will take care of your death.
--- George Whitefield
Verily, when the day of judgment comes,
we shall not be asked what we have read,
but what we have done.
--- Thomas à Kempis
The virtues, after all, are not laws that we follow,
but interrelated ways of being, feeling, seeing, acting,
and reacting in the world that make love
and its expressions possible.
--- Roberta C. Bondi
There is a quiet, open place in the depths of the mind, to which we can go many times in the day and lift up our soul in praise, thankfulness and conscious unity. With practise this God-ward turn of the mind becomes an almost constant direction, underlying all our other activities.
--- Kenneth Boulding, 1910-1993
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.
--- Robert Browning Hamilton
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
Ninth of fifth month. -- A Friend at whose house we breakfasted setting us a little on our way, I had conversation with him, in the fear of the Lord, concerning his slaves, in which my heart was tender; I used much plainness of speech with him, and he appeared to take it kindly. We pursued our journey without appointing meetings, being pressed in my mind to be at the Yearly Meeting in Virginia. In my travelling on the road, I often felt a cry rise from the centre of my mind, thus: "O Lord, I am a stranger on the earth, hide not thy face from me." On the 11th, we crossed the rivers Patowmack and Rapahannock, and lodged at Port Royal. On the way we had the company of a colonel of the militia, who appeared to be a thoughtful man. I took occasion to remark on the difference in general betwixt a people used to labor moderately for their living, training up their children in frugality and business, and those who live on the labor of slaves; the former, in my view, being the most happy life. He concurred in the remark, and mentioned the trouble arising from the untoward, slothful disposition of the negroes, adding that one of our laborers would do as much in a day as two of their slaves. I replied, that free men, whose minds were properly on their business, found a satisfaction in improving, cultivating, and providing for their families; but negroes, laboring to support others who claim them as their property, and expecting nothing but slavery during life, had not the like inducement to be industrious.
After some further conversation I said, that men having power too often misapplied it; that though we made slaves of the negroes, and the Turks made slaves of the Christians, I believed that liberty was the natural right of all men equally. This he did not deny, but said the lives of the negroes were so wretched in their own country that many of them lived better here than there. I replied, "There is great odds in regard to us on what principle we act"; and so the conversation on that subject ended. I may here add that another person, some time afterwards, mentioned the wretchedness of the negroes, occasioned by their intestine wars, as an argument in favor of our fetching them away for slaves. To which I replied, if compassion for the Africans, on account of their domestic troubles, was the real motive of our purchasing them, that spirit of tenderness being attended to, would incite us to use them kindly that, as strangers brought out of affliction, their lives might be happy among us. And as they are human creatures, whose souls are as precious as ours, and who may receive the same help and comfort from the Holy Scriptures as we do, we could not omit suitable endeavors to instruct them therein; but that while we manifest by our conduct that our views in purchasing them are to advance ourselves, and while our buying captives taken in war animates those parties to push on the war, and increase desolation amongst them, to say they live unhappily in Africa is far from being an argument in our favor. I further said, the present circumstances of these provinces to me appear difficult; the slaves look like a burdensome stone to such as burden themselves with them; and that if the white people retain a resolution to prefer their outward prospects of gain to all other considerations, and do not act conscientiously toward them as fellow-creatures, I believe that burden will grow heavier and heavier, until times change in a way disagreeable to us. The person appeared very serious, and owned that in considering their condition and the manner of their treatment in these provinces he had sometimes thought it might be just in the Almighty so to order it.
Having travelled through Maryland, we came amongst Friends at Cedar Creek in Virginia, on the 12th; and the next day rode, in company with several of them, a day's journey to Camp Creek. As I was riding along in the morning, my mind was deeply affected in a sense I had of the need of Divine aid to support me in the various difficulties which attended me, and in uncommon distress of mind I cried in secret to the Most High, "O Lord be merciful, I beseech thee, to thy poor afflicted creature!" After some time, I felt inward relief, and, soon after, a Friend in company began to talk in support of the slave-trade, and said the negroes were understood to be the offspring of Cain, their blackness being the mark which God set upon him after he murdered Abel his brother; that it was the design of Providence they should be slaves, as a condition proper to the race of so wicked a man as Cain was. Then another spake in support of what had been said. To all which I replied in substance as follows: that Noah and his family were all who survived the flood, according to Scripture; and as Noah was of Seth's race, the family of Cain was wholly destroyed. One of them said that after the flood Ham went to the land of Nod and took a wife; that Nod was a land far distant, inhabited by Cain's race, and that the flood did not reach it; and as Ham was sentenced to be a servant of servants to his brethren, these two families, being thus joined, were undoubtedly fit only for slaves. I replied, the flood was a judgment upon the world for their abominations, and it was granted that Cain's stock was the most wicked, and therefore unreasonable to suppose that they were spared. As to Ham's going to the land of Nod for a wife, no time being fixed, Nod might be inhabited by some of Noah's family before Ham married a second time; moreover the text saith "That all flesh died that moved upon the earth." (Gen. vii. 21.) I further reminded them how the prophets repeatedly declare "that the son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, but every one be answerable for his own sins." I was troubled to perceive the darkness of their imaginations, and in some pressure of spirit said, "The love of ease and gain are the motives in general of keeping slaves, and men are wont to take hold of weak arguments to support a cause which is unreasonable. I have no interest on either side, save only the interest which I desire to have in the truth I believe liberty is their right, and as I see they are not only deprived of it, but treated in other respects with inhumanity in many places, I believe He who is a refuge for the oppressed will, in his own time, plead their cause, and happy will it be for such as walk in uprightness before him." And thus our conversation ended.
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
but accurate weights please him.
2 First comes pride, then disgrace;
but with the humble is wisdom.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The determination to serve
The son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. --- Matthew 20:28.
Paul’s idea of service is the same as our Lord’s: “I am among you as He that serveth”; “ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” We have the idea that a man called to the Ministry is called to be a different kind of being from other men. According to Jesus Christ, he is called to be the ‘door-mat’ of other men; their spiritual leader, but never their superior. “I know how to be abased,” says Paul. This is Paul’s idea of service—‘I will spend myself to the last ebb for you; you may give me praise or give me blame, it will make no difference. So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does.’ The mainspring of Paul’s service is not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.
Paul’s realization of how Jesus Christ had dealt with him is the secret of his determination to serve others. “I was before a perjurer, a blasphemer, an injurious person”—no matter how men may treat me, they will never treat me with the spite and hatred with which I treated Jesus Christ. When we realize that Jesus Christ has served us to the end of our meanness, our selfishness, and sin, nothing that we meet with from others can exhaust our determination to serve men for His sake.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Who said to the trout,
You shall die on Good Friday
To be food for a man
And his pretty lady?
It was I, said God,
Who formed the roses
In the delicate flesh
And the tooth that bruises.
Song at the year's turning: Poems 1942-1954
Job continues to be confident that he is experiencing an incredible wrong at the hands of God. He expresses again his desire to find God so as to present his case before him. Then Job lapses into discouragement as he contemplates his hopeless condition.
A. Job’s Desire (23:1–7).
Job knew that his complaint against God was a rebellious act, and would be so viewed by his friends. Though he tried to restrain his groaning, he could not. The text is properly translated: “My hand is heavy upon my groaning” (23:2).
Job ardently desires that he could come to God’s judgment seat to plead his cause before him.There he eloquently would argue his case with irrefutable arguments. In that context he could demand plain answers. Faced with the facts of Job’s case, God would be forced to admit the injustice which had been done to his servant. He was convinced that God would not take advantage of his great power. On this point Job has changed his opinion since his speech of 9:14–16. At that divine tribunal, Job was confident that he would be delivered forever from injustice at the hands of the heavenly judge (23:3–7).
B. Job’s Defense (23:8–12).
Job suddenly returns to the reality of his isolation. God is everywhere, yet he can find him nowhere. The words “forward,” “backward,” “on the left hand,” and “on the right hand” probably denote the four points of the compass. Job concluded that God must be avoiding him because he knew he was innocent. Should he encounter Job he would have to admit that a grave injustice had been done (23:8–10).
How could Job declare that if tried by God he would come forth as shining gold? Eliphaz had insinuated that Job was following the ancient path of wicked men (cf. 22:15). Not so. He had followed in the steps of the Lord and had never deviated therefrom. According to Eliphaz, Job needed to hear instruction from the mouth of God (cf. 22:22). In fact Job had never departed from the commandments of God. They were more precious to him than his daily bread (23:11–12).
C. Job’s Discouragement (23:13–17).
Though he knows that Job is innocent, God is resolute in his determination to destroy the patriarch. Since God is omnipotent, he can do as he pleases. Eliphaz had argued that if Job repented he could have all his plans confirmed (cf. 22:28). Not so! God was carrying out in Job’s life what he had decreed. All of this was a profound enigma to Job; but it was far from being a solitary one: “many such things are with him,” i.e., this is but one out of many similar mysteries that happen under God’s government of the world (23:13–14).
God’s mysterious and irresistible ways trigger in Job a sense of dismay, terror and faintheartedness. By acting in what Job perceived to be an unjust way, the Lord had made the heart of the patriarch faint. The emphasis here is on what God had done. What dismays Job and renders him speechless is not the dark calamity which had overtaken him, and not the fact that his face had been marred and distorted by disease. What bothered him most was this: It was God who had inflicted the calamity upon him, and that for no just cause! (23:15–17).
The Wisdom Literature and Psalms (Old Testament Survey Series)
Whether or not Paul went to Spain has always been an interesting topic of discussion. I have read enough commentaries on the subject to honestly say I don't know, but I do like the following. Keep in mind I am the kind of person who likes closure, but is there really ever closure in this life? Only God has the final word. So, having been warned, decide for yourself.
I like to read the last words of famous men, even when I suspect someone else may have put those words in the celebrity’s mouth. Examples of questionable but famous last words, include those of the Emperor Julian, vigorous opponent of Christianity in the a.d. 360s, who supposedly said, “Thou has conquered, O pale Galilean.” And there was the millionaire whose last word to his gathered sons was reported to be “Remember—buy low and sell high.”
But last words do give us insight into the values, concerns, and focus of a life. If I could record not just a saying, but a solid core of guidance for future generations, what would I say?
Pretentious. It would be pretentious for you or me to presume to look ahead and give words of wisdom to guide future generations of our families. We are so limited in our understanding that we cannot see what next year holds, much less the coming decades. But as we come to Paul’s final letters in the New Testament, and to other late writings, we realize that we are reading “last words” which do apply to us today. These letters contain guidelines for living as God’s family in a world that is all too often an enemy of Christian values.
These letters of Paul are more than words of wisdom from a gifted leader; they are words written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The first 30 years of the New Testament era had passed now. Jesus had entered history. The church had grown and developed after His death and resurrection. The power of the Gospel had brought hope and new life to millions of first-century pagans. The church had met opposition and attack, and had affirmed Jesus Christ as the center of its life. The church had come to understand itself as Jesus’ body, and God’s family and holy temple. The men and women who were the driving force in these early years—Paul, Peter, Barnabas, John, Apollos, Priscilla, and the others—were now old.
There had been other changes. Christianity was no longer a novelty. The church knew second-and-third-generation believers. Once each Christian was a convert from paganism or Judaism, but now young men and women had grown up knowing the truths of the faith from childhood. Soon the Roman government would take an official position against Christianity. Within the faith, false teachers intruded, infiltrating twisted doctrine and warped lifestyles.
A clear form of organization with definite offices and roles had developed within the church. How that organization was to function, without taking on the unhealthy characteristics of bureaucracy, was another challenge the church had to face.
During the decades of the 60s through the 90s, Paul and the others looked ahead to foresee these emerging problems and needs. They knew that they must commit their ministry to others who would faithfully carry on the work of God. Thus they were led to leave us, in books like 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 2 Peter, Jude, and the three letters of John, their last words. These letters speak to us today with a living authority and a wisdom that is part of our heritage from the Apostolic Age.
Paul, Timothy, and Titus
Paul. The Book of Acts closes with Paul imprisoned in Rome. Most commentators feel that he arrived there (Acts 28) about a.d. 59. Paul was kept under very lenient restraint. He had his own rented home, and welcomed many visitors. It was during this time that he wrote the Prison Epistles—Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon. The apostle eventually gained his opportunity to appeal to the emperor, and won his release.
Paul then very probably made his intended visit to Spain. An early church father, Clement of Rome, reports that Paul went “to the extreme limit of the west” before he suffered martyrdom. We can gather that he also had time to visit Ephesus in Macedonia (1 Tim. 1:3) as well as Crete (Titus 1:5). Paul planned to spend the winter in Nicopolis on the west coast of Epirus (3:12). Certainly the apostle was again free, totally immersed in his ministries as a missionary and church supervisor.
But when Paul wrote 2 Timothy, he was imprisoned a second time, and this time under no gentle restraint: he was in chains (2 Tim. 1:16). He lacked warm clothing and books (4:13). The prospect was so grim that Paul wrote, “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure” (v. 6).
What had happened?
Paul’s release from his first imprisonment probably took place around a.d. 60 or 61. His journey to Spain may have taken two years, say till 63. On his return Paul revisited many churches and wrote supportive letters to young Timothy and Titus (early 64). Then came a series of events that unleashed opposition to Christianity throughout the empire!
Nero Claudius Caesar was Emperor of Rome from a.d. 54 to 67. Though a vicious and unbalanced man, his first five years were marked by sound administration, because he was content to let two supporters, Seneca and Burrus, run the empire. By 62, however, the young emperor grasped the full power of his position, having put to death those who had previously restrained him (including his mother). The situation rapidly deteriorated. In July of 64 a fire broke out in a slum and destroyed half of Rome, and the rumor circulated that Nero had put his capital to the torch in order to have more space for one of his grandiose building schemes.
The increasingly unpopular emperor looked for a scapegoat upon whom he could turn the wrath of the people. Christians, already hated by the Roman mob, were chosen. During the next five years suppression of Christianity became the official policy of the Roman state, and persecution was intensified.
Paul was rearrested, tumbled into a maximum security prison in Rome, and, within months after writing his second letter to Timothy, was executed. Deserted and alone during his last days (see v. 16), the aged apostle’s final thoughts were for the harassed church, and the youthful leaders who must now accept the burden of guiding its course.
Timothy. Our impressions of Timothy come from Acts and from the letters he received from Paul. Timothy was a youth of good reputation, probably a resident of Lystra (Acts 16:2). His father was a Greek and his mother a devout Jewess who, with his grandmother Lois, instructed Timothy in the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5, 14). Timothy was probably a teen when he first joined Paul; fifteen years later Paul could write, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Tim. 4:12).
It’s uncertain how heavily Timothy was involved in missionary work during the intervening years; however, his name keeps appearing in association with Paul and Silas. Certainly Paul had known this young man intimately. And Paul now committed to Timothy much of his own ministry, and gave him his last words of advice. Certainly, Paul was aware not only of the difficulties facing the church but of Timothy’s own weaknesses. Bastien Van Elderen, New Testament scholar and archeologist, sums up the impression of Timothy conveyed in Paul’s writings in the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia:
He was a fairly young man who was somewhat retiring, perhaps even a bit shy. He appears to be sincere and devoted, but at times perhaps frightened by his opponents and their teachings. This perhaps is also reflected in his apparent inability to cope with the problems in the Corinthian church.
How encouraging it is to see the mission of the church being committed to ordinary people. Retiring. Perhaps a bit shy. Sincere, but uncomfortable with opposition, and all too often unable to cope. Just ordinary people, like you and me. Yet Christ’s church has endured and, from generation to generation, communicated the life that is our Saviour’s enduring gift to those who choose to make Him their own. How important then Paul’s last words to Timothy would be. They comfort us ordinary people, and give us guidelines for maintaining the church of Jesus Christ as His living, growing family.
Titus. We know even less of Titus than of Timothy, yet the infrequent reference in the epistles to this young leader is consistently favorable. He shows genuine devotion and concern (2 Cor. 8:16–17); he is committed to those he serves (12:18). And Titus was apparently effective even in areas in which Timothy proved indecisive. Van Elderen reflects on the impact of Titus’ visit to Corinth as Paul’s emissary during a time of antagonism against the apostle.
When Paul arrived in Troas, he did not find Titus (2 Cor. 2:13). Although there were promising opportunities for mission work in Troas, Paul’s concern about Corinth and Titus led him to proceed to Macedonia. … In Macedonia Titus brings to Paul a comforting report about the Corinthians, which gives him much joy and peace of mind (2 Cor. 7:6–14). Titus seems to have established a good rapport with the Corinthians and Paul exuberantly expresses his gratitude for the happy turn of events.
Aside from this portrait of an effective and promising young leader, we know only that Titus was a Gentile who remained uncircumcised. He, like Timothy, accompanied Paul and later Barnabas on missionary journeys. Now, like Timothy, Titus must provide leadership in place of the apostle, and like Timothy, would profit from Paul’s final advice.
The Teacher's Commentary
Lessons for Everyday Living
Just as the Talmud can jump from one topic to another, so too it jumps from one time and place to another. Imagine the following conversation being recorded in a history book:
Thomas Jefferson told Abraham Lincoln: “I do not think that the framers of the Constitution had it in mind to prohibit slavery.” To which Lincoln answered: “I cannot conceive that they did not!” John Kennedy interrupted: “Mr. Jefferson, you are correct in theory. And Mr. Lincoln, you are correct in practice!”
We understand immediately that such a conversation never took place. Yet in the Talmud, such exchanges are found on every page. The editors of the Talmud “cut and pasted” together snippets of teachings from a five-hundred-year period. Sometimes they were conversations that actually took place; other times they created the appearance of a conversation by putting together the sayings of two teachers (from two eras) on a single topic. Very often the Gemara goes a step further: It puts an argument into the mouth of a particular Rabbi, implying: “Here’s what so-and-so might have said about this had he been there.…”
From this approach, we learn that the Talmud is a vibrant, dynamic, organic work. It is not restricted by time or space. It brings us back into the past and enables us to question and address people long since gone about how they dealt with the critical issues in their lives. It also enables us to bring those from the past into the present, so that we can see how they would apply the lessons of the past to the problems of today.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
An orientation toward individualism and tasks puts the responsibility for outcomes on an individual's shoulders. Jesus clearly put responsibility on the group. The Holy Spirit was poured out on everyone gathered, male and female, old and young, slaves and free. Therefore, the group bears the responsibility for bringing requests to God and partnership together and with the Holy Spirit, who takes the request to God knowing God's will. There are 38 references to prayer in Acts and 60% of them occur in community. The pervasiveness of prayer in the early church clearly marked it as a praying church (Acts 1:14; 2:42).
One of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit is to intercede on our behalf. The Holy Spirit is directly related to our prayer lives. We are called to always pray, but it is the Holy Spirit that packages the prayer according to the will of God. The obedience and prayer is to pray, not to pray a certain way or to get a certain outcome. We often assume that prayer isn't worth it when we pray and nothing seems to happen. However, through the Holy Spirit we know that it is not our business to make anything happen. That is the business of the Holy Spirit through God. Our business is to pray, especially together.
If the world operates with probable patterns, then we can accept those patterns as natural (the sun comes up; clouds cause rain; germs cause illness; storms happen). God sometimes overrides them, so we pray.
Since we have free will, then we bear the consequences of free will when in sin or ignorance; we do things that bring harm to ourselves or others. God sometimes intervenes on our behalf, so we pray.
Since sin and evil are let loose for a time and the end times have not arrived, then evil and sinful people will hurt and destroy the innocent. We still pray.
Though Jesus Christ overcame evil on the cross, suffering is still the fabric of everyone's life. God is uniquely manifested in suffering. We pray for the suffering.
Since God created us in a good world, sometimes the evil prosper and the good suffer (the rain falls on the just and unjust). God has promised a day when there will be no more tears.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to take our prayers to the father for the father's will, in faith we trust:
God's timing as inscrutable and loving for eternity
God's righteousness and justice
God's mystery and universal sovereignty as preeminent
God's worthiness of our praise and trust
The Scriptures tell us to pray for others. So we pray. We pray in faith. We are called to pray, not to take responsibility for answers. So pray fervently, with hope, with specific desires and with confidence in a God who loves us and died for us and a Holy Spirit who intercedes for us. As priests for a world desperately needing intercessors, it is the role of the individual and church to pray. We are not asked to take responsibility for the outcome of prayer. We pray urgently and freely for the needs of our friends, family and this world. Intercessory prayer is a prayer of participation in God's will.
A Guidebook to Prayer: 24 Ways to Walk with God
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Twenty-Third / Thoughts On Death
VERY soon your life here will end; consider, then, what may be in store for you elsewhere. Today we live; tomorrow we die and are quickly forgotten. Oh, the dullness and hardness of a heart which looks only to the present instead of preparing for that which is to come!
Therefore, in every deed and every thought, act as though you were to die this very day. If you had a good conscience you would not fear death very much. It is better to avoid sin than to fear death. If you are not prepared today, how will you be prepared tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day; how do you know you will have a tomorrow?
What good is it to live a long life when we amend that life so little? Indeed, a long life does not always benefit us, but on the contrary, frequently adds to our guilt. Would that in this world we had lived well throughout one single day. Many count up the years they have spent in religion but find their lives made little holier. If it is so terrifying to die, it is nevertheless possible that to live longer is more dangerous. Blessed is he who keeps the moment of death ever before his eyes and prepares for it every day.
If you have ever seen a man die, remember that you, too, must go the same way. In the morning consider that you may not live till evening, and when evening comes do not dare to promise yourself the dawn. Be always ready, therefore, and so live that death will never take you unprepared. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly, for in the unexpected hour the Son of God will come. When that last moment arrives you will begin to have a quite different opinion of the life that is now entirely past and you will regret very much that you were so careless and remiss.
How happy and prudent is he who tries now in life to be what he wants to be found in death. Perfect contempt of the world, a lively desire to advance in virtue, a love for discipline, the works of penance, readiness to obey, self-denial, and the endurance of every hardship for the love of Christ, these will give a man great expectations of a happy death.
You can do many good works when in good health; what can you do when you are ill? Few are made better by sickness. Likewise they who undertake many pilgrimages seldom become holy.
Do not put your trust in friends and relatives, and do not put off the care of your soul till later, for men will forget you more quickly than you think. It is better to provide now, in time, and send some good account ahead of you than to rely on the help of others. If you do not care for your own welfare now, who will care when you are gone?
The present is very precious; these are the days of salvation; now is the acceptable time. How sad that you do not spend the time in which you might purchase everlasting life in a better way. The time will come when you will want just one day, just one hour in which to make amends, and do you know whether you will obtain it?
See, then, dearly beloved, the great danger from which you can free yourself and the great fear from which you can be saved, if only you will always be wary and mindful of death. Try to live now in such a manner that at the moment of death you may be glad rather than fearful. Learn to die to the world now, that then you may begin to live with Christ. Learn to spurn all things now, that then you may freely go to Him. Chastise your body in penance now, that then you may have the confidence born of certainty.
Ah, foolish man, why do you plan to live long when you are not sure of living even a day? How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched away! How often have you heard of persons being killed by drownings, by fatal falls from high places, of persons dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the sword, in pestilence, or at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of everyone and the life of man quickly passes away like a shadow.
Who will remember you when you are dead? Who will pray for you? Do now, beloved, what you can, because you do not know when you will die, nor what your fate will be after death. Gather for yourself the riches of immortality while you have time. Think of nothing but your salvation. Care only for the things of God. Make friends for yourself now by honoring the saints of God, by imitating their actions, so that when you depart this life they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
Keep yourself as a stranger here on earth, a pilgrim whom its affairs do not concern at all. Keep your heart free and raise it up to God, for you have not here a lasting home. To Him direct your daily prayers, your sighs and tears, that your soul may merit after death to pass in happiness to the Lord.
The Imitation Of Christ
Pray continually. --- 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
It is not necessary to pronounce many words. (Fraņois de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon, “The Saints Converse with God,” ( The World's Great Sermons, Volume 02 ) To pray is to say, “Let your will be done.” It is to form a good purpose, to raise your heart to God, to lament your weakness, to sigh at the recollection of your frequent disobedience. This prayer demands neither method nor science nor reasoning; it is not essential to quit your work; it is a simple movement of the heart toward its Creator and a desire that whatever you are doing you may do to his glory. The best of all prayers is to act with a pure intention and with a continual reference to the will of God. It depends much on ourselves whether our prayers are effective. It is not by a miracle but by a movement of the heart that we are benefited, by a submissive spirit.
Do not devote all your time to action, but reserve a certain portion of it for meditation on eternity. Jesus invited his disciples to go apart in a desert place and rest awhile. How much more necessary is it for us to approach the source of all virtue, that we may revive our declining faith and charity, when we return from busy lives, where people speak and act as if they had never known that there is a God! We should look on prayer as the remedy for our weakness, the rectifier of our faults. He who was without sin prayed constantly; how much more ought we, who are sinners, to be faithful in prayer!
That we feel God should bless our labors is another powerful motive to prayer. It often happens that all human help is vain. It is God alone who can aid us, and it does not require much faith to believe that it is less our exertions than the blessing of the Almighty that can give success to our wishes.
We must pray with attention. God listens to the voice of the heart, not to that of the lips. The whole heart must be engaged in prayer. Every human object must disappear from our minds. To whom should we speak with attention if not to God? This attention to prayer may be practiced with less difficulty than we imagine. True, the most faithful souls suffer from occasional involuntary distractions. But these unbidden wanderings of the mind ought not to trouble us; they may promote our perfection even more than the most sublime and affecting prayers, if we strive to overcome them and submit with humility to this experience of our infirmity.
--- François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Eighty and Six Years
Though Polycarp is not mentioned in the Bible, he was born during the New Testament age, converted early in life, and trained for the ministry by the apostle John himself. Polycarp and John remained friends for 20 years. They worked in churches 20 miles from one another, John in Ephesus and Polycarp at his home church in Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey). When John wrote the Revelation, he addressed a portion of it to the believers in Smyrna, and of that church he had no critical words. It may well have been Polycarp who read John’s message to the congregation: I know how much you suffer and how poor you are, but you are rich. … Don’t worry about what you will suffer. … If you are faithful until you die, I will reward you with a glorious life (Rev 2:9,10).
Though Polycarp devoted most of his time to pastoring the church at Smyrna, he also became well-known elsewhere. We still have a letter he wrote to the Philippian church, and in it he quotes extensively from the New Testament. He traveled to Rome to consult with Bishop Anicletus about theological matters. He battled heresy throughout the empire. All in all, he serves as a vital link between the apostles and the rest of church history.
He faced his greatest test in the mid-second century, during the reign of Antoninus Pius. A persecution broke out against Christians, and several of his church members were killed. On February 23, c. 155 a Roman officer publicly demanded that Polycarp renounce Christ. The old pastor’s famous reply has echoed through history: “Eighty and six years have I served him and he has done me no wrong. Can I revile my King that saved me?”
“I’ll throw you to the beasts!” shouted the Roman. Polycarp told him to bring them on. “Then I’ll have you burned,” the man warned.
Polycarp replied, “You try to frighten me with fire that burns for an hour and you forget the fire of hell that never goes out.”
An hour later his body was ashes, his soul with Christ.
Don’t worry about what you will suffer. The devil will throw some of you into jail, and you will be tested and made to suffer for ten days. But if you are faithful until you die, I will reward you with a glorious life. If you have ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
--- Revelation 2:10-11a.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 23
“I will never leave thee.” --- Hebrews 13:5.
No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one saint, he has said to all. When he opens a well for one, it is that all may drink. When he openeth a granary-door to give out food, there may be some one starving man who is the occasion of its being opened, but all hungry saints may come and feed too. Whether he gave the word to Abraham or to Moses, matters not, O believer; he has given it to thee as one of the covenanted seed. There is not a high blessing too lofty for thee, nor a wide mercy too extensive for thee. Lift up now thine eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, for all this is thine. Climb to Pisgah’s top, and view the utmost limit of the divine promise, for the land is all thine own. There is not a brook of living water of which thou mayst not drink. If the land floweth with milk and honey, eat the honey and drink the milk, for both are thine. Be thou bold to believe, for he hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”In this promise, God gives to his people everything. “I will never leave thee.” Then no attribute of God can cease to be engaged for us. Is he mighty? He will show himself strong on the behalf of them that trust him. Is he love? Then with lovingkindness will he have mercy upon us. Whatever attributes may compose the character of Deity, every one of them to its fullest extent shall be engaged on our side. To put everything in one, there is nothing you can want, there is nothing you can ask for, there is nothing you can need in time or in eternity, there is nothing living, nothing dying, there is nothing in this world, nothing in the next world, there is nothing now, nothing at the resurrection-morning, nothing in heaven which is not contained in this text—“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Evening - February 23
“Take up the cross, and follow me.” --- Mark 10:21.
You have not the making of your own cross, although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand cavilling at it. This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to his easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; he leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if he carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths.
Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. The Lord help you to bow your spirit in submission to the divine will ere you fall asleep this night, that waking with to-morrow’s sun, you may go forth to the day’s cross with the holy and submissive spirit which becomes a follower of the Crucified.
Morning and Evening
LET US BREAK BREAD TOGETHER
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer … All the believers were together and had everything in common.
(Acts 2:42, 44)
The local church has been described as a laboratory where believers learn to love one another regardless of color, nationality, or financial status. Our common heavenly citizenship is the one dominant tie that binds our hearts together. One of the basic results of our weekly corporate worship should be the growing bond of love and unity that develops between believers. This bond of fellowship should result in God’s family members learning to care, honor, and serve one another in love. We should treat others with the same tenderness and understanding that we have experienced from God Himself. This determination to live in a love relationship with fellow believers is infinitely more important than the issues or differences that may separate us.
Christian unity does not mean that we must eliminate all diversities. We should be able to differ with each other while maintaining love, respect, and a warm, unified spirit. When our differences get out of hand and hard feelings develop, however, the communion service should always be a reminder that we must reconcile our differences and once more restore a spirit of unity within the body of Christ. The bread and cup of the Lord’s Supper should remind us of this truth each time we participate together (1 Corinthians 11:17–34).
Let us break bread together on our knees; let us break bread together on our knees; when I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun, O Lord, have mercy on me.
Let us drink the cup together on our knees; let us drink the cup together on our knees; when I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun, O Lord, have mercy on me.
Let us praise God together on our knees; let us praise God together on our knees; when I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun, O Lord, have mercy on me.
For Today: Psalm 133:1; Matthew 26:26–30; Luke 24:30; Romans 15:5, 6; Hebrews 10:25.
Reflect on this statement: I should value not only those for whom Christ died, but above all those in whom Christ now lives. Consider how a more loving and caring relationship could be promoted among the members of your local church. Ponder this important matter ---
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In this message Pastor Brett reads the following poem.
GADARA, A.D. 31
Rabbi, begone! Thy powers
Bring loss to us and ours.
Our ways are not as Thine.
Thou lovest men, we—swine.
Oh, get you hence, Omnipotence,
And take this fool of Thine!
His soul? What care we for his soul?
What good to us that Thou hast made him whole,
Since we have lost our swine?
And Christ went sadly.
He had wrought for them a sign
Of Love, and Hope, and Tenderness divine;
Christ stands without your door
and gently knocks;
But if your gold, or swine, the entrance blocks,
He forces no man's hold—he will depart,
And leave you to the treasures of your heart.
No cumbered chamber will the Master share,
But one swept bare
By cleansing fires, then plenished fresh and fair
With meekness, and humility, and prayer.
There will He come, yet, coming, even there
He stands and waits, and will no entrance win
Until the latch be lifted from within.
William Arthur Dunkerley (November 12, 1852 - January 23, 1941) was a prolific English journalist, novelist and poet. He wrote under his own name, and also as John Oxenham for his poetry, hymn-writing, and novels. His poetry includes Bees in Amber: a little book of thoughtful verse (1913) which became a bestseller. He also wrote the poem Greatheart. He used another pseudonym, Julian Ross.