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     Genesis  1 - 3

Genesis 1

The Creation of the World

Genesis 1 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

In the creation of man we find a general consultation (Gen. 1:26), without those distinct labors and offices of each person, and without those raised expressions and marks of joy and triumph as at man’s restoration. In this there are distinct functions;  the grace of the Father, the merit of the Son, and the efficacy of the Spirit.  The Father makes the promise of redemption, the Son seals it with his blood, and the Spirit applies it. The Father adopts us to be his children, the Son redeems us to be his members, and the Spirit renews us to be his temples. In this the Father testifies himself well-pleased in a voice; the Son proclaims his own delight to do the will of God, and the Spirit hastens, with the wing of a dove, to fit him for his work, and afterwards, in his apparition in the likeness of fiery tongues, manifests his zeal for the propagation of the redeeming gospel.   The Existence and Attributes of God

27  So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 2

The Seventh Day, God Rests

Genesis 2 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

The Creation of Man and Woman

4  These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Genesis 3

The Fall

Genesis 3 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The LORD God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15  I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
but he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18  thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19  By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Did Christianity Borrow from the Mystery Religions?

By Pat Zukeran 05/24/15

     Pat Zukeran examines the myths from mystery religions which are sometimes argued to be the source of our Gospel accounts of Jesus. He finds that any such connection is extremely weak and does not detract from the reliability of the gospel message.

     One of the popular ideas being promoted today especially on the internet is the idea that the miracle stories of Jesus were borrowed from ancient pagan myths. Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy write in their book The Laughing Jesus, “Each mystery religion taught its own version of the myth of the dying and resurrecting Godman, who was known by different names in different places. In Egypt, where the mysteries began, he was Osiris. In Greece he became Dionysus, in Asia Minor he is known as Attis, in Syria he is Adonis, in Persia he is Mithras, in Alexandria he is Serapis, to name a few.”{1}

     Proponents of this idea point out that there are several parallels between these pagan myths and the story of Jesus Christ. Parallels including a virgin birth, a divine Son of God, the god dying for mankind, resurrection from the dead, and others are cited. Skeptics allege that Christianity did not present any unique teaching, but borrowed the majority of its tenets from the mystery religions.

     Indeed, some of the alleged parallels appear to be quite striking. One example is the god Mithras. This myth teaches that Mithras was born of a virgin in a cave, that he was a traveling teacher with twelve disciples, promised his disciples eternal life, and sacrificed himself for the world. The god Dionysius miraculously turns water into wine. The Egyptian god Osiris is killed and then resurrects from the dead.

     This position was taught in the nineteenth century by the History of Religions School, but by the mid-twentieth century this view was shown to be false and it was abandoned even by those who believed Christianity was purely a natural religion.{2} Ron Nash wrote, “During a period of time running roughly from about 1890 to 1940, scholars often alleged that primitive Christianity had been heavily influenced by Platonism, Stoicism, the pagan religions, or other movements in the Hellenistic world. Largely as a result of a series of scholarly books and articles written in rebuttal, allegations of early Christianity’s dependence on its Hellenistic environment began to appear much less frequently in the publications of Bible scholars and classical scholars. Today most Bible scholars regard the question as a dead issue.”{3}

Click here to go to source

Dr. Patrick Zukeran is one of the world’s premiere apologists today. He is an author, speaker, world traveler. He is on staff with Probe Ministries and hosts a nationally syndicated radio show Evidence and Answers. He was raised in Hawaii. There is a Chinese Proverb which says, “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” The ministry of apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith…giving answers to skeptics, or those who challenge the validity of Christian beliefs and foundations) is no small task. But when done with skill and precision, it is beautiful.

Calvin on the Sacraments

By Sinclair Ferguson

     For some, John Calvin seems to be at his most feisty when he writes on the sacraments. Against those who complain that infant baptism is a travesty of the Gospel, in the Institutes he stoutly insists, "these darts are aimed more at God than at us!" But a little reflection reveals he is also at his most thoughtful, and his analysis of sacramental signs can strengthen credobaptists as well as paedobaptists.

     If repentance and faith are in view in baptism, how can infant baptism be biblical? Calvin responds: the same was true of circumcision (hence references to Jer. 4:4; 9:25; Deut. 10:16; 30:6), yet infants were circumcised.

     How then can either sign be applicable to infants who have neither repented nor believed? Calvin's central emphasis here is simple, but vital.

     Baptism, like circumcision, is first and foremost a sign of the gospel and its promise, not of our response to the gospel. It points first of all to the work of Christ for us, not to the work of the Spirit in us. It calls for our response. It is not primarily a sign of that response. So, like the proclamation of the gospel (of which it is a sign), baptism summons us to (rather than signifies) repentance and faith.

     In fact all believers are called to grow into an understanding and "improvement" of their baptism. This is as true for those baptized as believers as for those baptized as infants.

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     Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is a Ligonier teaching fellow and distinguished visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.      Sinclair Ferguson Books |  Go to Books Page

Head Knowledge vs Heart Knowledge

By Mike Mobley

     “Self-salvation through good works may produce a great deal of moral behaviour in your life, but inside you are miserable. You are always comparing yourself to other people, and you are never sure you are being good enough. You cannot therefore, deal with your hideousness and self-absorption through the moral law, by trying to be a good person through an act of the will. You need a complete transformation of the very motives of your heart.” – Tim Keller, The Reason for God

     When you hear about Jesus, what comes to mind? Who is Jesus to you? Depending on where you live, chances are you might have heard the Gospel before. Even now as you read this you might be saying to yourself “bla bla bla, yes I know the Gospel…move on to the next topic.” When it comes to Jesus, do you know Him in your head or in your heart?

(Pr 3:5–6) 5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6  In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

     Would you say you know Jesus in your head or in your heart?

     We can fill up our heads with knowledge all day long. From reading the internet, studying books, watching TV, listening to music, and having conversations with others, it’s amazing to think how much goes into our heads each day. What would it mean though for us to apply these things to our hearts? When we apply something to our heart, it becomes very real for us at that point. It drives our minds, emotions, and affections towards whatever that thing or someone is.

     Heart Knowledge | Jonathan Edwards from his sermon Divine and Supernatural Light has a great illustration to make this point using honey. He says, “your mind can know honey is sweet, people can tell you it’s sweet, you’ve read books about it, etc. but if you haven’t actually tasted it, you know with your head, but not with your heart. When you actually taste it, you experience it for yourself, you know it in a full way, and you can know it in your heart.”

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     Saved by Grace through Faith. In love with Jesus, His Glory, and obviously my beautiful wife Joelle, daughter Peyton, and son Matthew! Seeking Him in everything to glorify Him and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor at Austin Life Church.

Bible Reading Plans for 2018

By Nathan W. Bingham 12/28/16

     Many Christians take the beginning of a new year to evaluate their Bible reading habits, and then change or begin a Bible reading plan.

(Ps 119:105) 105  Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

     For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of Bible reading plans for you to choose from. Maybe in 2018 you will read more of the Bible each day. Perhaps you’ll slow down your reading and instead spend more time considering what you read. Whatever it is you’re looking for in a reading plan, you should find it below:

     5 Day Bible Reading Program

     Read through the Bible in a year, with readings five days a week.

     Duration: One Year

Click here to go to source

     Nathan W. Bingham is senior manager of communications for Ligonier Ministries and a graduate of Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. He blogs at NWBingham.com. He is on Twitter @NWBingham.

Never Read a Bible Verse

By Greg Koukl 2/4/2013

     If there was one bit of wisdom, one rule of thumb, one single skill I could impart, one useful tip I could leave that would serve you well the rest of your life, what would it be? What is the single most important practical skill I've ever learned as a Christian?

     Here it is: Never read a Bible verse. That's right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph at least.

     My Radio Trick | When I'm on the radio, I use this simple rule to help me answer the majority of Bible questions I'm asked, even when I'm totally unfamiliar with the verse. It's an amazingly effective technique you can use, too.

     I read the paragraph, not just the verse. I take stock of the relevant material above and below. Since the context frames the verse and gives it specific meaning, I let it tell me what's going on.

     This works because of a basic rule of all communication: Meaning always flows from the top down, from the larger units to the smaller units, not the other way around. The key to the meaning of any verse comes from the paragraph, not just from the individual words.

Click here to go to source

     Greg Koukl: Founder and President, Stand to Reason

     Greg started out thinking he was too smart to become a Christian and ended up giving his life for the defense of the Christian faith. A central theme of Greg's speaking and writing is that Christianity—if it's properly understood and properly communicated—makes the most sense of the world as we find it.

     Greg has spoken on more than 70 college and university campuses both in the U.S. and abroad and has hosted his own call-in radio show for 27 years advocating “Christianity worth thinking about.” He’s debated atheist Michael Shermer on national radio and Deepak Chopra on national television on Lee Strobel's “Faith Under Fire.” He is an award-winning writer and best-selling author. Greg has been featured on Focus on the Family radio and has been interviewed for CBN and the BBC. He's been quoted in Christianity Today, the U.S. News & World Report, and the L.A. Times.

     Greg received his Masters in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Talbot School of Theology, graduating with high honors, and his Masters in Christian Apologetics with honors from Simon Greenleaf University. He is an adjunct professor in Christian apologetics at Biola University.
Greg Koukl Books:

The Synoptic Gospels Explain John

By Lydia McGrew

     1. “He was before me” | The prologue to the Gospel of John is a part of the heritage of the Christian church. Read every Sunday as the “last Gospel” in Catholic and Anglican churches, John 1.1– 14 shows the author of the fourth Gospel at his theologically most profound.

     The prologue is studded with references to John the Baptist, with whom the narrative of the Gospel begins in verse 19. As early as verse 6, the evangelist breaks off his theological discourse to mention a man sent from God whose name was John, who came to bear witness of the light. He then returns in verse 9 to teaching about the true light who lightens all men. John the Baptist comes up again parenthetically in verse 15, immediately after the famous declaration, “The Word was made flesh.”

(Jn 1:14–18) 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ESV

     The words of John the Baptist, emphasized here in an aside, are repeated in due course in the narrative at verse 30.

     Why does the evangelist pause and emphasize those particular words at that point in his discourse? 2 Evidently he takes it that those words of John the Baptist support the points he is making. Why those words, rather than, say, John the Baptist’s statement that Jesus is the Lamb of God or that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost?

     Theologically, the answer does not seem hard to find: John the evangelist seems to be taking John the Baptist’s words “he was before me” to be an assertion of, or at least an allusion to, Jesus’ pre-existence, which he has been teaching in the prologue. But if one looks at the Gospel of John alone, it is not clear why those words should mean that. Could they not mean that Jesus was literally older than John the Baptist? John’s Gospel says nothing to the contrary.

     When one looks at the Gospel of Luke, the significance and the almost pun-like nature of John the Baptist’s words are made clear. Luke 1.26ff is explicit that John the Baptist, the son of Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, was conceived six months before the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary to announce that she would conceive and bear the child Jesus. Hence, Jesus came after John the Baptist both in the sense that his ministry began later and also in the human sense that he was six months younger. But he “was before” John the Baptist, if one accepts the doctrine of the Incarnation, in the sense that his existence did not begin with his human conception.

(Lk 1:26–28) 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” ESV

     Could the author of John have counted on his audience’s familiarity with the point about the ages of Jesus and John the Baptist? What if some members of his audience had not read the Gospel of Luke? There are two relevant points here, one of which confirms Luke and one of which confirms John: First, John’s pointed insertion of those words of John the Baptist at that place in his theological argument supports the conclusion that John knew as a fact that Jesus was biologically younger than John the Baptist. This provides confirmation to Luke. A skeptical scholar might conjecture that Luke made up the respective ages of Jesus and John the Baptist in his narrative, or that it was a legendary addition that he copied down, and that it became accepted on that basis, but that is to add an unnecessary layer of explanation. There is no particular theological reason in Luke for making John the Baptist six months older. It simply comes out in the course of the story. The simplest explanation for John’s pointed, theological use of the words of John the Baptist that Jesus “was before him” is that the Gospel author knew that Jesus was biologically younger than John the Baptist and hence that these words could not have referred to biological age.

     On the other side, the fact that John could not be sure that all of his readers would know that John the Baptist was humanly older than Jesus supports at least to some degree the accuracy of his own account of John the Baptist’s words. Suppose, instead, that he made up those words, “He was before me,” and put them into the mouth of John the Baptist for his own theological purposes. His use of them in the prologue makes it clear that he thinks that they do serve his theological ends. But in that case, why would he leave it to chance as to whether his intended audience would get the point? Why be subtle about it? If one considers only John’s Gospel, the point of John the Baptist’s words is theologically unclear and leaves the reader wondering why this is being emphasized just here in this way. It is implausible that an author would go to the trouble to invent words that John the Baptist never said while leaving their point obscure, requiring for their understanding an historical data point that the inventing author does not even mention in his own account. But if John was recounting what John the Baptist actually said, happening to remember it, noting its significance to himself, and mentioning it as a brief aside before getting back to his own theological argument, he may well not have stopped to think about whether all of the relevant background had been fleshed out for his readers.

Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts

     Lydia McGrew

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 1

The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge


[149] See Calvin Adv. Theolog. Parisienses, Art. 2. These two rocks are adverted to by Augustine, Ep. 47, et in Joannem, cap. 12.

[150] The French is, "Laquelle toutefois nous cognoistrons etre très-utile et qui plue est, etre un des fondemens de la religion;"--which, however, we shall know to be very useful, and what is more, to be one of the fundamentals of religion.

[151] The French adds, "pour en dire franchement ce qu en est;"--to speak of them frankly as they deserve.

[152] The French adds the explanation, "Assavoir ceux qui concernoyent la vie celeste;"that is to say, those which concern the heavenly life.

[153] Orig. De Principiis, Lib. 3. It is given by Lombard, Lib. 2 Dist 24 Bernard. de Grat. et Liber Arbit Anselm, Dialog. de Liber. Arbit. cap. 12, 13 Lombard, Lib. 2 Dist. 24 sec. 5.

[154] The French adds ("qu'en attribue ? St Ambroise");--which is attributed St. Ambrose.

[155] August. Lib. 1 cont. Julian. For the subsequent quotations, see Homil. 53, in Joannem; Ad Anast. Epist. 144; De Perf. Just; Eucher. ad Laur. c. 30; Idem ad Bonifac. Lib. 3 c. 8; Ibid. c. 7; Idem ad Bonifac. Lib 1 c. 3; Ibid. Lib. 3 cap. 7; Idem. Lib. de Verbis Apost. Serm. 3; Lib. de Spiritu et Litera. cap. 30.

[156] See August. de Corrept. et Grat. cap. 13. Adv. Lib. Arbit. See also August. Epist. 107. Also the first and last parts of Bernard's Treatise De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio.

[157] August. de Prædest. Sanct. Idem ad Bonifacum, Lib. 4 et alibi. Eucher. Lib in Genesin. Chrysost. Homil. in Adventu.

[158] The French adds, "Ancien evesque de Lion;" ancient bishop of Lyons.

[159] The French has, "Au commencement de ce traité;" at the commencment of this treatise.

[160] The French adds, "Si c'est parole diabolique celle qui exalte homme en soy'mesme, il ne nous lui faut donner lieu, sinon que nous veuillins prendre conseli de nostre ennemi;"--if words which exalt man in himself are devilish, we must not give place to them unless we would take counsel of our enemy.

[161] Chrysost. Homil. de Perf. Evang. August. Epist. 56 ad Discur. As to true humility, see infra, chap. 7 sec. 4, and lib. 3 c 12, sec. 6, 7.

[162] The French is, "Demosthene orateur Grec;"--the Greek orator Demosthenes.

[163] August. Homil. in Joann. 49, lib. de Natura et Gratia, cap. 52.; and in Psalms 45. set 70

[164] The French adds, "de ce que l'ame savoit avant qu'etre mis dedlans le corps;"--of what the soul knew before it was placed within the body.

[165] The French adds, "Or l'entendement humaiu a eté tel en cest endroit. Nous appercevons donques qu'il est du tout stupide;" now, the understanding has proved so in this matter. We see, therefore, that it is quitestupid.

[166] Calvin, in his Commentary on the passage, says, "Lost in part or appearance, or deserved to lose."


     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain      Institutes of the Christian Religion

Between Two Gardens

By Michael Andres 10/18/2016

     The Bible begins and ends with a garden. In the biblical narrative, God’s story, the garden is a holistic, sacred space of communion and cultivation.

     “In the beginning God created…” (Gen. 1:1). God speaks the world into existence. Everything is made out of nothing. First there is silence, stillness, nothing. Then the divine creative word is uttered, the curtain is opened, and a chorus of comets and quasars, seas and volcanoes, and oaks and toads comes forth. He makes a wonderfully diverse biological community. God is a community – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and we, too, are communal by nature, built to live together in harmony. Eden is a community garden.

     God calls creation “good” (Gen. 1:31). Material creation is affirmed. The Creator cares about our physical well-being, as well as our spiritual state. He is the God of soil and skin, as well as souls. The creation is characterized by shalom and justice, well-being and harmony; things are the way they are supposed to be. There is no scarcity, only abundance for everyone. With no lack, no conflict, and no pain, Eden is a peaceful garden.

     In this garden, there is perfect communion between male and female, humans and other creatures, God and all his creation. God walks in the cool of the garden. He relocates from heaven to walk with his people and creation. But there is a unique communion between God and humanity. A relationship has begun, humanity is made in God’s image, demonstrated by God’s communication to the first pair: “Do not eat…” The garden models this communion between human and divine. Eden is a lover’s garden.

     Since the Creator weaves human creatures in his own image, they, too, are designed for creative work. This is a garden, not a wilderness. God is the first gardener, cultivating it to make it blossom. Cultivate means “tillage; improvement; increase of fertility; the bestowing of labor and care upon a plant, so as to develop and improve its qualities.” God develops his creational community. God may be the first gardener, but then humanity is called to cultivate the earth and “to work the ground” (Gen. 2:5). Fruitful labor is part of God’s plan, welfare is not. Eden is a cultivated garden.

     “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1). In the new creation, God remains committed to his creation and garden. Fulfilling the eschatological vision of a “beloved community,” in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 10-21), God will dwell with His zillions of people, as promised to Abram, in the heavenly Jerusalem, as promised to David. Heaven will be communal, not individualistic. Cities embody culture — town squares, gardens, music, and the arts. The new earth will be a community garden.

     Inhabitants will corporately be the bride at the sumptuous wedding feast of the Lamb (21:2, 9), fulfilling the promise of communion with Immanuel (21:3). We will live in the intimate presence of our covenant God, and sweet, perfect communion is restored. We will be his people, and he will be our God. The new earth will be a lover’s garden.

     For all those who have suffered much oppression and injustice, God will wipe away all their tears. There will be no more death, no more mourning, no more pain (21:4). No pettiness, no abuse, no more lies. No cemeteries or hospitals or psych wards. There will be no disease, no dementia. No more predatory lenders or shotgun houses. For the old order has passed away, the new has come. The new earth will be a peaceable garden.

     Finally, we will return to the garden with its tree of life and where there is no more curse (Rev. 22:1-5). The cursed wildernesses of the sharecropper’s fields are gone. We will once again enjoy the sweet fragrance of the Edenic flowers and trees, taste of its succulent fruits, and lie down in its grassy meadows. The new earth will be a cultivated, restored garden.

     The Bible begins and ends with a garden. But between two gardens lies a fallow field; it is a cursed garden, a cornfield full of pesticides, disputed land between immigrant neighbors, between family farm and corporate agribusiness. It is a sharecropper’s field, a plantation. Between Eden and the new earth, there is the cursed land of thorns, thistles, flooded fields, meth, racial tension, and produce prices and wages too low to live on, marked by the pain, toil and sweat of those afflicted with injustice. This is the ravaged garden we dwell in at present in our lands and towns.

     But in between these two gardens lies a tree, the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus connects the Garden of Eden with the Garden of Gethsemane and the garden tomb, and, finally, with the restored Garden of the New Earth. By his death and resurrection, reconciliation with God and people is possible, thus restored rural communities. By his death and resurrection, peace and love are possible, as reconciled and reconciling gardeners furrow the ground of their rural spaces and small towns.

     This is Christian community development: cultivators between the two gardens who labor, pray, and bleed alongside those dwelling in the land, our rural and urban communities, know that by the grace of Christ we are cultivating and developing God’s garden. We know what the original plan was, and dare to believe the promise that the garden will flourish once again. We are not there yet. But we are called to cast a compelling vision of creation and new creation, by word and deed, for all God’s people to see. A vision for our churches and communities, and all the weak and vulnerable in our midst, that right now God is cultivating a new garden and new people, and that we can participate as his faithful gardeners.

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     Michael Andres is Professor of Religion at Northwestern College.

When All Things Are Made New

By R.C. Sproul 7/1/2017

     As a pastor and theologian, I’ve had to think about a lot of hard questions over the years. Truth be told, however, the most difficult problem I’ve faced is the problem of suffering. We all face suffering in some way, and we all know people who’ve lived such painful lives that we wonder how they can go on.

     We don’t ever want to downplay or deny the pain that suffering brings. Christianity isn’t a system of Stoic denial wherein we pretend that everything is OK even when we are enduring the worst things. At the same time, we dare not forget the Christian hope that one day suffering will be gone forever. When we deal with suffering, we tend to have our gaze completely locked on the present, but the Christian answer to suffering, while making it incumbent upon us to alleviate present suffering as much as we are able, looks beyond the present to the future.

     The very essence of secularism is the thesis that the hic et nunc, the here and now, is all there is. There is no realm of the eternal. But as Christians, we are called to consider the present in light of the eternal. This is what Jesus preached again and again. What does it profit a man if in this time and in this place he gains the whole world, but he loses his own soul (Luke 9:25)?

     Scripture says that the end defines the significance of the beginning (Eccl. 7:8). God alone knows the end from the beginning comprehensively, but in His Word, He gives us a glimpse of the end toward which we are moving. And if we can focus our attention on the end and not merely on the now and the pain we experience here, we can begin to understand our pain in the right perspective.

     In unfolding the new heaven and the new earth, Revelation 21–22 gives us one of the clearest glimpses of the future. Let me touch on a few of the highlights.

     “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (21:3–4). When I was a little boy, life was tough. There was a boy in our community who was much bigger than I was, and he was a bully. Sometimes he would beat me up, and I would run home crying. And my mother would be in the kitchen, and she’d have her apron on, and she’d say, “Come here.” I’d come in, and then she’d lean over and wipe away my tears—one of the most tender forms of communication — with the edge of her apron. When my mother wiped away my tears, I was truly comforted, and I was encouraged to go back into the battle. But I’d go back out, and sooner or later I’d get hurt again, and I would cry again, and my mother would have to wipe my tears away again. But when God wipes away our tears, they will never flow again for all eternity. (Unless, of course, they are tears of joy.)

     That’s the eternal perspective. That’s the end from the beginning. Right now we live in the valley of tears, but that situation is not permanent because God will wipe away our tears.

     John also says, “Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying” (v. 4). Death, sorrow, crying, pain—these all belong to the former things that will pass away. I can imagine having conversations with you in the new Jerusalem, and you’ll say, “Remember back then when we used to worry about the problem of suffering?” And I’ll say, “I hardly remember what that was.”

     Then, in verse 22, we read about something else that will be missing. Not only will there be no sorrow or death, but there will be no temple in the new Jerusalem of the new heaven and earth. But how can the new Jerusalem be the holy city without a temple? Well, John means that there will be no temple building. There will be another kind of temple, John says — “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” The most beautiful earthly sanctuary in this world will be passé in the new Jerusalem because we’ll be in the presence of God and of the Lamb.

     “No longer will there be anything accursed” (22:3). You know that song “Joy to the World”? I love the line in the song that ends with “far as the curse is found.” How far is that? In this present darkness, the curse extends to the end of the earth— to our lives, to our labors, to our businesses, to our relationships. All suffer under the pangs of the curse of a fallen world. That’s why there’s a cosmic yearning, where all of creation groans together waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, waiting for that moment when the curse is removed (Rom. 8:19). There won’t be any weeds or any tares in the new Jerusalem. The earth won’t resist our plows because the curse won’t be found. “But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him” (Rev. 22:3).

     And then we get the highest hope, the most incredible promise in the New Testament—we will see God’s face (v. 4). All of our lives we can come close to the Lord, we can sense His presence, and we can talk with Him, but we cannot see His face. But if we persevere through the pain and the suffering of this present world, the vision of God waits for us on the other side. Can you imagine it? Can you imagine looking into the unveiled glory of God for one second? It will make every pain I’ve ever experienced in this world worth it to see that.

     “These words are trustworthy and true” (v. 6) — not salve or opium to dull our present pain but the truth of Almighty God, who made us, who knows us, who by the suffering of His Son has redeemed His people. He has now guaranteed that if we are in Christ by faith alone, we are bound for glory, and nothing can derail that train. So these former things that cause us so much grief will pass away, and He will make all things new.

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Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.

     R.C. Sproul Books |  Go to Books Page

  • Reminders 2
  • Suffering for the Gospel
  • Salvation

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     This year get out of your comfort zone (1)
     1/1/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.’

(Is 41:10) 10 fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

     Two of our biggest fears are – failure and criticism. And they never completely go away. You can overcome them, but they’ll show up when you face your next challenge. It’s in accepting fear as part of life’s journey instead of running from it, that you learn to conquer it. Indeed, as you look back at what you’ve already overcome, you realise that most times failure doesn’t do permanent damage – you actually grow stronger through it. If you’re anxious today, God is saying to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.’ So trust Him, and get out of your comfort zone! An unknown poet wrote: ‘I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I couldn’t fail; the same four walls of busywork were really more like jail. I longed so much to do the things I’d never done before, but stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor. I said it didn’t matter that I wasn’t doing much; I said I didn’t care for things like dreams and goals and such. I claimed to be so busy with the things inside my zone, but deep inside I longed for something special of my own. I couldn’t let my life go by just watching others win; I held my breath and stepped outside and let the change begin. I took a step, and with new strength I’d never felt before, I kissed my comfort zone goodbye, then closed and locked the door. If you are in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out, remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt.’ The word for you today is: this year, get out of your comfort zone.

Gen 1-3
Matt 1

UCB The Word For Today

Bible Introduction
     ESV MacArthur Study Bible
     John MacArthur

     The Bible is a collection of 66 documents inspired by God. These documents are gathered into two testaments, the Old (39) and the New (27). Prophets, priests, kings, and leaders from the nation of Israel wrote the OT books in Hebrew (with two passages in Aramaic). The apostles and their associates wrote the NT books in Greek.

     The OT record starts with the creation of the universe and closes about 400 years before the first coming of Jesus Christ.

     The flow of history through the OT moves along the following lines:

  • Creation of the universe
  • Fall of man
  • Judgment flood over the earth
  • Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel)—fathers of the chosen nation
  • The history of Israel
  • Exile in Egypt—430 years
  • Exodus and wilderness wanderings—40 years
  • Conquest of Canaan—7 years
  • Era of Judges—350 years
  • United Kingdom—Saul, David, Solomon—110 years
  • Divided Kingdom—Judah/Israel—350 years
  • Exile in Babylon—70 years
  • Return and rebuilding the land—140 years
     The details of this history are explained in the 39 books divided into five categories:

  • The Law—5 (Genesis - Deuteronomy)
  • History—12 (Joshua - Esther)
  • Wisdom—5 (Job - Song of Solomon)
  • Major Prophets—5 (Isaiah — Daniel
  • Minor Prophets—12 (Hosea — Malachi)
     After the completion of the OT, there were 400 years of silence, during which God did not speak or inspire any Scripture. That silence was broken by the arrival of John the Baptist announcing that the promised Lord Savior had come. The NT records the rest of the story from the birth of Christ to the culmination of all history and the final eternal state; so the two testaments go from creation to consummation, eternity past to eternity future.
ESV MacArthur Study Bible

     January 1, 2016

     I watched some of the New Year’s Eve celebrations before going to bed last night. I did not stay up till midnight. The tremendous amount of money spent on these lavish parties compared to the poverty and hunger here in America and around the world always leaves me empty. We ask God to heal, fix so many things that are within our power to heal/fix. It makes me so sad.

     Today is January 1, 2018 and what was true two years ago is more so today.

     Meanwhile, we all want a happy and secure home life. Dr. Johnson, the eighteenth-century conversationalist, once remarked that the aim and goal of all human endeavor is “to be happy at home.” But in the Western world, and many other parts as well, homes and families are tearing themselves apart. The gentle art of being gentle—of kindness and forgiveness, sensitivity and thoughtfulness and generosity and humility and good old-fashioned love—have gone out of fashion. Ironically, everyone is demanding their “rights,” and this demand is so shrill that it destroys one of the most basic “rights,” if we can put it like that: the “right,” or at least the longing and hope, to have a peaceful, stable, secure, and caring place to live, to be, to learn, and to flourish.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on this day. It stated: “I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as commander-in-chief… do, on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three… publicly proclaim… that all persons held as slaves… are, and henceforward shall be, free…. And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence… and… recommend… they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.” Lincoln concluded: “And upon this act… I invoke… the gracious favor of Almighty God.”

American Minute
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant,
shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
--- Isaiah 53:11

If we have no peace,
it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other.
--- Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa Reflects on Working Toward Peace

Get real. You can be free. Look at him. He’s God who died for you, but he’s also a man. He understands. He knows what it’s like. He has been tempted in every way as you are.
--- Timothy Keller

Ye call Me Master and obey not, Ye call Me Light and see Me not, Ye call Me Way and walk not, Ye call Me Life and desire Me not, Ye call Me Wise and follow Me not, Ye call Me Fair and love Me not, Ye call Me rich and ask Me not, Ye call Me Eternal and see Me not, Ye call Me Noble and serve Me not, Ye call Me Mighty and honor Me not, Ye call Me just and fear Me not.
--- Found on an old slab in the Cathedral of Lubeck, Germany

'Tis the voice of the sluggard; I heard him complain, you have waked me too soon, I must slumber again.
--- Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts Remembered 1674-1748

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 1:1-6
     by D.H. Stern

The proverbs of Shlomo the son of David,
king of Isra’el,
2     are for learning about wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words expressing deep insight;
3     for gaining an intelligently disciplined life,
doing what is right, just and fair;
4     for endowing with caution those who don’t think
and the young person with knowledge and discretion.
5     Someone who is already wise
will hear and learn still more;
someone who already understands
will gain the ability to counsel well;
6     he will understand proverbs, obscure expressions,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

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

                Let us keep to the point

     My eager desire and hope being that I may never feel ashamed, but that now as ever I may do honour to Christ in my own person by fearless courage.
Phil. 1:20. (Moffatt.)

     My Utmost for His Highest. “My eager desire and hope being that I may never feel ashamed.” We shall all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus on the point He has asked us to yield to Him. Paul says—“My determination is to be my utmost for His Highest.” To get there is a question of will, not of debate nor of reasoning, but a surrender of will, an absolute and irrevocable surrender on that point. An over-weening consideration for ourselves is the thing that keeps us from that decision, though we put it that we are considering others. When we consider what it will cost others if we obey the call of Jesus, we tell God He does not know what our obedience will mean. Keep to the point; He does know. Shut out every other consideration and keep yourself before God for this one thing only—“My Utmost for His Highest.” I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and for Him alone.

     My Undeterredness for His Holiness. “Whether that means life or death, no matter!” (v. 21). Paul is determined that nothing shall deter him from doing exactly what God wants. God’s order has to work up to a crisis in our lives because we will not heed the gentler way. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him, and we begin to debate; then He produces a providential crisis where we have to decide—for or against, and from that point the ‘Great Divide’ begins.

     If the crisis has come to you on any line, surrender your will to Him absolutely and irrevocably.

My Utmost for His Highest
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


Heads bowed
     over the entrails,
over the manuscript, the
block, over the rows
          of swedes.

Do they never look up?
     Why should one think
that to be on one's knees
     is to pray?
The aim is to walk tall
          in the sun.
Did the weight of the jaw
     bend their backs,
keeping their vision
     below the horizon?

Two million years
in straightening them
     out, and they are still bent
over the charts, the instruments,
     the drawing-board,
the mathematical navel
     that is the wink of God.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Take Heart
     Editor’s Preface

     Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
--- Psalm 27:14.

     When life is difficult, too difficult for platitudes, people need strong, honest words of encouragement. Christian truth possesses that kind of power, power that transcends the ages. The apostle Paul still speaks to us today; so does Moses. And the words of others—though not “inspired” as Scripture is inspired—speak to us, too—great preachers like George H. Morrison, C. H. Spurgeon, John Ker, and G. Campbell Morgan.

     The preachers quoted in this volume weren’t of the smile-God-loves-you variety. They didn’t sugarcoat life. Take this, for example, from a sermon preached by Arthur John Gossip shortly after the death of his wife:

     I do not understand this life of ours, but still less can I comprehend how people in trouble and loss and bereavement can run away peevishly from the Christian faith. In God’s name, run to what? Have we not lost enough without losing that too? If Christ is right—if, as he says, there are somehow, hidden away from our eyes as yet… wisdom and planning and kindness and love in these dark dispensations—then we can see them through.… Already some things have become very clear to me. This to begin, that the faith works, fulfills itself, is real, and that its most audacious promises are true.… Further, one becomes certain about immortality. You think that you believe in that. But wait till you have lowered your dearest into an open grave, and you will know what believing it means.

     When facing calamities large and small in our own lives, surely we can take heart from such testimony as that.

     That the Gospel is clearly proclaimed in these pages may seem superfluous in a book whose audience likely already believes in Christ. But, first, these preachers did, after all, proclaim the Gospel. And second, the Gospel is the great joy of believers. So be reminded, and meditate on the truths of it.

     When these preachers lived on the earth they spoke the language of their day, using word forms and vocabulary that may, for the modern reader, obscure the message. Because the content of that message is of greater value than preserving archaic forms, I have modernized the language in many older sermons—replacing thees and thous and older styles and sometimes changing word order. Except where it is necessary to a particular sermon I have also replaced the King James Version and Revised Version texts with The New International Version.

     These preached words are a part of our Christian heritage, and you will find the power of God in them still. I want to preserve them not because they are old but because they are true. It is our loss if we allow this part of our heritage to crumble to dust, forgotten, on out-of-the-way shelves. Let us carry with us that which is of value from our Christian history, that we may “be strong and take heart” as we go forward in the new millennium—still waiting for the Lord.

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Take Heart
     January 1

     You have never been this way before.… Consecrate yourselves. --- Joshua 3:4–5.

     When the New Year steps up to greet us, it evokes a certain response within the heart. ( Highways of the Heart (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) We have reached an end that is also a beginning. Behind us is a common journey, before us an untrodden way. What, then, does this old story give us to hearten and guide us as we cross the threshold of the year?

     We must sanctify ourselves. What that means is gathered from the words of Jesus: “For them I sanctify myself” (John 17:19). Facing the untrodden way, we are to dedicate ourselves again to God. We are to give ourselves to the duties of our calling with a fresh and unreserved surrender—no matter what our calling. The wonders of tomorrow depend on the sanctification of today—a new surrender here and now is the prelude to a wonderful experience, which ought to be borne in mind by those who are growing weary of their work and dreading the prospect of another year. The enthusiasm of youth may have departed, the strength we once enjoyed may have been weakened, the freshness may have been rubbed off things through the ceaseless handling of the years. But if, here and now, facing the unknown in our Lord’s fashion we sanctify ourselves, tomorrow will be more wonderful than yesterday.

     Israel sent on ahead the ark of God. It was the sign and symbol that the Lord was with them, and they sent it on ahead into the swollen river. In spite of the express command of Jesus, how we send our imaginings ahead! How we toss ourselves into a fever over the fears of the untrodden way! Fear is a poor hand at finding a place to wade across. Fear is a sorry bridge-builder. Fear drowns the music of today. It hears nothing but the rushing of the river. But Israel sent on the ark of God, and that made all the difference. With a fresh surrender of ourselves, with spirits receptive and responsive, with a conviction that God is ahead, ordering everything in perfect love, let us go forward with the banners flying, to the high adventure of another year, for we have not come this way before.
--- George H. Morrison

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day   January 1
     Verse by Verse

     When preached simply and purely, verse-by-verse and book-by-book, the Bible can change lives and transform history. Just ask Zwingli.

     Ulrich Zwingli was born on January 1, 1484, in a Swiss shepherd’s cottage in the Alps. His parents instilled in him a love for God. The young man proved a brilliant student, and following a brief stint as a schoolteacher he entered the priesthood. For ten years he labored in the village of Glarus, and there he began corresponding with the famous Greek scholar Erasmus.

     The Swiss church was bubbling with corruption during this time. In 1516, when Zwingli moved to Einsiedeln, he, too, was struggling hard with sin. In his new village, the young priest fell into an intimate relationship with the barber’s daughter. But it was also in Einsiedeln that he borrowed a copy of Erasmus’s newly published Greek New Testament. Zwingli copied it. Carrying it everywhere, he pored over it continually and scribbled notes in the margins and memorized it. The pure Scripture began doing its work, and Zwingli’s life and preaching took on new vigor. Soon he was invited to Zurich as chief preacher in the cathedral.

     He arrived on December 27, 1518, and began his duties on his thirty-sixth birthday, January 1, 1519, with a shock. He announced that he would break a thousand years of tradition by abandoning the church liturgy and the weekly readings as a basis for his sermons. Instead, he would teach verse-by-verse through the New Testament, beginning immediately. He proceeded to preach that day from Matthew 1 on the genealogy of Christ.

     Such preaching was radical in its day, but Zurich loved it. Zwingli’s concern for the city’s youth, his courage during the plague, and his cheerful temper dispelled initial doubts about his reformation ideas. Later, when opposition arose, Zurich’s City Council and 600 other interested citizens gathered to evaluate his actions. The assembly (the First Zurich Disputation, 1523) affirmed Zwingli and encouraged his work. Lives were changed; history was made. The Swiss Reformation had begun.

     Jesus Christ came from the family of King David and also from the family of Abraham … The Lord’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said, “A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
--- Matthew 1:1,22,23.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference
     Identifying Jesus

     John 1:1

     It is fitting that the first verse of the first book of the New Testament,
Matthew 1:1, identifies Jesus as the Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. These few words sum up the culmination of the entire Old Testament, and in them are the seeds from which the New Testament plan will grow. The long-awaited, promised Messiah, the restorer of God’s kingdom and the redeemer of his people, is Jesus himself. This is Matthew’s central message, his purpose for writing his book.

     In his first verse, Matthew made an amazing claim. At the time he was writing, many Jewish readers would have been skeptical about the idea that the man Jesus was indeed also the promised king or Christ. After all, he was merely a carpenter from a backwoods province, and they wanted a king just like other worldly kings — politically connected, militarily powerful, and personally charismatic, with all the accompanying pomp, circumstance, and credentials.

4: Holman New Testament Commentary - John
Historical Core with theological elaboration
     Word Biblical Commentary

     Since the ministry of Jesus begins only after his baptism by John (chap. 3) and the temptation (4:1–11), the opening two chapters of Matthew are in a sense the preparation for the main narrative. The preparation that Matthew provides, however, is far from simply the supplying of some helpful background information. The first two chapters constitute a work of art that makes a statement of its own and that anticipates the theological richness of the total Gospel.

     The question of the historicity of chaps. 1–2 is very often posed in terms of history and theology conceived of as polar opposites, as though what is theological cannot be historical and vice versa. That is, one has here either theology or history. The idea of a historical core with theological elaboration is hardly considered. Yet that may very well be the case here in what is admittedly material of a special character. Matthew has taken his historical traditions and set them forth in such a way as to underline matters of fundamental theological importance. Thus he grounds his narrative upon several OT quotations and provides a strong sense of fulfillment. The literary genre of these chapters, as we shall see, is that of midrashic haggadah, designed to bring out the deeper meaning of the present by showing its theological continuity with the past. Matthew’s procedure is to set the scene theologically by identifying the who and the how in chap. 1, and the where and whence in chap. 2. To some extent Matthew may have apologetic or polemical concerns here, but in the main these chapters are a statement of the theological significance that may be perceived even in the preliminaries. In this instance the prolegomena articulate the Gospel before the main narrative.

Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 36, John (Second Edition)
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 1

     “They did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.”
Joshua 5:12.

     Israel’s weary wanderings were all over, and the promised rest was attained. No more moving tents, fiery serpents, fierce Amalekites, and howling wildernesses: they came to the land which flowed with milk and honey, and they ate the old corn of the land. Perhaps this year, beloved Christian reader, this may be thy case or mine. Joyful is the prospect, and if faith be in active exercise, it will yield unalloyed delight. To be with Jesus in the rest which remaineth for the people of God, is a cheering hope indeed, and to expect this glory so soon is a double bliss. Unbelief shudders at the Jordan which still rolls between us and the goodly land, but let us rest assured that we have already experienced more ills than death at its worst can cause us. Let us banish every fearful thought, and rejoice with exceeding great joy, in the prospect that this year we shall begin to be “for ever with the Lord.”

     A part of the host will this year tarry on earth, to do service for their Lord. If this should fall to our lot, there is no reason why the New Year’s text should not still be true. “We who have believed do enter into rest.” The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance; he gives us “glory begun below.” In heaven they are secure, and so are we preserved in Christ Jesus; there they triumph over their enemies, and we have victories too. Celestial spirits enjoy communion with their Lord, and this is not denied to us; they rest in his love, and we have perfect peace in him: they hymn his praise, and it is our privilege to bless him too. We will this year gather celestial fruits on earthly ground, where faith and hope have made the desert like the garden of the Lord. Man did eat angels’ food of old, and why not now? O for grace to feed on Jesus, and so to eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan this year!

          Evening - January 1

     “We will be glad and rejoice in thee.”
Song of Solomon 1:4.

     We will be glad and rejoice in thee. We will not open the gates of the year to the dolorous notes of the sackbut, but to the sweet strains of the harp of joy, and the high sounding cymbals of gladness. “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise unto the rock of our salvation.” We, the called and faithful and chosen, we will drive away our griefs, and set up our banners of confidence in the name of God. Let others lament over their troubles, we who have the sweetening tree to cast into Marah’s bitter pool, with joy will magnify the Lord. Eternal Spirit, our effectual Comforter, we who are the temples in which thou dwellest, will never cease from adoring and blessing the name of Jesus. We WILL, we are resolved about it, Jesus must have the crown of our heart’s delight; we will not dishonour our Bridegroom by mourning in his presence. We are ordained to be the minstrels of the skies, let us rehearse our everlasting anthem before we sing it in the halls of the New Jerusalem. We will BE GLAD AND REJOICE: two words with one sense, double joy, blessedness upon blessedness. Need there be any limit to our rejoicing in the Lord even now? Do not men of grace find their Lord to be camphire and spikenard, calamus and cinnamon even now, and what better fragrance have they in heaven itself? We will be glad and rejoice IN THEE. That last word is the meat in the dish, the kernel of the nut, the soul of the text. What heavens are laid up in Jesus! What rivers of infinite bliss have their source, aye, and every drop of their fulness in him! Since, O sweet Lord Jesus, thou art the present portion of thy people, favour us this year with such a sense of thy preciousness, that from its first to its last day we may be glad and rejoice in thee. Let January open with joy in the Lord, and December close with gladness in Jesus.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     January 1


     Frances Ridley Havergal, 1836–1879

     Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

     It is always challenging to approach a new year and to realize anew that our days upon this earth are so rapidly passing. How important it is that we pause with the psalmist and pray for a “heart of wisdom” that will enable us this year to live each new day in a way that brings all glory to our God.

     I with Thee would begin, O my Savior so dear, on the way that I still must pursue; I with Thee would begin every day granted here, as my earnest resolve I renew—To be and remain Thine forever. --- From the Swedish

     In January of 1874, the many friends of Frances Ridley Havergal received a New Year’s greeting with the heading, “A Happy New Year! Ever Such May it Be!” Following this greeting appeared her text, still considered to be one of the finest New Year’s prayers of consecration ever written:

     Another year is dawning, Dear Father, let it be, in working or in waiting another year with Thee; another year of progress, another year of praise, another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
     Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace; another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face; another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast; another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.
     Another year of service, of witness for Thy love; another year of training for holier work above. Another year of dawning, Dear Father, let it be, on earth, or else in heaven, another year for Thee. Amen.

     One can well imagine that those who received this greeting card from Miss Havergal that year read her words thoughtfully. They were written by one who had already become widely known throughout England as “the consecration poet.” It was said of her that she always lived her words before she wrote them. Her life was one of constant and complete commitment to God. Her many talents—an accomplished pianist and vocalist, proficiency in seven languages, a keen mind (memorization of the entire New Testament, Psalms, Isaiah, and the Minor Prophets)—were all dedicated to serving God and others during the new year. May that be our challenge for this new year as well!

     For Today: Deuteronomy 1:30, 31; Joshua 3:4; Psalm 39:4; Isaiah 58:11

     Begin this new year with a fervent prayer such as the one written by Frances Havergal that God will give your life a renewed purpose and power as you earnestly seek to represent Him in a worthy manner.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
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     John MacArthur

Pt 1

Pt 2

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