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Exodus 1

Israel Increases Greatly in Egypt

Exodus 1 1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Pharaoh Oppresses Israel

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

Exodus 2

The Birth of Moses

Exodus 2 1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3 When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Moses Flees to Midian

11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. 18 When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” 19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. 22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

God Hears Israel’s Groaning

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

Exodus 3

The Burning Bush

Exodus 3 1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’ 18 And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

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How Heretics Help Establish the Historicity of Jesus

By J. Warner Wallace 11/7/2014

     Last week I presented the case for the Resurrection of Jesus at the University of Transylvania in Lexington Kentucky. The students there listened attentively as I traced the New Testament “Chain of Custody” to demonstrate how early Church Fathers (like Polycarp, Ignatius and Clement) helped establish the reliability of the Resurrection account. I recounted the writings of many of these early Church leaders as they described what they learned from the original disciples and eyewitnesses of Jesus’. Historic claims related to the life of Jesus and the Resurrection can also be traced in the writings of men like Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Origen, Tatian, Justin Martyr and many others. After the talk (during the Q and A), one astute student noted some of the Church Fathers in my “Chain of Custody” actually held heretical positions related to Christian doctrines. He also observed these Church leaders were identified within the historic role-call of Roman Catholic leaders. He questioned how I might be willing to accept their testimony related to what they learned about the historicity of Jesus if I wasn’t willing to accept their “Roman Catholic-ish” beliefs about things such as the role of sacraments, the existence of purgatory or the nature of Mary. Can people who hold different theological views still play an important role in establishing the historicity of Jesus? Yes they can.

     In every criminal trial, we call witnesses who hold theological, philosophical, or political views differing from our own. We don’t have to agree on these issues (even if some of these points are critically important to our worldview) in order to contribute as a witness in a limited, focused way. Witnesses are asked to describe what they saw or heard at a particular point in time. Little more will be allowed by the judge. Imagine, for example, a witness observes a suspect to run to his car, enter on the driver’s side, start the engine, but then hesitate just prior to speeding from the location. At the trial, the witness will be asked to describe what he or she saw related to the actions of the suspect. But a question like, “Why do you think he hesitated before he fled the scene?” is beyond the scope of the witness’ knowledge and testimony. It’s one thing to testify about what you’ve seen, it’s another to testify about what you think it means. If an attorney was to ask, “Why do you think he hesitated before he fled the scene?” the opposing lawyer would surely object and rightly declare the answer to be nothing more than speculation on the part of the witness. How, for example, could the witness know what the suspect was thinking (or even experiencing) to explain why the suspect hesitated as he did?

     When examining the lineage of historic Church leaders, my focus is simply on their descriptions related to what they were taught by those who preceded them related to the facts of Jesus’ life and ministry. As a result, I am primarily concerned with their descriptions of the Gospels and the details included in these historical narratives. When a Church Father begins to pontificate on a theological position or interpretation, I recognize this as outside the scope of his testimony. An early Church leader may try to infer something about the nature of Jesus, for example, from the virgin conception, but this is not what concerns me. I am simply interested in the earliest accounts about the birth of Jesus and how these accounts were transmitted to those who came after the authors of the Gospels, not what these accounts imply. When examining an early Church Father, I am only interested in, “What were the facts about Jesus’ life you received from those who preceded you?” not, “What do you think all this means?”

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

Striving to Escape the Fall

By Nick Batzig 1/14/2017

     Marathons, mud runs, CrossFit, Yoga, diets, non-GMO and gluten-free foods, Christian financial programs, anti-vaccination and homeschooling have--each in their own way--taken over the driver's seat of the lives of so many in the church. While all of these things, in and of themselves, may be good things and have their proper place in a believer's life, they often hold too prominent a place. It is fairly easily to gauge whether we have given these things too prominent a place in our hearts and lives; we can be sure that we have when they become the overwhelming subject of conversation we have at church, when we get together with others and in what we spend out time reading or writing on social media. After all, Jesus taught us that we speak most what our hearts value most (Luke 6:45). So, what do these things--that seem so completely unassociated with one another--have in common? They can all be ways that we try to control our lives in order to escape the misery that is the effect of the fall.

     "The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery." So wrote the members of the Westminster Assembly in Q. 17 of the Shorter Catechism. Everything negative in this life falls into one of these two categories--namely, sin and misery. The catechism goes on to explain the estate of misery when it says, "All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever." Sin and misery are the all-encompassing and inescapable realities of this life in this fallen world. Christ came into the world to redeem us from our sin and the misery of this fallen world, and to give us eternal holiness and happiness. While Jesus bore the curse in our place, took the guilt and power of our sin upon Himself at Calvary and reconciled us to God (thereby, definitively dealing with our sin), the misery that came into the world on account of the fall remains until the resurrection. We are all subject--no matter what physical, dietary, monetary, medical and educational decisions that we make--to "all miseries in this life, to death itself."

     The Scriptures actually have quite a lot to say about the things that we foolishly trust in order to escape the misery of life. For instance, the Apostle Paul explained to Timothy that "bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (1 Tim. 4:8). All forms of exercise may "profit a little;" however, they are not paramount in the life of the believer. The pursuit of "godliness" in light of "the world to come" must be of chief importance.

     Concerning foods, Jesus Himself made the audacious statement (i.e. audacious in light of the temporary dietary restrictions of the Old Covenant era), "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man" (Matt. 15:11). The Apostle Paul followed this with a warning about the danger of falling into the false religion of dietary asceticism when he wrote, "If you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations--'Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,' which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men" (Co. 2:20-22)? The danger of being susceptible to these things is that they "have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, humility, and neglect of the body." However, when considered spiritually, "they are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Col. 2:23).

     The Apostle also warned the members of the church against loving money when he wrote, "those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition" (1 Tim. 6:9). By way of contrast, he commanded "those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17). For ever one verse in Scripture about God's desire for believers to be financially responsible there are two words about the ever present danger of greed. Often only the Lord knows whether we are being "financial responsible" or hiding greed behind the idea of "financial responsibility." Money is one of the greatest ways that men and women try to escape the fall, because in our minds money can purchase safety and satisfaction--happiness and health.

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     Nick Batzig is the organizing pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Richmond Hill, Ga. Nick attended Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and then moved to Philadelphia, where Nick was an intern at Tenth Presbyterian Church. In February 2009 Nick moved to Richmond Hill, GA to begin planting New Covenant Presbyterian Church. Currently, Nick is working on a Th.M at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. The subject of his thesis is “The Third Use of the Law in the Westminster Standards. Nick has written numerous articles for Tabletalk Magazine, Reformation 21, and is published in Jonathan Edwards and Scotland (Dunedin, 2011) Nick is also a regular panelists on Christ the Center, a podcast of The Reformed Forum. In addition, Nick is the host of East of Eden: The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards.

The Bright Forever

By Fanny Crosby

Breaking through the clouds that gather, 
O'er the Christian's natal skies, 
Distant beams, like floods of glory, 
Fill the soul with glad surprise; 
And we almost hear the echo 
Of the pure and holy throng, 
In the bright, the bright forever, 
In the summer land of song.

Yet a little while we linger, 
Ere we reach our journey's end; 
Yet a little while of labor, 
Ere the evening shades descend; 
Then we'll lay us down to slumber, 
But the night will soon be o'er; 
In the bright, the bright forever, 
We shall wake, to weep no more.

O the bliss of life eternal! 
O the long unbroken rest! 
In the golden fields of pleasure, 
In the region of the blessed; 
But, to see our dear Redeemer, 
And before His throne to fall, 
There to bear His gracious welcome, 
Will be sweeter far than all.

The Real Problem With Hypocrisy

By Jillian Jordoan, Roseanna Sommers and David Rand 1/13/2017

     What, exactly, is the problem with hypocrisy? When someone condemns the behavior of others, why do we find it so objectionable if we learn he engages in the same behavior himself?

     The answer may seem self-evident. Not practicing what you preach; lacking the willpower to live up to your own ideals; behaving in ways you obviously know are wrong — these are clear moral failings.

     Perhaps. But new research of ours, forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science (and in collaboration with our colleague Paul Bloom), suggests a different explanation. We contend that the reason people dislike hypocrites is that their outspoken moralizing falsely signals their own virtue. People object, in other words, to the misleading implication — not to a failure of will or a weakness of character.

     Imagine you have a co-worker who is something of an environmental activist. He hounds people to turn off their office lights when they step out for lunch and gets on their case if they throw recyclables in the trash. He protests when people print documents single-sided instead of double-sided. While he is overbearing at times, you agree with everything he advocates.

     Now imagine you discover that your co-worker, when at home, regularly fails to do any of these things. He is a hypocrite. You promptly revoke the moral credit you gave him for his activism. In fact, his hypocrisy now makes his activism seem not just not-positive, but negative: How dare he go around telling other people to switch off their lights when he doesn’t do so himself!

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     Jillian Jordan and Roseanna Sommers are graduate students, and David Rand is an associate professor, in the psychology department at Yale.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 9

I Will Recount Your Wonderful Deeds
9 To The Choirmaster: According To Muth-Labben. A Psalm Of David.

13 Be gracious to me, O LORD!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in your salvation.

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

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Literal Interpretation & False Assumptions

By Rachel Marrow 1/8/2017

     Preconceived notions are among the largest obstacles to Christianity. Secular skeptics often cite literal interpretation such as the six days of creation, animals on Noah’s ark, or the absence of dinosaurs as sound reasons to reject the Bible and Christianity as a whole.

     In reality, conclusions like these reveal how blind we are to our biases rather than any actual intellectual short-comings of the Christian faith. What are some of these common false assumptions?

     Read for Yourself

     Many have misconstrued notions of what is actually stated in the Bible. Instead, their knowledge often comes from second-hand source like TV or movies. Hollywood tends to misrepresent reality: spies always meet on park benches, undiagnosed-PTSD military personnel only stop saying “sir” in order to salute, and Christians are science-hating hypocritical snobs with southern drawls. Even ‘news’ networks push stories of sensationalism to bolster ratings rather than create an informed populace. While entertainment serves its purpose, philosophies should be judged by their merits. Those merits should reference their source documents, rather than caricatures presented by others.

     Acknowledge Literary Genre and Style

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     Rachel Marrow | I'm a Christian, Marine wife, mother of 4 young boys, and a classical homeschooler. I learn and process through writing, and hope to pass what I've learned to others. Sola gratia.

The Role of Experience

By R.C. Sproul 8/01/2017

     We’re living in a day when personal experience has been elevated above everything else as the final criterion of right and wrong. Just think of all of the people who try to justify themselves on the basis of what they feel. Divorce is routinely excused on the basis of a married couple’s no longer feeling like they are in love. We are told that homosexuality should be embraced as a moral good because some homosexuals report having felt an attraction to the same sex from a young age. Even many professing Christians make their decisions about right and wrong based on what they feel.

     It’s hard to have a discussion with someone who makes their experience the final arbiter of reality. Many people embrace the old adage that “a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument.” Ultimately, we have to disagree with this assertion, but not because experience is not a valuable tutor. It can help us connect theory to practice and abstract concepts to concrete situations. It assists us in siftˆing through the nuances of living in this complex world. There are even some experiences that seem to prove that experience trumps argumentation. I think of the example of Roger Bannister. Before 1954, many people argued that no human being could run a mile in under four minutes. Bannister broke that record, proving by experience that the argument was invalid.

     The problem is not that experience can never outweigh an argument; we know from the history of science that the experience of empirical investigation has oftˆen overturned prevailing arguments. The problem is the idea that the person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument. In many cases, sound argument trumps experience. This is particularly true when the debate concerns personal experience versus a sound understanding of the Word of God.

     I remember one occasion on which a lady approached me and said, “Dr. Sproul, for thirty years I have been married to a kind man and a good provider who is not a Christian. Finally, I could no longer stand not having in common with him the most important thing in my life-my faith. So, I left him. But he’s been calling me daily and begging me to come back. What do you think God wants me to do?”

     “That’s easy,” I said. “Your husband’s lack of Christian faith is no grounds for a divorce according to 1 Corinthians 7. So, God’s will is that you return to him.”

     The woman did not like my answer and said it wasn’t a good one because I didn’t know what it was like to live with her husband. I responded, “Ma’am, you did not ask me what I would do if I were in your shoes. Perhaps I would have backed out long before you did, but that’s irrelevant to the matter. You asked me about the will of God, and that is clear in this situation. Your experience is not a license to disobey God.” I’m thankful to report that when the woman saw that she was asking God to make an exception just for her, she repented and returned to her husband.

     That woman’s argument is duplicated every day among many Christians who subject the Word of God to their experience. Too often, when our experience conflicts with the Word of God, we set aside the Scriptures. We might take refuge in public opinion or the most recent psychological studies. We allow the common experience of people around us to become normative, denying the wisdom and authority of God in favor of the collective experience of fallen human beings.

     Truthfully, we all know that experience is oˆften a good teacher. But experience is never the best teacher. God, of course, is the best teacher. Why? Because He instructs us from the perspective of eternity and from the riches of His omniscience.

     Sometimes we try to cover up our reliance on experience with more orthodox-sounding language. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard Christians tell me that the Holy Spirit led them to do things Scripture clearly forbids or that God gave them peace about their decision to act in a way that is clearly contrary to the law of God. But that’s blasphemous slander against the Spirit, as if He would ever countenance sin. It’s bad enough to blame the devil for our own decisions, but we put ourselves in grave danger when we appeal to the Spirit to justify our transgressions.

     One of the most powerful devices of manipulation we’ve ever designed is to claim that we have experienced the Spirit’s approval of our actions. How can anyone dare contradict us if we claim divine authority for what we want to do? The result is that we end up silencing any questions about our behavior. But Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit leads us to holiness, not to sin, and if the Spirit inspired the Scriptures, any experience we have that suggests we can go against biblical teaching cannot be from Him.

     As long as we live on this side of heaven, we must deal with the fallenness of our bodies and souls. Seeking to make our experience determinative of right and wrong means repeating Adam and Eve’s sin. Why did they disobey the Lord? Because they trusted their experience that told them “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” (Gen. 3:6). They ignored the promises and warnings God revealed to them regarding the fruit of the forbidden tree. Experience can and should teach us, but it can never be the final arbiter of right and wrong. That role belongs to our Creator alone, and His Word gives us the standards by which we must live.

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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.

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The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     6. That the whole matter may be made clearer, let us take a succinct view of the office and use of the Moral Law. Now this office and use seems to me to consist of three parts. First, by exhibiting the righteousness of God,--in other words, the righteousness which alone is acceptable to God,--it admonishes every one of his own unrighteousness, certiorates, convicts, and finally condemns him. This is necessary, in order that man, who is blind and intoxicated with self-love, may be brought at once to know and to confess his weakness and impurity. For until his vanity is made perfectly manifest, he is puffed up with infatuated confidence in his own powers, and never can be brought to feel their feebleness so long as he measures them by a standard of his own choice. So soon, however, as he begins to compare them with the requirements of the Law, he has something to tame his presumption. How high soever his opinion of his own powers may be, he immediately feels that they pant under the heavy load, then totter and stumble, and finally fall and give way. He, then, who is schooled by the Law, lays aside the arrogance which formerly blinded him. In like manner must he be cured of pride, the other disease under which we have said that he labours. So long as he is permitted to appeal to his own judgment, he substitutes a hypocritical for a real righteousness, and, contented with this, sets up certain factitious observances in opposition to the grace of God. But after he is forced to weigh his conduct in the balance of the Law, renouncing all dependence on this fancied righteousness, he sees that he is at an infinite distance from holiness, and, on the other hand, that he teems with innumerable vices of which he formerly seemed free. The recesses in which concupiscence lies hid are so deep and tortuous that they easily elude our view; and hence the Apostle had good reason for saying, "I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." For, if it be not brought forth from its lurkingplaces, it miserably destroys in secret before its fatal sting is discerned.

7. Thus the Law is a kind of mirror. As in a mirror we discover any stains upon our face, so in the Law we behold, first, our impotence; then, in consequence of it, our iniquity; and, finally, the curse, as the consequence of both. He who has no power of following righteousness is necessarily plunged in the mire of iniquity, and this iniquity is immediately followed by the curse. Accordingly, the greater the transgression of which the Law convicts us, the severer the judgment to which we are exposed. To this effect is the Apostle's declaration, that "by the law is the knowledge of sin," (Rom. 3:20). By these words, he only points out the first office of the Law as experienced by sinners not yet regenerated. In conformity to this, it is said, "the law entered that the offence might abound;" and, accordingly, that it is "the ministration of death;" that it "worketh wrath" and kills (Rom. 5:20; 2 Cor. 3:7; Rom. 4:15). For there cannot be a doubt that the clearer the consciousness of guilt, the greater the increase of sin; because then to transgression a rebellious feeling against the Lawgiver is added. All that remains for the Law, is to arm the wrath of God for the destruction of the sinner; for by itself it can do nothing but accuse, condemn, and destroy him. Thus Augustine says, "If the Spirit of grace be absent, the law is present only to convict and slay us." [188] But to say this neither insults the law, nor derogates in any degree from its excellence. Assuredly, if our whole will were formed and disposed to obedience, the mere knowledge of the law would be sufficient for salvation; but since our carnal and corrupt nature is at enmity with the Divine law, and is in no degree amended by its discipline, the consequence is, that the law which, if it had been properly attended to, would have given life, becomes the occasion of sin and death. When all are convicted of transgression, the more it declares the righteousness of God, the more, on the other hand, it discloses our iniquity; the more certainly it assures us that life and salvation are treasured up as the reward of righteousness, the more certainly it assures us that the unrighteous will perish. So far, however are these qualities from throwing disgrace on the Law, that their chief tendency is to give a brighter display of the divine goodness. For they show that it is only our weakness and depravity that prevents us from enjoying the blessedness which the law openly sets before us. Hence additional sweetness is given to divine grace, which comes to our aid without the law, and additional loveliness to the mercy which confers it, because they proclaim that God is never weary in doing good, and in loading us with new gifts.

8. But while the unrighteousness and condemnation of all are attested by the law, it does not follow (if we make the proper use of it) that we are immediately to give up all hope and rush headlong on despair. No doubt, it has some such effect upon the reprobate, but this is owing to their obstinacy. With the children of God the effect is different. The Apostle testifies that the law pronounces its sentence of condemnation in order "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God," (Rom. 3:19). In another place, however, the same Apostle declares, that "God has concluded them all in unbelief;" not that he might destroy all, or allow all to perish, but that "he might have mercy upon all," (Rom. 11:32); in other words, that divesting themselves of an absurd opinion of their own virtue, they may perceive how they are wholly dependent on the hand of God; that feeling how naked and destitute they are, they may take refuge in his mercy, rely upon it, and cover themselves up entirely with it; renouncing all righteousness and merit, and clinging to mercy alone, as offered in Christ to all who long and look for it in true faith. In the precepts of the law, God is seen as the rewarder only of perfect righteousness (a righteousness of which all are destitute), and, on the other hand, as the stern avenger of wickedness. But in Christ his countenance beams forth full of grace and gentleness towards poor unworthy sinners.

9. There are many passages in Augustine, as to the utility of the law in leading us to implore Divine assistance. Thus he writes to Hilary, [189] "The law orders, that we, after attempting to do what is ordered and so feeling our weakness under the law, may learn to implore the help of grace." In like manner, he writes to Asellius, "The utility of the law is, that it convinces man of his weakness, and compels him to apply for the medicine of grace, which is in Christ." In like manner, he says to Innocentius Romanus, "The law orders; grace supplies the power of acting." Again, to Valentinus, "God enjoins what we cannot do, in order that we may know what we have to ask of him." Again, "The law was given, that it might make you guilty--being made guilty might fear; fearing, might ask indulgence, not presume on your own strength." Again, "The law was given, in order to convert a great into a little man--to show that you have no power of your own for righteousness; and might thus, poor, needy, and destitute, flee to grace." He afterwards thus addresses the Almighty, "So do, O Lord, so do, O merciful Lord; command what cannot be fulfilled; nay, command what cannot be fulfilled, unless by thy own grace: so that when men feel they have no strength in themselves to fulfil it, every mouth may be stopped, and no man seem great in his own eyes. Let all be little ones; let the whole world become guilty before God." But I am forgetting myself in producing so many passages, since this holy man wrote a distinct treatise, which he entitled De Spiritu et Litera. The other branch of this first use he does not describe so distinctly, either because he knew that it depended on the former, or because he was not so well aware of it, or because he wanted words in which he might distinctly and clearly explain its proper meaning. But even in the reprobate themselves, this first office of the law is not altogether wanting. They do not, indeed, proceed so far with the children of God as, after the flesh is cast down, to be renewed in the inner man, and revive again, but stunned by the first terror, give way to despair. Still it tends to manifest the equity of the Divine judgment, when their consciences are thus heaved upon the waves. They would always willingly carp at the judgment of God; but now, though that judgment is not manifested, still the alarm produced by the testimony of the law and of their conscience bespeaks their deserts.

10. The second office of the Law is, by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice. Such persons are curbed not because their mind is inwardly moved and affected, but because, as if a bridle were laid upon them, they refrain their hands from external acts, and internally check the depravity which would otherwise petulantly burst forth. It is true, they are not on this account either better or more righteous in the sight of God. For although restrained by terror or shame, they dare not proceed to what their mind has conceived, nor give full license to their raging lust, their heart is by no means trained to fear and obedience. Nay, the more they restrain themselves, the more they are inflamed, the more they rage and boil, prepared for any act or outbreak whatsoever were it not for the terror of the law. And not only so, but they thoroughly detest the law itself, and execrate the Lawgiver; so that if they could, they would most willingly annihilate him, because they cannot bear either his ordering what is right, or his avenging the despisers of his Majesty. The feeling of all who are not yet regenerate, though in some more, in others less lively, is, that in regard to the observance of the law, they are not led by voluntary submission, but dragged by the force of fear. Nevertheless, this forced and extorted righteousness is necessary for the good of society, its peace being secured by a provision but for which all things would be thrown into tumult and confusion. Nay, this tuition is not without its use, even to the children of God, who, previous to their effectual calling, being destitute of the Spirit of holiness, freely indulge the lusts of the flesh. When, by the fear of Divine vengeance, they are deterred from open outbreakings, though, from not being subdued in mind, they profit little at present, still they are in some measure trained to bear the yoke of righteousness, so that when they are called, they are not like mere novices, studying a discipline of which previously they had no knowledge. This office seems to be especially in the view of the Apostle, when he says, "That the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men-stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine," (1 Tim. 1:9, 10). He thus indicates that it is a restraint on unruly lusts that would otherwise burst all bonds.

11. To both may be applied the declaration of the Apostle in another place, that "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ," (Gal. 3:24); since there are two classes of persons, whom by its training it leads to Christ. Some (of whom we spoke in the first place), from excessive confidence in their own virtue or righteousness, are unfit to receive the grace of Christ, until they are completely humbled. This the law does by making them sensible of their misery, and so disposing them to long for what they previously imagined they did not want. Others have need of a bridle to restrain them from giving full scope to their passions, and thereby utterly losing all desire after righteousness. For where the Spirit of God rules not, the lusts sometimes so burst forth, as to threaten to drown the soul subjected to them in forgetfulness and contempt of God; and so they would, did not God interpose with this remedy. Those, therefore, whom he has destined to the inheritance of his kingdom, if he does not immediately regenerate, he, through the works of the law, preserves in fear, against the time of his visitation, not, indeed, that pure and chaste fear which his children ought to have, but a fear useful to the extent of instructing them in true piety according to their capacity. Of this we have so many proofs, that there is not the least need of an example. For all who have remained for some time in ignorance of God will confess, as the result of their own experience, that the law had the effect of keeping them in some degree in the fear and reverence of God, till, being regenerated by his Spirit, they began to love him from the heart.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • Pastor's Role
  • Mission Accomplished
  • Crown of Righteousness

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The difference between Samson and Samuel (2)
     1/18/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Get her for me, for she pleases me well.’

(Jdg 14:3) 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.” ESV

     Difference two: Relationships. ‘Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren…that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.”’ When it came to relationships, Samson was guided by his lower impulses instead of the principles of God’s Word. And he paid dearly for it. Three times we read in Scripture: ‘Samson went down’ (v. 1 NKJV). He went down to Timnath and married the wrong woman. He went down to Gaza and spent the night with a harlot. He went down to Sorek, ended up in the lap of Delilah, and lost his strength, his freedom, his reputation, his anointing, and his life. Samuel, on the other hand, was raised up to purify the ministry. Eli the High Priest had two sons called Hophni and Phinehas that he had ordained to the priesthood, but they were taking bribes to cover sin and brazenly consorting with prostitutes. There’s a lesson here for every redeemed child of God: ‘Do not be yoked together with unbelievers’ (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV 2011 Edition). Is God being biased or unloving? No, He’s being protective! When you’re ‘yoked together’ in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share your faith, your values, your goals, and your priorities, you end up in a tug of war with each pulling in a different direction. When problems arise, as they surely will, what you need is someone by your side who turns to the same source you do for the solution - God.

(Jdg 14:1) 1 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. ESV

(2 Co 6:14) 14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? ESV

Genesis 39-40
Matthew 11

UCB The Word For Today
Simply Christian
     January 18, 2016

     Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment.”

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     By a resolution of the Senate, he was esteemed as one of the five greatest senators in U.S. history. An outstanding orator, his political career spanned almost four decades, serving as Secretary of State for Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler and Millard Fillmore. His name was Daniel Webster, born this day, January 18, 1782. Webster fought to end the slave trade, opposed creating a national bank and settle the Northeast boundary of the United States. Daniel Webster stated: “If our posterity neglects religious instruction… no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     Thomas Kelly had done nothing with the manuscript on Explanation and Reality in the Philosophy of Emile Meyerson which because of its specialized character could never be published except under a heavy subsidy. This token of his intense period of scholarly application he felt determined to publish in spite of the expense involved which he could ill afford. It appeared in the late summer of 1937. It was well reviewed in the Journal of Philosophy and appreciated by the few competent to judge it. This book in some ways marked the culmination of seven tireless years of application to improve himself in scholarly attainment.

     He had not been satisfied merely to receive the stimulus of the department of philosophy at Harvard. He wanted also to have the stamp of their approval upon a work of his scholarship, perhaps ultimately to receive a Harvard degree. In the late autumn of 1937 after the publication of this book, a new life direction took place in Thomas Kelly. No one knows exactly what happened, but a strained period in his life was over. He moved toward adequacy. A fissure in him seemed to close, cliffs caved in and filled up a chasm, and what was divided grew together within him. Science, scholarship, method, remained good, but in a new setting. Now he could say with Isaac Pennington, "Reason is not sin but a deviating from that from which reason came is sin."

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7

Some people always sigh
in thanking God.
--- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If a man fights his way through his doubts
to the conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord,
he has attained to a certainty
that the man who unthinkingly accepts things can never reach.
--- William Barclay

The reasons why so many people are being killed are quite complicated, yet there are some clear, simple strands. One is that people have found a meaning to live, to sacrifice, struggle, and even die. And whether their life spans sixteen years, sixty, or ninety, for them their life has had a purpose. In many ways, they are fortunate people.
--- Ita Ford

This is my Father’s world;
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world;
the battle is not done;
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied,
And earth and heaven be one.
--- Maltbie Babcock (Simply Christian)

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 4:7-13
     by D.H. Stern

7     The beginning of wisdom is: get wisdom!
And along with all your getting, get insight!
8     Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will bring you honor;
9     she will give your head a garland of grace,
bestow on you a crown of glory.”
10     Listen, my son, receive what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
11     I’m directing you on the way of wisdom,
guiding you in paths of uprightness;
12     when you walk, your step won’t be hindered;
and if you run, you won’t stumble.
13     Hold fast to discipline, don’t let it go;
guard it, for it is your life.

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

                It is the Lord!

     Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God. --- John 20:28.

     “Give Me to drink.” How many of us are set upon Jesus Christ slaking our thirst when we ought to be satisfying Him? We should be pouring out now, spending to the last limit, not drawing on Him to satisfy us. “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me” —that means a life of unsullied, uncompromising, and unbribed devotion to the Lord Jesus, a satisfaction to Him wherever He places us.

     Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him. It is easier to serve than to be drunk to the dregs. The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him. We are not sent to battle for God, but to be used by God in His battlings. Are we being more devoted to service than to Jesus Christ?

My Utmost for His Highest

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


Is absence enough?
  I asked from my absent place
  by love's fire. What god,
  fingers in its ears, leered at me
  from above the lintel, face
  worn by the lapping
  of too much time? Leaves prompted
  to prayer, green hands folded
  in green evenings. Who
  to? I questioned, avoiding
  that chipped gaze. Was lightning
  the answer, scissoring
  between clouds, the divine
  cut-out with his veins
  on fire? That such brightness
  should be attended by such
  noise! I supposed, watching
  the starry equations,
  his thinking was done
  in a great silence; yet after
  he goes out, following
  himself into oblivion,
  the memory of him must smoke
  on in this ash, waiting
  for the believing people
  to blow on it. So some say
  were the stars born. So,
  say I, are those sparks
  forged that are knocked like nails
  one by one into the usurping flesh.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas
The Openhearted
     Teacher's Commentary

     Some have always sensed God’s love. It was the same in Jesus’ day; some people were very close to God, and immediately responded to Jesus. We are introduced to two of these openhearted men in John 1. We also discover in this chapter a pattern which the writer followed in the rest of his Gospel.

     The pattern. Jesus’ unveiling of God typically took place in miracle followed by discourse.

     In the other Gospels, miracles are generally treated as authenticating or teaching signs. For instance, Matthew concentrated reports of miracles in chapters 8 and 9. This section immediately followed the Sermon on the Mount and demonstrated the authority of the King over nature, evil spirits, disease, and even death. But John presented the miracles of Jesus as first steps in each fresh unveiling of the Father and His grace. In general, each reported miracle or group of miracles leads to a teaching discourse. The miracle thus does more than serve as the divine seal of approval on Jesus; it usually illustrates what He is about to teach as well.

     So in studying the Gospel of John, we’ll find this pattern over and over. New units of thought are introduced by miracles, and concluded with extended explanations by Jesus of some new aspect of God’s grace.

     John the Baptist (John 1:19–34). John was probably Jesus’ cousin, and certainly a childhood friend. John had been sent by God to announce that the promised Saviour of Israel was about to appear. John was called to “testify concerning that Light,” a Light much different from Jewish expectations. Even though John had known Jesus from childhood, he never recognized his Cousin as the Son of God. John too was looking for a different revelation than one of grace and goodness.

     But when Jesus came to be baptized by John, John, in a private miracle, saw “the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him.” John immediately believed.

     Nathanael (John 1:35–51). John gave witness to Jesus and pointed Him out as the Son of God. Soon some of John’s followers began to trail after Jesus, and Christ began to select men who would join His most intimate circle of followers. One of these, Philip, hurried to Nathanael and told him that they had found the Christ, and that He was Jesus of Nazareth.

     Nathanael was skeptical. The prophets said nothing of anyone great coming from the Galilean town, Nazareth. But Nathanael went with Philip to see for himself. And he was stunned by Jesus’ greeting: “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”

     When Jesus went on to describe the place where Philip had found Nathanael, far out of Jesus’ sight, Nathanael was convinced: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (v. 49).

     What do we learn from these two incidents? First, we note that each of these men had a preconceived idea of what God was like and how He would act. John described the stern judgments the coming Messiah would execute. Nathanael knew that the Deliverer would come from some place other than Nazareth.

     Second, we note that Jesus did not completely fit the preconceived ideas of either. John never dreamed that his gentle, godly Cousin could be the mighty Deliverer that his preaching described (v. 33). Nathanael would find out only later that the Man from Nazareth was actually born in Bethlehem, the place the prophets foretold the coming King would be born. While both John and Nathanael believed deeply in God, both had concepts about His Son that were not fully correct.

     Third, each received and responded to a small, personal miracle. Later Jesus would perform many public miracles, and some of these would be absolutely spectacular. It might seem insignificant to us for Jesus to describe the place where Nathanael was when Philip found him (v. 48). But each of these men, John and Nathanael, immediately recognized the hand of God. And each immediately set aside his preconceived notions, to submit to the authority of Jesus. Each accepted the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father, the revealer of truth as well as of grace (vv. 34, 49).

     These insights are important to us at the beginning of our study of John’s Gospel. As you read and study God's word yourself, honestly seeking to draw closer to God ..., you can expect God to be at work in your own ... life. God will perform private miracles for you. These probably will not be spectacular, nor will they be public. But, in little ways, God lets us know that He is speaking personally to us. And, like John and Nathanael, we each have our own ideas about what God is like and how He will act. But it is vital that you and I, like John and Nathanael, be willing to put aside our incomplete understandings of God and His grace when we discover, in Jesus the Son of God, some fresh unveiling of truth or fresh evidence of grace.

     The disciples (John 2:1–11). At a wedding in Cana, Jesus sustained the joy of the occasion by turning water into wine when the supply of drink ran out. Few besides the disciples saw the miracle, but, actually, the miracle was for them. In that miracle Jesus began to unveil His glory, and “His disciples put their faith in Him” (v. 11).

The Teacher's Commentary
Take Heart
     January 18

     In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. --- John 14:2.

     Change in things around us is like fixity to the change that is in ourselves. (Classic Sermons on Heaven and Hell (Kregel Classic Sermons Series)) Old times are gone, old interests, old aims; the haunts, the friends, the faces of our youth — where are they? Gone, or so changed that we dare not think to recall them. Or, if we try, we cannot; they are so different, so far away they are shadows, like things in a dream. And we are changing within. There are few who can say the spring leaves are as green, the flowers as sweet, the summer days as long and sunny, the heart as open and free from distrust as when life was young.

     There is indeed compensation for this, if we will seek it. If we have a home in God through Christ, it brings in something better than youthful brightness, the taste of which is like the wine of Christ’s higher feast that makes the guests say, “The new is better.”

     But here, too, there is frequently change. The anchor of our hope loses its hold, our sense of pardon and peace may be broken, and the face of God may look dim and distant. The disciples who were in fellowship with Christ at the close of the week were, before another, scattered or hopelessly seeking him in his grave.

     It is from such changes that the promise of Christ carries us. The permanence of the dwelling will ensure permanence in all that belongs to the dwellers in it, otherwise the home and the inhabitants would be out of harmony. There will be no wavering of faith, no waning of hope, no chill of love.

     Here, change leaves some lost good behind it; there, change will take all its good things forward into fuller possession. “There remains, then, a Sabbath - rest for the people of God.” We can rely on nothing else but his promise for the fulfillment of it. Sometimes it looks so strange, so unearthly, so utterly away from all the laws of nature and life as we see them here that it seems incredible. It is for faith, not for sight; for the trust of the heart, not for the telescope of science. Heaven is a state before it is a place. It is being in God, then with God. The locality will flow from the heart.
--- John Ker

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

On This Day   January 18
     Perfidious Prelates

     Jesus surely chose his disciples knowing that sooner or later most of us would identify with impetuous, impulsive Peter.

     James Mitchell was a Peter: part preacher/part assassin — and perhaps with good reason for being both. He was a Covenanter, one of the Scottish Presbyterians who vowed to resist English efforts to impose Anglo - Catholic forms on their churches. Their resistance drew fire from the monarchy and from the church itself, the chief tormentor being the Prelate, Archbishop James Sharp, who caught and killed Presbyterians like dogs.

     Something had to be done, Mitchell reasoned. On July 11, 1668, as the archbishop sat in his horse - drawn coach, Mitchell pointed a pistol at him and fired through the open door. He missed, hitting another bishop in the hand. Eventually Mitchell was captured, imprisoned, and tortured with the boot, a tight box fitted around the leg into which staves were slowly driven, shattering the leg an inch at a time. Mitchell and his crushed limb were then thrown into a series of squalid prisons where he subsisted on snow water sprinkled with oatmeal.

     On January 18, 1678, the preacher and would - be assassin was taken to the center of Edinburgh for execution. Loud drumming drowned out his last words, but he had hidden away two copies of his message, and from the scaffold he flung them to the crowd. The next day these words were plastered across Scotland:

     I acknowledge my private and particular sins have been such as deserved a worse death; but I hope in the merits of Jesus Christ to be free from the eternal punishment due me for sin. I am brought here that I might be a witness for his despised truths and interests in this land, where I am called to seal the same with my blood: and I wish heartily that my poor life may put an end to the persecution of the true members of Christ in this place, so much actuated by these perfidious prelates. …

     The perfidious prelates, however, found more blood to drink in the years to come.

     Simon Peter had brought along a sword. He now pulled it out and struck at the servant of the high priest. The servant’s name was Malchus, and Peter cut off his right ear. Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword away. I must drink from the cup that my Father has given me.”
--- John 18:10,11.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 18

     “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." --- Hebrews 4:9.

     How different will be the state of the believer in heaven from what it is here! Here he is born to toil and suffer weariness, but in the land of the immortal, fatigue is never known. Anxious to serve his Master, he finds his strength unequal to his zeal: his constant cry is, “Help me to serve thee, O my God.” If he be thoroughly active, he will have much labour; not too much for his will, but more than enough for his power, so that he will cry out, “I am not wearied of the labour, but I am wearied in it.” Ah! Christian, the hot day of weariness lasts not for ever; the sun is nearing the horizon; it shall rise again with a brighter day than thou hast ever seen upon a land where they serve God day and night, and yet rest from their labours. Here, rest is but partial, there, it is perfect. Here, the Christian is always unsettled; he feels that he has not yet attained. There, all are at rest; they have attained the summit of the mountain; they have ascended to the bosom of their God. Higher they cannot go. Ah, toil-worn labourer, only think when thou shalt rest for ever! Canst thou conceive it? It is a rest eternal; a rest that “remaineth.” Here, my best joys bear “mortal” on their brow; my fair flowers fade; my dainty cups are drained to dregs; my sweetest birds fall before Death’s arrows; my most pleasant days are shadowed into nights; and the flood-tides of my bliss subside into ebbs of sorrow; but there, everything is immortal; the harp abides unrusted, the crown unwithered, the eye undimmed, the voice unfaltering, the heart unwavering, and the immortal being is wholly absorbed in infinite delight. Happy day! happy! when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, and the Eternal Sabbath shall begin.

          Evening - January 18

     “He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
--- Luke 24:27.

     The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had a most profitable journey. Their companion and teacher was the best of tutors; the interpreter one of a thousand, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The Lord Jesus condescended to become a preacher of the gospel, and he was not ashamed to exercise his calling before an audience of two persons, neither does he now refuse to become the teacher of even one. Let us court the company of so excellent an Instructor, for till he is made unto us wisdom we shall never be wise unto salvation.

     This unrivalled tutor used as his class-book the best of books. Although able to reveal fresh truth, he preferred to expound the old. He knew by his omniscience what was the most instructive way of teaching, and by turning at once to Moses and the prophets, he showed us that the surest road to wisdom is not speculation, reasoning, or reading human books, but meditation upon the Word of God. The readiest way to be spiritually rich in heavenly knowledge is to dig in this mine of diamonds, to gather pearls from this heavenly sea. When Jesus himself sought to enrich others, he wrought in the quarry of Holy Scripture.

     The favoured pair were led to consider the best of subjects, for Jesus spake of Jesus, and expounded the things concerning himself. Here the diamond cut the diamond, and what could be more admirable? The Master of the House unlocked his own doors, conducted the guests to his table, and placed his own dainties upon it. He who hid the treasure in the field himself guided the searchers to it. Our Lord would naturally discourse upon the sweetest of topics, and he could find none sweeter than his own person and work: with an eye to these we should always search the Word. O for grace to study the Bible with Jesus as both our teacher and our lesson!

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     January 18


     John W. Peterson, 1921–   Alfred B. Smith, 1916–

     Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. (Psalm 69:16)

     Charles Haddon Spurgeon, known as the “Prince of Preachers” of the 19th century, labored for more than 20 years on his unrivaled commentary of the Psalms, a seven-volume work entitled The Treasury of David. “Only those who have meditated profoundly upon the Psalms,” wrote Spurgeon, “can have any adequate conception of the wealth they contain.” Meditate on this comment that Mr. Spurgeon made about the 23rd Psalm, the basis of this hymn:

     The sweetest word of the whole is that monosyllable, “my.” He does not say, “The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as his flock.” If He is a shepherd to no one else, He is a shepherd to me. He cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me. The words are in the present tense. Whatever be the believer’s position, he is even now under the pastoral care of Jehovah.

     Two well-known names in the field of gospel music, John W. Peterson and Alfred B. Smith, collaborated in 1958 to write this popular paraphrase of Psalm 23. Mr. Smith recalls the humorous touch that provided the initial inspiration for this song:

     It was written after receiving a letter from one of the descendants of P. P. Bliss, telling of Bliss’s first country school teacher, Miss Murphy, whom he dearly loved. It told of her teaching the class (before they could read or write) to memorize the 23rd Psalm. When the part “surely goodness and mercy” was reached, little Philip thought it said, “surely good Miss Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life.” This little incident focused our thoughts on the phrase which became the heart and title of the song.

     A pilgrim was I, and a wand’ring, in the cold night of sin I did roam, when Jesus the kind Shepherd found me, and now I am on my way home.
     He restoreth my soul when I’m weary, He giveth me strength day by day; He leads me beside the still waters; He guards me each step of the way.
     When I walk thru the dark lonesome valley, my Savior will walk with me there; and safely His great hand will lead me to the mansions He’s gone to prepare.
     Chorus: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever, and I shall feast at the table spread for me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days, all the days of my life.

     For Today: Exodus 15:13; Psalm 16:11; 23; Revelation 19:9.

     Carry the truth of this musical message with you as you live in the joy and confidence of your heavenly Father’s love and care for you ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

If Anyone is Sick...
     Alistair Begg

Pt One

Pt Two

Back to the Basics...
     Alistair Begg

Pt One

Pt Two

Q and A

Exodus 1 - 3
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

s2-033 | 6-29-2014 Growing Or Groaning Exodus 1:8-12
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m2-031 | 7-02-2014 Exodus 1
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s2-034 | 7-06-2014 YHWH Exodus 3:11-14
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m2-032 | 7-09-2014 Exodus 2
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s2-035 | 7-13-2014 Turn Aside Exodus 3:1-6
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m2-033 | 7-16-2014 Exodus 3, 4:1-9
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s2-036 | 7-20-2014 Excuses, Excuses Exodus 3-4
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Exodus 1 - 3

Confession and Prayer
Alistair Begg

Bringing Back the Wanderers
Alistair Begg

Our Ascended Christ
Alistair Begg

The Servant King
Alistair Begg

Christ's Sacrifice of Himself
Alistair Begg

Building, Growing
Alistair Begg

Keeping Watch
Alistair Begg