Consecration of the FirstbornExodus 13 1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.”
The Feast of Unleavened Bread3 Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. 5 And when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. 8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.
11 “When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, 12 you shall set apart to the LORD all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the LORD’s. 13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. 14 And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15 For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16 It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”
Pillars of Cloud and Fire17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
Crossing the Red Sea
Exodus 14 1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. 10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” 19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.”
26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.
The Song of Moses
Exodus 15 1 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying,
“I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
2 The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The LORD is a man of war;
the LORD is his name.
4 “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea,
and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
5 The floods covered them;
they went down into the depths like a stone.
6 Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power,
your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
7 In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.
8 At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;
the floods stood up in a heap;
the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
10 You blew with your wind; the sea covered them;
they sank like lead in the mighty waters.
11 “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
12 You stretched out your right hand;
the earth swallowed them.
13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
14 The peoples have heard; they tremble;
pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
15 Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed;
trembling seizes the leaders of Moab;
all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
16 Terror and dread fall upon them;
because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone,
till your people, O LORD, pass by,
till the people pass by whom you have purchased.
17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,
the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode,
the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.
18 The LORD will reign forever and ever.”
19 For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea. 20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. 21 And Miriam sang to them:
“Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”
Bitter Water Made Sweet22 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.”
27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
What Did Early Christians Believe About Hell?
By J. Warner Wallace 1/19/2018
As we seek to understand what the Bible teaches about Hell, it may be helpful to understand what the earliest believers believed and taught. The teachings of some of these believers has been preserved for us in the writings of ancient church leaders (known as the Early Church Fathers). While their writings are neither canonical nor authoritative, they do help us to understand what those closest to the apostles first believed about Hell. As we assemble the teachings of these first church leaders, several patterns emerge related to the nature of Hell. The Early Church Fathers, with very few exceptions, agree with traditional views descriptions of Hell as a place of eternal, conscious torment:
1. Hell is a place of judgment for those who have rejected God and denied Jesus as their Savior
2. Hell is a place of separation from God
3. Hell is a place of torment in which the rebellious are in anguish and pain
4. Hell is a place where the rebellious are tormented forever and are conscious of this torment for all eternity (In fact, the eternal duration of their torment is often compared to the eternal duration of the reward of the saved)
At the same time, the earliest Church Fathers are ambiguous on those areas where the Bible is ALSO ambiguous.
1. The exact nature of the torment of the rebellious is unknown
2. The manner in which the rebellious are kept alive in spite of ‘deathly’ anguish is also un-described
The Early Church Fathers simply reflected the clearest teachings of the Bible. Here is a very brief assessment of several quotes made by early Christians about the nature of Hell:
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.
Trump’s First Year: Circus and Substance
By Al Perrotta 1/19/2018
Saturday marks President Trump’s first year in office and it’s all been one giant yawn. He’s made Calvin Coolidge look like David Lee Roth.
Of course I jest. His first day started with fights about crowd size, fake news about the MLK bust in the Oval Office, and radicals setting fires. His first full day had half a million women yelling in his back yard, led by Madonna wanting to blow up the White House and Ashley Judd purring that she was a “baaaad girl.” That was just the opening act. It hasn’t stopped a day since.
Remember Reince Priebus? Remember Sean Spicer? Remember Melissa McCarthy’s hysterical impersonation of Sean Spicer? Remember “The Mooch”? Crazy Mika? Psycho Joe? Sleazy Dianne Feinstein? Thankfully, we still have “Mad Dog.” And Justice Gorsuch.
And no one’s ever going to forget Trump’s Twitter feed.
Remember the viral video of Trump pounding on CNN at a pro-wrestling match? He’s still pounding on CNN. (Just last night they earned four of his coveted Fake News Awards.) Remember Sarah Sanders being accused of not really baking a pie? Remember Stephen Miller having CNN’s Jim Acosta for lunch? The Great Melania Shoe Scandal? “Covfefe”? “Drive them out!” The firing of Comey? Re-igniting the NFL protests? The damaging leaks? The Obama wiretapping claim?
What Counts | It’s fun to revisit the circus, but at this one year anniversary perhaps we can look a bit at the substance. We know we’ve got our money’s worth out of Trump in terms of entertainment and intrigue, but what did he do? One question matters: Is America better off today than it was a year ago? The answer is yes.
Argue all you will about whether Trump is Making America Great Again. At the very least, he is making Americans Walk and Talk and Think in terms of Greatness Again. Not just America’s, but their own.
Al is the managing editor of The Stream. He was formerly the VP/creative director for All Comedy Radio, Voice of America producer and Passion Arts minister at Living Faith Christian Church in So. Cal. He is the co-author of the counter-terrorism memoir Hostile Intent, and several plays, including A Christmas Scene, The Table and the original musical Bethlehem. He’s married, with two puppies.
The Pro-Life Movement Needs More Wilberforces
By Gracy Olmstead 1/19/2018
The pro-life movement has always been animated by compassion and a zeal for human rights. But if you asked people on the streets whether they associate those two things with the pro-life movement, I wonder how many would agree.
It’s not that the average grassroots pro-lifer has changed—at the March for Life in D.C., in conversations with staunch advocates, or during visits with workers at pregnancy resource centers, I see the same love, passion, and earnest care for the unborn (and, importantly, for their mothers).
But recently, our “pro-life” political representatives around the country have been less than inspiring. Donald Trump has bragged about sexually assaulting women (though he has denied actually assaulting women). Tim Murphy, a “pro-life” congressman, urged his mistress to get an abortion when she said she might be pregnant. Roy Moore, a Republican politician running for U.S. Senate from Alabama, was accused of sexual harassment and molestation of minors by several different women prior to his electoral race (which he lost a month ago).
Many pro-choice advocates, observing this pattern, have claimed the moral high ground in the abortion debate. While our conversations about abortion should consider the humanity and rights of the unborn child, pro-choice advocates have instead turned the conversation entirely to the question of women’s choice and rights—even staging Handmaid’s Tale-inspired protests to reinforce their argument. They point to Trump, Murphy, and Moore, and then tell America, “See? These men have never really cared about the unborn. They care about taking away a woman’s voice and choice.”
I’ve feared that, if these tendencies persist, many Americans—especially swing voters and young people—could turn away from the pro-life cause. But perhaps there is a way we can prevent that.
Gracy Olmstead is a writer and journalist located outside Washington, D.C. She’s written for The American Conservative, The Week, National Review, The Federalist, and the Washington Times, among others. You can follow her on Twitter.
31 questions to ask for a more Christ-centered 2018
By Don Whitney 1/2018
Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.
Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
Don Whitney has been Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Associate Dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY since 2005. Biography
Donald S. Whitney Books:
- 1 Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
- 2 Praying the Bible
- 3 Family Worship
- 4 Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health
- 5 How Can I Be Sure I'm a Christian?: What the Bible Says About Assurance of Salvation (LifeChange)
- 6 Spiritual Disciplines within the Church: Participating Fully in the Body of Christ
- 7 Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed
- 8 The Call to Ministry
- 9 A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards
- 10 Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life/Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health
- 11 10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health [10 QUES TO DIAGNOSE YOUR S -OS]
- 12 The Pure Flame of Devotion: The History of Christian Spirituality
- 13 Finding God in Solitude: The Personal Piety of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and Its Influence on His Pastoral Ministry (American University Studies)
- 14 Onward, Christian Soldiers: Protestants Affirm the Church (Reformation Theology Series)
- 15 By Donald S. Whitney - Family Worship: In the Bible, in History & in Your Home (1905-07-13) [Paperback]
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 10Why Do You Hide Yourself?
10:12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
13 Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.
16 The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17 O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
13 Films That Capture the Themes of Ecclesiastes
By Kenneth Morefield 1/19/2018
Ecclesiastes is one of the most misunderstood books of the Bible. Its wisdom can be hard to understand and, even when it’s clear, hard to accept. The contemporary tendency to prooftext can be especially problematic with Ecclesiastes. Is life really “vanity”? Is the “house of mourning” really better than the “house of feasting”?
To illustrate Ecclesiastes’s themes with examples from film risks oversimplifying the theology of a complex and profound text. But like all risks, this one comes with potential rewards. Such an exercise can lead to a deeper appreciation of the art, as well as a stronger understanding of the text.
In what follows I cite 13 films intended to illustrate some important themes in Ecclesiastes: Forrest Gump; Searching for Bobby Fischer; Roman Israel, Esq.; The Greatest Showman; La La Land; Before Sunset; No Country for Old Men; In Cold Blood; A Man For All Seasons; Selma; Silence; A Man Escaped; The Man Who Planted Trees. Certainly there could be many, many more.
Limits Of Human Wisdom | Since the Enlightenment, faith in the perfectibility and supremacy of the human intellect has been a driving force in secular philosophy. But there are reasonable distinctions to draw between “intelligence” and “wisdom.” The former usually connotes the accumulation of factual knowledge; the latter the right (just/moral) application of that knowledge. This is why it’s evident throughout literature and even Scripture than one can be intelligent and still a fool, or intellectually limited and still wise.
Film, like other art, is filled with examples of holy fools: characters whose moral integrity inoculates and protects them from malicious, intelligent characters. Forrest Gump is a classic example.
Kenneth R. Morefield is a professor of English at Campbell University. He is the editor of Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema, Volumes I, II, & III, and the founder of 1More Film Blog. You can find him on Twitter at @kenmorefield.
By Don Carson 3/3/2018
Three observations on the crossing of the Red Sea (Ex. 14):
First, the dynamic confrontation between Pharaoh and the sovereign Lord continues. On the one hand, Pharaoh follows his desires, concluding that the Israelites are hemmed in by sea and desert, and therefore easy prey (14:3). Moreover, Pharaoh and his officials now regret they let the people go. Slavery was one of the fundamental strengths of their economic system, certainly the most important resource in their building programs. Perhaps the plagues were horrible flukes, nothing more. The Israelite slaves must be returned.
Yet God is not a passive player as these events unfold, nor simply someone who responds to the initiative of others. He leads the fleeing Israelites away from the route to the northeast, not only so that they may escape confrontation with the Philistines (13:17), but also so that the Egyptians will conclude that the Israelites are trapped (14:3). In fact, God is leading the Egyptians into a trap, and his hardening of the heart of Pharaoh is part of that strategy (14:4, 8, 17). This sweeping, providential sovereignty is what ought to ground the trust of the people of God (14:31). Above all, the Lord is determined that in this confrontation, both the Israelites and the Egyptians will learn who God is. “I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army…. The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen” (14:17-18). “And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant” (14:31).
Second, the “angel of God” reappears (14:19) — not as an angel, but as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day, alternately leading the people and separating them from the pursuing Egyptians. But looked at another way, one may say that “the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light” (13:21). The ambiguities we saw earlier (Ex. 3; see meditation for February 20) continue.
Third, whatever means (such as the wind) were ancillary to the parting of the Red Sea, the event, like the plagues, is presented as miraculous — not the normal providential ordering of everything (which regularity makes science possible), but the intervention of God over against the way he normally does things (which makes miracles unique, and therefore not susceptible to scientific analysis). For people to walk on dry land between walls of water (14:21-22) is something the sovereign God of creation may arrange, but no other.
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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
8. The next observation we would make is, that there is always more in
the requirements and prohibitions of the Law than is expressed in
words. This, however, must be understood so as not to convert it into a
kind of Lesbian code;  and thus, by licentiously wresting the
Scriptures, make them assume any meaning that we please. By taking this
excessive liberty with Scripture, its authority is lowered with some,
and all hope of understanding it abandoned by others. We must,
therefore, if possible, discover some path which may conduct us with
direct and firm step to the will of God. We must consider, I say, how
far interpretation can be permitted to go beyond the literal meaning of
the words, still making it apparent that no appending of human glosses
is added to the Divine Law, but that the pure and genuine meaning of
the Lawgiver is faithfully exhibited. It is true that, in almost all
the commandments, there are elliptical expressions, and that,
therefore, any man would make himself ridiculous by attempting to
restrict the spirit of the Law to the strict letter of the words. It is
plain that a sober interpretation of the Law must go beyond these, but
how far is doubtful, unless some rule be adopted. The best rule, in my
opinion, would be, to be guided by the principle of the
commandment--viz. to consider in the case of each what the purpose is
for which it was given. For example, every commandment either requires
or prohibits; and the nature of each is instantly discerned when we
look to the principle of the commandment as its end. Thus, the end of
the Fifth Commandment is to render honour to those on whom God bestows
it. The sum of the commandment, therefore, is, that it is right in
itself, and pleasing to God, to honour those on whom he has conferred
some distinction; that to despise and rebel against such persons is
offensive to Him. The principle of the First Commandment is, that God
only is to be worshipped. The sum of the commandment, therefore is that
true piety, in other words, the worship of the Deity, is acceptable,
and impiety is an abomination, to him. So in each of the commandments
we must first look to the matter of which it treats, and then consider
its end, until we discover what it properly is that the Lawgiver
declares to be pleasing or displeasing to him. Only, we must reason
from the precept to its contrary in this way: If this pleases God, its
opposite displeases; if that displeases, its opposite pleases: if God
commands this, he forbids the opposite; if he forbids that, he commands
9. What is now touched on somewhat obscurely will become perfectly clear as we proceed and get accustomed to the exposition of the Commandments. It is sufficient thus to have adverted to the subject; but perhaps our concluding statement will require to be briefly confirmed, as it might otherwise not be understood, or, though understood mighty perhaps, at the outset appear unsound. There is no need of proving, that when good is ordered the evil which is opposed to it is forbidden. This every one admits. It will also be admitted, without much difficulty, that when evil is forbidden, its opposite is enjoined. Indeed, it is a common saying, that censure of vice is commendation of virtue. We, however, demand somewhat more than is commonly understood by these expressions. When the particular virtue opposed to a particular vice is spoken of, all that is usually meant is abstinence from that vice. We maintain that it goes farther, and means opposite duties and positive acts. Hence the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," the generality of men will merely consider as an injunction to abstain from all injury and all wish to inflict injury. I hold that it moreover means, that we are to aid our neighbour's life by every means in our power. And not to assert without giving my reasons I prove it thus: God forbids us to injure or hurt a brother, because he would have his life to be dear and precious to us; and, therefore, when he so forbids, he, at the same time, demands all the offices of charity which can contribute to his preservation.
10. But why did God thus deliver his commandments, as it were, by halves, using elliptical expressions with a larger meaning than that actually expressed? Other reasons are given, but the following seems to me the best:--As the flesh is always on the alert to extenuate the heinousness of sin (unless it is made, as it were, perceptible to the touch), and to cover it with specious pretexts, the Lord sets forth, by way of example, whatever is foulest and most iniquitous in each species of transgression, that the delivery of it might produce a shudder in the hearer, and impress his mind with a deeper abhorrence of sin. In forming an estimate of sins, we are often imposed upon by imagining that the more hidden the less heinous they are. This delusion the Lord dispels by accustoming us to refer the whole multitude of sins to particular heads, which admirably show how great a degree of heinousness there is in each. For example, wrath and hatred do not seem so very bad when they are designated by their own names; but when they are prohibited under the name of murder, we understand better how abominable they are in the sight of God, who puts them in the same class with that horrid crime. Influenced by his judgment, we accustom ourselves to judge more accurately of the heinousness of offences which previously seemed trivial.
11. It will now be proper to consider what is meant by the division of the divine Law into Two Tables. It will be judged by all men of sense from the formal manner in which these are sometimes mentioned, that it has not been done at random, or without reason. Indeed, the reason is so obvious as not to allow us to remain in doubt with regard to it. God thus divided his Law into two parts, containing a complete rule of righteousness, that he might assign the first place to the duties of religion which relate especially to His worship, and the second to the duties of charity which have respect to man. The first foundation of righteousness undoubtedly is the worship of God. When it is subverted, all the other parts of righteousness, like a building rent asunder, and in ruins, are racked and scattered. What kind of righteousness do you call it, not to commit theft and rapine, if you, in the meantime, with impious sacrilege, rob God of his glory? or not to defile your body with fornication, if you profane his holy name with blasphemy? or not to take away the life of man, if you strive to cut off and destroy the remembrance of God? It is vain, therefore, to talk of righteousness apart from religion. Such righteousness has no more beauty than the trunk of a body deprived of its head.  Nor is religion the principal part merely: it is the very soul by which the whole lives and breathes. Without the fear of God, men do not even observe justice and charity among themselves. We say, then, that the worship of God is the beginning and foundation of righteousness; and that wherever it is wanting, any degree of equity, or continence, or temperance, existing among men themselves, is empty and frivolous in the sight of God. We call it the source and soul of righteousness, in as much as men learn to live together temperately, and without injury, when they revere God as the judge of right and wrong. In the First Table, accordingly, he teaches us how to cultivate piety, and the proper duties of religion in which his worship consists; in the second, he shows how, in the fear of his name, we are to conduct ourselves towards our fellow-men. Hence, as related by the Evangelists (Mt. 22:37; Luke 10:27), our Saviour summed up the whole Law in two heads--viz. to love the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and our neighbour as ourselves. You see how, of the two parts under which he comprehends the whole Law, he devotes the one to God, and assigns the other to mankind.
12. But although the whole Law is contained in two heads, yet, in order to remove every pretext for excuse, the Lord has been pleased to deliver more fully and explicitly in Ten Commandments, every thing relating to his own honour, fear, and love, as well as every thing relating to the charity which, for his sake, he enjoins us to have towards our fellowmen. Nor is it an unprofitable study to consider the division of the commandments, provided we remember that it is one of those matters in which every man should have full freedom of judgment, and on account of which, difference of opinion should not lead to contention. We are, indeed, under the necessity of making this observation, lest the division which we are to adopt should excite the surprise or derision of the reader, as novel or of recent invention.
There is no room for controversy as to the fact, that the Law is divided into ten heads since this is repeatedly sanctioned by divine authority. The question, therefore, is not as to the number of the parts, but the method of dividing them. Those who adopt a division which gives three commandments to the First Table, and throws the remaining seven into the Second Table, expunge the commandment concerning images from the list, or at least conceal it under the first, though there cannot be a doubt that it was distinctly set down by the Lord as a separate commandment; whereas the tenth, which prohibits the coveting of what belongs to our neighbour, they absurdly break down into two. Moreover, it will soon appear, that this method of dividing was unknown in a purer age. Others count four commandments in the First Table as we do, but for the first set down the introductory promise, without adding the precept. But because I must hold, unless I am convinced by clear evidence to the contrary, that the "ten words" mentioned by Moses are Ten Commandments and because I see that number arranged in most admirable order, I must, while I leave them to hold their own opinion, follow what appears to me better established--viz. that what they make to be the first commandment is of the nature of a preface to the whole Law, that thereafter follow four commandments in the First Table, and six in the Second, in the order in which they will here be reviewed. This division Origin adopts without discussion, as if it had been every where received in his day.  It is also adopted by Augustine, in his book addressed to Boniface, where, in enumerating the commandments, he follows this order, Let one God be religiously obeyed, let no idol be worshipped, let the name of God be not used in vain; while previously he had made separate mention of the typical commandment of the Sabbath. Elsewhere, indeed, he expresses approbation of the first division, but on too slight grounds, because, by the number three (making the First Table consist of three commandments), the mystery of the Trinity would be better manifested. Even here, however, he does not disguise his opinion, that in other respects, our division is more to his mind. Besides these, we are supported by the author of an unfinished work on Matthew.  Josephus, no doubt with the general consent of his age, assigns five commandments to each table. This, while repugnant to reason, inasmuch as it confounds the distinction between piety and charity, is also refuted by the authority of our Saviour, who in Matthew places the command to honour parents in the list of those belonging to the Second Table (Mt. 19:19). Let us now hear God speaking in his own words.
I AM THE LORD THY GOD, WHICH BROUGHT THEE OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, OUT OF THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE. THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.
13. Whether you take the former sentence as a part of the commandment, or read it separately is to me a matter of indifference, provided you grant that it is a kind of preface to the whole Law. In enacting laws, the first thing to be guarded against is their being forthwith abrogated by contempt. The Lord, therefore, takes care, in the first place, that this shall not happen to the Law about to be delivered, by introducing it with a triple sanction. He claims to himself power and authority to command, that he may impress the chosen people with the necessity of obedience; he holds forth a promise of favour, as a means of alluring them to the study of holiness; and he reminds them of his kindness, that he may convict them of ingratitude, if they fail to make a suitable return. By the name, Lord, are denoted power and lawful dominion. If all things are from him, and by him consist, they ought in justice to bear reference to him, as Paul says (Rom. 11:36). This name, therefore, is in itself sufficient to bring us under the authority of the divine majesty: for it were monstrous for us to wish to withdraw from the dominion of him, out of whom we cannot even exist.
14. After showing that he has a right to command, and to be obeyed, he next, in order not to seem to drag men by mere necessity, but to allure them, graciously declares, that he is the God of the Church. For the mode of expression implies, that there is a mutual relation included in the promise, "I will be their God, and they shall be my people," (Jer. 31:33). Hence Christ infers the immortality of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from the fact that God had declared himself to be their God (Mt. 22:32). It is, therefore, the same as if he had said, I have chosen you to myself, as a people to whom I shall not only do good in the present life, but also bestow felicity in the life to come. The end contemplated in this is adverted to in the Law, in various passages. For when the Lord condescends in mercy to honour us so far as to admit us to partnership with his chosen people, he chooses us, as Moses says, "to be a holy people," "a peculiar people unto himself," to "keep all his commandments," (Deut. 7:6; 14:2; 26:18). Hence the exhortation, "Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy," (Lev. 19:2). These two considerations form the ground of the remonstrance, "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master; if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts," (Mal. 1:6).
Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream
By John Bunyan 1678
The Author's Apology For His Book
When at the first I took my pen in hand
Thus for to write, I did not understand
That I at all should make a little book
In such a mode: nay, I had undertook
To make another; which, when almost done,
Before I was aware I this begun.
And thus it was: I, writing of the way
And race of saints in this our gospel-day,
Fell suddenly into an allegory
About their journey, and the way to glory,
In more than twenty things which I set down
This done, I twenty more had in my crown,
And they again began to multiply,
Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.
Nay, then, thought I, if that you breed so fast,
I’ll put you by yourselves, lest you at last
Should prove ad infinitum, and eat out
The book that I already am about.
Well, so I did; but yet I did not think
To show to all the world my pen and ink
In such a mode; I only thought to make
I knew not what: nor did I undertake
Thereby to please my neighbor; no, not I;
I did it my own self to gratify.
Neither did I but vacant seasons spend
In this my scribble; nor did I intend
But to divert myself, in doing this,
From worser thoughts, which make me do amiss.
Thus I set pen to paper with delight,
And quickly had my thoughts in black and white;
For having now my method by the end,
Still as I pull’d, it came; and so I penned
It down; until it came at last to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.
Well, when I had thus put mine ends together
I show’d them others, that I might see whether
They would condemn them, or them justify:
And some said, let them live; some, let them die:
Some said, John, print it; others said, Not so:
Some said, It might do good; others said, No.
Now was I in a strait, and did not see
Which was the best thing to be done by me:
At last I thought, Since ye are thus divided,
I print it will; and so the case decided.
For, thought I, some I see would have it done,
Though others in that channel do not run:
To prove, then, who advised for the best,
Thus I thought fit to put it to the test.
I further thought, if now I did deny
Those that would have it, thus to gratify;
I did not know, but hinder them I might
Of that which would to them be great delight.
For those which were not for its coming forth,
I said to them, Offend you, I am loath;
Yet since your brethren pleased with it be,
Forbear to judge, till you do further see.
If that thou wilt not read, let it alone;
Some love the meat, some love to pick the bone.
Yea, that I might them better palliate,
I did too with them thus expostulate:
May I not write in such a style as this?
In such a method too, and yet not miss
My end-thy good? Why may it not be done?
Dark clouds bring waters, when the bright bring none.
Yea, dark or bright, if they their silver drops
Cause to descend, the earth, by yielding crops,
Gives praise to both, and carpeth not at either,
But treasures up the fruit they yield together;
Yea, so commixes both, that in their fruit
None can distinguish this from that; they suit
Her well when hungry; but if she be full,
She spews out both, and makes their blessing null.
You see the ways the fisherman doth take
To catch the fish; what engines doth he make!
Behold how he engageth all his wits;
Also his snares, lines, angles, hooks, and nets:
Yet fish there be, that neither hook nor line,
Nor snare, nor net, nor engine can make thine:
They must be groped for, and be tickled too,
Or they will not be catch’d, whate’er you do.
How does the fowler seek to catch his game
By divers means! all which one cannot name.
His guns, his nets, his lime-twigs, light and bell:
He creeps, he goes, he stands; yea, who can tell
Of all his postures? yet there’s none of these
Will make him master of what fowls he please.
Yea, he must pipe and whistle, to catch this;
Yet if he does so, that bird he will miss.
If that a pearl may in toad’s head dwell,
And may be found too in an oyster-shell;
If things that promise nothing, do contain
What better is than gold; who will disdain,
That have an inkling of it, there to look,
That they may find it. Now my little book,
(Though void of all these paintings that may make
It with this or the other man to take,)
Is not without those things that do excel
What do in brave but empty notions dwell.
“Well, yet I am not fully satisfied
That this your book will stand, when soundly tried.”
Why, what’s the matter? “It is dark.” What though?
“But it is feigned.” What of that? I trow
Some men by feigned words, as dark as mine,
Make truth to spangle, and its rays to shine.
“But they want solidness.” Speak, man, thy mind.
“They drown the weak; metaphors make us blind.”
Solidity, indeed, becomes the pen
Of him that writeth things divine to men:
But must I needs want solidness, because
By metaphors I speak? Were not God’s laws,
His gospel laws, in olden time held forth
By types, shadows, and metaphors? Yet loth
Will any sober man be to find fault
With them, lest he be found for to assault
The highest wisdom! No, he rather stoops,
And seeks to find out what, by pins and loops,
By calves and sheep, by heifers, and by rams,
By birds and herbs, and by the blood of lambs,
God speaketh to him; and happy is he
That finds the light and grace that in them be.
But not too forward, therefore, to conclude
That I want solidness-that I am rude;
All things solid in show, not solid be;
All things in parable despise not we,
Lest things most hurtful lightly we receive,
And things that good are, of our souls bereave.
My dark and cloudy words they do but hold
The truth, as cabinets inclose the gold.
The prophets used much by metaphors
To set forth truth: yea, who so considers
Christ, his apostles too, shall plainly see,
That truths to this day in such mantles be.
Am I afraid to say, that holy writ,
Which for its style and phrase puts down all wit,
Is everywhere so full of all these things,
Dark figures, allegories? Yet there springs
From that same book, that lustre, and those rays
Of light, that turn our darkest nights to days.
Come, let my carper to his life now look,
And find there darker lines than in my book
He findeth any; yea, and let him know,
That in his best things there are worse lines too.
May we but stand before impartial men,
To his poor one I durst adventure ten,
That they will take my meaning in these lines
Far better than his lies in silver shrines.
Come, truth, although in swaddling-clothes, I find
Informs the judgment, rectifies the mind;
Pleases the understanding, makes the will
Submit, the memory too it doth fill
With what doth our imagination please;
Likewise it tends our troubles to appease.
Sound words, I know, Timothy is to use,
And old wives’ fables he is to refuse;
But yet grave Paul him nowhere doth forbid
The use of parables, in which lay hid
That gold, those pearls, and precious stones that were
Worth digging for, and that with greatest care.
Let me add one word more. O man of God,
Art thou offended? Dost thou wish I had
Put forth my matter in another dress?
Or that I had in things been more express?
Three things let me propound; then I submit
To those that are my betters, as is fit.
1. I find not that I am denied the use
Of this my method, so I no abuse
Put on the words, things, readers, or be rude
In handling figure or similitude,
In application; but all that I may
Seek the advance of truth this or that way.
Denied, did I say? Nay, I have leave,
(Example too, and that from them that have
God better pleased, by their words or ways,
Than any man that breatheth now-a-days,)
Thus to express my mind, thus to declare
Things unto thee that excellentest are.
2. I find that men as high as trees will write
Dialogue-wise; yet no man doth them slight
For writing so. Indeed, if they abuse
Truth, cursed be they, and the craft they use
To that intent; but yet let truth be free
To make her sallies upon thee and me,
Which way it pleases God: for who knows how,
Better than he that taught us first to plough,
To guide our minds and pens for his designs?
And he makes base things usher in divine.
3. I find that holy writ, in many places,
Hath semblance with this method, where the cases
Do call for one thing to set forth another:
Use it I may then, and yet nothing smother
Truth’s golden beams: nay, by this method may
Make it cast forth its rays as light as day.
And now, before I do put up my pen,
I’ll show the profit of my book; and then
Commit both thee and it unto that hand
That pulls the strong down, and makes weak ones stand.
This book it chalketh out before thine eyes
The man that seeks the everlasting prize:
It shows you whence he comes, whither he goes,
What he leaves undone; also what he does:
It also shows you how he runs, and runs,
Till he unto the gate of glory comes.
It shows, too, who set out for life amain,
As if the lasting crown they would obtain;
Here also you may see the reason why
They lose their labor, and like fools do die.
This book will make a traveler of thee,
If by its counsel thou wilt ruled be;
It will direct thee to the Holy Land,
If thou wilt its directions understand
Yea, it will make the slothful active be;
The blind also delightful things to see.
Art thou for something rare and profitable?
Or would’st thou see a truth within a fable?
Art thou forgetful? Wouldest thou remember
From New-Year’s day to the last of December?
Then read my fancies; they will stick like burs,
And may be, to the helpless, comforters.
This book is writ in such a dialect
As may the minds of listless men affect:
It seems a novelty, and yet contains
Nothing but sound and honest gospel strains.
Would’st thou divert thyself from melancholy?
Would’st thou be pleasant, yet be far from folly?
Would’st thou read riddles, and their explanation?
Or else be drowned in thy contemplation?
Dost thou love picking meat? Or would’st thou see
A man i’ the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?
Would’st thou be in a dream, and yet not sleep?
Or would’st thou in a moment laugh and weep?
Would’st thou lose thyself and catch no harm,
And find thyself again without a charm?
Would’st read thyself, and read thou know’st not what,
And yet know whether thou art blest or not,
By reading the same lines? O then come hither,
And lay my book, thy head, and heart together.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Your new Christlike body
1/22/2018 Bob Gass
‘He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own.’
(Php 3:20–21) who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. ESV
The Bible says our heavenly bodies will be exactly like the one Jesus had following His resurrection. He resembled Himself, because the disciples could recognise Him. He ate and drank with them. He could be touched. He could miraculously pass through walls. Talk about ‘time travel’ – He could appear in various places to different people without travelling by any recognised means. His transformed body no longer aged, nor was it subject to sickness and death. And your new body will be like His. ‘Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come’ (1 Corinthians 15:23-24 NLT). Scottish Presbyterian Robert Baillie learned in 1684 that he would be hanged for his alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate King Charles II, then drawn and quartered, and his head and hands nailed to a local bridge. How did he respond? By first quoting this Scripture: ‘Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour…who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body’ (Philippians 3:20-21 NKJV). Then he declared: ‘They may hack and hew my body as they please, but I know assuredly that nothing will be lost, that all these my members shall be wonderfully gathered and made like Christ’s glorious body.’ The truth is that whether you get buried in a casket or cremated and your ashes scattered, it makes no difference. God has prepared for you a glorious body just like Christ’s.
January 22, 2016
We are surrounded by hurting people; folks on the news, people we meet, friends, family, and sometimes ourselves. We all cope with pain differently; denial, humor, aggressiveness and sometimes we take our pain to God. Some of the things we suffer are common to all of us. None the less, it is important not to trivialize someone else’s pain. We all suffer differently. I am reminded of these verses from Matthew 12.
15 When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, 16 and he ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
18 “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,
my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not wrangle or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20 He will not break a bruised reed
or quench a smoldering wick
until he brings justice to victory.
21 And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
This is very revealing. Some people have told me they think there are two Gods in the Bible, the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. I think these verses from Matthew are very revealing because they quote from Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet. It is clear to me that God in the Old Testament is tender hearted. Jesus said He only does what He sees the Father doing.
So what does that mean for me? It means that I need to watch my mouth, especially around people who are hurting and hurting people are everywhere, most hiding their pain from others. I understand it is a metaphor, but the message is clear, if Jesus is so careful with people’s pain how can I claim to follow Jesus and act like a bull in a china cabinet?
by Bill Federer
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, allowed abortions in the first six months of pregnancy. Twenty-three years later, Norma McCorvey, who was the “Jane Roe” in the Roe v. Wade suit, was interviewed by USA Today. She stated that once, while employed at a clinic when no one was in: “I went into the procedure room and laid down on the table… trying to imagine what it would be like having an abortion… I broke down and cried.” On ABC’s World News Tonight, Norma McCorvey said: “I think abortion’s wrong. I think what I did with Roe v. Wade was wrong.”American Minute
Thomas R. Kelly
As the experience of this inward life matured, Thomas Kelly found himself using language that would have repelled him during his years of rebellion against evangelical religion. "Have I discovered God as a sweet Presence and a stirring life-renovating Power within me? Do I walk by His Guidance feeding every day, like the knights of the Grail on the body and the blood of Christ?" An Earlham colleague wrote of his visit there in the autumn of 1940, "He almost startled me, and he shocked some of us who were still walking in the ways of logic and science and the flesh, by the high areas of being he had penetrated. He had returned to old symbols like the blood of Christ, that were shocking to a few of his old colleagues who had not grown and lived as he had. But he brought new meaning to all symbols, and he was to me, and to some others a prophet whose tongue had been touched by coals of fire."
As his experience ripened, there also came a growing reemphasis upon the centrality of devotion, a devotion that far exceeds the mere possession of inward states of exaltation: "Let us be quite dear that mystical exaltations are not essential to religious dedication … Many a man professes to be without a shred of mystical elevation, yet is fundamentally a heaven-dedicated soul. It would be a tragic mistake to suppose that religion is only for a small group, who have certain vivid but transient inner experiences, and to preach those experiences so that those who are relatively insensitive to them should feel excluded, denied access to the Eternal love, deprived of a basic necessity for religious living. The crux of religious living lies in the will, not in transient and variable states. Utter dedication of will to God is open to all … Where the will to will God's will is present, there is a child of God. When there are graciously given to us such glimpses of glory as aid us in softening own-will, then we may be humbly grateful. But glad willing away of self that the will of God, so far as it can be discerned, may become what we will – that is the basic condition.
Compilation by RickAdams7
I would rather walk with God in the dark
than go alone in the light.
--- Mary Gardiner Brainard
God cannot be greater than he is,
but he can be greater in you than he is at present.
He cannot increase;
there cannot be more of God than there is,
but there may be more of God in you.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
There is no improving the future without disturbing the present.
--- Catherine Booth co-founder of the Salvation Army
It is not wealth, riches, or the honor of this world that I crave. It is not change of place or outward circumstances that will make me happy, but it is a mind resigned to do the Lord’s will, to follow Him whithersoever He is pleased to lead. This is what I desire more than any earthly gain.
--- Ann Branson, 1808-1892
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
for it is the source of life’s consequences.
24 Keep crooked speech out of your mouth,
banish deceit from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze on what lies in front of you.
26 Level the path for your feet,
let all your ways be properly prepared;
27 then deviate neither right nor left;
and keep your foot far from evil.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
What am I looking at?
Look unto Me, and be ye saved. --- Isaiah 45:22.
Do we expect God to come to us with His blessings and save us? He says—‘Look unto Me, and be saved.’ The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult. Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere. The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is, in effect—Narrow all your interests until the attitude of mind and heart and body is concentration on Jesus Christ.
Many of us have a mental conception of what a Christian should be, and the lives of the saints become a hindrance to our concentration on God. There is no salvation in this way, it is not simple enough. “Look unto Me” and—not ‘you will be saved,’ but ‘you are saved.’ The very thing we look for, we shall find if we will concentrate on Him. We get preoccupied and sulky with God, while all the time He is saying—‘Look up and be saved.’ The difficulties and trials, the casting about in our minds as to what we shall do this summer, or to-morrow, all vanish when we look to God.
Rouse yourself up and look to God. Build your hope on Him. No matter if there are a hundred and one things that press, resolutely exclude them all and look to Him. “Look unto Me,” and salvation is, the moment you look.
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
With the deterioration of sight
they see more clearly what is missing
from their expressions. With the
dulling of the ear, the silences
before the endearments are
louder than ever.
Their hands have their accidents
still, but no hospital will
receive them. With their licences
expired, though they keep to their own
side, there are corners
in waiting. Theirs is a strange
house. Over the door in
invisible letters there is the name:
Home, but it is no place
to return to. On the floor
are the upset smiles, on the
table the cups unwashed they drank
their happiness from. There are themselves
at the windows, faces staring
at an unreached finishing
post. There is the sound
in the silence of the breathing
of their reluctant bodies as
they enter each of them the last lap.
Abraham stands as the greatest figure to be found in the ancient world. Three world religions—Islam, Judaism, and Christianity—revere him as the father of their faiths. Archeologists have explored the city of his origin, traced his journeys, probed the ruins of towns mentioned in Genesis, and have reconstructed a striking portrait of life 2,000 years before Christ that in detail after detail confirms the accuracy of the Old Testament account.
But what makes Abraham important to the Bible student is not the reverence in which he is held. It is not even the belief The National Geographic once expressed, that “Abraham the patriarch conceived a great and simple idea: the idea of a single Almighty God” (Dec. 1966, p. 740). Abraham’s importance is not even found in the fact that he is today a prime model of saving faith. No, the importance of Abraham in Genesis is that through Abraham God reveals His purpose and His goal for the universe. In promises to Abram God revealed that He had a plan!
To Abraham were given wonderful covenant promises that show us history’s direction, and reassure us that our personal universe is a purposive universe as well.
Covenant. In Old Testament times the berit was at the foundation of social relationships. It might represent a treaty between nations, or a business contract, or a national constitution. In each case it represented a binding agreement, and expressed a firm commitment which was to be faithfully honored by all.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. --- John 14:2.
It is Christ’s Father’s house because he is the way and the door to it. (Classic Sermons on Heaven and Hell (Kregel Classic Sermons Series)) “No one,” he himself has said, “comes to the Father except through me.” I know not of any heaven for human beings but that which the Lord Jesus has opened up and fitted and filled, and I know of no Father for them but the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. None will ever reach it but that his foot led the way and his hand upheld their goings. It is because it is Christ’s Father’s house that new songs have been made for it and a new and peculiar joy created, joy among the angels for sinners that repent, joy among the saved that they have had wonderful deliverance, and joy in the heart of the Father himself—“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” It is this that gives its deepest and highest meaning to the heaven of the Gospel; it is the heaven of the Redeemer.
Yet this truth, that the heavenly house has for its center the throne and cross of Christ, that it is the home of the pardoned and purified, makes it needful that a closing word should be spoken to be pondered by us all. Are you on the way to it, are you preparing for it? It is surely the most reasonable of all things to believe that someone cannot dwell in peace in God’s house unless he or she is at peace with God himself and cannot enjoy the heaven of Christ without the mind of Christ. God cannot make you blessed by surrounding you with blessings. He cannot give someone heaven who will not have God himself. If, then you are refusing God, you are refusing God’s heaven; if you will not have him in your heart, you can never look with loving confidence on his face. All deceptive dreams, all vain illusion about what God may do are scattered by this, that God has set heaven’s door open to you, and you will not enter it; you are framing a heart and life within you that make misery sure by the most fixed of all laws, the law of the divine nature. He who has made heaven ready and who is the door to it is now at the door of your heart, ready to enter with pardon for all the past and divine help for all the future. Will you not receive him?
--- John Ker
The Pope’s Hope
The little man before whom Henry IV had stood half-frozen, Gregory VII, didn’t become pope in the usual manner. He had not been elected behind closed doors by cardinals but proclaimed pope by the people.
His name was actually Hildebrand. His insight and integrity had made him advisor to five popes, and he preferred working behind the scenes to foster reform. That reputation earned him the respect of the people.
During the funeral of Pope Alexander II in 1073, the crowds began shouting “Hildebrand shall be pope!” When Hildebrand tried to ascend the pulpit to quiet the people, Cardinal Candidus stopped him. “Men and brethren,” shouted the cardinal. “We cannot find for the papacy a better man, or even one his equal. Let us elect him.” The cardinals and clergy, using the ancient formula, all exclaimed, “St. Peter elects Gregory (Hildebrand) pope.”
Gregory VII tried to bring integrity and revival to the church, but many church leaders opposed him. One who didn’t was his friend Hugo, a monk in Cluny. On January 22, 1075, the pope wrote to his friend about his burdens:
The Eastern Church fallen from the faith, and attacked by infidels from without. In the West, South, or North, scarcely any bishops who have obtained their office regularly, or whose life and conduct correspond to their calling, and who are actuated by the love of Christ instead of worldly ambition. Nowhere princes who prefer God’s honor to their own, and justice to gain. The Romans among whom I live are worse than heathens. And when I look to myself, I feel oppressed by such a burden of sin that no other hope of salvation is left me but in the mercy of Christ alone.
Hildebrand did his best to free the church from corruption and from political control by secular princes. But frostbitten Henry IV eventually regained strength enough for revenge. He marched to Rome, reduced it nearly to ruins, and drove Gregory into exile. The pope died in Salerno, heartbroken, in 1085.
No hope suckled him but the mercy of Christ alone.
Only God can save me, and I calmly wait for him.
I feel like a shaky fence or a sagging wall.
You want to bring me down from my place of honor.
Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him.
God is our place of safety.
--- Psalm 62:1,3–5,8.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 22
“Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?”
--- Ezekiel 15:2.
These words are for the humbling of God’s people; they are called God’s vine, but what are they by nature more than others? They, by God’s goodness, have become fruitful, having been planted in a good soil; the Lord hath trained them upon the walls of the sanctuary, and they bring forth fruit to his glory; but what are they without their God? What are they without the continual influence of the Spirit, begetting fruitfulness in them? O believer, learn to reject pride, seeing that thou hast no ground for it. Whatever thou art, thou hast nothing to make thee proud. The more thou hast, the more thou art in debt to God; and thou shouldst not be proud of that which renders thee a debtor. Consider thine origin; look back to what thou wast. Consider what thou wouldst have been but for divine grace. Look upon thyself as thou art now. Doth not thy conscience reproach thee? Do not thy thousand wanderings stand before thee, and tell thee that thou art unworthy to be called his son? And if he hath made thee anything, art thou not taught thereby that it is grace which hath made thee to differ? Great believer, thou wouldst have been a great sinner if God had not made thee to differ. O thou who art valiant for truth, thou wouldst have been as valiant for error if grace had not laid hold upon thee. Therefore, be not proud, though thou hast a large estate—a wide domain of grace, thou hadst not once a single thing to call thine own except thy sin and misery. Oh! strange infatuation, that thou, who hast borrowed everything, shouldst think of exalting thyself; a poor dependent pensioner upon the bounty of thy Saviour, one who hath a life which dies without fresh streams of life from Jesus, and yet proud! Fie on thee, O silly heart!
Evening - January 22
“Doth Job fear God for nought?” --- Job 1:9.
This was the wicked question of Satan concerning that upright man of old, but there are many in the present day concerning whom it might be asked with justice, for they love God after a fashion because he prospers them; but if things went ill with them, they would give up all their boasted faith in God. If they can clearly see that since the time of their supposed conversion the world has gone prosperously with them, then they will love God in their poor carnal way; but if they endure adversity, they rebel against the Lord. Their love is the love of the table, not of the host; a love to the cupboard, not to the master of the house. As for the true Christian, he expects to have his reward in the next life, and to endure hardness in this. The promise of the old covenant is adversity. Remember Christ’s words—“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit”—What? “He purgeth it, that it may bring forth fruit.” If you bring forth fruit, you will have to endure affliction. “Alas!” you say, “that is a terrible prospect.” But this affliction works out such precious results, that the Christian who is the subject of it must learn to rejoice in tribulations, because as his tribulations abound, so his consolations abound by Christ Jesus. Rest assured, if you are a child of God, you will be no stranger to the rod. Sooner or later every bar of gold must pass through the fire. Fear not, but rather rejoice that such fruitful times are in store for you, for in them you will be weaned from earth and made meet for heaven; you will be delivered from clinging to the present, and made to long for those eternal things which are so soon to be revealed to you. When you feel that as regards the present you do serve God for nought, you will then rejoice in the infinite reward of the future.
Priscilla J. Owens, 1829–1907
Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. (Psalm 96:2, 3)
The heart of the Christian gospel is a person, not a church or a system of doctrinal interpretation. To evangelize is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ—that He came to this world, died for our sins, and was raised from the grave according to the Scriptures. And, as the reigning Lord, He now meets every human need with His forgiveness of sins and the indwelling gift of His Holy Spirit to all who repent and believe.
Today, however, many false teachers claim that God speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. Those who believe this do not consider a personal faith in the person and work of Christ to be essential. We must reject as derogatory to our Lord and His gospel every teaching that makes this boast. The Bible is dogmatic: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
Priscilla J. Owens, a Baltimore public school teacher for 49 years, wrote these stirring soul-winning words for a missionary service in the Sunday school of the Union Square Methodist Church. Fourteen years later, William Kirkpatrick wedded his vibrant music to her words. Through the years they have challenged God’s people with the urgency of soul winning.
We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Bear the news to every land; climb the steeps and cross the waves; onward!—’tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Waft it on the rolling tide; Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Tell to sinners far and wide: Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Sing, ye islands of the sea; echo back, ye ocean caves; earth shall keep her jubilee: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Sing above the battle strife, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! By His death and endless life, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Sing it softly through the gloom, when the heart for mercy craves; sing in triumph o’er the tomb;—Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Give the winds a mighty voice, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Let the nations now rejoice,—Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Shout salvation full and free; highest hills and deepest caves; this our song of victory,—Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
For Today: Psalm 67:2; Isaiah 52:7; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16.
Try to speak to someone about trusting Jesus and Him alone for salvation from sin and the satisfaction of every need. Carry this musical message that ---
1 Daniel 10:1 | Evil 1
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
Trapped! Exodus 14
s2-042 | 8-31-2014
m2-040 | 9-03-2014