Exodus 22Exodus 22 1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. 2 If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, 3 but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 4 If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.
5 “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard.
6 “If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution. 7 “If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man’s house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. 8 If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. 9 For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.
10 “If a man gives to his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep safe, and it dies or is injured or is driven away, without anyone seeing it, 11 an oath by the LORD shall be between them both to see whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. The owner shall accept the oath, and he shall not make restitution. 12 But if it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. 13 If it is torn by beasts, let him bring it as evidence. He shall not make restitution for what has been torn. 14 “If a man borrows anything of his neighbor, and it is injured or dies, the owner not being with it, he shall make full restitution. 15 If the owner was with it, he shall not make restitution; if it was hired, it came for its hiring fee.
Laws About Social Justice16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins.
18 “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.
19 “Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death.
20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction.
21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, 24 and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
25 “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. 26 If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, 27 for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
28 “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.
29 “You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.
31 “You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.
Exodus 23Exodus 23 1 “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. 2 You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, 3 nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.
4 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. 5 If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.
6 “You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit. 7 Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked. 8 And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.
9 “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
Laws About the Sabbath and Festivals10 “For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the beasts of the field may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.
12 “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.
13 “Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips.
14 “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. 16 You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. 17 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD.
18 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the fat of my feast remain until the morning.
19 “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God.
“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.
Conquest of Canaan Promised20 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21 Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him.
22 “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
23 “When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, 24 you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces. 25 You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. 26 None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. 27 I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. 29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. 31 And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates, for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. 32 You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
The Covenant ConfirmedExodus 24 1 Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. 2 Moses alone shall come near to the LORD, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”
3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
12 The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever has a dispute, let him go to them.”
15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18 Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
A 7 Day Bible Reading Plan to Help You Study the Evidence for God
By J. Warner Wallace 9/30/2015
When I first began investigating the reliability of the New Testament Gospels, I found myself at an important philosophical crossroads. As I employed my skills as a cold-case detective to the claims of the gospel eyewitnesses, I grew increasingly confident in their trustworthy nature. The four-part template I typically used to assess eyewitnesses was particularly helpful in this regard. The gospels passed in every aspect of my testing (this investigative journey is chronicled in Cold-Case Christianity). But I still had a problem. Although I was convinced the authors were truly presentto see what they reported (or like Luke and Mark, had access to those who were truly present), could be corroborated by outside evidence, hadn’t been altered over the years and were free of bias, I was still dismissive of the supernatural elements present in the accounts. I rejected the claims of miraculous healings and deeds, and I certainly denied the Resurrection of Jesus. As an atheist and philosophical naturalist, I believed the Gospels were a form of historical fiction; a fanciful work rooted in a few historical truths. At this point in my investigation, I decided to take one last additional step. I decided to investigate my own philosophical naturalism.
Was I warranted in believing everything in the universe could be explained with nothing more than space, time, matter and the laws of physics and chemistry? Could my naturalism truly account for the most interesting and demanding features of the universe? Every worldview must provide an explanation for the reality we experience. It was time for me to see if my philosophically natural worldview could account for eight critical pieces of evidence:
The beginning of the universe
The fine-tuning of the universe for the existence of life
The origin of life in the universe
The appearance of design in biological organisms
The existence of consciousness
Our experience of free agency
The existence of transcendent, objective moral truths
The persistent problem of evil
The next step in my investigation would require me to critically examine my own presuppositions to see if they were supported by the evidence. This part of my journey is recorded in my new book, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe.
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.
Church Is More Important Than You Think
By Mike Mobley
I’ve been reading many articles lately that keep proclaiming how many are leaving and “done” with the church, how no one can trust the church because of issues, and how church isn’t really that important. I know there are many backgrounds involved with this and everyone’s story is different, but I’d like to encourage you in the fact that the Church is more important than you might be thinking.
Leaving And Being “Done” With Church | I think this line of thinking can apply to many people, but mostly it seems this is coming from the younger generation. Many are growing up in the church or at least observing it and when their expectations aren’t met, they are leaving. They are claiming that real Christianity doesn’t have to involve the church if they are following Jesus and they are doing just fine. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is not true.
Church is the body of Christ. It’s the people. Every follower of Jesus is a member of the body and together, we make up the church. It isn’t a building or a location, but it’s made up of individuals. The church is the hope of the world and God will use His Church to advance His Kingdom.
You simply can’t “leave” or be “done” with the church. What you’re really saying is that you want to follow Jesus on your own terms, not on the Bible’s terms.
Can’t Trust Church Because of Issues | Another popular argument against the church is people can’t trust it because of so many issues that come up. Let’s remember again the church is made up of people. Sinful, flawed, people. We are all sinful…we all make mistakes…that’s the whole reason we need a Savior to begin with. We can’t live this life on our own and we certainly can’t live this life perfectly. So if we can’t do that, of course the church is going to have issues.
Saved by Grace through Faith. In love with Jesus, His Glory, and obviously my beautiful wife Joelle, daughter Peyton, and son Matthew! Seeking Him in everything to glorify Him and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Online & Communications Minister at 121 Community Church.
Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing
by Erica Boutwell
In light of my most recent post regarding the days of Noah, I’d love to take a break from all the heaviness and explore a topic a little less heady . . . . . false teachers. If you haven’t had your coffee yet, you might want to go ahead and get that over with before continuing.
I have felt so weighed down by this issue for some time now because we are walking around in a day and age where new false teachers are popping up every day and they are getting more and more clever yet brazen. The main reason being that it’s so easy for anyone to have a platform, thanks to the wonder of blogging and social media. Trust me, the irony of that statement is not lost on me.
But that is the reality we are living in. Anyone who thinks they have something to say can click a few buttons, type a few words, click submit, and bam! They’ve now put their thoughts out there for anyone with internet access to read.
The vast majority of these posts are about completely innocent topics such as the latest fashion trends on a budget, recipes for the best pot roast on the planet, and current movie reviews. To all of you, keep up the good work. You’ve saved many a buck for my family and plenty of meals at my house. But this is not who I’m talking about. The ones that we are to be wary of are those who dive into topics of the spiritual realm. Too many times now, this same scenario has played out in front of us . . .
Someone starts a blog targeting a specific demographic of people (i.e. moms of young children, people passionate about health and fitness, all the oilies). They find that their following is growing leaps and bounds. People are coming to them in droves telling them how funny, relatable, and real they are. They start delving into topics a little outside of their original subject matter. The affirmation continues pouring in and suddenly they’re being asked about topics a little deeper than they’re used to. But they feel obligated to respond to their devoted readers. A few months later, we no longer have a wit-filled instruction manual on how to handle a crazy toddler or which exercises will target belly fat after the holidays. Suddenly we have someone picking apart passages of scripture and tackling spiritual topics, as though they are a well-studied scholar, in front of an audience of tens of thousands of followers who cling to every word they say, as though they are gospel.
Erica Boutwell | I'm a Jesus-follower who also have the privilege of being the wife to a guy named Stephen and the mom to 3 wild boys. My passion is leading other Jesus-followers in worship, pouring into the next generation, and discipling women.
How to Respond to Temptation and Satan
By Mike Mobley
One thing is for sure for every follower of Jesus…we will face temptation and attempts from satan to destroy us. Sometimes our flesh will tempt us or tell us things that are untrue and other times I believe satan will try to tell us things to throw us off and remove us from following Christ. If he tried to tempt Jesus, why would he not try to tempt us? “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”
(Lk 4:1–2) And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. ESV
It’s amazing to think that Jesus can truly sympathize with our every need (Hebrews 4:15-16). He faces hunger, his body gets tired, at times he is weak…and then satan comes in to try to tempt him. How many times do we find ourselves getting tempted when we are weak? Sometimes we feel like temptation is just too much and it’s going to consume us, but let’s look at how Jesus responds.
(Lk 4:3–13) 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ ” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
and him only shall you serve.’ ”
to guard you,’
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. ESV
We Have Got To Read The Bible | I know sometimes that it’s hard to actually sit down and spend time with The Lord. In fact, it’s really a battle, however, Jesus reminds us of just how important it is to spend time reading scripture.
Jesus responds each and every time with scripture and nothing else. He shows us the importance of reminding ourselves of what the Bible actually has to say along with telling that to satan and/or anyone else who tries to tempt us or destroy us.
“ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
“ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”
Saved by Grace through Faith. In love with Jesus, His Glory, and obviously my beautiful wife Joelle, daughter Peyton, and son Matthew! Seeking Him in everything to glorify Him and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Online & Communications Minister at 121 Community Church.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 13How Long, O LORD?
13 To The Choirmaster: A Psalm Of David
1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
By Don Carson 3/13/2018
It is not easy to sort out some of the sequence of events in these chapters of Exodus. What is clear is that God graciously provides enough of the revelation of his covenant that the people agree to its terms (Ex. 24). More of its stipulations, especially with respect to the tabernacle and priestly arrangements, are spelled out in the next chapters. Moses’ long departure on the mountain begins about this time, and precipitates the fickle rebellion that produces the idol of the golden calf (Ex. 32), which brings Moses down the mountain, smashing the tablets of the Ten Commandments. We shall reflect on those events in due course.
Here we must think through several elements of this covenant ratification.
(1) The Israelites would have already been familiar with suzerainty covenants that were not uncommon in the ancient world. A regional power or a superpower would impose such a treaty on lesser nations. Both sides would agree to certain obligations. The lesser power agreed to abide by the rules set down by the stronger power, pay certain taxes, maintain proper allegiance; the greater power would promise protection, defense, and loyalty. Often there was an introduction that spelled out the past history, and a postscript that threatened curses and judgments on whichever side broke the covenant.
(2) Parts of Exodus and Deuteronomy in particular mirror these covenants. Some elements in this chapter are unique. What is clear, however, is that the people themselves agree to the covenantal stipulations that Moses carefully writes out: “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey” (24:7). Thus later rebellion reflects not merely a flighty independent spirit, but the breaking of an oath, the trashing of a covenant. They are thumbing their nose at the treaty of the great King.
(3) To strengthen the allegiance of the covenantal community, God graciously discloses himself not only to Moses but to Aaron and his sons, and to seventy elders. Whenever Old Testament writers say that certain people “saw God” (24:10-11) or the like, inevitably there are qualifications, for as this book says elsewhere, no one can look on the face of God and live (33:20). Thus when we are told that the elders saw the God of Israel, the only description is “something like” a pavement “under his feet” (24:10). God remains distanced. Yet this is a glorious display, graciously given to deepen allegiance, while a special mediating role is preserved for Moses, who alone goes all the way up the mountain.
(4) The covenant is sealed with the shedding of blood (24:4-6).
(5) Throughout the forty days Moses remains on the mountain, the glory of the Lord is visibly displayed (24:15-18). This anticipates developments in later chapters.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
A Map Of The Soul
By Michael Egnor 6/29/2017
“Doctor, what’s that sound?”
The voice startled me. I was performing brain surgery on a woman with a tumor near the area that controls speech. I was removing much of her frontal lobe, in order to remove the tumor. To map her speech area with an electrical probe, I needed her to be awake. So I performed the surgery under mild local sedation only. The brain itself feels no pain.
It took me a moment to realize that it was my patient, not a nurse, speaking to me from under the surgical drapes. “Just the sound of the instruments,” I replied, not entirely candid. The sound was a lot of her frontal lobe going up my sucker into a canister.
“It’s loud,” she said, half-laughing from nervousness and a sedative. “How’s the operation going?”
“Fine. Everything’s going well. How do you feel?”
“OK. Sleepy. It doesn’t hurt.”
We chatted as I worked. She was drowsy, but quite coherent. She went on to recover nicely. Her tumor had been benign, and her prognosis was good.
Francis Crick, neuroscientist and co-discoverer of the helical structure of DNA, expressed the widespread view that the mind is a function of material stuff: “A person’s mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make them up and influenced them.” How, then, is it possible to converse with someone while removing the large portions of her brain that serve thought and reasoning?
I’m a neuroscientist and professor of neurosurgery. The mind-brain question haunts me. Neurosurgeons alter the brain on a daily basis, and what we find doesn’t fit the prevailing view that the brain runs the mind as computer hardware runs software.
Michael Egnor is a professor of neurological surgery at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY TO KEEP IT HOLY. SIX DAYS SHALT THOU LABOUR AND DO ALL THY WORK: BUT THE SEVENTH DAY IS THE SABBATH OF THE LORD THY GOD. IN IT THOU SHALT NOT DO ANY WORK,
28. The purport of the commandment is, that being dead to our own affections and works, we meditate on the kingdom of God, and in order to such meditation, have recourse to the means which he has appointed. But as this commandment stands in peculiar circumstances apart from the others, the mode of exposition must be somewhat different. Early Christian writers are wont to call it typical, as containing the external observance of a day which was abolished with the other types on the advent of Christ. This is indeed true; but it leaves the half of the matter untouched. Wherefore, we must look deeper for our exposition, and attend to three cases in which it appears to me that the observance of this commandment consists. First, under the rest of the seventh days the divine Lawgiver meant to furnish the people of Israel with a type of the spiritual rest by which believers were to cease from their own works, and allow God to work in them. Secondly he meant that there should be a stated day on which they should assemble to hear the Law, and perform religious rites, or which, at least, they should specially employ in meditating on his works, and be thereby trained to piety. Thirdly, he meant that servants, and those who lived under the authority of others, should be indulged with a day of rest, and thus have some intermission from labour.
29. We are taught in many passages  that this adumbration of spiritual rest held a primary place in the Sabbath. Indeed, there is no commandment the observance of which the Almighty more strictly enforces. When he would intimate by the Prophets that religion was entirely subverted, he complains that his sabbaths were polluted, violated, not kept, not hallowed; as if, after it was neglected, there remained nothing in which he could be honoured. The observance of it he eulogises in the highest terms, and hence, among other divine privileges, the faithful set an extraordinary value on the revelation of the Sabbath. In Nehemiah, the Levites, in the public assembly, thus speak: "Thou madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant." You see the singular honour which it holds among all the precepts of the Law. All this tends to celebrate the dignity of the mystery, which is most admirably expressed by Moses and Ezekiel. Thus in Exodus: "Verily my sabbaths shall ye keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that does sanctify you. Ye shall keep my sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever does any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever," (Exodus 31:13-17). Ezekiel is still more full, but the sum of what he says amounts to this: that the sabbath is a sign by which Israel might know that God is their sanctifier. If our sanctification consists in the mortification of our own will, the analogy between the external sign and the thing signified is most appropriate. We must rest entirely, in order that God may work in us; we must resign our own will, yield up our heart, and abandon all the lusts of the flesh. In short, we must desist from all the acts of our own mind, that God working in us, we may rest in him, as the Apostle also teaches (Heb. 3:13; 4:3, 9).
30. This complete cessation was represented to the Jews by the observance of one day in seven, which, that it might be more religiously attended to, the Lord recommended by his own example. For it is no small incitement to the zeal of man to know that he is engaged in imitating his Creator. Should any one expect some secret meaning in the number seven, this being in Scripture the number for perfection, it may have been selected, not without cause, to denote perpetuity. In accordance with this, Moses concludes his description of the succession of day and night on the same day on which he relates that the Lord rested from his works. Another probable reason for the number may be, that the Lord intended that the Sabbath never should be completed before the arrival of the last day. We here begin our blessed rest in him, and daily make new progress in it; but because we must still wage an incessant warfare with the flesh, it shall not be consummated until the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah: "From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord," (Isaiah 66:23); in other words, when God shall be "all in all," (I Cor. 15:28). It may seem, therefore, that by the seventh day the Lord delineated to his people the future perfection of his sabbath on the last day, that by continual meditation on the sabbath, they might throughout their whole lives aspire to this perfection.
31. Should these remarks on the number seem to any somewhat far-fetched, I have no objection to their taking it more simply: that the Lord appointed a certain day on which his people might be trained, under the tutelage of the Law, to meditate constantly on the spiritual rest, and fixed upon the seventh, either because he foresaw it would be sufficient, or in order that his own example might operate as a stronger stimulus; or, at least to remind men that the Sabbath was appointed for no other purpose than to render them conformable to their Creator. It is of little consequence which of these be adopted, provided we lose not sight of the principal thing delineated--viz. the mystery of perpetual resting from our works. To the contemplation of this, the Jews were every now and then called by the prophets, lest they should think a carnal cessation from labour sufficient. Beside the passages already quoted, there is the following: "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord," (Isaiah 58:13, 14). Still there can be no doubt, that, on the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ceremonial part of the commandment was abolished. He is the truth, at whose presence all the emblems vanish; the body, at the sight of which the shadows disappear. He, I say, is the true completion of the sabbath: "We are buried with him by baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life," (Rom. 6:4). Hence, as the Apostle elsewhere says, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holiday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ," (Col. 2:16, 17); meaning by body the whole essence of the truth, as is well explained in that passage. This is not contented with one day, but requires the whole course of our lives, until being completely dead to ourselves, we are filled with the life of God. Christians, therefore, should have nothing to do with a superstitious observance of days.
32. The two other cases ought not to be classed with ancient shadows, but are adapted to every age. The sabbath being abrogated, there is still room among us, first, to assemble on stated days for the hearing of the Word, the breaking of the mystical bread, and public prayer; and, secondly, to give our servants and labourers relaxation from labour. It cannot be doubted that the Lord provided for both in the commandment of the Sabbath. The former is abundantly evinced by the mere practice of the Jews. The latter Moses has expressed in Deuteronomy in the following terms: "The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant;--that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou," (Deut. 5:14). Likewise in Exodus, "That thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed," (Exod. 23:12). Who can deny that both are equally applicable to us as to the Jews? Religious meetings are enjoined us by the word of God; their necessity, experience itself sufficiently demonstrates. But unless these meetings are stated, and have fixed days allotted to them, how can they be held? We must, as the apostle expresses it, do all things decently and in orders (1 Cor. 14:40). So impossible, however, would it be to preserve decency and order without this politic arrangements that the dissolution of it would instantly lead to the disturbance and ruin of the Church. But if the reason for which the Lord appointed a sabbath to the Jews is equally applicable to us, no man can assert that it is a matter with which we have nothing to do. Our most provident and indulgent Parent has been pleased to provide for our wants not less than for the wants of the Jews. Why, it may be asked, do we not hold daily meetings, and thus avoid the distinction of days? Would that we were privileged to do so! Spiritual wisdom undoubtedly deserves to have some portion of every day devoted to it. But if, owing to the weakness of many, daily meetings cannot be held, and charity will not allow us to exact more of them, why should we not adopt the rule which the will of God has obviously imposed upon us?
33. I am obliged to dwell a little longer on this because some restless spirits are now making an outcry about the observance of the Lord's day. They complain that Christian people are trained in Judaism, because some observance of days is retained. My reply is, That those days are observed by us without Judaism, because in this matter we differ widely from the Jews. We do not celebrate it with most minute formality, as a ceremony by which we imagine that a spiritual mystery is typified, but we adopt it as a necessary remedy for preserving order in the Church. Paul informs us that Christians are not to be judged in respect of its observance, because it is a shadow of something to come (Col. 2:16); and, accordingly, he expresses a fear lest his labour among the Galatians should prove in vain, because they still observed days (Gal. 4:10, 11). And he tells the Romans that it is superstitious to make one day differ from another (Rom. 14:5). But who, except those restless men, does not see what the observance is to which the Apostle refers? Those persons had no regard to that politic and ecclesiastical arrangement,  but by retaining the days as types of spiritual things, they in so far obscured the glory of Christ, and the light of the Gospel. They did not desist from manual labour on the ground of its interfering with sacred study and meditation, but as a kind of religious observance; because they dreamed that by their cessation from labour, they were cultivating the mysteries which had of old been committed to them. It was, I say, against this preposterous observance of days that the Apostle inveighs, and not against that legitimate selection which is subservient to the peace of Christian society. For in the churches established by him, this was the use for which the Sabbath was retained. He tells the Corinthians to set the first day apart for collecting contributions for the relief of their brethren at Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:2). If superstition is dreaded, there was more danger in keeping the Jewish sabbath than the Lord's day as Christians now do. It being expedient to overthrow superstition, the Jewish holy day was abolished; and as a thing necessary to retain decency, orders and peace, in the Church, another day was appointed for that purpose.
34. It was not, however, without a reason that the early Christians substituted what we call the Lord's day for the Sabbath. The resurrection of our Lord being the end and accomplishment of that true rest which the ancient sabbath typified, this day, by which types were abolished serves to warn Christians against adhering to a shadowy ceremony. I do not cling so to the number seven as to bring the Church under bondage to it, nor do I condemn churches for holding their meetings on other solemn days, provided they guard against superstition. This they will do if they employ those days merely for the observance of discipline and regular order. The whole may be thus summed up: As the truth was delivered typically to the Jews, so it is imparted to us without figure; first, that during our whole lives we may aim at a constant rest from our own works, in order that the Lord may work in us by his Spirit; secondly that every individual, as he has opportunity, may diligently exercise himself in private, in pious meditation on the works of God, and, at the same time, that all may observe the legitimate order appointed by the Church, for the hearing of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and public prayer: And, thirdly, that we may avoid oppressing those who are subject to us. In this way, we get quit of the trifling of the false prophets, who in later times instilled Jewish ideas into the people, alleging that nothing was abrogated but what was ceremonial in the commandment,  (this they term in their language the taxation of the seventh day), while the moral part remains--viz. the observance of one day in seven.  But this is nothing else than to insult the Jews, by changing the day, and yet mentally attributing to it the same sanctity; thus retaining the same typical distinction of days as had place among the Jews. And of a truth, we see what profit they have made by such a doctrine. Those who cling to their constitutions go thrice as far as the Jews in the gross and carnal superstition of sabbatism; so that the rebukes which we read in Isaiah (Isa. 1:13; 58:13) apply as much to those of the present day,  as to those to whom the Prophet addressed them. We must be careful, however, to observe the general doctrine--viz. in order that religion may neither be lost nor languish among us, we must diligently attend on our religious assemblies, and duly avail ourselves of those external aids which tend to promote the worship of God.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
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 FIRST STAGENow was Christian somewhat at a stand; but presently he concluded, If this be true which this gentleman hath said, my wisest course is to take his advice: and with that he thus farther spake.
CHR. Sir, which is my way to this honest man’s house?
WORLD. Do you see yonder high hill?
CHR. Yes, very well.
WORLD. By that hill you must go, and the first house you come at is his.
So Christian turned out of his way to go to Mr. Legality’s house for help: but, behold, when he was got now hard by the hill, it seemed so high, and also that side of it that was next the way-side did hang so much over, that Christian was afraid to venture further, lest the hill should fall on his head; wherefore there he stood still, and wotted not what to do. Also his burden now seemed heavier to him than while he was in his way. There came also flashes of fire,
Ex 19:16–18 16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. ESV
out of the hill, that made Christian afraid that he should be burnt: here therefore he did sweat and quake for fear.
Heb. 12:21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” ESV
And now he began to be sorry that he had taken Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s counsel; and with that he saw Evangelist coming to meet him, at the sight also of whom he began to blush for shame. So Evangelist drew nearer and nearer; and coming up to him, he looked upon him, with a severe and dreadful countenance, and thus began to reason with Christian.
EVAN. What doest thou here, Christian? said he: at which words Christian knew not what to answer; wherefore at present he stood speechless before him. Then said Evangelist farther, Art not thou the man that I found crying without the walls of the city of Destruction?
CHR. Yes, dear sir, I am the man.
EVAN. Did not I direct thee the way to the little wicket-gate?
CHR. Yes, dear sir, said Christian.
EVAN. How is it then thou art so quickly turned aside? For thou art now out of the way.
CHR. I met with a gentleman so soon as I had got over the Slough of Despond, who persuaded me that I might, in the village before me, find a man that could take off my burden.
EVAN. What was he?
CHR. He looked like a gentleman, and talked much to me, and got me at last to yield: so I came hither; but when I beheld this hill, and how it hangs over the way, I suddenly made a stand, lest it should fall on my head.
EVAN. What said that gentleman to you?
CHR. Why, he asked me whither I was going; and I told him.
EVAN. And what said he then?
CHR. He asked me if I had a family; and I told him. But, said I, I am so laden with the burden that is on my back, that I cannot take pleasure in them as formerly.
EVAN. And what said he then?
CHR. He bid me with speed get rid of my burden; and I told him it was ease that I sought. And, said I, I am therefore going to yonder gate, to receive farther direction how I may get to the place of deliverance. So he said that he would show me a better way, and short, not so attended with difficulties as the way, sir, that you set me in; which way, said he, will direct you to a gentleman’s house that hath skill to take off these burdens: so I believed him, and turned out of that way into this, if haply I might be soon eased of my burden. But when I came to this place, and beheld things as they are, I stopped, for fear (as I said) of danger: but I now know not what to do.
EVAN. Then said Evangelist, Stand still a little, that I show thee the words of God. So he stood trembling. Then said Evangelist, “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven.”
Heb. 12:25 He said, moreover, “Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
Heb. 10:38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.” ESV
Then Christian fell down at his feet as dead, crying, Woe is me, for I am undone! At the sight of which Evangelist caught him by the right hand, saying, “All manner of sin and blasphemies shall be forgiven unto men.”
Matt. 12: 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. ESV
“Be not faithless, but believing.”
John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” ESV
Then did Christian again a little revive, and stood up trembling, as at first, before Evangelist.
Then Evangelist proceeded, saying, Give more earnest heed to the things that I shall tell thee of. I will now show thee who it was that deluded thee, and who it was also to whom he sent thee. The man that met thee is one Worldly Wiseman, and rightly is he so called; partly because he savoreth only the doctrine of this world,
1 John 4: 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. ESV
(therefore he always goes to the town of Morality to church;) and partly because he loveth that doctrine best, for it saveth him best from the cross,
Gal. 6:12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. ESV
: and because he is of this carnal temper, therefore he seeketh to pervert my ways, though right. Now there are three things in this man’s counsel that thou must utterly abhor.
1. His turning thee out of the way.
2. His laboring to render the cross odious to thee.
3. And his setting thy feet in that way that leadeth unto the administration of death.
First, Thou must abhor his turning thee out of the way; yea, and thine own consenting thereto; because this is to reject the counsel of God for the sake of the counsel of a Worldly Wiseman. The Lord says, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate,”
Luke 13:24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. ESV
the gate to which I send thee; “for strait is the gate that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Matt. 7:13, 14 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. ESV
From this little wicket-gate, and from the way thereto, hath this wicked man turned thee, to the bringing of thee almost to destruction: hate, therefore, his turning thee out of the way, and abhor thyself for hearkening to him.
Secondly, Thou must abhor his laboring to render the cross odious unto thee; for thou art to prefer it before the treasures of Egypt.
Heb. 11:25, 26 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. ESV
Besides, the King of glory hath told thee, that he that will save his life shall lose it. And he that comes after him, and hates not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be his disciple.
Mark 8:38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” ESV
John 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. ESV
Matt. 10:39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ESV
Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. ESV
I say, therefore, for a man to labor to persuade thee that that shall be thy death, without which, the truth hath said, thou canst not have eternal life, this doctrine thou must abhor.
Thirdly, Thou must hate his setting of thy feet in the way that leadeth to the ministration of death. And for this thou must consider to whom he sent thee, and also how unable that person was to deliver thee from thy burden.
He to whom thou wast sent for ease, being by name Legality, is the son of the bond-woman which now is, and is in bondage with her children,
Gal. 4:21–27 21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than those of the one who has a husband.” ESV
Gal. 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” ESV
Now Christian looked for nothing but death, and began to cry out lamentably; even cursing the time in which he met with Mr. Worldly Wiseman; still calling himself a thousand fools for hearkening to his counsel. He also was greatly ashamed to think that this gentleman’s arguments, flowing only from the flesh, should have the prevalency with him so far as to cause him to forsake the right way. This done, he applied himself again to Evangelist in words and sense as follows.
CHR. Sir, what think you? Is there any hope? May I now go back, and go up to the wicket-gate? Shall I not be abandoned for this, and sent back from thence ashamed? I am sorry I have hearkened to this man’s counsel; but may my sin be forgiven?
EVAN. Then said Evangelist to him, Thy sin is very great, for by it thou hast committed two evils: thou hast forsaken the way that is good, to tread in forbidden paths. Yet will the man at the gate receive thee, for he has good-will for men; only, said he, take heed that thou turn not aside again, lest thou “perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.”
Psalm 2: Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. ESV
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
The island of blessing
1/25/2018 Bob Gass
‘You are complete in Him.’
(Col 2:10) and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. ESV
In his book Outlive Your Life, author Max Lucado says the Greek word for ‘blessed’, makarios, was the name of an island off Greece. It was known as ‘the blessed island’ because it was self-contained. The residents didn’t need to leave it in order to get their needs met. The natural resources of this island were so rich that everything needed to enjoy life was already there. There’s a lesson here for you. The moment you trust in Christ as your Saviour, He becomes your king and you begin living in His kingdom. You don’t have to leave it and go elsewhere to find what you need, because it’s all around you in the island of blessing. You don’t have to strive for God’s blessing; you simply have to ‘tune in’ and receive it. It’s like your radio; there are no orchestras or newscasters inside it, it’s only a conduit and a point of contact. Even when your radio stops working, there are still signals in the air. All your radio does is receive the signal that comes from another source and deliver it to you. If you lose sight of that fact, you’ll give the radio more credit than it deserves. One of the reasons we don’t recognise the blessings of God in our lives is that we confuse the means of delivery with the source. If something doesn’t miraculously fall into our lap, we think it didn’t come from God. No, God will bless you at different times, through different people, in different ways. But you must always remember that they are only the carriers of blessing, while He is the source of it (see Psalm 31:19).
by Bill Federer
President Ronald Reagan delivered his State of the Union Address to Congress on this day, January 25, 1984, making reference to the fact that they open each session of Congress with prayer. President Reagan stated: “Each day your members observe a 200-year-old tradition meant to signify America is one nation under God. I must ask: If you can begin your day with a member of the clergy standing right here leading you in prayer, then why can’t freedom to acknowledge God be enjoyed again by children in every school room across this land?”American Minute
Thomas R. Kelly
The Light Within
Meister Eckhart wrote, "As thou art in church or cell, that same frame of mind carry out into the world; into its turmoil and its fitfulness." Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life. It is a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us. It is a Light Within which illumines the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the face of men. It is a seed stirring to life if we do not choke it. It is the Shekinah of the soul, the Presence in the midst. Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action. And He is within us all.
You who read these words already know this inner Life and Light. For by this very Light within you, is your recognition given. In this humanistic age we suppose man is the initiator and God is the responder. But the Living Christ within us is the initiator and we are the responders. God the Lover, the accuser, the revealer of light and darkness presses within us. "Behold I stand at the door and knock." And all our apparent initiative is already a response, a testimonial to His secret presence and working within us.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
He who has learned to pray,
has learned the greatest secret
of a holy and happy life.
--- William Law
True loyalty to God is manifest by one
who trusts his reason
and refuses to follow authority indiscriminately.
--- Hartman, D.
To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and value, to say to them through our attitude: 'You are beautiful. You are important. I trust you. You can trust yourself.' We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them.
--- Jean Vanier
Now this testimony I must leave to the world, that God has sent his good Spirit into the hearts of the children of men, to be their guide, leader and director in all things relating to his kingdom; and upon the receiving and obeying, or resisting and disobeying this Spirit, stands man’s eternal felicity or woe, for nothing short of it can give mankind the knowledge of the mysteries of God’s salvation; and all knowledge without it, is earthly and carnal, and can never give life to the soul.
--- Ambrose Rigge, 1616-1660
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
fresh water from your own well.
16 Let what your springs produce be dispersed outside,
streams of water flowing in the streets;
17 but let them be for you alone
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain, the wife of your youth,
be blessed; find joy in her—
19 a lovely deer, a graceful fawn;
let her breasts satisfy you at all times,
always be infatuated with her love.
20 My son, why be infatuated with an unknown woman?
Why embrace the body of a loose woman?
21 For ADONAI is watching a man’s ways;
he surveys all his paths.
22 A wicked person’s own crimes will trap him,
he will be held fast by the ropes of his sin.
23 He will die from lack of discipline;
the magnitude of his folly will make him totter and fall.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Leave room for God
But when it pleased God … --- Gal. 1:15.
As workers for God we have to learn to make room for God—to give God ‘elbow room.’ We calculate and estimate, and say that this and that will happen, and we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never looked for Him to come? Do not look for God to come in any particular way, but look for Him. That is the way to make room for Him. Expect Him to come, but do not expect Him only in a certain way. However much we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that at any minute He may break in. We are apt to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. All of a sudden God meets the life—“When it was the good pleasure of God.…”
Keep your life so constant in its contact with God that His surprising power may break out on the right hand and on the left. Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as He likes.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
I was Shakespeare's man that time,
walking under a waned moon
to hear the barn owl cry:
Treason. My sword failed me,
withering at its green
I took Donne's word,
clothing my thought's skeleton
in black lace, walking awhile
by the bone's light:
but the tombstone misled me.
Shelley put forth
his waxwork hand, that came off
in my own and I sank down
with him to see time
at its experiment at the sand's
I walked Yeats'
street, pausing at the flowering
of the water in a shop
window, foreseeing its drooping
from being too often
I stand now, tolling my name
in the poem's empty church,
summoning to the celebration
at which the transplanted
organs arc loth to arrive.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Power Over All
Power over all (Matt. 8:14–9:31). The next event shows Jesus’ authority over all the powers to which you and I are subject.
Sickmess heals Matthew 8:14-17
Nature stills a storm Matthew 8:23-27
Demons casts them out Matthew 8:28-32
Sin forgives Matthew 9:1-8
Death makes alive Matthew 9:18-26
There is nothing to limit the authority of Jesus, who has demonstrated His power over everything under which you and I are crushed! This Man is able to speak “as One having authority” (Matthew 7:29)—because He does!
There are three very special riches for us in this extended passage.
(1) Under authority. The Roman soldier speaking to Jesus said, “I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes” (Matt. 8:9). He said this to explain the confidence he had in Jesus which enabled him to ask Jesus to heal from a distance, by the mere speaking of a word. His point was this: As a soldier, his authority over others was derived. It was his relationship in the chain of command which gave this military man his power. When he spoke, all the power of Rome’s mighty empire, under whose authority he stood, spoke through him.
And what about Jesus? How was Jesus able to speak and have nature, demons, and even death jump to obey? Because here on earth Jesus also operated under authority; the authority of God. When Jesus spoke all the limitless power of God Himself spoke through Him.
It’s like this today. We can trust Jesus. The full power of Almighty God is His.
(2) New wineskins. A fascinating dialogue here is inserted in Matthew 9:14–17. John the Baptist’s disciples had noted that Jesus was unlike their master. They came to ask why. Jesus explained, and added, “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins” (Matt. 9:17).
You and I cannot stuff Jesus or our experience with Him into our old ways of thinking and living. Life with Jesus is a new and exciting thing. He Himself wants to fill us, to expand our personalities, and to reshape us to fit who He is. When Jesus, the Man with all power, comes into our lives, we are privileged to open ourselves up to newness.
(3) Dead and blind. Through these two chapters the acts of Jesus follow a progression. Each portrait shows Christ as having power over a greater enemy than the last: sickness, nature, demons, sin, and then death itself.
Why then does an instance of healing the blind follow the raising of the ruler’s daughter? For our sakes! You and I can find the faith to believe that Jesus will make us fully alive when He returns. But how often we look at the dead dimensions of our present lives with despair. The blind men were living—but with dead eyes. When they begged for healing, Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matt. 9:28) They did believe. Jesus touched their eyes. And where the moment before there had been death, now there was sight.
Jesus comes into our lives with hope for today. If your personality has died to the capacity to live, or has shriveled in bitterness, or if you have lost the capacity for compassion, Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I am able?” We can answer, “Yes!” Jesus does have the power to revive the deadened areas of our lives.
To really understand the significance of the extended passage we’ve been considering, we need to note one of its peculiarities. Throughout this sequence of events Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” He did not use the term in the Sermon on the Mount. The first occurrences are here.
The term “Son of man” is found in both the Old Testament and the New. In the New it is used 94 times, and, with 5 exceptions, always by Christ of Himself. Clearly Jesus affirms something important about Himself in His selection and use of this term.
On the one hand, of course, the phrase “Son of man” emphasizes Jesus’ full humanity. But even greater significance is found in the fact that, as in Matthew 9:6, “Son of man” signifies Jesus’ redemptive work and mission. In the term “Son of man” Jesus presents Himself as the Victor, for He accomplished all that man was intended to do, and becomes all that man was intended to be.
The demons recognized and spoke to Jesus as the “Son of God” (8:29). They were right; they knew Him for who He is. The whole Bible makes it very clear that the One who became Man at Bethlehem truly is the Creator God. John insisted that Jesus is God, coexisting with the Father from the beginning (John 1). Jesus does not hesitate to claim equality with God (John 17). Paul’s writings affirm Jesus as God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament prophecy identifies Jesus as the “Father of eternity” (a phrase meaning the source or originator of eternity itself!) and speaks of the Child to be born as “a Son … given” (Isa. 9:6,). The name Immanuel, as we have seen, means, “With us is God.” Jesus had every right to speak of Himself as the Son of God, for that is who He is.
Yet Jesus chose another title for Himself: “Son of man.” A Man, with God’s prerogative of forgiving sin. A Man, with power to heal and to give life. A Man, yet Victor over death.
In Jesus the very power of God entered the mainstream of humanity, and in Jesus’ authority as the Son of man you and I find an anchor for our hope. Many years ago Johann Burger (1598–1662) caught a vision of the authority of the Son of man, and expressed it in the hymn, “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I.”
Jesus lives and reigns supreme;
And His kingdom still remaining.
I shall also be with Him,
Ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised: be it must;
Jesus is my hope and trust.
The Man with all power lives today. His kingdom does remain. With Him, we also shall reign. Then—and now.
The Teacher's Commentary
And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”
--- Luke 15:5–6.
I wonder whether the sheep could see that the shepherd rejoiced.(Spurgeon's Sermons on Soulwinning (C.H. Spurgeon Sermon Outline Series)) I do not suppose that it could, but it could feel it. At any rate, I know that Christ has a way of saving us—oh, so gently, so lovingly, so gleefully, that he makes us happy in being saved. He saves us rejoicingly. It is a matter of thanksgiving to him when he gets hold of his lost sheep and gets it on his shoulders. It makes me glad to think that it is so.
We are not saved by a grudging Christ, who seems as if he were weary of us and must save us to get rid of us. He does not act with us as some rude surgeon might do who says, “I will attend to you directly, but I have plenty else to do, and you gratis patients are a trouble.” Nor does he roughly set the bone. No; Jesus comes, and he molds the dislocated joint, and when he sets it—there is bliss even about the method of the setting. We look into his face, and we see that he puts his most tender sympathy into each movement. You know the different ways that workers have. Some kind of work one is soon sick of. The principle of division of labor is a very admirable one for the production of results on a large scale, but it is a miserable business for the worker to have to do the same thing over and over again, all day long, as if he or she were an automaton. The best work is done by the happy, joyful worker, and so it is with Christ. He does not save souls out of necessity—as though he would rather do something else if he might—but his very heart is in it, he rejoices to do it, and therefore he does it thoroughly, and he communicates his joy to us in the doing of it.
Notice that Jesus Christ loves other people to rejoice with him, so that, when he finds a sinner, he has so much love in his heart that his joy runs over. Let us catch the blessed infection. If you have just heard of somebody being saved, be glad about it because Jesus is glad.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
“This Superstition …”
Emperor Nerva, dying suddenly on January 25, 98, was succeeded by his adopted son, Trajan. The young man was a soldier, a general with rigid posture, vigorous energy, and conservative ideas. He proved a tireless and able administrator, lowering taxes, publishing a budget, and cutting the cost of government. His building projects benefited the empire, and, in contrast to fellow emperors, he remained faithful to his wife.
Trajan sent his advisor Pliny the Younger to Bithynia when troubling reports arose in 110 about corruption there. Arriving at the Black Sea, Pliny encountered Christians, and he didn’t know what to do with them. His famous letter to Trajan—the earliest extant Roman document regarding Christianity (which Pliny called a “superstition”)—described a worship service and asked for advice:
Their guilt or error amounted to this: on an appointed day they meet before daybreak, recite a hymn antiphonally to Christ, as to a god, and bind themselves by an oath to abstain from theft, robbery, adultery and breach of faith. After the conclusion of this ceremony it was their custom to depart and meet again to take food; but it was ordinary and harmless food. I applied torture to two maidservants who were called deaconesses. But I found nothing but a depraved and extravagant superstition. The matter seemed to justify my consulting you, especially on account of the number of those imperiled; many of all ages and classes and of both sexes are being put in peril by accusation. This superstition has spread not only in the cities, but in the villages and rural districts as well.
Trajan wrote back, and his answer established Roman policy for years. It was a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Christians, he said, were not to be tracked down like animals, but if any were found in the normal course of affairs, they were to be punished. If they recanted, they were to be pardoned.
Though moderate, Trajan became the first to persecute Christians as distinct from the Jews, and among those who perished under his reign was Ignatius, bishop of Antioch.
I praise and honor God Most High. …
When God does something, we cannot change it
or even ask why.
--- Daniel 4:34,35.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 25
“I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us.”
--- Isaiah 63:7.
And canst thou not do this? Are there no mercies which thou hast experienced? What though thou art gloomy now, canst thou forget that blessed hour when Jesus met thee, and said, “Come unto me”? Canst thou not remember that rapturous moment when he snapped thy fetters, dashed thy chains to the earth, and said, “I came to break thy bonds and set thee free”? Or if the love of thine espousals be forgotten, there must surely be some precious milestone along the road of life not quite grown over with moss, on which thou canst read a happy memorial of his mercy towards thee? What, didst thou never have a sickness like that which thou art suffering now, and did he not restore thee? Wert thou never poor before, and did he not supply thy wants? Wast thou never in straits before, and did he not deliver thee? Arise, go to the river of thine experience, and pull up a few bulrushes, and plait them into an ark, wherein thine infant- faith may float safely on the stream. Forget not what thy God has done for thee; turn over the book of thy remembrance, and consider the days of old. Canst thou not remember the hill Mizar? Did the Lord never meet with thee at Hermon? Hast thou never climbed the Delectable Mountains? Hast thou never been helped in time of need? Nay, I know thou hast. Go back, then, a little way to the choice mercies of yesterday, and though all may be dark now, light up the lamps of the past, they shall glitter through the darkness, and thou shalt trust in the Lord till the day break and the shadows flee away. “Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses, for they have been ever of old.”
Evening - January 25
“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” --- Romans 3:31.
When the believer is adopted into the Lord’s family, his relationship to old Adam and the law ceases at once; but then he is under a new rule, and a new covenant. Believer, you are God’s child; it is your first duty to obey your heavenly Father. A servile spirit you have nothing to do with: you are not a slave, but a child; and now, inasmuch as you are a beloved child, you are bound to obey your Father’s faintest wish, the least intimation of his will. Does he bid you fulfil a sacred ordinance? It is at your peril that you neglect it, for you will be disobeying your Father. Does he command you to seek the image of Jesus? Is it not your joy to do so? Does Jesus tell you, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”? Then not because the law commands, but because your Saviour enjoins, you will labour to be perfect in holiness. Does he bid his saints love one another? Do it, not because the law says, “Love thy neighbour,” but because Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments;” and this is the commandment that he has given unto you, “that ye love one another.” Are you told to distribute to the poor? Do it, not because charity is a burden which you dare not shirk, but because Jesus teaches, “Give to him that asketh of thee.” Does the Word say, “Love God with all your heart”? Look at the commandment and reply, “Ah! commandment, Christ hath fulfilled thee already—I have no need, therefore, to fulfil thee for my salvation, but I rejoice to yield obedience to thee because God is my Father now and he has a claim upon me, which I would not dispute.” May the Holy Ghost make your heart obedient to the constraining power of Christ’s love, that your prayer may be, “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.
Morning and Evening:
IN CHRIST THERE IS NO EAST OR WEST
John Oxenham, 1852–1941
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
One of the clear teachings of the Bible is that the gospel does not presuppose the superiority of any race or culture. In the past, missionary endeavor has too frequently imposed “our” culture on others while spreading the gospel, often putting native believers in bondage to another culture rather than to Christ and the Scriptures alone.
Written in 1908 by the noted English writer, John Oxenham, this missionary hymn text was part of a script for a pageant at a giant missionary event sponsored by the London Missionary Society’s exhibition, The Orient in London. It is estimated that over a quarter of a million people viewed this presentation. It was continued from 1908–1914 both in England and in the United States.
An interesting account of the impact of this hymn relates an incident during the closing days of World War II when two ships were anchored together, one containing Japanese aliens, and the other American soldiers, all waiting to be repatriated. For an entire day they lined the rails, glaring at one another. Suddenly someone began to sing “In Christ There Is No East Or West.” Then another on the opposite ship joined in. Soon there was an extraordinary chorus of former enemies unitedly praising God with these words:
In Christ there is no East or West, in him no South or North, but one great fellowship of love thru out the whole wide earth.
In Him shall true hearts ev’rywhere their high communion find; His service is the golden cord close-binding all mankind.
Join hands then, brothers of the faith, whate’er your race may be; who serves my Father as a son is surely kin to me.
In Christ now meet both East and West, in Him meet South and North; all Christly souls are one in Him throughout the whole wide earth.
Words from “Bees in Amber” by John Oxenham
For Today: Acts 10:34, 35; Romans 9:1–3; Ephesians 4:3; Philippians 1:27; 1 Peter 3:8.
Purpose to pray each day of the week for the work of the gospel in a different area of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, the Pacific, the Caribbean … Perhaps this musical message will be a helpful reminder ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
This book began life as a series of sermons preached in Lichfield Cathedral in Advent 1995. That explains some of its particular emphases, though I hope it will be found equally relevant wherever and whenever it is read. A few more words about its origin may help.
I have been wanting for some time to share with a different audience some of the fruits from my last ten years of academic study, working on the historical life of Jesus. I didn’t want just to write another series of lectures; if my conclusions are correct, it is actually more appropriate that such thoughts should come together within the worshipping and witnessing life of the church.
Jesus’ message summons us to focus our thoughts on the coming of the Kingdom of God. Because that is a huge and difficult idea, I here focus that thought, too, on one small point: namely, the prayer that Jesus taught, the so-called ‘Lord’s Prayer’. We live, as Jesus lived, in a world all too full of injustice, hunger, malice and evil. This prayer cries out for justice, bread, forgiveness and deliverance. If anyone thinks those are irrelevant in today’s world, let them read the newspaper and think again.
The more I have studied Jesus in his historical setting, the more it has become clear to me that this prayer sums up fully and accurately, albeit in a very condensed fashion, the way in which he read and responded to the signs of the times, the way in which he understood his own vocation and mission and invited his followers to share it. This prayer, then, serves as a lens through which to see Jesus himself, and to discover something of what he was about.
When Jesus gave his disciples this prayer, he was giving them part of his own breath, his own life, his own prayer. The prayer is actually a distillation of his own sense of vocation, his own understanding of his Father’s purposes. If we are truly to enter into it and make it our own, it can only be if we first understand how he set about living the Kingdom himself.
A further reason for my taking of the Lord’s Prayer as my theme in the sermons from which this book developed has to do with our stated aim in the Lichfield Cathedral Strategic Plan, developed by the Chapter over the last two years. Our first priority for action, we have said, is ‘to develop the prayer-life of the Cathedral.’ This dovetails completely with the Lichfield Diocesan Strategic Plan, entitled ‘Growing the Kingdom’, in which our Bishop, Keith Sutton, has placed ‘worship and prayer’ as the first of our stated objectives.
One central part of our task as a Cathedral, of course, is precisely to be a powerhouse of prayer for the whole Diocese. 1995 saw the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the present (Gothic) Cathedral, built on the site of the previous Saxon and Norman ones, and we have been using our celebrations to launch various new ideas and programmes. The series of sermons which turned into this book began shortly after our celebrations had reached their climax. As we took a deep breath after all the tumult and excitement of the festivities, I couldn’t think of any better way to draw 1995 towards its close than to turn our thoughts to what we all agree is one of the most central things in our life, namely, prayer.
Where better to start that than with the prayer that Jesus himself taught us? If we value and marvel at the fact that Christian worship has been offered in our Cathedral church for nearly thirteen hundred years—and it is indeed a wonderful thing—how much more ought we to cherish and marvel at the fact that for nearly two thousand years people have prayed this prayer. When you take these words on your lips you stand on hallowed ground.
The Lord and His Prayer
Chapter 1 Our Father in Heaven
The very first word of the Lord’s Prayer, therefore (in Greek or Aramaic, ‘Father’ would come first), contains within it not just intimacy, but revolution. Not just familiarity; hope.
The other strong echo of ‘Father’ within Jesus’ world reinforces and fills out this revolutionary, kingdom-bearing meaning. God promised to King David that from his family there would come a child who would rule over God’s people and whose kingdom would never be shaken. Of this coming King, God said to David, ‘I will his Father, and he shall be my Son’ (2 Samuel 7:14). The Messiah, the King that would come, would focus in himself God’s promise to the whole people. And in Isaiah this promise, though still affirmed, is thrown open to all God’s people. ‘If anyone is thirsty, let them come and drink … and I will make with them an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David’ (Isaiah 55:1, 3). The two pictures go together. Freedom for Israel in bondage will come about through the liberating work of the Messiah. And Jesus, picking up all these resonances, is saying to his followers: this is your prayer. You are the liberty-people. You are the Messianic people.
You see, the Jews had clung on to that Exodus-hope, down through the years in which they still lived with slavery, with exile, with the awful sense that the promises were taking a mighty long time to be fully fulfilled. ‘Surely you are our Father’, says one of the later prophecies, ‘though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us’ (Isaiah 63:16). In other words, the national hope seems to have slipped away; the things we thought were so secure have turned to dust and ashes; yet we cling on to the fact that you are our Father, and that fact gives us hope where humanly there is no hope. Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Egypt, Syria, and now Rome; when would the tyranny of evil end? When would Israel be free? Most Jews knew in their bones, because they celebrated it at Passover and sang about it in the Psalms, that freedom would come when God gave them the new, final Exodus. Many believed that this would happen when the Messiah came. The very first word of the Lord’s Prayer says: Let it be now; and let it be us. Father … Our Father …
Jesus’ own life and work and teaching, then, was not simply about a timeless new vision of God. Jesus didn’t come simply to offer a new pattern, or even a new depth, of spirituality. Spiritual depth and renewal come, as and when they come, as part of the larger package. But that package itself is about being delivered from evil; about return from exile; about having enough bread; about God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. It’s the Advent-package. Jesus was taking the enormous risk of saying that this package was coming about through his own work. All of that is contained in the word ‘Father’, used in this way, within this prayer.
For Jesus, it was a great wager of faith and vocation. It meant leaving the security of home, family and job because his Father was calling him to a new job. He called the fishermen to become fishers of men. He himself, the carpenter, was called to take wood and nails to accomplish the real Exodus, the real defeat of evil. Calling God ‘Father’ was not simply comfortable or reassuring. It contained the ultimate personal challenge.
That is why, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he called God ‘Father’ once more. In John’s gospel Jesus uses the image of father and son to explain what he was himself doing. In that culture, the son is apprenticed to the father. He learns his trade by watching what the father is doing. When he runs into a problem, he checks back to see how his father tackles it. That’s what Jesus is doing in Gethsemane, when everything suddenly goes dark on him. Father, is this the way? Is this really the right path? Do I really have to drink this cup? The letter to the Hebrews says, with considerable daring, that the Son ‘learned obedience by what he suffered’ (Hebrews 5:7–9; compare 2:10–18). What we see in Gethsemane is the apprentice son, checking back one more time to see how the Father is doing it. And what is the project that Father and Son together are engaged upon? Nothing less than the new Exodus, rescuing Israel and the whole world from evil, injustice, fear and sin. The daring thing about that passage in Hebrews is this: Jesus too, like us, went on learning what it actually meant to call God ‘Father’. And the learning process was only complete when he said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’
The word ‘Father’, then, concentrates our attention on the doubly revolutionary message and mission of Jesus. It is the Exodus-message, the message that tyrants and oppressors rightly fear. But it isn’t a message of simple human revolution. Most revolutions breed new tyrannies; not this one. This is the Father’s revolution. It comes through the suffering and death of the Son. That’s why, at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, we pray to be delivered from the great tribulation; which is, not surprisingly, what Jesus told his disciples to pray for in the garden. This revolution comes about through the Messiah, and his people, sharing and bearing the pain of the world, that the world may be healed. This is the kingdom-message, the Advent-message.
But if we in turn are to be the messengers, we need to learn to pray this prayer. We, too, need to learn what it means to call God ‘Father’, and we mustn’t be surprised when we find ourselves startled by what it means. The one thing you can be sure of with God is that you can’t predict what he’s going to do next. That’s why calling God ‘Father’ is the great act of faith, of holy boldness, of risk. Saying ‘our father’ isn’t just the boldness, the sheer cheek, of walking into the presence of the living and almighty God and saying ‘Hi, Dad.’ It is the boldness, the sheer total risk, of saying quietly ‘Please may I, too, be considered an apprentice son.’ It means signing on for the Kingdom of God.
The Lord and His Prayer
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
m2-046 | 10-15-2014
m2-047 | 11-05-2014
m2-048 | 11-12-2014