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1/26/2019     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     Exodus  25 - 27

Exodus 25

Contributions for the Sanctuary

Exodus 25 1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. 3 And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, 4 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, 5 tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, 6 oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7 onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. 8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

The Ark of the Covenant

10 “They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you.

17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. 21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. 22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

The Table for Bread

23 “You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 24 You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. 25 And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. 26 And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. 27 Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. 28 You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. 29 And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. 30 And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly.

The Golden Lampstand

31 “You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand shall be made of hammered work: its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. 32 And there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 33 three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand itself there shall be four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, 35 and a calyx of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lampstand. 36 Their calyxes and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it a single piece of hammered work of pure gold. 37 You shall make seven lamps for it. And the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it. 38 Its tongs and their trays shall be of pure gold. 39 It shall be made, with all these utensils, out of a talent of pure gold. 40 And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.

Exodus 26

The Tabernacle

Exodus 26 1 “Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them. 2 The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall be the same size. 3 Five curtains shall be coupled to one another, and the other five curtains shall be coupled to one another. 4 And you shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set. Likewise you shall make loops on the edge of the outermost curtain in the second set. 5 Fifty loops you shall make on the one curtain, and fifty loops you shall make on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite one another. 6 And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to the other with the clasps, so that the tabernacle may be a single whole.

7 “You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; eleven curtains shall you make. 8 The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. The eleven curtains shall be the same size. 9 You shall couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent. 10 You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set.

11 “You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together that it may be a single whole. 12 And the part that remains of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remains, shall hang over the back of the tabernacle. 13 And the extra that remains in the length of the curtains, the cubit on the one side, and the cubit on the other side, shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on this side and that side, to cover it. 14 And you shall make for the tent a covering of tanned rams’ skins and a covering of goatskins on top.

15 “You shall make upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. 16 Ten cubits shall be the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. 17 There shall be two tenons in each frame, for fitting together. So shall you do for all the frames of the tabernacle. 18 You shall make the frames for the tabernacle: twenty frames for the south side; 19 and forty bases of silver you shall make under the twenty frames, two bases under one frame for its two tenons, and two bases under the next frame for its two tenons; 20 and for the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side twenty frames, 21 and their forty bases of silver, two bases under one frame, and two bases under the next frame. 22 And for the rear of the tabernacle westward you shall make six frames. 23 And you shall make two frames for corners of the tabernacle in the rear; 24 they shall be separate beneath, but joined at the top, at the first ring. Thus shall it be with both of them; they shall form the two corners. 25 And there shall be eight frames, with their bases of silver, sixteen bases; two bases under one frame, and two bases under another frame.

26 “You shall make bars of acacia wood, five for the frames of the one side of the tabernacle, 27 and five bars for the frames of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames of the side of the tabernacle at the rear westward. 28 The middle bar, halfway up the frames, shall run from end to end. 29 You shall overlay the frames with gold and shall make their rings of gold for holders for the bars, and you shall overlay the bars with gold. 30 Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain.

31 “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. 32 And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. 33 And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy. 34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place. 35 And you shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle opposite the table, and you shall put the table on the north side.

36 “You shall make a screen for the entrance of the tent, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework. 37 And you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia, and overlay them with gold. Their hooks shall be of gold, and you shall cast five bases of bronze for them.

Exodus 27

The Bronze Altar

Exodus 27 1 “You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. 2 And you shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. 3 You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans. You shall make all its utensils of bronze. 4 You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze, and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. 5 And you shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net extends halfway down the altar. 6 And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. 7 And the poles shall be put through the rings, so that the poles are on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. 8 You shall make it hollow, with boards. As it has been shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made.

The Court of the Tabernacle

9 “You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings of fine twined linen a hundred cubits long for one side. 10 Its twenty pillars and their twenty bases shall be of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. 11 And likewise for its length on the north side there shall be hangings a hundred cubits long, its pillars twenty and their bases twenty, of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. 12 And for the breadth of the court on the west side there shall be hangings for fifty cubits, with ten pillars and ten bases. 13 The breadth of the court on the front to the east shall be fifty cubits. 14 The hangings for the one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. 15 On the other side the hangings shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. 16 For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework. It shall have four pillars and with them four bases. 17 All the pillars around the court shall be filleted with silver. Their hooks shall be of silver, and their bases of bronze. 18 The length of the court shall be a hundred cubits, the breadth fifty, and the height five cubits, with hangings of fine twined linen and bases of bronze. 19 All the utensils of the tabernacle for every use, and all its pegs and all the pegs of the court, shall be of bronze.

Oil for the Lamp

20 “You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may regularly be set up to burn. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the veil that is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the LORD. It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Is the Account of Joseph Smith’s First Vision Reliable?

By J. Warner Wallace 7/11/2014

     When I first began to examine the case for Christianity, my Mormon family encouraged me to examine Mormonism as well. Both systems make claims about history and are dependent on the reliability of witnesses. As a result, the veracity of either worldview depends entirely on the authority of its sources. Can we trust the Bible or the Book of Mormon? Can we trust the authors of these texts? In the end, the truth of Mormonism is dependent on its primary author: Joseph Smith. As I examined Joseph’s history, I became less and less convinced of his character and reliability. One important area of witness reliability involves accuracy and honesty over time. Has the witness changed his or her story over the years? If so, he or she can’t be trusted. As I examined the history of Joseph’s claims related to the Book of Mormon, I discovered he often changed his story. Joseph’s story about his first vision from God related to his discovery of the golden plates (from which the Book of Mormon were translated) changed a great deal. Key elements vary over the years in which it was first described. Joseph said he received this vision (prior to the discovery) yet kept quiet about it for several years before he ever shared it with anyone. All his descriptions are well after the fact. Before we can begin to examine the changing claims related to Joseph’s first vision, we should first review a few known historical facts:

     A Spiritual Revival Occurred in 1824-25 | A spiritual revival took place in the area of Palmyra, New York, where Joseph and his family were living at the time. Church attendance and conversion records indicate strong growth starting in 1824.

     Joseph Was On Trial in 1826 | At the age of 20, Joseph Smith was on trial for divination in South Bainbridge, New York. The 1826 Bainbridge Court Records of Judge Albert Nealy indicate Joseph was being tried as a “glass looker” (using a “seer stone” to discover buried gold in the ground) on March 20th, 1826. Joseph was found guilty of a misdemeanor in violation of the New York State vagrancy law because he was pretending to locate lost treasures with this seer stone placed in a hat (interestingly, this is the same method he later said he used to translate the Book of Mormon). The court records also indicate Joseph used other occult rituals to help him locate the treasures, including the sprinkling of animal blood to break the enchantment thought to guard the treasure. Because Joseph was a minor, he was allowed to leave the county rather than face jail time.

     With these two known historical dates in mind, let’s examine the first vision accounts provided by Joseph and his closest friends over the years. In general, the accounts eventually developed several key elements. Joseph is initially visited by a spiritual being who tells him about buried Gold plates, but he is not allowed to retrieve the plates for some period of time. As we investigate the changing nature of the vision over time, we’ll track three key elements of the story: the motivation Joseph had for seeking God, Joseph’s age and the date of the vision, and who appeared to him in the vision:

     1827 | Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Smith Jr. gave an account to Willard Chase, as related in his 1833 affidavit.

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

Can We Escape the Law of Non-Contradiction?

By Tim Barnett 10/31/15

     A while back, I met with a local pastor to talk about apologetics—the defense of the Christian faith. During our friendly discussion, we got on to the subject of the nature of truth, at which time I made a case for the correspondence theory of truth.

     This particular pastor subscribed to a postmodern view of truth—that there is no objective truth and that truth is a social construction based on linguistic practices.

     While making my case, I referred to the laws of logic, and specifically, to the law of non-contradiction. The pastor immediately denied the law of non-contradiction. I was completely taken aback and could not believe what I was hearing. It was bad enough that I had to argue for truth, but now I found myself arguing for something as foundational as the laws of logic.

     For those who don't know, the law of non-contradiction states that A and not-A (where A is a proposition) cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. For example, my car cannot be parked in my driveway and not parked in my driveway at the same time and in the same sense. This just seems so obviously true, and yet this notion was being rejected.

     This pastor was convinced that the law of non-contradiction is just a Western convention. Furthermore, he indicated to me that he believes that Western “Either-Or” logic is too arrogant, dogmatic, and exclusive. He prefers to use the Eastern “Both-And” system of logic. Fortunately for me, this conversation that I found myself in was beginning to sound a lot like a story I heard Ravi Zacharias tell during one of his keynote addresses. You can listen to the story in the video below. (If you're in a rush, you can start listening at the 2:25 minute mark.)

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     Tim Barnett is a dynamic speaker who provides a perfect blend of expertise and humor in each talk. Using easy-to-follow and visually engaging presentations, Tim trains Christians to think clearly about what they believe and why they believe it. Tim's passion and energy will help motivate you and your group to love God with all your mind.

The Basics for Engaging Culture

By Michael Guyer 1/19/2017

     Tolerance is not all that it used to be. D.A. Carson sheds light on this reality. Carson notes a shift toward a new kind of tolerance in our culture. It is a shift from accepting the existence of different positions to accepting the different position itself.

     Thus, “We move from allowing the free expression of contrary opinions to the acceptance of all opinions; we leap from permitting the articulation of beliefs and claims with which we do not agree to asserting that all beliefs and claims are equally valid.” (D.A. Carson)

     This has never been more apparent than with the cultural shaming of HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines or other Christians who have been on the wrong end of this new tolerance: Phil Robertson with A&E, the Benham Brothers with HGTV and Louie Giglio with the White House.

     How should Christians respond? In light of the most recent focus on the Gaineses, a few helpful responses have already been posted (for example: Trevin Wax & Owen Strachan). In addition to these responses, an understanding of a biblically-informed tolerance is essential to sustain faithful witness in the face of this new tolerance (or intolerance).

     Tolerance is grounded in recognizing we are all made in the image of God | A biblically-informed tolerance is grounded in creation. Specifically, it is grounded in humanity’s shared creation in the image of God: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Thus, our common identity in the image of God requires that we value the life and dignity of all people. And an expression of that dignity is leaving room for “other people to have different beliefs or practices without an attempt to suppress them.”

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     Michael Guyer | Minister to Students at Open Door Church where he has served for the last five years. He gets most excited about good coffee, enjoying friends and family, making disciples, engaging culture, and planting churches. He writes to help others delight in, declare, and display the gospel in all of life.

Contemporary Tolerance Is Intrinsically Intolerant

By Don Carson 2/26/12

     The notion of tolerance is changing, and with the new definitions the shape of tolerance itself has changed. Although a few things can be said in favor of the newer definition, the sad reality is that this new, contemporary tolerance is intrinsically intolerant. It is blind to its own shortcomings because it erroneously thinks it holds the moral high ground; it cannot be questioned because it has become part of the West's plausibility structure. Worse, this new tolerance is socially dangerous and is certainly intellectually debilitating. Even the good that it wishes to achieve is better accomplished in other ways.

     Let's begin with dictionaries. In the Oxford English Dictionary, the first meaning of the verb “to tolerate” is “To respect (others' beliefs, practices, etc.) without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing. 3. to put up with; to bear; as, he tolerates his brother-in-law. 4. in medicine, to have tolerance for (a specified drug, etc.).” Even the computer-based dictionary Encarta includes in its list “ACCEPT EXISTENCE OF DIFFERENT VIEWS to recognize other people's right to have different beliefs or practices without an attempt to suppress them.” So far so good: all these definitions are on the same page. When we turn to Encarta's treatment of the corresponding noun “tolerance,” however, a subtle change appears: “1. ACCEPTANCE OF DIFFERENT VIEWS the accepting of the differing views of other people, e.g., in religious or political matters, and fairness toward the people who hold these different views.”

     This shift from “accepting the existence of different views” to “acceptance of different views,” from recognizing other people's right to have different beliefs or practices to accepting the differing views of other people, is subtle in form, but massive in substance. To accept that a different or opposing position exists and deserves the right to exist is one thing; to accept the position itself means that one is no longer opposing it. The new tolerance suggests that actually accepting another's position means believing that position to be true, or at least as true as your own. We move from allowing the free expression of contrary opinions to the acceptance of all opinions; we leap from permitting the articulation of beliefs and claims with which we do not agree to asserting that all beliefs and claims are equally valid. Thus we slide from the old tolerance to the new.

     Which Tolerance?

     The problem of what “tolerance” means is in fact more difficult than these few comments on dictionary entries might suggest. For in contemporary usage, both meanings continue in popular use, and often it is unclear what the speaker or writer means. For instance, “She is a very tolerant person”: does this mean she gladly puts up with a lot of opinions with which she disagrees, or that she thinks all opinions are equally valid? A Muslim cleric says, “We do not tolerate other religions”: does this mean that, according to this cleric, Muslims do not think that other religions should be permitted to exist, or that Muslims cannot agree that other religions are as valid as Islam? A Christian pastor declares, “Christians gladly tolerate other religions”: does this mean, according to the pastor, that Christians gladly insist that other religions have as much right to exist as Christianity does, or that Christians gladly assert that all religions are equally valid? “You Christians are so intolerant,” someone asserts: does this mean that Christians wish all positions contrary to their own were extirpated, or that Christians insist that Jesus is the only way to God? The former is patently untrue; the latter is certainly true (at least, if Christians are trying to be faithful to the Bible): Christians do think that Jesus is the only way to God. But does that make them intolerant? In the former sense of “intolerant,” not at all; the fact remains, however, that any sort of exclusive truth claim is widely viewed as a sign of gross intolerance. But the latter depends absolutely on the second meaning of “tolerance.”

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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

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 14

The Fool Says, There Is No God
14 To The Choirmaster. Of David

1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.

2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.

3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.

4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the LORD?

5 There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is his refuge.

ESV Study Bible

“Silence,” Martyrdom, and the Call to Die

By Jake Meador 1/23/2017

     In her review of Martin Scorsese’s new film “Silence,” Alissa Wilkinson wrote,

     "The struggle for faith in a world marked by suffering and God’s silence is present in every frame of Silence. The answers in Scorsese’s film, as in Endō’s novel, are found not in words, but in the spaces between them. …

     In Silence, Scorsese has found his natural match for plumbing those questions, which he does with considerable restraint. (Readers of Endō’s novel know the descriptions of torture are sickening; in Scorsese’s hands they are more psychologically than visually distressing.) He dives deep, and comes up not with answers so much as an honest suggestion that whenever we think we’ve found the answers, we’ve veered off track. He’s described making the film as a “pilgrimage” of sorts, which denotes both a journey and a struggle, and it shows. Silence is beautifully shot and moving, but it is not what you’d call uplifting. It’s a film that demands reflection, and a rewatch.

     This response to the film seems to be fairly typical amongst evangelicals and some Catholics: The movement is to downplay whatever answers (I’ll resist the urge to use scare quotes) the characters come to in favor of emphasizing the journey they take to get there. It’s about process and what one learns in the midst of it rather than destination.

     Fr. James Martin’s comments about the film, to the surprise of no one familiar with his work, do many of the same things I think Wilkinson does in her review and even suggest that there is a kind of fidelity in Rodrigues’ betrayal. (Pete Rollins is nodding along happily, no doubt.) Friend of Mere O Brett McCracken also reviewed the film, writing in Christianity Today about how the film exemplifies the sort of power-in-weakness teaching that pervades Scripture.

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     Jake Meador is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy and sons Wendell and Austin. Jake’s writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play.

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream

By John Bunyan 1678


     Then did Christian address himself to go back; and Evangelist, after he had kissed him, gave him one smile, and bid him God speed; So he went on with haste, neither spake he to any man by the way; nor if any asked him, would he vouchsafe them an answer. He went like one that was all the while treading on forbidden ground, and could by no means think himself safe, till again he was got into the way which he had left to follow Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s counsel. So, in process of time, Christian got up to the gate. Now, over the gate there was written, “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Matt. 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.   ESV

     He knocked, therefore, more than once or twice, saying,

     “May I now enter here? Will he within
     Open to sorry me, though I have been
     An undeserving rebel? Then shall I
     Not fail to sing his lasting praise on high.”

     At last there came a grave person to the gate, named Goodwill, who asked who was there, and whence he came, and what he would have.

     CHR. Here is a poor burdened sinner. I come from the city of Destruction, but am going to Mount Zion, that I may be delivered from the wrath to come; I would therefore, sir, since I am informed that by this gate is the way thither, know if you are willing to let me in.

     GOOD. I am willing with all my heart, said he; and with that he opened the gate.

     So when Christian was stepping in, the other gave him a pull. Then said Christian, What means that? The other told him, A little distance from this gate there is erected a strong castle, of which Beelzebub is the captain: from thence both he and they that are with him, shoot arrows at those that come up to this gate, if haply they may die before they can enter in. Then said Christian, I rejoice and tremble. So when he was got in, the man of the Gate asked him who directed him thither.

     CHR. Evangelist bid me come hither and knock, as I did: and he said, that you, sir, would tell me what I must do.

     GOOD. An open door is set before thee, and no man can shut it.

     CHR. Now I begin to reap the benefits of my hazards.

     GOOD. But how is it that you came alone?

     CHR. Because none of my neighbors saw their danger as I saw mine.

     GOOD. Did any of them know of your coming?

     CHR. Yes, my wife and children saw me at the first, and called after me to turn again: also, some of my neighbors stood crying and calling after me to return; but I put my fingers in my ears, and so came on my way.

     GOOD. But did none of them follow you, to persuade you to go back?

     CHR. Yes, both Obstinate and Pliable; but when they saw that they could not prevail, Obstinate went railing back; but Pliable came with me a little way.

     GOOD. But why did he not come through?

     CHR. We indeed came both together until we came to the Slough of Despond, into the which we also suddenly fell. And then was my neighbor Pliable discouraged, and would not venture farther. Wherefore, getting out again on the side next to his own house, he told me I should possess the brave country alone for him: so he went his way, and I came mine; he after Obstinate, and I to this gate.

     GOOD. Then said Goodwill, Alas, poor man; is the celestial glory of so little esteem with him, that he counteth it not worth running the hazard of a few difficulties to obtain it?

     CHR. Truly, said Christian, I have said the truth of Pliable; and if I should also say all the truth of myself, it will appear there is no betterment betwixt him and myself. It is true, he went back to his own house, but I also turned aside to go in the way of death, being persuaded thereto by the carnal arguments of one Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

     GOOD. Oh, did he light upon you? What, he would have had you have seek for ease at the hands of Mr. Legality! They are both of them a very cheat. But did you take his counsel?

     CHR. Yes, as far as I durst. I went to find out Mr. Legality, until I thought that the mountain that stands by his house would have fallen upon my head; wherefore there I was forced to stop.

     GOOD. That mountain has been the death of many, and will be the death of many more: it is well you escaped being by it dashed in pieces.

     CHR. Why truly I do not know what had become of me there, had not Evangelist happily met me again as I was musing in the midst of my dumps; but it was God’s mercy that he came to me again, for else I had never come hither. But now I am come, such a one as I am, more fit indeed for death by that mountain, than thus to stand talking with my Lord. But O, what a favor is this to me, that yet I am admitted entrance here!

     GOOD. We make no objections against any, notwithstanding all that they have done before they come hither; they in no wise are cast out.

John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.   ESV

And therefore good Christian, come a little way with me, and I will teach thee about the way thou must go. Look before thee; dost thou see this narrow way? That is the way thou must go. It was cast up by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ, and his apostles, and it is as strait as a rule can make it; this is the way thou must go.

     CHR. But, said Christian, are there no turnings nor windings, by which a stranger may lose his way?

     GOOD. Yes, there are many ways butt down upon this, and they are crooked and wide: but thus thou mayest distinguish the right from the wrong, the right only being strait and narrow.

Matt. 7:14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.   ESV

     Then I saw in my dream, that Christian asked him further, if he could not help him off with his burden that was upon his back. For as yet he had not got rid thereof; nor could he by any means get it off without help.

     He told him, “As to thy burden, be content to bear it until thou comest to the place of deliverance; for there it will fall from thy back of itself.”

     Then Christian began to gird up his loins, and to address himself to his journey. So the other told him, that by that he was gone some distance from the gate, he would come to the house of the Interpreter, at whose door he should knock, and he would show him excellent things. Then Christian took his leave of his friend, and he again bid him God speed.

     Then he went on till he came at the house of the Interpreter, where he knocked over and over. At last one came to the door, and asked who was there.

     CHR. Sir, here is a traveller, who was bid by an acquaintance of the good man of this house to call here for my profit; I would therefore speak with the master of the house.

     So he called for the master of the house, who, after a little time, came to Christian, and asked him what he would have.

     CHR. Sir, said Christian, I am a man that am come from the city of Destruction, and am going to the Mount Zion; and I was told by the man that stands at the gate at the head of this way, that if I called here you would show me excellent things, such as would be helpful to me on my journey.

     INTER. Then said Interpreter, Come in; I will show thee that which will be profitable to thee. So he commanded his man to light the candle, and bid Christian follow him; so he had him into a private room, and bid his man open a door; the which when he had done, Christian saw the picture of a very grave person hang up against the wall; and this was the fashion of it: It had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon its lips, the world was behind its back; it stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over its head.

     CHR. Then said Christian, What means this?

     INTER. The man whose picture this is, is one of a thousand: he can beget children,

1 Cor. 4:15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.   ESV

travail in birth with children, Gal. 4:19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!   ESV

and nurse them himself when they are born. And whereas thou seest him with his eyes lift up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, and the law of truth writ on his lips: it is to show thee, that his work is to know, and unfold dark things to sinners; even as also thou seest him stand as if he pleaded with men. And whereas thou seest the world as cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head; that is to show thee, that slighting and despising the things that are present, for the love that he hath to his Master’s service, he is sure in the world that comes next, to have glory for his reward. Now, said the Interpreter, I have showed thee this picture first, because the man whose picture this is, is the only man whom the Lord of the place whither thou art going hath authorized to be thy guide in all difficult places thou mayest meet with in the way: wherefore take good heed to what I have showed thee, and bear well in thy mind what thou hast seen, lest in thy journey thou meet with some that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death.

     Then he took him by the hand, and led him into a very large parlor that was full of dust, because never swept; the which after he had reviewed it a little while, the Interpreter called for a man to sweep. Now, when he began to sweep, the dust began so abundantly to fly about, that Christian had almost therewith been choked. Then said the Interpreter to a damsel that stood by, “Bring hither water, and sprinkle the room;” the which when she had done, it was swept and cleansed with pleasure.

     CHR. Then said Christian, What means this?

     INTER. The Interpreter answered, This parlor is the heart of a man that was never sanctified by the sweet grace of the Gospel. The dust is his original sin, and inward corruptions, that have defiled the whole man. He that began to sweep at first, is the law; but she that brought water, and did sprinkle it, is the Gospel. Now whereas thou sawest, that so soon as the first began to sweep, the dust did so fly about that the room by him could not be cleansed, but that thou wast almost choked therewith; this is to show thee, that the law, instead of cleansing the heart (by its working) from sin, doth revive,

Rom. 7:9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.   ESV

put strength into, 1 Cor. 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.   ESV

and increase it in the soul, Rom. 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,   ESV

even as it doth discover and forbid it; for it doth not give power to subdue. Again, as thou sawest the damsel sprinkle the room with water, upon which it was cleansed with pleasure, this is to show thee, that when the Gospel comes in the sweet and precious influences thereof to the heart, then, I say, even as thou sawest the damsel lay the dust by sprinkling the floor with water, so is sin vanquished and subdued, and the soul made clean, through the faith of it, and consequently fit for the King of glory to inhabit.

John 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.   ESV

Eph. 5:26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,   ESV

Acts 15: 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.   ESV

Rom. 16:25, 26 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—   ESV

     I saw moreover in my dream, that the Interpreter took him by the hand, and had him into a little room, where sat two little children, each one in his chair. The name of the eldest was Passion, and the name of the other Patience. Passion seemed to be much discontented, but Patience was very quiet. Then Christian asked, “What is the reason of the discontent of Passion?” The Interpreter answered, “The governor of them would have him stay for his best things till the beginning of the next year, but he will have all now; but Patience is willing to wait.”

     Then I saw that one came to Passion, and brought him a bag of treasure, and poured it down at his feet: the which he took up, and rejoiced therein, and withal laughed Patience to scorn. But I beheld but a while, and he had lavished all away, and had nothing left him but rags.

     CHR. Then said Christian to the Interpreter, Expound this matter more fully to me.

     INTER. So he said, These two lads are figures; Passion of the men of this world, and Patience of the men of that which is to come; for, as here thou seest, passion will have all now, this year, that is to say, in this world; so are the men of this world: They must have all their good things now; they cannot stay till the next year, that is, until the next world, for their portion of good. That proverb, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” is of more authority with them than are all the divine testimonies of the good of the world to come. But as thou sawest that he had quickly lavished all away, and had presently left him nothing but rags, so will it be with all such men at the end of this world.

     CHR. Then said Christian, Now I see that Patience has the best wisdom, and that upon many accounts. 1. Because he stays for the best things. 2. And also because he will have the glory of his, when the other has nothing but rags.

     Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     Fifth Commandment.


35. The end of this commandment is, that since the Lord takes pleasure in the preservation of his own ordinance, the degrees of dignity appointed by him must be held inviolable. The sum of the commandment, therefore, will be, that we are to look up to those whom the Lord has set over us, yielding them honour, gratitude, and obedience. Hence it follows, that every thing in the way of contempt, ingratitude, or disobedience, is forbidden. For the term honour has this extent of meaning in Scripture. Thus when the Apostle says, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour," (1 Tim. 5:17), he refers not only to the reverence which is due to them, but to the recompense to which their services are entitled. But as this command to submit is very repugnant to the perversity of the human mind (which, puffed up with ambitious longings will scarcely allow itself to be subject), that superiority which is most attractive and least invidious is set forth as an example calculated to soften and bend our minds to habits of submission. From that subjection which is most easily endured, the Lord gradually accustoms us to every kind of legitimate subjection, the same principle regulating all. For to those whom he raises to eminences he communicates his authority, in so far as necessary to maintain their station. The titles of Father, God, and Lord, all meet in him alone and hence whenever any one of them is mentioned, our mind should be impressed with the same feeling of reverence. Those, therefore, to whom he imparts such titles, he distinguishes by some small spark of his refulgence, so as to entitle them to honour, each in his own place. In this way, we must consider that our earthly father possesses something of a divine nature in him, because there is some reason for his bearing a divine title, and that he who is our prince and ruler is admitted to some communion of honour with God.

36. Wherefore, we ought to have no doubt that the Lord here lays down this universal rule--viz. that knowing how every individual is set over us by his appointment, we should pay him reverence, gratitude, obedience, and every duty in our power. And it makes no difference whether those on whom the honour is conferred are deserving or not. Be they what they may, the Almighty, by conferring their station upon them, shows that he would have them honoured. The commandment specifies the reverence due to those to whom we owe our being. This Nature herself should in some measure teach us. For they are monsters, and not men, who petulantly and contumeliously violate the paternal authority. Hence, the Lord orders all who rebel against their parents to be put to death, they being, as it where, unworthy of the light in paying no deference to those to whom they are indebted for beholding it. And it is evident, from the various appendices to the Law, that we were correct in stating, that the honour here referred to consists of three parts, reverence, obedience, and gratitude. The first of these the Lord enforces, when he commands that whose curseth his father or his mother shall be put to death. In this way he avenges insult and contempt. The second he enforces, when he denounces the punishment of death on disobedient and rebellious children. To the third belongs our Saviour's declaration, that God requires us to do good to our parents (Mt. 15). And whenever Paul mentions this commandment, he interprets it as enjoining obedience. [213]

37. A promise is added by way of recommendation, the better to remind us how pleasing to God is the submission which is here required. Paul applies that stimulus to rouse us from our lethargy, when he calls this the first commandment with promise; the promise contained in the First Table not being specially appropriated to any one commandment, but extended to the whole law. Moreover, the sense in which the promise is to be taken is as follows:--The Lord spoke to the Israelites specially of the land which he had promised them for an inheritance. If, then, the possession of the land was an earnest of the divine favour, we cannot wonder if the Lord was pleased to testify his favour, by bestowing long life, as in this way they were able long to enjoy his kindness. The meaning therefore is: Honour thy father and thy mother, that thou may be able, during the course of a long life, to enjoy the possession of the land which is to be given thee in testimony of my favour. But, as the whole earth is blessed to believers, we justly class the present life among the number of divine blessings. Whence this promise has, in like manner, reference to us also, inasmuch as the duration of the present life is a proof of the divine benevolence toward us. It is not promised to us, nor was it promised to the Jews, as if in itself it constituted happiness, but because it is an ordinary symbol of the divine favour to the pious. Wherefore, if any one who is obedient to parents happens to be cut off before mature age (a thing which not infrequently happens), the Lord nevertheless adheres to his promise as steadily as when he bestows a hundred acres of land where he had promised only one. The whole lies in this: We must consider that long life is promised only in so far as it is a blessing from God, and that it is a blessing only in so far as it is a manifestation of divine favour. This, however, he testifies and truly manifests to his servants more richly and substantially by death.

38. Moreover, while the Lord promises the blessing of present life to children who show proper respect to their parents, he, at the same time, intimates that an inevitable curse is impending over the rebellious and disobedient; and, that it may not fail of execution, he, in his Law, pronounces sentence of death upon theme and orders it to be inflicted. If they escape the judgment, he, in some way or other, will execute vengeance. For we see how great a number of this description of individuals fall either in battle or in brawls; others of them are overtaken by unwonted disasters, and almost all are a proof that the threatening is not used in vain. But if any do escape till extreme old age, yet, because deprived of the blessing of God in this life, they only languish on in wickedness, and are reserved for severer punishment in the world to come, they are far from participating in the blessing promised to obedient children. It ought to be observed by the way, that we are ordered to obey parents only in the Lord. This is clear from the principle already laid down: for the place which they occupy is one to which the Lord has exalted them, by communicating to them a portion of his own honour. Therefore the submission yielded to them should be a step in our ascent to the Supreme Parent, and hence, if they instigate us to transgress the law, they deserve not to be regarded as parents, but as strangers attempting to seduce us from obedience to our true Father. The same holds in the case of rulers, masters, and superiors of every description. For it were unbecoming and absurd that the honour of God should be impaired by their exaltation--an exaltation which, being derived from him, ought to lead us up to him. [214]

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • Jesus Was Buried
  • He is Risen
  • The Curtain Torn in Two

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Each child is unique
     1/26/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Before you were born I set you apart.’

(Je 1:5) 5  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”


     Does a baby come into the world with a complex personality, or is that child a blank slate on which experience will write? In the past, behavioural scientists believed newborns had no temperamental or emotional characteristics upon arrival from the womb. Their little personalities were supposedly formed entirely by the experiences that came their way in ensuing years. But most parents knew better. Every mother of two or more children was convinced that each of her infants had a different personality – a different feel – from the very first time they were held. Now, after years of research, numerous authorities in child development acknowledge that those mothers were right. One important study identified nine characteristics that varied in babies – such as moodiness, level of activity, and responsiveness. They also found that the differences from child to child tended to persist into later life. Indeed, babies do differ in infinite ways that define our humanness and our individuality. If every snowflake that falls has its own design, and if every grain of sand at the seashore is unique, it makes no sense to suppose that children are assembly-line products stamped out by the same giant cookie cutter. There’s no denying the importance of environment and human experience in shaping who we are and how we think. But there can be no doubt that each person on earth is a one-of-a-kind creation from the earliest moments of life. As God told Jeremiah: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.’ You need to know that about your children.

Exodus 7-8
Matthew 15:1-20

UCB The Word For Today

     January 26, 2016

     Last week I interviewed for a job I really wanted. I would have been a spiritual director for an assisted living facility. $21 an hour sounded good, plus benefits, and the opportunity to do service for people struggling to find purpose themselves. The goal is always to be an extension of God's life, an expression of God's love and an exhibition of God's power, as I heard Charles Stanley say over 30 years ago.

     I really liked the man interviewing me and he seemed to like me too, but a woman with twenty years of experience rightfully got the job. Interesting how hope can energize your life, but then the let-down is so painful when things don’t work out the way you hoped. Count it all joy Paul said, sigh. Life is full of hills and valleys and sometimes it seems the valleys are one after another.

     I know God is interested in whether we react or respond to the hills and valleys in life and I so much want to respond with the mind of Christ, but I am failing. The disappointment is hard to brush off. I need to let it go.

     I am still trying to come back. Thank goodness I meet with several directees this week. I love meeting with people to talk about their relationship with God. Selfishly it helps me with mine. I've heard preachers say they preach to themselves. I get that. When you tell someone something it sticks in your heart when you know you need to work on that too. Whenever my thoughts turn from me to God I am always encouraged.

     ( 2019) Wow, it has been three years. Life certainly did not go the way I had intended, but God has been faithful. Lily and I are well, physically healthy and in a great church. We are learning ... still ... what it means to have enough manna for one day. We have always been dependent on the Lord, but now we know on a daily basis how true dependence is.

     I say the Lord’s Prayer several times a day. I dwell on the words and the meaning. I hope it is a praise to the Lord. It is a constant comfort to me.

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     After commanding in World War I, he became superintendent of West Point, and at the age of 30, became youngest Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. During World War II, he became Allied Supreme Commander in the Southwest Pacific and received the surrender of the Japanese. He served as Commander of the U.N. forces during the Korean War. His name was Douglas MacArthur, and he was born on this day, January 26, 1880. To the cadets at West Point, Douglas MacArthur stated: “The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training - sacrifice.”

American Minute
A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     The basic response of the soul to the Light is internal adoration and joy, thanksgiving and worship, self-surrender and listening. The secret places of the heart cease to be our noisy workshop. They become a holy sanctuary of adoration and of self-oblation, where we are kept in perfect peace, if our minds be stayed on Him who has found us in the inward springs of our life. And in brief intervals of over­ powering visitation we are able to carry the sanctuary frame of mind out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness, and in a hyperaesthesia of the soul, we see all mankind tinged with deeper shadows, and touched with Galilean glories. Powerfully are the springs of our will moved to an abandon of singing love toward God; powerfully are we moved to a new and overcoming love toward time-blinded men and all creation. In this Center of Creation all things are ours, and we are Christ's and Christ is God's. We are owned men, ready to run and not be weary and to walk and not faint.

     But the light fades, the will weakens, the humdrum returns. Can we stay this fading? No, nor should we try, for we must learn the disciplines of His will, and pass beyond this first lesson of His Grace. But the Eternal Inward Light does not die when ecstasy dies, nor exist only intermittently, with the flickering of our psychic states. Continuously renewed immediacy, not receding memory of the Divine Touch, lies at the base of religious living. Let us explore together the secret of a deeper devotion, a more subterranean sanctuary of the soul, where the Light Within never fades, but burns, a perpetual Flame, where the wells of living water of divine revelation rise up continuously, day by day and hour by hour, steady and transfiguring. The "bright shoots of everlastingness" can become a steady light within, if we are deadly in earnest in our dedication to the Light, and are willing to pass out of first stages into maturer religious living. Only if this is possible can the light from the inner sanctuary of the soul be a workaday light for the marketplace, a guide for perplexed feet, a recreator of culture-patterns for the race of men.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

If you are not as close to God as you used to be,
who moved?
--- Author Unknown

Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires … upon force!…
Christ founded His upon love;
and at this hour millions…
would die for Him.
--- Napoleon Bonaparte

Humans are amphibians - half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. --- C. S. Lewis
A monk was once asked, “What do you do up there in the monastery?” He replied, “We fall and get up, fall and get up, fall and get up again. --- Esther De Waal

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 6:1-5
     by D.H. Stern

1     My son, if you have put up security for your friend,
if you committed yourself on behalf of another;
2     you have been snared by the words of your mouth,
caught by the words of your own mouth.
3     Do this now, my son, and extricate yourself,
since you put yourself in your friend’s power:
go, humble yourself, and pester your friend;
4     give your eyes no sleep,
give your eyelids no rest;
5     break free, like a gazelle from the [hunter’s] trap,
like a bird from the grip of the fowler.

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

                Look again and consecrate

If God so clothe the grass of the field, … shall He not much more clothe you?
Matthew 6:30.

     A simple statement of Jesus is always a puzzle to us if we are not simple. How are we going to be simple with the simplicity of Jesus? By receiving His Spirit, recognizing and relying on Him, obeying Him as He brings the word of God, and life will become amazingly simple. ‘Consider,’ says Jesus, ‘how much more your Father Who clothes the grass of the field will clothe you, if you keep your relationship right with Him.’ Every time we have gone back in spiritual communion it has been because we have impertinently known better than Jesus Christ. We have allowed the cares of the world to come in, and have forgotten the ‘much more’ of our Heavenly Father.

     “Behold the fowls of the air”—their one aim is to obey the principle of life that is in them and God looks after them. Jesus says that if you are rightly related to Him and obey this Spirit that is in you, God will look after your ‘feathers.’

     “Consider the lilies of the field”—they grow where they are put. Many of us refuse to grow where we are put, consequently we take root nowhere. Jesus says that if we obey the life God has given us, He will look after all the other things. Has Jesus Christ told us a lie? If we are not experiencing the ‘much more,’ it is because we are not obeying the life God has given us, we are taken up with confusing considerations. How much time have we taken up worrying God with questions when we should have been absolutely free to concentrate on His work? Consecration means the continual separating of myself to one particular thing. We cannot consecrate once and for all. Am I continually separating myself to consider God every day of my life?

My Utmost for His Highest

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


Prepare yourself for the message.
You are prepared?
Silence is the message.
The message is.... Wait.
Are you sure? An echo?
An echo of an echo?
Was it always there
          with us failing
to hear it?
          What was the shell doing
on the shore? An ear endlessly
     What? Sound? Silence?
Which came first?
I'll tell you a story
as it was told me by the teller
          of stories.
Where did he hear it?
By listening? To silence? To sound?
     To an echo? To an echo
          of an echo?

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Teacher's Commentary
     Abraham’s Failures

     Sometimes we tend to idealize Bible people. We forget that, while they were giants in many ways, they were also all too human. In fact, before we look at the faith of a man like Abraham, we need to realize that he was, like all believers, far from perfect!

     We have an early indication of Abram’s flaws in
Genesis 12. Abram had been called by God to go to a land which the Lord Himself chose. He had obeyed in an act that required real faith. But once in the land, Abram’s faith was shaken by a famine. Rather than trust God or wait for further direction, he went to Egypt. There he continued to show lack of trust by getting Sarah to tell a half-truth about their relationship, to deny she was his wife. Fear that he might be killed outweighed his commitment to his wife! Even when she was taken in Pharaoh’s household, Abram did not reveal their relationship. Instead he profited in silence from the favor extended to the supposed brother!

     Abraham’s tendency to rely on his wits rather than on God also is shown in the events leading up to the birth of Ishmael. Some 10 years passed while Abraham waited for God to send the son He had promised. Finally Sarah began urging him to take her maid as a secondary wife. Even though this was a custom of the land, it took Sarah’s nagging to make him take action. He “hearkened to [obeyed] the voice of Sarai” (
16:2). Perhaps Abram thought he would “help” God keep His promises! Perhaps he felt that 86 was just too old to wait any longer. In any case Abram did not consult God. He simply went ahead, without direction, relying on his own plan to fulfill God’s purposes. Self reliance and self-effort took the place of trust in God.

     And Then, how stunning. Abraham repeated the sin he did in Egypt! Again Abraham misrepresented Sarah as only his sister, and she was placed in the harem of a king named Abimelech. God protected Sarah even though her husband was not willing to, and before Abimelech came to her God spoke to him in a vision. Abimelech, fearful at the divine visit, complained to Abraham that he might have led the king into unknowing sin! Abram’s reply was weak (
20:11–12). Abraham was worried, afraid that the people of the foreign land they visited might not fear God, and thus might kill him for Sarah. Abraham feared for his life—but not for his wife!

     Abraham apparently had not stopped to think that though a particular people might not know God, God knew them! There was no place that Abraham could go to be beyond the protection of the Lord. Yet, even after an earlier rebuke in Egypt, Abraham repeated the same sin and let fear and selfishness control his choices.

     No, the Abraham we meet on the pages of the Bible is no idealized man. He is a man we need to see both as weak, and as a willful sinner.

The Teacher's Commentary

Life Support, A Non-Stop Flight
     Richard S. Adams

     The author of Genesis 24:45 writes, “Before I had finished speaking in my heart … there was Rebekah”. Paul said we are to be praying constantly. In other words, we are to be continually aware of the Lord's presence (1Th 5:17). Remember, God knows our thoughts and the intentions of our heart (Hebrews 4:12). How could Abraham’s servant recognize Rebekah if he was not in touch, connected with the Lord?

     My Theology professor, Larry Shelton, said our relationship with God is like being hooked up to a life support system. What happens when we are disconnected from the oxygen?

     I do not like to fly. Honestly, I am afraid to fly and I only do it when it is absolutely necessary. Never mind the statistics; it is a powerful and intrusive reminder that I have no control over my own safety.

     Despite not wanting to, there are times when I’ve had to fly. If you’re on a non-stop flight from Portland to New York it isn’t supposed to be on and off. If it is, you’re a casualty. Neither is our relationship and our connection with God supposed to be on and off.

     Like Larry’s description of a life-support system, Paul says our connection, our relationship with God is supposed to be non-stop. When we break that connection by thinking what we should not think, saying what we should not say, or doing what we should not do … we always crash. Putting ourselves before or over someone else is a sure fire indication we’re disconnected from the Lord and our life support system.

     Romans 8:22 says the whole earth groans in labor pains and in the next verse we too groan... waiting for our adoption, waiting to be with the Lord. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to be with the Lord now. Do you groan when you know you have disconnected yourself from God?

     Our relationship with God is not dependent on praying in public or praying with eloquence, but it is dependent on being connected; groaning without words for God’s presence or groaning with sadness because we’ve usurped God’s rightful place in our heart.

     God understands our desire to draw closer, but we need to understand a non-stop flight is supposed to be just that, non-stop, continual. As Larry said, we cannot survive when we come off life support.


Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2008, on staff at Portland Seminary 2009 - 2018.


Take Heart
     January 26

     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.

     Heaven is a home. (Spurgeon's Sermons on Soulwinning (C.H. Spurgeon Sermon Outline Series)) Don’t you like to think of it under that aspect? It is the home of Jesus, and if it is the home of Jesus, can any other home be equal to it?

     Note that lost ones are known in heaven. I give you that thought more from the Greek than from the English here. “When he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep—the lost one.’ ” That is how it should run. It is as if the friends knew that one had been lost, and the loss had been deplored. Up there they know which are Christ’s sheep and which are lost. Heaven is nearer earth than some of us dream. And there are more communications between earth and heaven than some folk dream, for here it is clear that when the shepherd came home he said to them, “I have found the sheep, the lost one.” So they knew all about it.

     Notice, next, that repentance is regarded as coming home. This sheep was not in heaven. No, but as soon as it had been brought into the fold it is described as repenting, and Jesus and the angels rejoice over it. If a person truly repents, and Christ saves that individual, it is clear that he or she never will be lost. A certain old proverb forbids us to count our chickens until they are hatched, and I do not think that angels would do so in the case of immortal souls. If they believed that repenting sinners might afterward be lost, they would not ring the marriage bells just yet, but they would wait a while to see how things went on. If converts can yet perish there is not one that the angels dare rejoice over, for if any child of God might fall away and perish, why not every one of us? If anyone falls from grace, I fear I shall.

     I believe that where the Lord begins the good work of grace he will carry it on and perfect it: “My sheep listen to my voice.… I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” Now, if they have eternal life, it cannot come to an end, for eternal life is eternal, evidently; if they have eternal life, the Shepherd and his friends may justifiably sing. Sing away, angels!
--- C. H. Spurgeon

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

On This Day   January 26
     The Reaper

     Cyrus McCormick’s father dreamed of inventing a machine to harvest crops. He tinkered for years, but it was Cyrus who became famous for inventing the reaper. Cyrus went to Chicago at age 38 with $60 in his pocket to open his factory. By age 40 he was a millionaire.

     He met a young lady from New York, Nettie Fowler. Nettie was striking, tall, graceful, with shining brown eyes. The radiance on her face, Cyrus learned, came from her relationship with Christ. They fell in love and married on January 26, 1859. Nettie was 26 years younger than Cyrus, and the couple enjoyed 26 years together. Cyrus’ death in 1884 left Nettie wealthy beyond belief. What did she do with her money?

     She established McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago for young Presbyterian ministers. She enabled John R. Mott of the Student Volunteer Movement to go to the ends of the earth to organize student missions. She helped form the World’s Student Christian Federation. She contributed to the evangelic campaigns of D. L. Moody. She supported Wilfred Grenfell, missionary to Labrador, and George Livingstone Robinson, archaeologist to Petra. She funded Tusculum College in Tennessee, and gave generously to educational efforts in Appalachia.

     She absorbed herself in Asian missions, and her house off Michigan Avenue in Chicago became a Christian halfway house between the Orient and the West, a center of international Christianity. It was always full of missionaries and overseas Christians.

     She improved the water supply in one country, provided a hospital in another, and a Christian college in another. She built a women’s clinic in Persia and a seminary in Korea. She sent agricultural machines to India.

     She did it all in the name of Christ. But she never thought of herself as a great giver. Others, she felt, did more. She could give money, but “… the greatest gift of all comes from the self-sacrifice and devotion of missionaries,” she said.

     You can tell where people’s hearts are by looking at their check stubs.

     Don’t store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will always be where your treasure is.
Matthew 6:19-21.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 26

     “Your heavenly Father.”
--- Matthew 6:26.

     God’s people are doubly his children, they are his offspring by creation, and they are his sons by adoption in Christ. Hence they are privileged to call him, “Our Father which art in heaven.” Father! Oh, what precious word is that. Here is authority: “If I be a Father, where is mine honour?” If ye be sons, where is your obedience? Here is affection mingled with authority; an authority which does not provoke rebellion; an obedience demanded which is most cheerfully rendered—which would not be withheld even if it might. The obedience which God’s children yield to him must be loving obedience. Do not go about the service of God as slaves to their taskmaster’s toil, but run in the way of his commands because it is your Father’s way. Yield your bodies as instruments of righteousness, because righteousness is your Father’s will, and his will should be the will of his child. Father!—Here is a kingly attribute so sweetly veiled in love, that the King’s crown is forgotten in the King’s face, and his sceptre becomes, not a rod of iron, but a silver sceptre of mercy—the sceptre indeed seems to be forgotten in the tender hand of him who wields it. Father!—Here is honour and love. How great is a Father’s love to his children! That which friendship cannot do, and mere benevolence will not attempt, a father’s heart and hand must do for his sons. They are his offspring, he must bless them; they are his children, he must show himself strong in their defence. If an earthly father watches over his children with unceasing love and care, how much more does our heavenly Father? Abba, Father! He who can say this, hath uttered better music than cherubim or seraphim can reach. There is heaven in the depth of that word—Father! There is all I can ask; all my necessities can demand; all my wishes can desire. I have all in all to all eternity when I can say, “Father.”

          Evening - January 26

     “All they that heard it wondered at those things.” --- Luke 2:18.

     We must not cease to wonder at the great marvels of our God. It would be very difficult to draw a line between holy wonder and real worship; for when the soul is overwhelmed with the majesty of God’s glory, though it may not express itself in song, or even utter its voice with bowed head in humble prayer, yet it silently adores. Our incarnate God is to be worshipped as “the Wonderful.” That God should consider his fallen creature, man, and instead of sweeping him away with the besom of destruction, should himself undertake to be man’s Redeemer, and to pay his ransom price, is, indeed marvellous! But to each believer redemption is most marvellous as he views it in relation to himself. It is a miracle of grace indeed, that Jesus should forsake the thrones and royalties above, to suffer ignominiously below for you. Let your soul lose itself in wonder, for wonder is in this way a very practical emotion. Holy wonder will lead you to grateful worship and heartfelt thanksgiving. It will cause within you godly watchfulness; you will be afraid to sin against such a love as this. Feeling the presence of the mighty God in the gift of his dear Son, you will put off your shoes from off your feet, because the place whereon you stand is holy ground. You will be moved at the same time to glorious hope. If Jesus has done such marvellous things on your behalf, you will feel that heaven itself is not too great for your expectation. Who can be astonished at anything, when he has once been astonished at the manger and the cross? What is there wonderful left after one has seen the Saviour? Dear reader, it may be that from the quietness and solitariness of your life, you are scarcely able to imitate the shepherds of Bethlehem, who told what they had seen and heard, but you can, at least, fill up the circle of the worshippers before the throne, by wondering at what God has done.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     January 26


     Samuel Wolcott, 1813–1886

     Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19, 20)

     The task of worldwide evangelization is a staggering challenge. It is estimated that the world’s population is presently about 5 billion people, with two-thirds of mankind still unreached with the gospel. Also one-third of the human race is nearly destitute, lacking the basic necessities for survival. Yet we are told that by the year 2,000 the population will add another billion, and that in the next 100 years the population will double to more than 10 billion people. All this time, other world religions are also pressing their claims with increasing vigor. Islam is growing at a rate of 16 percent annually, Hinduism at 12 percent. Christianity’s growth is estimated at less then 10 percent.

     Samuel Wolcott, author of this missionary text, had a burning zeal for the spread of the gospel and the spiritual needs of the world. In his earlier years he had been a missionary to Syria before poor health forced his return to America. Later he served as pastor in numerous Congregational churches, as well as acting as secretary of the Ohio Home Missionary Society. It was while pastoring the Plymouth Congregational Church in Cleveland, Ohio, that he wrote this text. He stated:

     The Young Men’s Christian Association of Ohio met in one of our churches with their motto in evergreen letters over the pulpit, “Christ for the World, and the World for Christ.”

     Pastor Wolcott was so moved by this motto that he promptly wrote these words, which have since been widely used to challenge Christians to have a vision for the needs of our entire world.

     Christ for the world we sing! The world to Christ we bring with loving zeal: The poor and them that mourn, the faint and overborne, sinsick and sorrow worn, whom Christ doth heal.
     Christ for the world we sing! The world to Christ we bring with fervent prayer: The wayward and the lost, by restless passions tossed, redeemed at countless cost from dark despair.
     Christ for the world we sing! The world to Christ we bring with joyful song: The newborn souls, whose days, reclaimed from error’s ways, inspired with hope and praise, to Christ belong.

     For Today: Psalm 22:27; Mark 13:10; 16:15; Romans 10:12–15.

     Ask God to give you a worldwide vision for the furtherance of the gospel. Determine to take a greater interest in your church’s mission program. Allow this hymn to help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

The Lord & His Prayer / N.T. Wright
     Prologue (ii)

     Prayer is, of course a mystery. It’s become quite commonplace to say this. Many Christians, including many clergy, have come to accept that they don’t find prayer easy, that they don’t really understand what it does or can do. Many have become, in a puzzled sort of way, vaguely reconciled to this perplexity, as though it makes them in some way second-class citizens. Some lay folk, if you ask them about their own prayer, will tend to say ‘Oh, I leave that to the clergy.’ Some clergy will say, ‘Oh, I leave the serious stuff to the monks and nuns.’ Some in the monastic communities will say ‘well, we can’t all be mystics, can we?’

     Well, no, I suppose not. But there is good scriptural warrant for finding prayer puzzling and mysterious. St Paul, in a famous passage, says that ‘we don’t know how to pray, or what to pray for, as we ought’, and says that we therefore depend on God’s spirit to help us, catching us up into the agonizing dialogue between the living God and the pain of the world, even though we don’t really understand what’s happening (Romans 8:18–27). That may be humbling, but it should also be encouraging.

     Even those who have made the long journey into really serious prayer come back to tell the rest of us that it remains a great mystery, that it’s often very hard work with little apparent or immediate reward. They do, however, tend then to add tantalising things about mounting up with wings like eagles, about being changed from glory into glory, about God having prepared for those who love him such good things as pass human understanding. Those people who, like Moses, disappear into the cloud of unknowing sometimes return without realising that their faces are shining.

     As we pursue this mystery, then, where better to start than with the words Jesus himself taught us? The ‘Lord’s Prayer’ has of course, like all parts of the New Testament, been subjected to rigorous historical and theological analysis. I have learnt much from this scholarly research; but this book is not the place for quoting the scholars, or noting my various discussions with them. Those who want to follow things up could read The Prayers of Jesus by Joachim Jeremias (SCM, 1967), though in various ways scholarship has moved on since then. There is also a good article on the Lord’s Prayer by J. L. Houlden in the very useful Anchor Bible Dictionary. Much significant commentary on the prayer, however, is contained in the relevant section of commentaries on Matthew and Luke, and of books about Jesus himself. I refer readers to those.

     How do you set about praying? From our point of view, there is a fairly obvious order of priorities. We’re usually in some sort of mess, and we want God to get us out of it. Then we’ve usually got some fairly pressing needs, and we want God to supply them. It may strike us at that point that there’s a larger world out there. Again, we probably move from mess to wants: please sort out the Middle East, please feed the hungry, please house the homeless.

     But then, once more, it may dawn on us that there’s not just a larger world out there; there’s a larger God out there. He’s not just a celestial cleaner-up and sorter-out of our messes and wants. He is God. He is the living God. And he is our Father. If we linger here, we may find our priorities quietly turned inside out. The contents may remain; the order will change. With that change, we move at last from paranoia to prayer; from fuss to faith.

     The Lord’s Prayer is designed to help us make this change: a change of priority, not a change of content. This prayer doesn’t pretend that pain and hunger aren’t real. Some religions say that; Jesus didn’t. This prayer doesn’t use the greatness and majesty of God to belittle the human plight. Some religions do that; Jesus didn’t. This prayer starts by addressing God intimately and lovingly, as ‘Father’—and by bowing before his greatness and majesty. If you can hold those two together, you’re already on the way to understanding what Christianity is all about.

     Before turning to the details, let me suggest three practical ways to use the Lord’s Prayer, perhaps at a special time of the year such as Lent or Advent, or just as a way of developing one’s prayer life.

     First, there is the time-honoured method of making the Lord’s Prayer the framework for regular daily praying. Take each clause at a time, and, while holding each in turn in the back of your mind, call into the front of your mind the particular things you want to pray for, as it were, under that heading. Under the clause, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, for example, it would be surprising if you didn’t want to include the peace of the world, with some particular instances. The important thing is to let the medicine and music of the prayer encircle the people for whom you are praying, the situations about which you are concerned, so that you see them transformed, bathed in the healing light of the Lord’s love as expressed in the prayer.

     Second, some people use the Lord’s Prayer in the same way that some use the Orthodox Jesus-prayer. Repeat it slowly, again and again, in the rhythm of your breathing, so that it becomes, as we say, second nature. Those of us who live busy or stressful lives may find a discipline like that very difficult; but, again, it may be precisely people like that who need—perhaps, physically need—the calming and nourishing medicine of this prayer to be woven into the fabric of their subconscious. Next time you make a car journey by yourself, leave the radio switched off, and try it. Yes, it takes time. What else would you expect?

     Third, you might like, for a while, to take the clauses of the prayer one by one and make each in turn your ‘prayer for the day’. Sunday: Our Father. Monday: Hallowed be thy Name. Tuesday: Thy Kingdom Come. Wednesday: Give us this day. Thursday: Forgive us our trespasses. Friday: Deliver us from evil. Saturday: The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory. Use the clause of the day as your private retreat, into which you can step at any moment, through which you can pray for the people you meet, the things you’re doing, all that’s going on around you. The ‘prayer of the day’ then becomes the lens through which you see the world.

     There are, of course, dozens of other ways in which this prayer can be used, by groups or by individuals. These are just some suggestions for a start. If they help any readers to discover the value of a treasure they already own, I shall be glad.


     This book is dedicated to Julian, Rosamund, Harriet and Oliver. They have put up with their father preaching sermons, taking services, writing books, travelling away from home to give lectures, and generally being busy with the things that theologians have to do but which put a strain on family life. It seems only right that they should receive a token, however small, of my love, and my gratitude for all that they are and all that they mean to me.

     Tom Wright
     Lichfield Cathedral

The Lord and His Prayer

Your Will Be Done
     Alistair Begg

Pt One

Pt Two

World History 1 - 14
     Richard Bulliet | Columbia University

Pt 1

Pt 2

Pt 3

Pt 4

Pt 5

Pt 6

Pt 7

Pt 8

Pt 9

Pt 10

Pt 11 & 12

Pt 13

Pt 14

Exodus 25-27
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Exodus 25:1-30
m2-049 | 11-19-2014

Exodus 25:31-40, 26:1-6
m2-050 | 11-26-2014

The Veil Exodus 26:31-34
s2-054 | 11-30-2014

Exodus 26
m2-051 | 12-03-2014

     ==============================      ==============================

Exodus 25 - 27

Introducing Ephesians
Alistair Begg

Till All His Foes Submit
Alistair Begg

Realism | Richard Betts
Columbia University

Let All the Earth be Silent
Alistair Begg

Look and be Amazed!
Alistair Begg

How Long and Why?
Alistair Begg

I Will Rejoice!
Alistair Begg

The Lord's Servant
Alistair Begg

Refresh My Heart
Alistair Begg