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7/14/2023     Yesterday     Tomorrow

Proverbs 4 - 6

Proverbs 4

A Father’s Wise Instruction

Proverbs 4:1     Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
2  for I give you good precepts;
do not forsake my teaching.
3  When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4  he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.
5  Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
6  Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
7  The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.
8  Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.
9  She will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

10  Hear, my son, and accept my words,
that the years of your life may be many.
11  I have taught you the way of wisdom;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
12  When you walk, your step will not be hampered,
and if you run, you will not stumble.
13  Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
guard her, for she is your life.
14  Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15  Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
16  For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17  For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
18  But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
19  The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble.

20  My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21  Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
22  For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
23  Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24  Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25  Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26  Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27  Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.

Proverbs 5

Warning Against Adultery

Proverbs 5:1     My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
2  that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
3  For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4  but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5  Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6  she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.

7  And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8  Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9  lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10  lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11  and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12  and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13  I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14  I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”

15  Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16  Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17  Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18  Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19  a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
20  Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
21  For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD,
and he ponders all his paths.
22  The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23  He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.

Proverbs 6

Practical Warnings

Proverbs 6:1     My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
have given your pledge for a stranger,
2  if you are snared in the words of your mouth,
caught in the words of your mouth,
3  then do this, my son, and save yourself,
for you have come into the hand of your neighbor:
go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.
4  Give your eyes no sleep
and your eyelids no slumber;
5  save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

6  Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
7  Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
8  she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
9  How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10  A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
11  and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.

12  A worthless person, a wicked man,
goes about with crooked speech,
13  winks with his eyes, signals with his feet,
points with his finger,
14  with perverted heart devises evil,
continually sowing discord;
15  therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly;
in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

16  There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17  haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18  a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19  a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

Warnings Against Adultery

20  My son, keep your father’s commandment,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching.
21  Bind them on your heart always;
tie them around your neck.
22  When you walk, they will lead you;
when you lie down, they will watch over you;
and when you awake, they will talk with you.
23  For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
24  to preserve you from the evil woman,
from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.
25  Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
26  for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread,
but a married woman hunts down a precious life.
27  Can a man carry fire next to his chest
and his clothes not be burned?
28  Or can one walk on hot coals
and his feet not be scorched?
29  So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
none who touches her will go unpunished.
30  People do not despise a thief if he steals
to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry,
31  but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold;
he will give all the goods of his house.
32  He who commits adultery lacks sense;
he who does it destroys himself.
33  He will get wounds and dishonor,
and his disgrace will not be wiped away.
34  For jealousy makes a man furious,
and he will not spare when he takes revenge.
35  He will accept no compensation;
he will refuse though you multiply gifts.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Your Students Are Willing to Delay Gratification, If You Are

By J. Warner Wallace 7/12/2017

     I’ve been writing this month about my experiences at Summit Worldview Academy and the nature of student training. There are a number of similar worldview programs around the country (including the Impact 360 Institute), and I’m always impressed to see how many students are interested in this kind of intensive preparation. To be sure, there are always some students at these conferences who are present because their parents demanded their attendance, but these young people are always in the vast minority. Most students come (and put themselves through the rigorous material) because they heard about it through a friend who highly recommended the experience. And while there are some fun opportunities to hike, relax and play games along the way, these activities (commonly associated with youth group retreats) are typically few and far between at worldview camps. Students are here to roll up their sleeves and get to work. They’re far more interested in learning than lounging. Youth pastors can glean something from worldview academies.

     I have to confess: When I was a new youth pastor, I was more likely to provide my students with pizza than preparation. I thought the only way to attract students in the first place was to satisfy their desire for entertainment and social interaction. I simply tried to wedge in the important stuff (theological and apologetics training, Spiritual formation and Biblical literacy) along the way. It took me a year or so to find a better approach. I eventually realized my students would willingly delay their desire for fun if I could effectively show them their need for truth. I began to take them to places where their worldview was tested and I did my best to demonstrate their deficiencies. As a result, the Utah and Berkeley tripsbecame a regular offering of my ministry. It wasn’t long before my students were ready to do whatever it took to better defend themselves. They were more than willing to delay their desire for what they used to think of as fun to achieve a greater goal. Along the way, they discovered how satisfying it is to learn the truth, articulate it effectively, and engage the world.

     It turns out that students are willing to raise the bar and do much more than we expect of them in most youth groups across the country. If you’re a youth pastor or are serving in a youth ministry, think about what your students are typically willing to do in order to succeed on their club sports team or to prepare for their next academic AP test. Our students are already working hard to prepare themselves in some area of their young lives; why aren’t we willing to ask them to prepare this rigorously as Christians? It’s time to show students why it’s so important to equip themselves as Christian ambassadors. It’s time to stop teaching and start training.

     Many of the students I spoke with at Summit told me they originally heard about the academy from a friend who was transformed by the experience. Some were attending the training for the second time. These Summit veterans said their second interaction with the material was even more helpful than the first. They admitted they were originally overwhelmed by everything they heard in the first year of training and many wanted to come back to better absorb the information. As a result, they spent two summers engaging difficult but important issues. Interestingly, some of these two year veterans were in that minority of students who were originally required to attend by their parents. While a few young people may arrive here reluctantly, none seem to leave here willingly. It’s amazing how God uses the truth to transform the lives of students, and how willing these students are to delay traditional forms of recreation to become good Christian Case Makers. Let’s learn something from worldview academies and turn every youth group into a Christian worldview training opportunity.

Click here to go to source

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.

Atheist Daniel Dennett Tries to Explain the Mind Away: He Fails

By Mike Robinson 6/15/2017

     While Mr. Dennett touches only briefly in this book on the topic of free will, which greatly occupied him in “Elbow Room” (1984) and “Freedom Evolves” (2003), this knotty topic helps show the fine distinctions he insists on making. It’s true that he believes the traditional understanding of free will—a “personal power somehow isolated from physical causation,” as he puts it—to be an “incoherent and unnecessary” idea. But he does warn against the dangers of assuming that holding a deterministic view of the brain forces you to abandon the idea of free will entirely.

     But Mr. Dennett insists that accepting a materialistic account of the brain does not mean that we should completely rid ourselves of the ideas of personal responsibility or blame. This is seemingly a surprising position for Mr. Dennett: If everything that is going to happen happens because it is determined by the physical brain, why hold someone morally responsible for his actions? This is a common reaction and concern, Mr. Dennett notes, of both cognitive scientists and the layperson. He feels that the simplicity of such a view lies in a deep, unquestioning acceptance of the Cartesian idea that the mind must be separated from the brain.

     For Mr. Dennett, free will is indeed an illusion, but it is a useful and necessary one, like our conscious sense of ourselves. An illusion like this allows us to live and work in a society. As Mr. Dennett says, “We couldn’t live the way we do without it.” He goes on to argue that we should avoid cruel retributive punishment, but we should not give individuals a pass on moral responsibility. “If—because free will is an illusion—no one is ever responsible for what they do, should we abolish yellow and red cards in soccer, the penalty box in ice hockey and all the other penalty systems in sports?” In short, we still must regulate society as if we are choosing our actions, punishing conduct that breaks the rules we have set for ourselves.

     Obviously what Mr. Dennett means by free will may be different from what you thought it meant. One way to tease out the difference is to realize that he leaves room in the human mind for intent—and he points out that other types of minds may lack it....

     “From Bacteria to Bach and Back” plays to all of its author’s strengths. The scope of his canvas, and the power of his explanations to widen our horizons, help us believe that we can think up decent answers to seemingly impenetrable problems. read full WSJ post Here

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     According to Amazon: Mike Robinson has travelled worldwide teaching on the topic of the real self and the illusions which keep a person trapped in their suffering. Mike only ever helps a person to look at the fact of a situation, which is the truth, and truth has no sides, no judgment and no 'right' or 'wrong', it is 'as it is' and therefore it is love in action. There is an ease and grace that flows out of this gentle man who has touched thousands of lives. No-one leaves Mike's presence unaffected by the unshakeable peace and truth that emanates from his being. For more information visit his website: www.mikerobinson.eu.com

Some of Mike Robinson Books:

God The Son

By Robert Jeffress 2023

God The Son

     One of the quirks of our culture is that we gauge a person’s importance in terms of time. Social media celebrities get their fifteen minutes of fame. The guest of honor at a celebration is called the man or woman of the hour. Cities declare honorary days for local celebrities. Libraries promote Shakespeare Week. The Turner Classic Movies network features a Star of the Month. Every December, Time magazine selects its Person of the Year. Every tenth year, it selects its Person of the Decade. Certain presidents are given eras by historians — the Roosevelt Era, for example. A handful of British monarchs do them one better with “ages,” such as the Elizabethan Age and the Victorian Age.

     But only one person divided history in half. Only one life caused us to recalibrate our measurement of existence on earth. Whether you call the resulting halves of history BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini, the year of our Lord) or BCE (Before the Common Era) and CE (Common Era), the dividing line is the same: the arrival of Jesus Christ.

     In keeping with this time theme, we’re going to examine the third core belief of Christianity — God the Son — from the perspective of three eras: before He came to earth, while He lived among us, and since His return to heaven.

Jesus BC

     My family has several Christmas traditions: we go to the Christmas Eve service at our church, eat beef stew, and open gifts afterward, and we watch our favorite holiday movie, Elf. I know families whose Christmas traditions include baking a birthday cake to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

     But Christmas marks only Jesus’s birth in human form. Jesus didn’t start to exist on December 25—or on any other date. Jesus is fully God. He possesses all God’s perfections, including His eternal nature. Not only has Jesus existed forever, but He also played key roles in BC history.

The Word

     Let’s start at the beginning — specifically, the beginning John referred to in the first verse of his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The beloved disciple managed to pack an eternity’s worth of content into seventeen words. Let’s unpack it, starting with the word . . . Word.

     In the Old Testament, the Word (or “word of the LORD”) refers to an aspect of God’s divine being that has a life of its own. In Genesis 1, the Word of the Lord brought creation into existence. In the stories of Abraham (Gen. 15:4), Elijah (1 Kings 18:1), Jeremiah (Jer. 28:12), and others, the Word of the Lord came to individuals, bearing messages from the Almighty. The Word acts as God’s agent in accomplishing God’s will.

     In New Testament times, the Greek word logos, or “word,” was used to describe that which holds together the universe and gives it meaning. These are the concepts John drew on in John 1:1.

     In the beginning was the Word. The Word was around to see the beginning, which means the Word existed before the beginning. The Word is eternal.

     The Word was with God. The Word is a distinct person in the Godhead. The Word and God are two individual persons.

     The Word was God. The Word is one with God. The Word and God are individual persons in one being.

     John continued to tell us about the Word through chapter 1 of his Gospel. The Word brought creation into existence (v. 3), revealed God’s truth to the world, bringing light to our darkness (vv. 4–5), took human form and lived among us (v. 14), and is Jesus Christ (v. 17).

The Prophecies

     One of Jesus’s key BC roles was as the subject of biblical prophecy. Before God sent His Son into the world, He did thousands of years of prep work. He wanted to make sure the world would recognize and appreciate what Jesus was going to do. God set up a system of worship and sacrifice that pointed to the once-and-for-all sacrifice that was coming. He sent messengers to make people aware of their sin and their need to repent and be forgiven.

     Then God told people how they could recognize His Son when He came. Once upon a time, that kind of information was necessary — before we started carrying the equivalent of an FBI database in our phones. Back in the day, if you were expecting to meet someone you didn’t know — on a blind date, for example — you needed specific information to help you recognize the person (“I’ll be wearing a green shirt and a white hat”).

Why Was The Virgin Birth Necessary?

     According to 2 Samuel 7:12, the Messiah would come from the lineage of King David. However, one descendant of David, a man named Jeconiah, turned out to be so evil that God pronounced a curse on him. No descendant of Jeconiah would sit on David’s throne and rule with prosperity (Jer. 22:30). You can see the problem that created. How could the Messiah inherit the right to rule from David but escape the curse of Jeconiah? The answer is through a virgin birth. Joseph was a descendant of David and Jeconiah, but he was not Jesus’s biological father. So Jesus escaped the curse. But because Joseph was Jesus’s legal guardian, he was able to pass on the right to rule to Jesus. In this we see the perfect plan of God at work, even in the genealogy of His Son.

     God did something similar in the Old Testament. He wasn’t necessarily interested in people being able to recognize Jesus on sight. Instead, He wanted to lay the groundwork for them to be able to confirm His identity as the long - promised Savior and Messiah.

     So God spoke through His prophets. The prophet Isaiah passed along these words: “The LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). That was about seven hundred years before the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to a child who would save His people, and Mary asked, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34).

     The prophet Micah announced that a ruler of Israel would come from Bethlehem (5:2). That was about seven hundred years before Joseph and a very pregnant Mary traveled from their hometown of Nazareth to the city of Joseph’s ancestor to register for a tax, as commanded by the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus. Luke 2:1–7 (along with our favorite Christmas carols) tells us what happened next: while they were in the city of David, also known as Bethlehem, Mary gave birth.

     David included prophetic details in his psalms that anticipated the events of Jesus’s crucifixion, nearly a thousand years before it happened:

•     “They pierced my hands and my feet” (22:16).

•     “For my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (69:21).

•     “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (22:18).

     The fulfillment of these prophecies and others can be found in the crucifixion narratives of Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.

     In our discussion of God’s Word, we discovered that Jesus fulfilled more than sixty such prophecies during His lifetime. Each one is a gift from God to us. Here in the twenty-first century, we can’t physically interact with Jesus. We must take it on faith that He is who He claims to be. But our faith doesn’t have to be blind. We have evidence. God said, Here’s what the Savior will do. And Jesus did those things.

     Before we explore the specifics of what Jesus did, we need to consider what it meant for Jesus to become one of us.

The Incarnation

     When we think of Jesus’s sacrifice, we tend to think of the cross, and the suffering and death He experienced there. But Jesus’s sacrifice actually began the moment He took human form, an event known as the incarnation.

     Think about it: Jesus is God the Son. He is the Word of God who brought the universe into existence. He possesses all the perfections of God the Father. His power and knowledge are limitless. Nothing can harm Him.

     Yet Jesus obediently and willingly laid aside His rights to come to earth and dwell among us. He left His idyllic existence in heaven for a life of rejection, ridicule, and betrayal on our sin - ravaged planet. He gave up His autonomy and became a helpless baby, dependent on His human mother for care and protection. He submitted Himself to physical restrictions such as hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. He squeezed His infinite presence into a container of flesh the size of the average man.

     Imagine how restricting the incarnation must have been for Jesus. Imagine the kind of love that motivated Him to make such a sacrifice.

Robert Jeffress, What Every Christian Should Know: 10 Core Beliefs for Standing Strong in a Shifting World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2023)

Five “Fake News” Stories That People Believe about Early Christianity

By Michael J. Kruger 7/10/2017

     There’s been a lot of chatter about “fake news” in recent months. Some stories, even though they have no basis in fact, are told so often, and with such conviction, that large numbers of people end up believing them anyway.

     And some of these fake news stories even dupe legitimate political figures who repeat the story without realizing it is false. And, of course, once a mainstream political figure repeats a story then it becomes even more entrenched in the national psyche.

     While some of these fake news stories are rather harmless, others have become quite dangerous.  Most famous perhaps is the “Pizza Gate” incident in 2016 where a man shot up a pizza place thinking it was host to a child sex trafficking ring (thankfully, no one was hurt).

     Given this rash of “fake news,” I thought it might be interesting to observe that an analogous phenomenon can be seen in the study of early Christianity. There is quite a bit of “fake news” out there regarding the person of Jesus, the origins of the church, or the development of the Bible . Even though such “news” as no factual basis, it is believed by an uncomfortably large number of people.

     So, here is a sampling of some of the leading stories:

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here.

Michael J. Kruger Books

7 Reasons You Owe Everything to Suffering

By John Piper 7/11/2017

     Now let me draw this to a close with a quick summary of seven statements. They go by real fast, showing you that every grace, every blessing, every good thing you ever dreamed about having now or in eternity comes to you through suffering, and only through suffering; namely, the suffering of Jesus. It wasn’t an afterthought. It was the name of the book before the foundation of the world, and it was the ground of grace before the foundation of the world. I want you to feel, I owe everything I ever dreamed of having to suffering.

     1. Christ absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf and he did it by suffering.

     Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)

     Your deliverance from God’s curse came through suffering.

     2. Christ bore our sins and purchased our forgiveness, and he did it by suffering.

Click here to go to source

      (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

     John Piper Books |  Go to Books Page

Lay Aside the Weight of “Not Feeling Like It”

By Jon Bloom 7/12/2013

     What do you not feel like doing today?

     You know what I mean. It’s that thing that’s weighing on you, which you know would honor God because it obeys his law of love (John 15:12), or is a work of faith (2 Thessalonians 1:11), or puts “to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). You know it would be good for your soul or body or family or vocation or neighbor or church.

     But you don’t feel like doing it. You know that God promises you more blessing if you do it than if you don’t. But you’re struggling to believe it because it feels difficult. It’s like you have weights on your ankles. You don’t want to muster the energy, and every distraction glows with attraction.

     The Strange Pattern of Progress | While it’s true that this is our indwelling sin of which we must repent and fight to lay aside (Hebrews 12:1), the experience of “not feeling like it” also can become for us a reminder of a gospel truth and actually give us hope and encouragement in this battle.

     Think about this strange pattern that occurs over and over in just about every area of life: Healthy, nutritious food oft

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     Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.

     John Bloom Books |  Go to Books Page

12 Things Your Professors Won't Tell You About God and Science

By Luke Nix 6/26/2017

     #1- Christianity and science are NOT at odds with each other The mantras in today's university classrooms seem to be that science has proven Christianity false and that Christianity is anti-science. This could not be further from the truth of the situation. Science IS at odds with a worldview, and it may surprise you which worldview it is. Tap the link above to discover which one and how!

     #2- God's existence CAN be tested It is quite common for people to believe that since God is outside this universe that his existence cannot be tested. All the religious views make claims about the universe we live in, and some make the claim that God exists (and that their "holy" books were inspired by that God). Numerous claims are made in the Bible about our universe and can be put to the test. Tap the link to discover the claims and how they can be tested.

     #3- Christianity does not teach the universe is 6,000 years old This is a big one! Too many professors are convinced that Christianity claims the universe is 6,000 years old, and (using the idea in the addressing the previous claim) since the universe has been discovered to be orders of magnitude older, Christianity has been shown to be false. However, the idea that Christianity teaches that the universe is 6,000 years old is false. If this is what you've always believed or been told, tap the link above to discover the truth about the Bible's claims about the age of the universe.

     #4- The record of Genesis does not contradict any scientific discoveries Many more scientifically testable claims of Christianity are found in the book of Genesis. Again, many of those in academia believe these too fail the test of reality. However, the tests fail because they have not read Genesis correctly. Tap the link above to see the proper understanding of Genesis and to see how the claims comport with modern scientific discoveries in uncanny ways.

     #5- The beginning of the universe requires a beginner While some people have a disdain for big bang cosmology because it demonstrates an ancient age of the universe, others (since it was first proposed) prefer to avoid it because it necessitates the need for a beginner. A big bang needs a "big banger." Everything that begins to exist has a cause; the universe began to exist; therefore, the universe has a cause. This is a powerful argument that the universe was started by something (or Someone) that transcends (is outside- see #2) this universe. Tap the link above to see the details of how such a conclusion can be reached in science.

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     Luke Nix. I live in Oklahoma and have lived here all my life except a couple years in Texas in the late 80’s. I have a wonderful wife, and we have three wonderful children.

     I have a BS in Computer Science, and work as a computer desktop support manager for a local precious metals exchange company.

     My worldview is Christian (as is obvious by this blog) and my political slant is right of center. Doctrinally, I generally adhere to the Southern Baptist Faith and Message, though I do have nuanced positions.

     I spent the majority of my teenage years as a technology geek. My interests have slightly changed from those days. I still love technology and get a “high” from getting a new gadget. Technology is how I make my living, but my passion has gone back to where it was when I was much younger. Now, my main focuses are my family and studying philosophy, theology, and science.

     Enough about me for right now. What is this blog about and why should you read it? The blog is dedicated to the discussion and defense of the true worldview. I believe that Christianity is the true worldview (as opposed to other worldviews/religions), so posts will provide evidence and reasons to believe that. To get a better grasp of the importance of such discussions, please see the page Defending The Faith.

     Ultimately, I pray that God will use me via this blog to encourage fellow Christians during times of doubt and provoke reasoned and reflective thought about God. It is my desire that this blog will open intellectual doors for the non-Christian reader to understand their need to accept the objective truths of God's existence, man's sinfulness, Jesus Christ's life, death, and physical resurrection, and man's need to be reconciled to God. I also pray that God will use you, the reader, to strengthen my reasoning and encourage me in this ministry by providing carefully reasoned comments, questions, and challenges.

The ‘Gospel’ That Almost Killed Me

By Sean DeMars 3/31/2014

     I'm in a bathtub. I can't get up. I feel like I'm about to die. Mercury poisoning.

     The water in the tub has grown cold. Maybe that's why I feel so cold. I've been marinating in my own soup stock for the past two hours. I'm floating in and out of consciousness. Whenever I can concentrate I begin to pray.

     Jesus, please, save me. Please, heal me. I repent, I put my whole heart into prayer right now, and I cast out any doubt or fear. I know you can heal me. Please heal me!

     My mom's keys are rattling in the doorknob now, and I hear the door thud shut in the distance. I hear her purse sliding across the counter and her keys landing next to it. I barely recognize her figure as she tries with all of her wiry might to pull me out of the tub. I spend the next two days in the hospital. My mom wants to know why I didn't let her know, why I didn't want to go to the hospital, why I didn't do something.

     “Mom, Jesus is my doctor. I'm blessed, and I know that he would have healed me.” This is me trying to live out what I think is true Christianity.

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     Sean DeMars is husband to Amber, dad to Patience and Isabella, and pastor at 6th Ave Church in Decatur, Alabama.

Peaceful Polemics Online

By Tim Challies 4/01/2016

     Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. This wonderfully pessimistic French phrase roughly translates to “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” It points us to one of the undeniable facts about life in this world: that though times and contexts change, humanity remains the same.

     Today, we find ourselves at a fascinating point in history, a point when we are witnessing a radical shift in the way we communicate. We are transitioning from old media to new media, from words on printed pages to words on pixelated screens, from words spoken face-to-face to words spoken to cameras and delivered instantly through screens ten thousand miles away. Such seismic shifts have occurred only a few times in history, and each shift has been accompanied by turmoil, by a time of learning to adapt to new abilities and new realities.

     With this newest era and its groundbreaking technologies have come new capabilities as we carry out our age-old responsibility to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). God has called each one of His children to proclaim and defend the gospel. He has called each one of us to stand for truth and to stand against those who tamper with it or who outright deny it. Paul states:

     Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph. 6:10–13)

     This should be easier than ever in an age of widespread and instant communications. But with new capabilities come new temptations and new dangers.

     If history were to end tomorrow, we would probably look back on the era of digital communications as an era of chaos. We have proven our deep depravity in our ability to speak too quickly, too strongly, and too harshly. All that Jesus and James and Solomon warned us about the power of the tongue can be extended to the power of our fingers as they dance over our keyboards and our thumbs as they tap out messages on our phones. Out of the overflow of the heart the fingers type.

     God calls us to be people who speak the truth, but who speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15–16 illustrates:

     Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

     Even as we contend for the faith, we are to contend in love. Even as we speak out in defense of the One who has saved us, we must speak with patience, with respect, with self-control. We have proven ourselves both willing and able to speak, but we have a long way to go to prove that we can do it all in love.

     Many years ago, John Stott pondered Paul’s command to the church in Ephesus that they were to speak the truth in love. Paul called on those Christians to prove their spiritual maturity by their desire and their ability to maintain unity even through disagreement, even through debate. The way to prove the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, wrote Paul, is not only to speak true words and not only to speak loving words, but to do both at the same time and in the same measure. Stott’s warning from his commentary on Ephesians is timeless, transcending all technological eras: “Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth.” I fear that for too many of us, our words are hard, untouched by the softening quality of love. And yet we gain nothing if we speak love at the expense of truth, if our love is untouched by the strengthening power of truth.

     Stott rightly points out:

     The apostle calls us to hold the two together, which should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers, since the Holy Spirit is himself “the spirit of truth,” and his first fruit is “love.” There is no other route than this to a fully mature Christian unity.

     Our fast-paced, always-on, digital world brings us unparalleled opportunities to speak. It allows us to extend our voices around the world with the simple click of a single button. But it also offers unparalleled opportunities to do so poorly, to do so in ways that deny rather than display the fruit of the Spirit. Christian, God has called you to speak His truth, to contend for the faith. He has provided new and amazing media ideally suited to do this very thing. Your challenge and mine—the challenge of the church here in the twenty-first century—is the challenge to speak that truth in love, to contend with an equal measure of firmness and gentleness.

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     Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press.

     I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.

     Tim Challies is founding blogger of Challies.com and a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @Challies. He began his web site in 2002 and has been writing there daily since 2003. It is his place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things he discovers in his online travels.

     Tim Challies Books |  Go to Books Page

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 74

Arise, O God, Defend Your Cause
74 A Maskil Of Asaph.

18 Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever.

20 Have regard for the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name.

22 Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

ESV Study Bible

By John Walvoord

Cush as Well as Egypt to Be Conquered

     Isaiah 20:1–6. Isaiah was instructed to walk about “stripped and barefoot” (v.  2 ) as a sign that not only Israel but also Egypt and Cush would be conquered by Assyria and be led off as captives. This was fulfilled in history.

Prophecy against Babylon

     Isaiah 21:1–10. Isaiah prophesied some of the battles that would revolve around Babylon. Though some trace this to the final downfall of Babylon in 539 BC, it may refer to earlier battles resulting from revolts against Assyria, with the revolt finally put down about 702 BC. Isaiah warned Israel that though there were temporary rebellions against Assyria, they should not trust in this victory, for Assyria would continue to be a strong power. Though details of the prophecy are not entirely clear, the message was given, “Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!” (v.  9 ). When Babylon was captured in 539 BC, there was no extensive destruction as is described here, but the final fulfillment will occur at the second coming ( Rev. 18 ).

Prophecy against Edom

     Isaiah 21:11–12. A brief prophecy was given concerning Dumah, probably a reference to Edom. The “watchman” reported that morning and night would come, meaning that prophetic judgments will eventually be fulfilled.

Prophecy against Arabia

     Isaiah 21:13–17. God’s judgment was pronounced on Arabia. As a nation, they would be invaded by the Assyrians, and the Arabians would have to flee the Assyrian armies. The time of this event was fulfilled probably about 715 BC.

Judgment on Jerusalem

     Isaiah 22:1–14. Jerusalem is the theme of this prophecy. It is not entirely clear which attack on Jerusalem by the Assyrians is mentioned, but it is probably a reference to the invasion of Sennacherib in 701 BC, which is described later in  Isaiah 36–37. On that occasion God marvelously delivered Jerusalem. Sennacherib had conquered a number of cities of Judah and taken many of the leaders of Judah. Jerusalem was probably meant by the reference to “the Valley of Vision” ( 22:5 ). Jerusalem can be variously described as a mountain, such as in the expression the Mount of Zion, but there also is a valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives marked by the brook Kidron. The walls of Jerusalem are described as having many breeches (v.  9 ). The deliverance came supernaturally from the Lord, but the people foolishly gave themselves to revelry instead of praising the Lord (vv.  12–13 ).

Prophecy against Shebna

     Isaiah 22:15–25. A prophetic indictment was given against Shebna, who apparently was a high official in the palace in Jerusalem (v.  15 ). He joined with others in their revelry instead of honoring the Lord as their deliverer.  Isaiah prophesied that Shebna would be deposed from his office (v.  19 ). This was fulfilled ( 22:19; 36:3 ).

     It was prophesied that Eliakim would replace Shebna. He was a leader in Israel and had Israel’s respect. It was probable that he participated in the negotiations between Israel and Sennacherib when the Assyrian armies still surrounded Jerusalem (cf.  2 Kings 18:18, 26, 37; Isa. 36:3, 11, 22; 37:2 ). He would perform his work well, but eventually he too would fall ( 22:23–25 ). This is fulfilled in history.

Judgment of Tyre

     Isaiah 23:1–18. This prophecy of the destruction of Tyre (vv.  1–14 ) resulted in the city being in eclipse for about seventy years, after which it would recover (vv.  15–18 ).

     Tyre did well in the eighth century when the Assyrian Empire was gaining strength. The seventy years referred to may be the seventy years from 700 to 630 BC. During this period the power of Assyria gradually declined, ending in its destruction in 612 BC. This would allow Tyre to regain strength.

     The prophecy pictured the whole Mediterranean world sorrowing at the destruction of Tyre. The merchants of Sidon (v.  2 ), as well as the Egyptians (v.  3 ), mourned Tyre’s distress. Even Tarshish, located by some in Spain, was affected because their trade was hindered. From Isaiah’s viewpoint, what was predicted was yet to be fulfilled.

     At the end of the seventy years (v.  17 ), Tyre and its trade would again be restored. The fortunes of Tyre went up and down through the centuries, but the final blow came when Alexander besieged the city in 332 BC. As the city was on an island, he built a causeway, scraping all the remains of the mainland city to fill in the space. The result of this may be seen today. Though the city was revived later, it was almost completely destroyed by Alexander. What was true of Tyre in  Isaiah 23 will also be true of the earth as a whole.

The Coming Destruction of the Earth

     Isaiah 24:1–23. The destruction of the earth, which will occur in the day of the Lord, will be a judgment over the entire face of the earth. This chapter does not have any fulfillment in history, but anticipates the coming great tribulation and the destruction of the earth by great earthquakes, fire from heaven, and other disasters. The time of the earth’s future disaster, however, will be climaxed by the second coming of Christ and His kingdom of righteousness and peace.

The Coming Glorious Kingdom

     Isaiah 25:1–27:13. These three chapters predict God’s triumph and His peoples’ praise of God for His omnipotent deliverance of His people. These prophecies to some extent have been fulfilled in the past but will have their ultimate and complete fulfillment in God’s future millennial kingdom. In that future time, those who have trusted God will be honored and those who are God’s enemies will be brought down ( 25:12 ).

     Isaiah 26. This is another long psalm of praise recognizing the Lord’s faithfulness in caring for His people. The future kingdom will be a time of peace (v.  12 ). It will also be a time of resurrection of the dead: “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead” (v.  19 ). The deliverance of the righteous in resurrection at the beginning of the millennium refers to the Old Testament saints (cf.  Dan. 12:1–2 ). In  Isaiah 26:19 and  Daniel 12:1–2, the most important prophecies of resurrection of the Old Testament saints were revealed.

     In  Isaiah 27, the praise of God and prediction of the deliverance of Israel were given further revelation. The future will fulfill this time of judgment on the enemies of God, but it will also record a time of restoration and revival of Israel and their possession of the land from the Euphrates River to the Wadi of Egypt, a brook forming the borderline between Egypt and Canaan ( Isa. 26:12–13; Gen. 15:18–21 ).

The Coming Glorious Kingdom

     Isaiah 25:1–27:13. These three chapters predict God’s triumph and His peoples’ praise of God for His omnipotent deliverance of His people. These prophecies to some extent have been fulfilled in the past but will have their ultimate and complete fulfillment in God’s future millennial kingdom. In that future time, those who have trusted God will be honored and those who are God’s enemies will be brought down ( 25:12 ).

     Isaiah 26. This is another long psalm of praise recognizing the Lord’s faithfulness in caring for His people. The future kingdom will be a time of peace (v.  12 ). It will also be a time of resurrection of the dead: “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead” (v.  19 ). The deliverance of the righteous in resurrection at the beginning of the millennium refers to the Old Testament saints (cf.  Dan. 12:1–2 ). In  Isaiah 26:19 and  Daniel 12:1–2, the most important prophecies of resurrection of the Old Testament saints were revealed.

     In  Isaiah 27, the praise of God and prediction of the deliverance of Israel were given further revelation. The future will fulfill this time of judgment on the enemies of God, but it will also record a time of restoration and revival of Israel and their possession of the land from the Euphrates River to the Wadi of Egypt, a brook forming the borderline between Egypt and Canaan ( Isa. 26:12–13; Gen. 15:18–21 ).


Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

The Continual Burnt Offering (Luke 2:10-11)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

July 14
Luke 2:10  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.   ESV

     The angel’s message was one of joy and gladness, designed to banish fear and fill the heart with hope and peace. But, alas, there were few indeed who responded to it. And although their glad message has been sounding through all the centuries since, this world is still a scene of strife, and often of terror, and the great majority of earth’s inhabitants are strangers to that peace which Jesus came to give. Men are so slow to learn that it is only as they receive Him and own Him as Savior and Lord, that they can appropriate and enjoy the blessings He delights to give. From Bethlehem His path led to the cross where He made peace by His own blood, and now all who believe have peace with God.

Christ by prophets long-predicted,
Joy of Israel’s chosen race,
Light to Gentiles long afflicted,
Lost in error’s darkest maze,
Bright the star of your salvation,
Pointing to His rude abode,
Rapturous news for every nation,
Mortals, now behold your God!

The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     38. Thirdly, The Lord intended it to be a kind of exhortation, than which no other could urge or animate us more strongly, both to purity and holiness of life, and also to charity, peace, and concord. For the Lord there communicates his body so that he may become altogether one with us, and we with him. Moreover, since he has only one body of which he makes us all to be partakers, we must necessarily, by this participation, all become one body. This unity is represented by the bread which is exhibited in the sacrament. As it is composed of many grains, so mingled together, that one cannot be distinguished from another; so ought our minds to be so cordially united, as not to allow of any dissension or division. This I prefer giving in the words of Paul: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many, are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread" (1 Cor. 10:15, 16). We shall have profited admirably in the sacrament, if the thought shall have been impressed and engraven on our minds, that none of our brethren is hurt, despised, rejected, injured, or in any way offended, without our, at the same time, hurting, despising, and injuring Christ; that we cannot have dissension with our brethren, without at the same time dissenting from Christ; that we cannot love Christ without loving our brethren; that the same care we take of our own body we ought to take of that of our brethren, who are members of our body; that as no part of our body suffers pain without extending to the other parts, so every evil which our brother suffers ought to excite our compassion. Wherefore Augustine not inappropriately often terms this sacrament the bond of charity. What stronger stimulus could be employed to excite mutual charity, than when Christ, presenting himself to us, not only invites us by his example to give and devote ourselves mutually to each other, but inasmuch as he makes himself common to all, also makes us all to be one in him.

39. This most admirably confirms what I elsewhere said--viz. that there cannot be a right administration of the Supper without the word. Any utility which we derive from the Supper requires the word. Whether we are to be confirmed in faith, or exercised in confession, or aroused to duty, there is need of preaching. Nothing, therefore, can be more preposterous than to convert the Supper into a dumb action. This is done under the tyranny of the Pope, the whole effect of consecration being made to depend on the intention of the priest, as if it in no way concerned the people, to whom especially the mystery ought to have been explained. This error has originated from not observing that those promises by which consecration is effected are intended, not for the elements themselves, but for those who receive them. Christ does not address the bread and tell it to become his body, but bids his disciples eat, and promises them the communion of his body and blood. And, according to the arrangement which Paul makes, the promises are to be offered to believers along with the bread and the cup. Thus, indeed, it is. We are not to imagine some magical incantation, and think it sufficient to mutter the words, as if they were heard by the elements; but we are to regard those words as a living sermon, which is to edify the hearers, penetrate their minds, being impressed and seated in their hearts, and exert its efficacy in the fulfilment of that which it promises. For these reasons, it is clear that the setting apart of the sacrament, as some insist, that an extraordinary distribution of it may be made to the sick, is useless. They will either receive it without hearing the words of the institution read, or the minister will conjoin the true explanation of the mystery with the sign. In the silent dispensation, there is abuse and defect. If the promises are narrated, and the mystery is expounded, that those who are to receive may receive with advantage, it cannot be doubted that this is the true consecration. What then becomes of that other consecration, the effect of which reaches even to the sick? But those who do so have the example of the early Church. I confess it; but in so important a matter, where error is so dangerous, nothing is safer than to follow the truth.

40. Moreover, as we see that this sacred bread of the Lord's Supper is spiritual food, is sweet and savoury, not less than salutary, to the pious worshippers of God, on tasting which they feel that Christ is their life, are disposed to give thanks, and exhorted to mutual love; so, on the other hand, it is converted into the most noxious poison to all whom it does not nourish and confirm in the faith, nor urge to thanksgiving and charity. For, just as corporeal food, when received into a stomach subject to morbid humours, becomes itself vitiated and corrupted, and rather hurts than nourishes, so this spiritual food also, if given to a soul polluted with malice and wickedness, plunges it into greater ruin, not indeed by any defect in the food, but because to the "defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure" (Titus 1:15), however much it may be sanctified by the blessing of the Lord. For, as Paul says, "Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord;" "eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body" (1 Cor. 11:27, 29). For men of this description, who without any spark of faith, without any zeal for charity, rush forward like swine to seize the Lord's Supper, do not at all discern the Lord's body. For, inasmuch as they do not believe that body to be their life, they put every possible affront upon it, stripping it of all its dignity, and profane and contaminate it by so receiving; inasmuch as while alienated and estranged from their brethren, they dare to mingle the sacred symbol of Christ's body with their dissensions. No thanks to them if the body of Christ is not rent and torn to pieces. Wherefore they are justly held guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, which, with sacrilegious impiety, they so vilely pollute. By this unworthy eating, they bring judgment on themselves. For while they have no faith in Christ, yet, by receiving the sacrament, they profess to place their salvation only in him, and abjure all other confidence. Wherefore they themselves are their own accusers; they bear witness against themselves; they seal their own condemnation. Next being divided and separated by hatred and ill-will from their brethren, that is, from the members of Christ, they have no part in Christ, and yet they declare that the only safety is to communicate with Christ, and be united to him. For this reason Paul commands a man to examine himself before he eats of that bread, and drinks of that cup (l Cor. 11:28). By this, as I understand, he means that each individual should descend into himself, and consider, first, whether, with inward confidence of heart, he leans on the salvation obtained by Christ, and with confession of the mouth, acknowledges it; and, secondly, whether with zeal for purity and holiness he aspires to imitate Christ; whether, after his example, he is prepared to give himself to his brethren, and to hold himself in common with those with whom he has Christ in common; whether, as he himself is regarded by Christ, he in his turn regards all his brethren as members of his body, or, like his members, desires to cherish, defend, and assist them, not that the duties of faith and charity can now be perfected in us, but because it behoves us to contend and seek, with all our heart, daily to increase our faith.

41. In seeking to prepare for eating worthily, men have often dreadfully harassed and tortured miserable consciences, and yet have in no degree attained the end. They have said that those eat worthily who are in a state of grace. Being in a state of grace, they have interpreted to be pure and free from all sin. By this definition, all the men that ever have been, and are upon the earth, were debarred from the use of this sacrament. For if we are to seek our worthiness from ourselves, it is all over with us; only despair and fatal ruin await us. Though we struggle to the utmost, we will not only make no progress, but then be most unworthy after we have laboured most to make ourselves worthy. To cure this ulcer, they have devised a mode of procuring worthiness--viz. after having, as far as we can, made an examination, and taken an account of all our actions, to expiate our unworthiness by contrition, confession, and satisfaction. Of the nature of this expiation we have spoken at the proper place (Book 3 chap. 4 sec. 2, 17, 27). As far as regards our present object, I say that such things give poor and evanescent comfort to alarmed and downcast consciences, struck with terror at their sins. For if the Lord, by his prohibition, admits none to partake of his Supper but the righteous and innocent, every man would require to be cautious before feeling secure of that righteousness of his own which he is told that God requires. But how are we to be assured that those who have done what in them lay have discharged their duty to God? Even were we assured of this, who would venture to assure himself that he had done what in him lay? Thus there being no certain security for our worthiness, access to the Supper would always be excluded by the fearful interdict, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself."

42. It is now easy to judge what is the nature, and who is the author, of that doctrine which prevails in the Papacy, and which, by its inhuman austerity, deprives and robs wretched sinners, oppressed with sorrow and trembling, of the consolation of this sacrament, a sacrament in which all that is delightful in the gospel was set before them. Certainly the devil could have no shorter method of destroying men than by thus infatuating them, and so excluding them from the taste and savour of this food with which their most merciful Father in heaven had been pleased to feed them. Therefore, lest we should rush over such a precipice, let us remember that this sacred feast is medicine to the sick, comfort to the sinner, and bounty to the poor; while to the healthy, the righteous, and the rich, if any such could be found, it would be of no value. For while Christ is therein given us for food, we perceive that without him we fail, pine, and waste away, just as hunger destroys the vigour of the body. Next, as he is given for life, we perceive that without him we are certainly dead. Wherefore, the best and only worthiness which we can bring to God, is to offer him our own vileness, and, if I may so speak, unworthiness, that his mercy may make us worthy; to despond in ourselves, that we may be consoled in him; to humble ourselves, that we may be elevated by him; to accuse ourselves, that we may be justified by him; to aspire, moreover, to the unity which he recommends in the Supper; and, as he makes us all one in himself, to desire to have all one soul, one heart, one tongue. If we ponder and meditate on these things, we may be shaken, but will never be overwhelmed by such considerations as these, how shall we, who are devoid of all good, polluted by the defilements of sin, and half dead, worthily eat the body of the Lord? We shall rather consider that we, who are poor, are coming to a benevolent giver, sick to a physician, sinful to the author of righteousness, in fine, dead to him who gives life; that worthiness which is commanded by God, consists especially in faith, which places all things in Christ, nothing in ourselves, and in charity, charity which, though imperfect, it may be sufficient to offer to God, that he may increase it, since it cannot be fully rendered. Some, concurring with us in holding that worthiness consists in faith and charity, have widely erred in regard to the measure of worthiness, demanding a perfection of faith to which nothing can be added, and a charity equivalent to that which Christ manifested towards us. And in this way, just as the other class, they debar all men from access to this sacred feast. For, were their view well founded, every one who receives must receive unworthily, since all, without exception, are guilty, and chargeable with imperfection. And certainly it were too stupid, not to say idiotical, to require to the receiving of the sacrament a perfection which would render the sacrament vain and superfluous, because it was not instituted for the perfect, but for the infirm and weak, to stir up, excite, stimulate, exercise the feeling of faith and charity, and at the same time correct the deficiency of both.

43. In regard to the external form of the ordinance, whether or not believers are to take into their hands and divide among themselves, or each is to eat what is given to him: whether they are to return the cup to the deacon or hand it to their neighbour; whether the bread is to be leavened or unleavened, and the wine to be red or white, is of no consequence. These things are indifferent, and left free to the Church, though it is certain that it was the custom of the ancient Church for all to receive into their hand. And Christ said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves" (Luke 22:17). History relates that leavened and ordinary bread was used before the time of Alexander the Bishop of Rome, who was the first that was delighted with unleavened bread: for what reason I see not, unless it was to draw the wondering eyes of the populace by the novelty of the spectacle, more than to train them in sound religion. I appeal to all who have the least zeal for piety, whether they do not evidently perceive both how much more brightly the glory of God is here displayed, and how much more abundant spiritual consolation is felt by believers than in these rigid and histrionic follies, which have no other use than to impose on the gazing populace. They call it restraining the people by religion, when, stupid and infatuated, they are drawn hither and thither by superstition. Should any one choose to defend such inventions by antiquity, I am not unaware how ancient is the use of chrism and exorcism in baptism, and how, not long after the age of the apostles, the Supper was tainted with adulteration; such, indeed, is the forwardness of human confidence, which cannot restrain itself, but is always sporting and wantoning in the mysteries of God. But let us remember that God sets so much value on obedience to his word, that, by it, he would have us to judge his angels and the whole world. All this mass of ceremonies being abandoned, the sacrament might be celebrated in the most becoming manner, if it were dispensed to the Church very frequently, at least once a-week. The commencement should be with public prayer; next, a sermon should be delivered: then the minister, having placed bread and wine on the table, should read the institution of the Supper. He should next explain the promises which are therein given; and, at the same time, keep back from communion all those who are debarred by the prohibition of the Lord. He should afterwards pray that the Lord, with the kindness with which he has bestowed this sacred food upon us, would also form and instruct us to receive it with faith and gratitude; and, as we are of ourselves unworthy, would make us worthy of the feast by his mercy. Here, either a psalm should be sung, or something read, while the faithful, in order, communicate at the sacred feast, the minister breaking the bread, and giving it to the people. The Supper being ended, an exhortation should be given to sincere faith, and confession of faith, to charity, and lives becoming Christians. Lastly, thanks should be offered, and the praises of God should be sung. This being done, the Church should be dismissed in peace.

44. What we have hitherto said of the sacrament, abundantly shows that it was not instituted to be received once a-year and that perfunctorily (as is now commonly the custom); but that all Christians might have it in frequent use, and frequently call to mind the sufferings of Christ, thereby sustaining and confirming their faith: stirring themselves up to sing the praises of God, and proclaim his goodness; cherishing and testifying towards each other that mutual charity, the bond of which they see in the unity of the body of Christ. As often as we communicate in the symbol of our Saviour's body, as if a pledge were given and received, we mutually bind ourselves to all the offices of love, that none of us may do anything to offend his brother, or omit anything by which he can assist him when necessity demands, and opportunity occurs. That such was the practice of the Apostolic Church, we are informed by Luke in the Acts, when he says, that "they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). Thus we ought always to provide that no meeting of the Church is held without the word, prayer, the dispensation of the Supper, and alms. We may gather from Paul that this was the order observed by the Corinthians, and it is certain that this was the practice many ages after. Hence, by the ancient canons, which are attributed to Anacletus and Calixtus, after the consecration was made, all were to communicate who did not wish to be without the pale of the Church. And in those ancient canons, which bear the name of Apostolical, it is said that those who continue not to the end, and partake not of the sacred communion, are to be corrected, as causing disquiet to the Church. In the Council of Antioch it was decreed, that those who enter the Church, hear the Scriptures, and abstain from communion, are to be removed from the Church until they amend their fault. And although, in the first Council of Tholouse, this was mitigated, or at least stated in milder terms, yet there also it was decreed, that those who after hearing the sermon, never communicated, were to be admonished, and if they still abstained after admonition, were to be excluded.

45. By these enactments, holy men wished to retain and ensure the use of frequent communion, as handed down by the apostles themselves; and which, while it was most salutary to believers, they saw gradually falling into desuetude by the negligence of the people. Of his own age, Augustine testifies: "The sacrament of the unity of our Lord's body is, in some places, provided daily, and in others at certain intervals, at the Lord's table; and at that table some partake to life, and others to destruction" (August. Tract. 26, in Joann. 6). And in the first Epistle to Januarius he says: "Some communicate daily in the body and blood of the Lord; others receive it on certain days: in some places, not a day intervenes on which it is not offered: in others, it is offered only on the Sabbath and the Lord's day: in others, on the Lord's day only." But since, as we have said, the people were sometimes remiss, holy men urged them with severe rebukes, that they might not seem to connive at their sluggishness. Of this we have an example in Chrysostom, on the Epistle to the Ephesians (Hom. 26). "It was not said to him who dishonoured the feast, Why have you not taken your seat? But how camest thou in?' (Mt. 22:12). Whoever partakes not of the sacred rites is wicked and impudent in being present: should any one who was invited to a feast come in, wash his hands, take his seat, and seem to prepare to eat, and thereafter taste nothing, would he not, I ask, insult both the feast and the entertainer? So you, standing among those who prepare themselves by prayer to take the sacred food, profess to be one of the number by the mere fact of your not going away, and yet you do not partake,--would it not have been better not to have made your appearance? I am unworthy, you say. Then neither were you worthy of the communion of prayer, which is the preparation for taking the sacred mystery."

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • Gordon Conwell
    Chapel | Rest
  • The Church: Social
    Fabric of the City
  • Theological Vision
    Why It Matters

#1   Claude Alexander


#3   Richard Lints


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     3/1/2014    “Give Me Scotland, or I Die”

     Perhaps more than anything else, John Knox is known for his prayer “Give me Scotland, or I die.” Knox’s prayer was not an arrogant demand, but the passionate plea of a man willing to die for the sake of the pure preaching of the gospel and the salvation of his countrymen. Knox’s greatness lay in his humble dependence on our sovereign God to save His people, revive a nation, and reform His church. As is evident from his preaching and prayer, Knox believed neither in the power of his preaching nor in the power of his prayer, but in the power of the gospel and the power of God, who sovereignly ordains preaching and prayer as secondary means in the salvation of His people.

     Although Knox had been imprisoned and enslaved, and though he was often infirm and under threat of persecution, he consistently lived out his theology, believing that “one man with God is always in the majority.” As such, the prayers of one man heard at the throne of God were a threat to the throne of Scotland. During the time of the sixteenth-century Scottish Reformation, Knox’s ministry of preaching and prayer were so well known that the Roman Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, is reputed to have said, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe.”

     Above all, Knox was a committed pastor and churchman whose ministry served as a compass to numerous pastors throughout Scotland. Knox’s unwavering commitment to the pure preaching of the gospel was a bright and shining light amid the darkness in a nation steeped in doctrinal and ecclesiastical compromise. He reinvigorated God’s shepherds throughout the nation; this, in turn, reformed the church and, thus, in God’s providence, revived the country. Most notably, what inspired the pastors perhaps more than any other characteristic in Knox was that he did not fear men, because he feared God—he was a man willing to offend men, because he was unwilling to offend God.

     John Knox preached and prayed to the end that God would rescue Scotland precisely because he was clinging to Jesus’ promise and prayer to save His people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. It should be no surprise to us then that when Knox was near death, he asked his wife to read to him the High Priestly Prayer in John 17 that our Lord Jesus prayed the night before He went to the cross. Knox called this passage “my first anchor.” For indeed, Christ is the captain of our souls and Christ’s prayer is the anchor and only hope of the nations. Therefore, in light of so great an example of God’s power working through one man, let each one of us pray with the same passion for our nation—and all nations—as Knox prayed for Scotland.

     click here for article source

     Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)

For Tom | 7/14/2016
     Genesis and Revelation

     Tom, despite some people saying the world is getting better, the evening news has gotten to the point your Mom and I often skip it. I use to wonder why we have thirty-nine weather reports in twenty minutes, especially since Portland doesn’t really have weather. Maybe it is to give the viewer a break from all the heart break.

     I suspect our world's ever growing crisis in compassion and mercy has caused you to dive into the prophetic books of the Bible, particularly Revelation.

     Reading the Bible for yourself is always a good thing, but 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” In other words, you can’t read the Bible like you would any other book, but the Holy Spirit will help us understand what we need to know if we ask the Lord to help us. Asking God to help us is a big deal with faith and theological implications.

     The Bible is self-authenticating, which means despite its many authors, writing for different audiences, at different times and with different agendas, the message of reconciliation, redemption and salvation is consistent. God does not contradict God. Humanly speaking, the Bible was written by approximately 40 men of diverse backgrounds over the course of 1500 years. The authors all present different perspectives, but they all proclaim the same one true God, and the same one way of salvation — Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Few of the books of the Bible specifically name their author, but ultimately the author of the Bible is God, 2 Timothy 3:16.

John 14:6 (NASB95) Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Acts 4:12 (NASB95) “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB95) All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

Psalm 89:35 Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David.

Proverbs 14:5 A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.

Titus 1:2 … in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began…

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

     God does not change, grow, or develop into something else. Certainly our attitude and understanding change, but the Bible does not. New age prophets talk about listening to the living voice. We do well to look back to the apostolic voice which the Holy Spirit will make alive to us … if we ask in humbleness and sincerity.

     So with regards to Revelation I think Revelation should be read not only with Genesis, but also with Daniel. Why? As I said, the Bible is self-authenticating. It is best understood as a whole, not a fragment. It can and does interpret itself and these three books are a great example of why the Bible is one story, with a beginning and an ending. Consider the following:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth

     Toward the end of Revelation:

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

     Genesis begins with the garden and paradise

2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

     Revelation ends with the paradise of heaven

21:4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.

     Genesis begins with the theme of marriage

2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.

     Revelation ends with the great wedding of the Lamb

21:9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.

     Genesis begins with a focus on the serpent’s deception

3:1ff. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

     Revelation ends with the serpent’s destruction

20:10 And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

     Genesis begins with the curse being put upon the world

3:14ff. The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

     Revelation ends with the curse being lifted

22:3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him;

     Genesis begins by describing the creation of day, night, and the oceans

1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

1:10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas.

1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,

     Revelation ends with no more need for day (sun), or night, or oceans

21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

22:5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

     Genesis begins with the “tree of life” among the people of God

2:9 Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

     Revelation ends with the “tree of life” among the people of God

22:2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

     Genesis begins with God dwelling with his people

2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

3:8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

     Revelation ends with God finally dwelling with his people again

21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;

     As we’ve discussed on the phone, I believe the Bible makes it perfectly clear the number one priority with God is relationship … and that is why Paul can say in Romans 1:20 that we are all without excuse. The person who has never heard a missionary or seen the Bible understands relationship.

Matthew 22:37 He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”


     Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of thirteen, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox Evangelical Seminary 1/2009 to 7/2018.

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The 38th President was born this day, July 14, 1913. His given name was Leslie Lynch King, Jr., but he his stepfather renamed him. The only Eagle Scout to become President, he attended the University of Michigan on a football scholarship, graduated from Yale Law School, served in the Navy during World War II. He was House Minority Leader and when Richard Nixon resigned, he became the only person become President without being elected. His name, Gerald Rudolph Ford, who said: “I ask you to confirm me as your President with your prayers. And I hope that such prayers will also be the first of many.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

     Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence
of a Christian mother in the molding
of character in her children.
--- Billy Graham

Intolerance lies at the core of evil.
Not the intolerance that results
from any threat or danger.
But intolerance of another being who dares to exist.
Intolerance without cause. It is so deep within us,
because every human being secretly desires
the entire universe to himself.
Our only way out is to learn
compassion without cause. To care for each other
simply because that ‘other’ exists.
--- Rabbi Menachem Mendle

This glorious hope revives our courage for the way,
When each in expectation lives and longs to see the day
When from sorrow, toil, pain and sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and joy shall reign throughout all eternity.
--- John Fawcett

The whole secret of abundant living can be summed up on this sentence: 'Not your responsibility but your response to God's ability'.
--- Carl F.H. Henry

... from here, there and everywhere

The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
     CHAPTER 17 / The Torah, the Heart,
     and Education

     “And You Shall Bind Them for a Sign upon Your Hand and They Shall Be as Frontlets Between Your Eyes”

     The first paragraph of the Shema concludes with two “practical” or ritual mitzvot, those of tefillin and mezuzah. The above verse refers to the first of these mitzvot, the tefillin of hand and head.

     Contained in the cubic boxes of the tefillin are four biblical passages in which the mitzvah of tefillin is mentioned. The tefillin were originally meant to be worn all day as “signs” that we dedicate heart and hand, principle and practice, to the Creator. However, because the Halakha requires exemplary purity of mind and body during the time one wears the tefillin, a practice that proved exceedingly difficult for the average Jew, the mitzvah was eventually restricted to the time of the daily Morning service (since tefillin are not to be worn at night), especially during the recitation of the Shema and the Amidah, particularly the former.

     The laws relating to tefillin are far too numerous and too detailed to be elaborated here. Nor does the scope of this volume allow for a discussion of the considerable literature concerning the larger meaning of this mitzvah. Let it suffice to cite the eloquent if hortatory passage from the nineteenth-century rabbi and thinker, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch:

     The mind which you dedicate to God through the tefillin cannot become the abode of lies, deceit, cunning, and malice. The heart which you sanctify to God through the tefillin cannot shrivel into self-seeking or become debased with pleasure-seeking. It must open up to an all-embracing love and dedicate itself in purity to the temple of the All-holy. And, finally, the hand which you have sanctified through the tefillin as an instrument for serving God in your actions—can you stretch it out in treachery to the happiness and peace of a brother? (33)

(33)     Horeb, trans. Dayan I. Grunfled (London: 1962), vol. I, p. 179.

     In this passage, Hirsch emphasizes the “all-embracing love” of God. The tefillin are a “sign” of that love; they are at one and the same time a reflection of our love for God and a reminder to nourish that love ever more. Hand and head, body and soul, are both dedicated to the love of the One Creator.

     This element of love is further emphasized by a distinguished grandson of Rabbi Hirsch. Rabbi Isaac Breuer writes that the tefillin renew daily the “covenant of love” between God and Israel. Indeed, the verse that is recited from the prophet
Hosea (2:21–22) as the leather strap of the hand-tefillin is wrapped about the fingers gives elegant expression to that love:

     And I will betroth you unto Me forever; and I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness and in judgment and in loving-kindness and in mercy; and I will betroth you unto Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.

     It is this “betrothal,” this “covenant of love” dedicated to the noblest values and highest ideals known to humankind, that finds expression in the tefillin that we bind to our limb of action and organ of contemplation. (34)

(34)     Naḥaliel (Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1982), p. 125.

  The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 9.

     The Death Of Salome. The Cities Which Herod And Philip Built. Pilate Occasions Disturbances. Tiberius Puts Agrippa Into Bonds But Caius Frees Him From Them, And Makes Him King. Herod Antipas Is Banished.

     1. And now as the ethnarchy of Archelaus was fallen into a Roman province, the other sons of Herod, Philip, and that Herod who was called Antipas, each of them took upon them the administration of their own tetrarchies; for when Salome died, she bequeathed to Julia, the wife of Augustus, both her toparchy, and Jamriga, as also her plantation of palm trees that were in Phasaelis. But when the Roman empire was translated to Tiberius, the son of Julia, upon the death of Augustus, who had reigned fifty-seven years, six months, and two days, both Herod and Philip continued in their tetrarchies; and the latter of them built the city Cesarea, at the fountains of Jordan, and in the region of Paneas; as also the city Julias, in the lower Gaulonitis. Herod also built the city Tiberius in Galilee, and in Perea [beyond Jordan] another that was also called Julias.1. And now as the ethnarchy of Archelaus was fallen into a Roman province, the other sons of Herod, Philip, and that Herod who was called Antipas, each of them took upon them the administration of their own tetrarchies; for when Salome died, she bequeathed to Julia, the wife of Augustus, both her toparchy, and Jamriga, as also her plantation of palm trees that were in Phasaelis. But when the Roman empire was translated to Tiberius, the son of Julia, upon the death of Augustus, who had reigned fifty-seven years, six months, and two days, both Herod and Philip continued in their tetrarchies; and the latter of them built the city Cesarea, at the fountains of Jordan, and in the region of Paneas; as also the city Julias, in the lower Gaulonitis. Herod also built the city Tiberius in Galilee, and in Perea [beyond Jordan] another that was also called Julias.

     2. Now Pilate, who was sent as procurator into Judea by Tiberius, sent by night those images of Caesar that are called ensigns into Jerusalem. This excited a very among great tumult among the Jews when it was day; for those that were near them were astonished at the sight of them, as indications that their laws were trodden under foot; for those laws do not permit any sort of image to be brought into the city. Nay, besides the indignation which the citizens had themselves at this procedure, a vast number of people came running out of the country. These came zealously to Pilate to Cesarea, and besought him to carry those ensigns out of Jerusalem, and to preserve them their ancient laws inviolable; but upon Pilate's denial of their request, they fell 9 down prostrate upon the ground, and continued immovable in that posture for five days and as many nights.

     3. On the next day Pilate sat upon his tribunal, in the open market-place, and called to him the multitude, as desirous to give them an answer; and then gave a signal to the soldiers, that they should all by agreement at once encompass the Jews with their weapons; so the band of soldiers stood round about the Jews in three ranks. The Jews were under the utmost consternation at that unexpected sight. Pilate also said to them that they should be cut in pieces, unless they would admit of Caesar's images, and gave intimation to the soldiers to draw their naked swords. Hereupon the Jews, as it were at one signal, fell down in vast numbers together, and exposed their necks bare, and cried out that they were sooner ready to be slain, than that their law should be transgressed. Hereupon Pilate was greatly surprised at their prodigious superstition, and gave order that the ensigns should be presently carried out of Jerusalem.

     4. After this he raised another disturbance, by expending that sacred treasure which is called Corban 10 upon aqueducts, whereby he brought water from the distance of four hundred furlongs. At this the multitude had indignation; and when Pilate was come to Jerusalem, they came about his tribunal, and made a clamor at it. Now when he was apprized aforehand of this disturbance, he mixed his own soldiers in their armor with the multitude, and ordered them to conceal themselves under the habits of private men, and not indeed to use their swords, but with their staves to beat those that made the clamor. He then gave the signal from his tribunal [to do as he had bidden them]. Now the Jews were so sadly beaten, that many of them perished by the stripes they received, and many of them perished as trodden to death by themselves; by which means the multitude was astonished at the calamity of those that were slain, and held their peace.

     5. In the mean time Agrippa, the son of that Aristobulus who had been slain by his father Herod, came to Tiberius, to accuse Herod the tetrarch; who not admitting of his accusation, he staid at Rome, and cultivated a friendship with others of the men of note, but principally with Caius the son of Germanicus, who was then but a private person. Now this Agrippa, at a certain time, feasted Caius; and as he was very complaisant to him on several other accounts, he at length stretched out his hands, and openly wished that Tiberius might die, and that he might quickly see him emperor of the world. This was told to Tiberius by one of Agrippa's domestics, who thereupon was very angry, and ordered Agrippa to be bound, and had him very ill-treated in the prison for six months, until Tiberius died, after he had reigned twenty-two years, six months, and three days.

     6. But when Caius was made Caesar, he released Agrippa from his bonds, and made him king of Philip's tetrarchy, who was now dead; but when Agrippa had arrived at that degree of dignity, he inflamed the ambitious desires of Herod the tetrarch, who was chiefly induced to hope for the royal authority by his wife Herodias, who reproached him for his sloth, and told him that it was only because he would not sail to Caesar that he was destitute of that great dignity; for since Caesar had made Agrippa a king, from a private person, much mole would he advance him from a tetrarch to that dignity. These arguments prevailed with Herod, so that he came to Caius, by whom he was punished for his ambition, by being banished into Spain; for Agrippa followed him, in order to accuse him; to whom also Caius gave his tetrarchy, by way of addition. So Herod died in Spain, whither his wife had followed him.

          The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 21:7-8
     by D.H. Stern

7     The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to act justly.

8     A criminal’s conduct is crooked,
but the work of the pure is right.

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

                The account with persecution

     But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. --- Matthew 5:39, etc.

     These verses reveal the humiliation of being a Christian. Naturally, if a man does not hit back, it is because he is a coward; but spiritually if a man does not hit back, it is a manifestation of the Son of God in him. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but make it an occasion to exhibit the Son of God. You cannot imitate the disposition of Jesus; it is either there or it is not. To the saint personal insult becomes the occasion of revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

     The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not—Do your duty, but—Do what is not your duty. It is not your duty to go the second mile, to turn the other cheek, but Jesus says if we are His disciples, we shall always do these things. There will be no spirit of—‘Oh well, I cannot do any more, I have been so misrepresented and misunderstood.’ Every time I insist upon my rights, I hurt the Son of God; whereas I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I take the blow myself. That is the meaning of filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. The disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honour that is at stake in his life, not his own honour.

     Never look for right in the other man, but never cease to be right yourself. We are always looking for justice; the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is—Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

My Utmost for His Highest

The Poetry of RS Thomas
     The Mill

                The Mill

I am going back now
  Twenty years at least:
  Hardly his wife's place
  In bed was cold, than
  Grew stern as he talked
  Of the old exploits
  With the plough and scythe.
  I read him the Psalms,
  Said prayers and was still.
  In the long silence
  I heard in the drawers
  The mice that rustled;
  In the shallow grate
  The small fire's petals
  Withered and fell.

Nine years in that bed
  From season to season
  The great frame rotted.
  While the past's slow stream,
  Flowing through his head,
  Kept the rusty mill
  Of the mind turning--
  It was I it ground.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Malachi 1:1–5
     Doubting God’s Love
     W. W. Wiersbe

     Like Nahum (1:1) and Habakkuk (1:1), Malachi called his message a “burden.” The prophets were men who personally felt “the burden of the Lord” as God gave them insight into the hearts of the people and the problems of society. It wasn’t easy for Malachi to strip the veneer off the piety of the priests and expose their hypocrisy, or to repeat to the people the complaints they were secretly voicing against the Lord, but that’s what God called him to do. “The task of a prophet,” writes Eugene Peterson, “is not to smooth things over but to make things right.” (Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best )

     The first sin Malachi named was the people’s lack of love for God. That was the first sin Jesus mentioned when He wrote to the seven churches of Asia Minor (
Rev. 2:4), and perhaps it’s listed first because lack of love for God is the source of all other sin. For centuries, the Jews have recited “The Shema” (The word shema is Hebrew for “hear,” the first word in the prayer.) as their daily prayer: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4–5, NKJV). But the people Malachi preached to doubted that God even loved them, so why should they love Him?

     The prophet presented several evidences of God’s love for Israel, the first of which is God’s clear statement of His love (
Mal. 1:2a). Malachi was probably referring to what the Lord said through Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy, particularly 7:6–11. When God gave the Law at Sinai, the emphasis was, “Obey My Law because I am a holy God.” But when Moses reviewed the Law for the new generation, the emphasis was, “Obey the Lord because He loves you and you love Him.” Both motives are valid today.

     The second evidence of God’s love that Malachi presented was God’s electing grace (
Mal. 2b–3). As the firstborn in the family, Esau should have inherited both the blessing and the birthright, but the Lord gave them to his younger brother Jacob (Gen. 25:21–23). (In His sovereign grace, God often rearranged the birth order of children. Abel was older than Seth, but God chose Seth (Gen. 4:25–26). Ishmael was Abraham’s firstborn son, but God bypassed him for Isaac (17:15–22). Manasseh was Joseph’s firstborn, but God gave the blessing to Ephraim (48:13–22). This may be a reminder to us that in our first birth we are undone and without blessing, but because of the new birth, the second birth, we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings” in Christ (Eph. 1:3).) The descendants of Esau had their land assigned to them, but God gave the Edomites no covenants of blessing as He did to Jacob’s descendants.

     The statement that God loved Jacob but hated Esau has troubled some people. Paul quoted it in
Romans 9:10–13 to prove God’s electing grace for both Israel and all who trust Jesus Christ for salvation. But the verb “hate” must not be defined as a positive expression of the wrath of God. God’s love for Jacob was so great that, in comparison, His actions toward Esau looked like hatred. As an illustration, Jacob loved Rachel so much that his relationship to Leah seemed like hatred (Gen. 29:20, 30–31; see also Deut. 21:15–17). When Jesus called His disciples to “hate” their own family (Luke 14:26), He was using the word “hate” in a similar way. Our love for Christ may occasionally move us to do things that appear like hatred to those whom we love (see Matt. 12:46–50).

     Someone said to Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein, the gifted Hebrew Christian leader of a generation ago, “I have a serious problem with
Malachi 1:3, where God says, ‘Esau I have hated.’ ” Dr. Gaebelein replied, “I have a greater problem with Malachi 1:2, where God says, ‘Jacob, I have loved.’ ” We certainly can’t explain the love and grace of God, nor do we have to, but we can experience God’s grace and love as trust Christ and walk with Him. The Lord is even willing to be “the God of Jacob.”

     Malachi’s third evidence for God’s love is God’s evident blessing on the people of Israel (
v. 4). Like other nations in that area, Edom suffered during the Babylonian invasion of Israel, but the Lord didn’t promise to restore their land as He promised the Jews. The proud Edomites boasted that they would quickly have their land in good shape, but God had other plans. He called Edom “The Wicked Land” (v. 4, NIV), but Israel He called “the holy land” (Zech. 2:12).
Zechariah 2:12 is the only place in Scripture where Palestine is called “the holy land.” Malachi 3:12 calls it “a delightful land” (NIV); and it is also called a “beautiful land”
Dan. 11:41, NIV; “glorious”), “the Lord’s land” (Hosea 9:3), and “the pleasant land” (Zech. 7:14).) Keep in mind that the Edomites were indeed an evil people (see Obad. 8–14) who deserved every judgment God sent their way. To the Jews, the Babylonian invasion was a chastening, but to Edom, it was a judgment.

     Think of how God showed His love to the Jewish people. First, He spared the Jews who were in exile in Babylon (see
Jer. 29). Then, He moved Cyrus to issue the decree that enabled the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the temple. He provided the leadership of Joshua the high priest, Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, and Ezra, as well as the prophetic ministry of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Had His people obeyed the terms of the covenant, the Lord would have blessed them even more. Yes, they were a weak remnant, but the Lord was with them and promised to bless them.

     Note that the name God uses in Malachi 1:4 is “Lord of hosts” (“Lord Almighty” in the NIV), that is, “the Lord of the armies,” a name used 24 times in Malachi and nearly 300 times in the Old Testament. This is the “military” name of God, for “hosts” comes from a Hebrew word which means “to wage war.” The Lord is the Commander of the hosts and heaven: the stars (
Isa. 40:26; Gen. 2:1), the angels
(Ps. 103:20–21), the armies of Israel (Ex. 12:41), and all who trust in Him (Ps. 46:7, 11).

     Finally, Malachi reminded the Jews of the great privilege God gave them to witness to the Gentiles (
Mal. 1:5). During the reigns of David and Solomon, God manifested His glory through the nation of Israel so that the Gentiles came from distant lands to see what was happening in Israel. To a lesser degree, this also happened during the times of Josiah and Hezekiah. But the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple gave the Gentiles opportunity to ridicule Israel and laugh at their religion and their God (Pss. 74; 137; Jer. 18:13–17; Lam. 2:15–16).

     When God brought His remnant back to the land, He wanted to bless them and once again manifest His glory through them, but they failed to trust Him and obey His law. Though they had been chastened by God and ruined by Babylon, and though they had lost the esteem of the Gentile nations around them, the Jews could have made a new beginning and witnessed to the Gentiles of the grace and mercy of God. Instead, they lapsed into the sins that Malachi attacks in his book, and they gave but a weak witness to the other nations. They missed their opportunity to glorify God.

     But we need to remind ourselves that the trials we experience as individuals or congregations are also opportunities to glorify God before a watching world. That’s how Paul viewed his imprisonment and possible death in Rome (Phil. 1:12–26), and that’s the way we must look at the testings God sends our way. Every difficulty is an opportunity to demonstrate to others what the Lord can do for those who put their trust in Him.

Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship (The BE Series Commentary)

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Genesis 32:4–6

     Two fighting birds can’t rest on one perch.

     BIBLE TEXT / Genesis 32:4–6 / Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, and instructed them as follows, “Thus shall you say, ‘To my lord Esau, thus says your servant Jacob: I stayed with Laban and remained until now; I have acquired cattle, asses, sheep, and male and female slaves; and I send this message to my lord in the hope of gaining your favor.’

     MIDRASH TEXT / Genesis Rabbah 75, 4 / Messengers. These were human beings. But the Rabbis say: Actual angels. Rabbi Ḥama bar Ḥanina said, “Hagar was the handmaid of Sarai, yet five angels appeared to her. The one who was the beloved of his house, how much more so! And Eliezer who was the household servant; angels appeared to him. The one who was the beloved of his house, how much more so!” Rabbi Yosé said, “Joseph was the smallest of the tribes yet three angels appeared to him, as it is written ‘a man came upon him’ (Genesis 37:15), ‘the man asked him’ (ibid.), ‘the man said’ (Genesis 37:17). Then the one who is father of them all, how much more so!”

     Ahead. To the one who would have sovereignty ahead of him. Rabbi Yehoshua said, “He sent his purple coat and threw it before him, saying to him, ‘Two fighting birds can’t rest on one perch.’

     CONTEXT / The Hebrew word מַלְאָךְ/malakh can mean both “angel” and “messenger,” perhaps because an angel was simply a messenger from God. Thus, we are often unsure as to how to translate the words מַלְאָכִים/מַלְאָךְ/malakh/malakhim: “angel/angels” or “messenger/ messengers.” (The same question was raised in the story of Lot and the malakhim in Genesis 19:1.) When the biblical text says that Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau, we assume, from a contextual reading, that these malakhim were simply human messengers or emissaries, carrying gifts to appease his brother Esau. This is the opinion of the anonymous first source in this Midrash: Messengers. These were human beings. However, the Rabbis, that collective voice of the scholars of the time, say that we should understand malakhim not as messengers but as angels: But the Rabbis say: Actual angels.

     The Rabbis likely had two reasons for reading the text this way. First, in the verses preceding Jacob’s sending gifts to Esau, Jacob has just had an experience with malakhei Elohim, which is usually understood as “angels [and not human messengers] of God.”

     Early in the Morning, Laban kissed his sons and daughters and bade them good-by; then Laban left on his journey homeward. Jacob went on his way, and angels of God [malakhei Elohim] encountered him. When he saw them, Jacob said, “This is God’s camp.” So he named the place Mahanaim. (
Genesis 32:1–3)

     If these were angels of God and not human messengers, then it is logical to assume that the next reference to malakhim, only two verses later, also means angels and not mere human messengers.

     Second, the Rabbis were making a statement about their ancestor Jacob. They saw Jacob as a powerful man, comfortable with God and able to use a relationship with God to his own benefit. Jacob did not simply send any agent to Esau: Jacob sent angels to greet his brother. Rather than being the powerless one in the story, Jacob is strong, for he has the power to summon God’s angels.

     Furthermore, the Rabbis assert, if angels of God appeared to other, less deserving biblical figures in Genesis, surely they would appear to Jacob as well! Hagar was the handmaid of Sarai, yet five angels appeared to her. The one who was the beloved of his house, how much more so! Five angels of God spoke to Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah. And Eliezer who was the household servant of Abraham; angels appeared to him. And three angels appeared to Joseph—at least according to the Rabbinic interpretation of “man” in the account of Joseph looking for his brothers (Genesis 37), based on the mysterious “man” mentioned in the story. When Jacob sent Joseph to see how his sons were faring with their flocks, Joseph got lost. On the way, a man came upon him … the man asked him … and the man said something to Joseph. The Rabbis assume that Joseph didn’t just bump into a man on the way. Rather, the “man” was an angel from God to direct Joseph to his brothers. It is easy to see how—according to the Rabbis—Hagar the handmaid and Eliezer the servant are less deserving than Jacob the patriarch. But how is Joseph less deserving? Either they are referring to the fact that, in later biblical times, Joseph was the smallest of the tribes, or that he was among the last to be born to Jacob.

     Ahead. To the one who would have sovereignty ahead of him. Some midrashim are as much a comment on the events of the times of the Rabbis as they are on the biblical text itself. This would appear to be the case in this Midrash. In the period after the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans ruled over the land of Israel. The Talmud of the land of Israel and the Midrash could not speak openly about the political impotence of the Jews. Instead, they resorted to subtle references; “Edom” or “Esau,” two names for the wicked brother of Jacob, would be understood by the listener as “Rome.” “Esau” rules temporarily but is doomed to fall under the ultimate control of Israel in the future, perhaps as a prelude to or as the beginning of the messianic era. Thus, they intuit that Jacob sent not only the listed items as a gift. “He [Jacob] sent his purple coat [in antiquity, purple was the color of the emperor or king] and threw it before him [Esau], saying to him, ‘Two fighting birds can’t rest on one perch.’ ” By sending his royal coat to Esau, Jacob was saying to his brother: “I admit that you rule over me … for now.” The maxim about the two birds means “Two kings cannot rule at once,” similar to the talmudic adage “Is it possible for two kings to share one crown?” (Ḥullin 60b). However, the Rabbis felt that Jacob (the Jews) would ultimately rule. Jacob may have sent the coat as a sign of submission, but he threw it to the ground, not willing to admit Esau’s permanent rule. In the future, the Rabbis reason, Jacob will rule over Esau (Rome). God will bring the day when the other flock of birds will come home to roost. Israel will be triumphant and Rome humbled.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     July 14

     Yet he saved them for his name’s sake.
--- Psalm 106:8.

     By way of exhortation to believers, O admire his goodness, admire his name. (Ralph Erskine, “God’s Great Name, the Ground and Reason of Saving Great Sinners,” preached at Carnock, July 18, 1730, before the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, downloaded from Fire and Ice, Puritan and Reformed Writings, at www.puritanRS Thomas.com, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.)He knows all your sins against him and against his name, yet he shows mercy. Let sin against so good a God be abhorred; let his goodness lead you to repentance more and more. Praise him for his mercy, truth, faithfulness. Credit all mercy you meet with to his name, and do your best to meet reasons for God’s name to be more and more glorified, on his using his name for your help. For though sinners have a ground of hope that he may do for his name’s sake, yet saints have a ground of hope that he will do for his name’s sake. His name is pledged.

     He has a name suiting every need. Do you need wonders to be wrought for you? His name is Wonderful; look to him so to do, for his name’s sake. Do you need counsel and direction? His name is the Counselor. Do you have mighty enemies to debate? His name is the mighty God; ask him to exert his power for his name’s sake. Do you need his fatherly pity? His name is the everlasting Father. Plead his pity, for his name’s sake. Do you need peace external, internal, or eternal? His name is the Prince of Peace; seek, for his name’s sake, that he may create peace. Do you need healing? His name is Jehovah-Rophi, the Lord the healer and physician. Do you need pardon? His name is Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness. Do you need defense and protection? His name is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord your banner. Seek, for his name’s sake, that his banner of love and grace may be spread over you. Do you need provision in extreme want? His name is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide. Do you need his presence? His name is Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is there; Immanuel, God with us. Do you need audience of prayer? His name is the Hearer of prayer. Do you need strength? His name is the Strength of Israel. Do you need comfort? His name is the Consolation of Israel. Do you need shelter? His name is the City of Refuge. Have you nothing and need all? His name is All in All. He has a name suitable for your supply; he has wisdom to guide you and power to keep you, mercy to pity you, truth to shield you, holiness to sanctify you, righteousness to justify you, grace to adorn you, and glory to crown you. Trust in his name, who saves for his name’s sake.
--- Ralph Erskine

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

On This Day
     The Gambler  July 14

     Gambling can take a man’s shirt off his back, but Christ can clothe him with hope. Camillus de Lellis learned both lessons. He was an Italian, born in 1550 to a mother nearly 60. By 17 he stood six-and-a-half feet, big-boned, well-muscled, quick-tempered, and unchaste. He enlisted in the army, was sent to war, but on the battlefield contracted a leg disease that afflicted him the rest of his life.

     The hospital for incurables in Rome, San Giacomo, admitted him, but he was soon ejected for quarreling. That wasn’t his worst fault. Camillus relished betting, and by 1574 his addiction had taken his last penny. That autumn in the streets of Naples he gambled with his last possession, the shirt on his back. Losing the wager, he stripped it off and limped away both broke and broken.

     Camillus secured a construction job, and one day a friar came along preaching. The message hit home, and Camillus fell to his knees, crying to God for mercy. He was 25 when he became a Christian. He returned to San Giacomo and offered himself as a volunteer. He ministered intently to the suffering, and in time he was promoted, then promoted again. He eventually became hospital superintendent.

     With a friend’s endowment, he organized a small army of male nurses to serve the sick in Christ’s name. He also mobilized volunteers to travel with troops in Hungary and Croatia, thus forming the first “military field ambulance.” He sent nurses aboard galley ships to attend slaves suffering from pestilence. In all, Camillus organized eight hospitals, pioneered medical hygiene and diet, and successfully opposed the prevailing practice of burying patients alive.

     All the while, Camillus’s leg was worsening, and he began suffering ruptures elsewhere on his body. Sometimes on his rounds, he crawled from sickbed to sickbed. On July 14, 1614, after a final tour of his works, Camillus de Lellis died at age 64. He was canonized in 1746 and declared patron saint of the sick by Pope Leo XIII, and of nurses and nursing by Pope Pius XI. In Catholic tradition he is remembered every year on this day.

     If you don’t confess your sins, you will be a failure. But God will be merciful If you confess your sins and give them up. The LORD blesses everyone who is afraid to do evil, But if you are cruel, you will end up in trouble.
--- Proverbs 28:13,14.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - July 14

     “If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” --- Exodus 20:25.

     God’s altar was to be built of unhewn stones, that no trace of human skill or labour might be seen upon it. Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; instead, however, of improving the Gospel carnal wisdom pollutes it, until it becomes another Gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord’s own Word are defilements and pollutions. The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God; preparations for Christ are dreamed of, humblings and repentings are trusted in, good works are cried up, natural ability is much vaunted, and by all means the attempt is made to lift up human tools upon the divine altar. It were well if sinners would remember that so far from perfecting the Saviour’s work, their carnal confidences only pollute and dishonour it. The Lord alone must be exalted in the work of atonement, and not a single mark of man’s chisel or hammer will be endured. There is an inherent blasphemy in seeking to add to what Christ Jesus in His dying moments declared to be finished, or to improve that in which the Lord Jehovah finds perfect satisfaction. Trembling sinner, away with thy tools, and fall upon thy knees in humble supplication; and accept the Lord Jesus to be the altar of thine atonement, and rest in him alone.

     Many professors may take warning from this Morning’s text as to the doctrines which they believe. There is among Christians far too much inclination to square and reconcile the truths of revelation; this is a form of irreverence and unbelief, let us strive against it, and receive truth as we find it; rejoicing that the doctrines of the Word are unhewn stones, and so are all the more fit to build an altar for the Lord.

          Evening - July 14

     "As it began to dawn, came Magdalene, to see the sepulchre." --- Matthew 28:1.

     Let us learn from Mary Magdalene how to obtain fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Notice how she sought. She sought the Saviour very early in the Morning. If thou canst wait for Christ, and be patient in the hope of having fellowship with him at some distant season, thou wilt never have fellowship at all; for the heart that is fitted for communion is a hungering and a thirsting heart. She sought him also with very great boldness. Other disciples fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed; but Mary, it is said, “stood” at the sepulchre. If you would have Christ with you, seek him boldly. Let nothing hold you back. Defy the world. Press on where others flee. She sought Christ faithfully—she stood at the sepulchre. Some find it hard to stand by a living Saviour, but she stood by a dead one. Let us seek Christ after this mode, cleaving to the very least thing that has to do with him, remaining faithful though all others should forsake him. Note further, she sought Jesus earnestly—she stood “weeping”. Those tear-droppings were as spells that led the Saviour captive, and made him come forth and show himself to her. If you desire Jesus’ presence, weep after it! If you cannot be happy unless he come and say to you, “Thou art my beloved,” you will soon hear his voice. Lastly, she sought the Saviour only. What cared she for angels, she turned herself back from them; her search was only for her Lord. If Christ be your one and only love, if your heart has cast out all rivals, you will not long lack the comfort of his presence. Mary Magdalene sought thus because she loved much. Let us arouse ourselves to the same intensity of affection; let our heart, like Mary’s, be full of Christ, and our love, like hers, will be satisfied with nothing short of himself. O Lord, reveal thyself to us this Evening!

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     July 14


     Hugh Stowell, 1799–1865

     When you pass through the waters, I will be with you … (Isaiah 43:2)

     God sometimes shuts the door and shuts us in,
     That He may speak, perchance through grief or pain;
     And softly, heart to heart, above the din
     May teach some precious truth to us again.
--- Unknown

     In Old Testament worship, the mercy seat was the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, which housed the Mosaic tables of stone, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded. The mercy seat was a most sacred, holy place. It symbolized the place of God’s eternal presence with His people.

     When the storms of life blow our way, we can either cringe in despair or flee to the heavenly Mercy Seat—the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4).There we can find the help and strength to be overcomers. Trials can sometimes embitter and harden our spirits. However, if we use the trial to lean more fully on Christ and to learn the lesson He desires to teach us, we become stronger in our faith.

     Hugh Stowell, the author, was a minister in the Anglican church and was known as one of the truly evangelical leaders in the church during his time. His ministry was also characterized by a love for children and an active Sunday school in his church. This hymn text was originally titled “Peace at the Mercy Seat” and was first published in 1828 in a collection of poems by the author.

     How different life would be “had suff’ring saints no mercy seat.” How important it is for God’s people to avail themselves of this “calm, sure retreat” by using prayer to commune with Him there on a consistent basis.

     From ev’ry stormy wind that blows, from ev’ry swelling tide of woes, there is a calm, a sure retreat—’Tis found beneath the mercy seat.
     There is a place where Jesus sheds the oil of gladness on our heads, a place than all besides more sweet—It is the blood-bought mercy seat.
     There is a scene where spirits blend, where friend holds fellowship with friend; tho sundered far, by faith they meet around one common mercy seat.
     Ah! Whither could we flee for aid when tempted, desolate, dismayed, or how the hosts of hell defeat, had suff’ring saints no mercy seat?
     Ah! there on eagle wings we soar, and sin and sense molest no more; and heav’n comes down our souls to greet, while glory crowns the mercy seat.

     For Today: Psalm 61:2; Isaiah 25:4; Matthew 11:28; 1 Corinthians 1:3-5; Hebrews 4:16.

     Always remember—for the child of God, life’s storms are opportunities to learn more about Him. Thank God even now for His Heavenly Mercy Seat. Reflect on these words as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of the Will
     Martin Luther | (1483-1546)

     Sect. LXXXV. — BUT now follows the act itself of hardening, which is thus: — The wicked man (as we have said) like his prince Satan, is turned totally the way of selfishness, and his own; he seeks not God, nor cares for the things of God; he seeks his own riches, his own glory, his own doings, his own wisdom, his own power, and, in a word, his own kingdom; and wills only to enjoy them in peace. And if any one oppose him or wish to diminish any of these things, with the same aversion to God under which he seeks these, with the same is he moved, enraged, and roused to indignation against his adversary. And he is as much unable to overcome this rage, as he is to overcome his desire of self-seeking; and he can no more avoid this seeking, than he can avoid his own existence; and this he cannot do, as being the creature of God, though a corrupt one.

     The same is that fury of the world against the Gospel of God. For, by the Gospel, comes that “stronger than he,” who overcomes the quiet possessor of the palace, and condemns those desires of glory, of riches, of wisdom, of self-righteousness, and of all things in which he trusts. This very irritation of the wicked, when God speaks and acts contrary to what they willed, is their hardening and their galling weight. For as they are in this state of aversion from the very corruption of nature, so they become more and more averse, and worse and worse, as this aversion is opposed or turned out of its way. And thus, when God threatened to take away from the wicked Pharaoh his power, he irritated and aggravated him, and hardened his heart the more, the more He came to him with His word by Moses, making known His intention to take away his kingdom and to deliver His own people from his power: because He did not give him His Spirit within, but permitted his wicked corruption, under the dominion of Satan, to grow angry, to swell with pride, to burn with rage, and to go on still in a certain secure contempt.

The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library

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