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Proverbs 24 - 26

Proverbs 24

Proverbs 24:1  Be not envious of evil men,
nor desire to be with them,
2  for their hearts devise violence,
and their lips talk of trouble.

3  By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
4  by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches.
5  A wise man is full of strength,
and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
6  for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
7  Wisdom is too high for a fool;
in the gate he does not open his mouth.

8  Whoever plans to do evil
will be called a schemer.
9  The devising of folly is sin,
and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.

10  If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
11  Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12  If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?

13  My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
14  Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.

15  Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
do no violence to his home;
16  for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

17  Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18  lest the LORD see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.

19  Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
and be not envious of the wicked,
20  for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

21  My son, fear the LORD and the king,
and do not join with those who do otherwise,
22  for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?

More Sayings of the Wise

23 These also are sayings of the wise.

Partiality in judging is not good.
24  Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,”
will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations,
25  but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
and a good blessing will come upon them.
26  Whoever gives an honest answer
kisses the lips.

27  Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house.

28  Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause,
and do not deceive with your lips.
29  Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me;
I will pay the man back for what he has done.”

30  I passed by the field of a sluggard,
by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
31  and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
the ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
32  Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
33  A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
34  and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.

Proverbs 25

More Proverbs of Solomon

Proverbs 25:1  These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.

2  It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.
3  As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth,
so the heart of kings is unsearchable.
4  Take away the dross from the silver,
and the smith has material for a vessel;
5  take away the wicked from the presence of the king,
and his throne will be established in righteousness.
6  Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great,
7  for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.

What your eyes have seen
8  do not hastily bring into court,
for what will you do in the end,
when your neighbor puts you to shame?
9  Argue your case with your neighbor himself,
and do not reveal another’s secret,
10  lest he who hears you bring shame upon you,
and your ill repute have no end.

11  A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
12  Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
13  Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
he refreshes the soul of his masters.
14  Like clouds and wind without rain
is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.

15  With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
and a soft tongue will break a bone.
16  If you have found honey, eat only enough for you,
lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.
17  Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house,
lest he have his fill of you and hate you.
18  A man who bears false witness against his neighbor
is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow.
19  Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble
is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.
20  Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart
is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day,
and like vinegar on soda.
21  If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
22  for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.
23  The north wind brings forth rain,
and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.
24  It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
25  Like cold water to a thirsty soul,
so is good news from a far country.
26  Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain
is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
27  It is not good to eat much honey,
nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.
28  A man without self-control
is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Proverbs 26

Proverbs 26:1  Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
so honor is not fitting for a fool.
2  Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,
a curse that is causeless does not alight.
3  A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the back of fools.
4  Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
5  Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
6  Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool
cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.
7  Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless,
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
8  Like one who binds the stone in the sling
is one who gives honor to a fool.
9  Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
10  Like an archer who wounds everyone
is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.
11  Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.
12  Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
13  The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”
14  As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.
15  The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.
16  The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven men who can answer sensibly.
17  Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
18  Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
19  is the man who deceives his neighbor
and says, “I am only joking!”
20  For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
21  As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
22  The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
23  Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24  Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
and harbors deceit in his heart;
25  when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
for there are seven abominations in his heart;
26  though his hatred be covered with deception,
his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27  Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
28  A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.

The Reformation Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Tell Us Your Stories

By Collin Hansen 8/1/2010

     Sometimes younger Christians give the impression that we have things figured out. We’re the future. We’ve found the old methods wanting, so we’ve developed new ones. We’re the generation that will strike the right balance where our forebears fell over to one side or the other. We’ve learned from your mistakes. And we don’t mind telling you.

     Older believers recognize this youthful arrogance for what it is. You’ve been there, done that, grown out of it. You wait patiently for us to do likewise. But I want to encourage you not to let us younger believers off the hook so easily. Don’t berate us, for we excel at tuning out what we don’t want to hear. Don’t patronize us, as our pride will kick in and make us defensive. Still, there is one thing you can do: Tell us your stories.

     Your stories give us the perspective we haven’t yet gained with experience. We don’t yet understand how much we don’t know. Our youthful bluster masks insecurity. We stand tall against withering attacks from our peers, but we’ve hardly been tested. We fear that when harder times come our faith will prove ephemeral. But your stories gird us against these doubts. So look underneath our confident exterior. You’ll find that younger Christians actually want to hear from older believers about how God demonstrated His faithfulness in their generation.

     I’m worried, however, that these stories will be lost. Evangelicals suffer from self-inflicted amnesia. Our churches segregate age groups in order to foster relationships between peers. If you’re not deliberate about developing intergenerational friendships, they will not happen. Worse, our relentless effort to contextualize the gospel by chasing new cultural trends leads us to disparage the past. After all, what can the past teach us about spreading the gospel in the age of social media? Innovation is indeed necessary as we take the gospel into all the nations. And those committed to semper reformanda will always re-evaluate their practices by the standard of Scripture. But the line between innovation and fashion appears dangerously faint these days.

     Exceptions give me hope that this unfortunate trend may be reversed. Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, killed by the Nazi regime, continues to inspire young Christians to forsake cheap grace and follow the path of costly discipleship. The Ecuador martyrs’ courage has prodded many young believers to reach the unreached with the gospel. Their story gives remarkable power to Jim Elliot’s famous quote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” And I won’t soon forget sitting in Park Community Church on Chicago’s North Side in April 2009 as hundreds of trendy young evangelicals listened to D.A. Carson and John Piper for nearly four hours. Carson and Piper did little more than share their stories of God’s providence displayed over decades of faithful ministry.

     There is consistently strong biblical warrant for encouraging one another by telling these stories of God’s grace. In his charge to Israel, Moses told God’s people: “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you” (Deut. 32:7). And oh, what a story the elders could tell of the God who heard the cries of His people, delivered them from Egypt, destroyed their pursuing enemies in the Red Sea, and sustained them in the wilderness. Yet Psalm 106 details the sad saga of how quickly and often the Israelites forgot what God had done. When still in Egypt, “they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love” (Ps. 106:7). Even after the Red Sea miracle, “they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel” (v. 13). Then, when Moses ascended Mt. Sinai, they worshiped a golden calf. “They forgot their God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt” (v. 21).

     We Christians live according to the new and better covenant ratified in the blood of Jesus Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit. But we are similarly sinful. We need constant reminders that God is good no matter our circumstances. Scripture is the ultimate deposit of these faith-forming stories. So we mine the Scriptures, which were “written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

     But our own testimonies to God’s persevering grace build up the body as well. I can attest to this effect while researching the history of revivals. As I read about the heaven-sent awakenings that broke out during president Timothy Dwight’s tenure at Yale University during the early 1800s, I was inspired to pray boldly that God would set college campuses aflame with revival today. I mourned over the darkness that has since enveloped North Korea but gave thanks for the Pyongyang revival that spread into China and eventually transformed South Korea.

     Maybe God hasn’t used you to lead a revival. But he has revealed his sovereign goodness to you in countless ways both big and small. So tell us your stories. We’re listening.

  Click here to go to source

Per Amazon | Collin Hansen serves as editorial director for The Gospel Coalition. He earned an MDiv at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and an undergraduate degree in journalism and history from Northwestern University. He previously worked as an associate editor for Christianity Today magazine, co-edited 'Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism,' and co-edits the Cultural Renewal series with Tim Keller. He is an elder at Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves on the advisory board of Beeson Divinity School.

Dealing With Disappointment

By Alistair Begg

     Have you ever been disappointed by events or people? Ever had desires and dreams and hopes that went unfulfilled? We’ve all had them. They are part of the package called life.

     From the human standpoint, Joseph’s life up to this point could be viewed as a series of crushing disappointments and shattered dreams. And in the dungeon in Egypt, he was about to suffer yet another setback: “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him” (Genesis 40:23).

Genesis 40:23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.  ESV

     I imagine that on the day of his release, the man grabbed Joseph by the hand and said, “Joseph, thanks for what you did for me. You can expect to hear from me. I’m your man, Joe.”

     Have you ever heard those words from somebody, and six months later your phone still hasn’t rung? Perhaps someone you thought loved you told you, “I’m yours,” and then left, never to be heard from again.

     How do we deal with the disappointment of unfulfilled dreams? How do we deal with the fact that people just flat out let us down sometimes? Let’s learn something important from Joseph.

     We can only assume that there was a great expectation in Joseph’s heart as the cupbearer was restored to his position. In those first days after the cupbearer’s release, Joseph’s spirit probably quickened every time he heard a rattling at the door of the dungeon. “They’re coming to release me.”

     Putting it in contemporary terms, Joseph would have been saying, “If the phone rings, don’t touch it. It’ll be for me.”

     But the first call wasn’t for Joseph. Neither was the second or the third. And as the days lengthened into weeks and then months, Joseph came to realize there was not going to be a call from the cupbearer.

     We know from Genesis 41:1 that “two full years” passed before anyone came for Joseph. What a disappointment! But dis- appointments happen all the time. It’s an axiom of life that people fail us and let us down. Things we hope will happen and expect to happen don’t go as we anticipate. Even the best of persons will prove to be a disappointment to us at times.

Genesis 41:1 After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile,  ESV

     Why should we be surprised? After all, we in turn fail and disappoint others. We leave projects incomplete and promises unfulfilled. This brings home graphically the words of Jeremiah 17:5: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

     If you’re relying on other people for your hopes and plans, your trust is in the wrong place — even more so if your confidence in yourself or others causes you to cease trusting in the Lord!

     People can be secondary causes of God’s provision for us, but our ultimate confidence must be in Him. Anything less than this will lead us to great disappointment and pain.

Some will love thee,
Some will hate thee,
Some will praise thee,
Some will slight.
Cease from man
And look above thee,
Trust in God
And do the right.

     How did Joseph handle the bitter disappointment of the cupbearer’s faulty memory? Judging by Joseph’s conduct two years later, he kept his confidence anchored in God. If anyone had learned that people often disappoint, it was our man in Egypt!

     Dr. Alistair Begg | (Trent University; London School of Theology; Westminster Seminary) was born in Scotland and spent the first 30 years of life in the United Kingdom. Since September of 1983, he has been the senior pastor at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He is the daily speaker on the national radio program Truth For Life which stems from his weekly Bible teaching at Parkside. He and his wife, Susan, have three grown children.

     Alistair Begg Books |  Go to Books Page

The First Number

By R.C. Sproul Jr. 8/1/2010

     I am the father of eight children. As such, I receive more than my fair share of questions from children, many of which are repeats. That is, not only am I asked by my seven-year old one day and my nine-year-old the next what my favorite color is, but they forget my answer and ask again a week later. My four-year-old will soon learn the same questions, and his little brother after him. They want to know my favorite animal and my favorite food. They have even asked before what my favorite number is. Favorite number? I understand preferring one color to another, as such touches on matters of aesthetics. I understand favorite animals as well, as each different animal uniquely manifests the glory and wisdom of God in creation. Favorite food makes sense too, even if it is just a matter of taste. But favorite number? How would one choose? “Oh, I much prefer 8 because it is divisible by both 2 and 4, whereas poor 9 is only divisible by 3.”

     It is not just children, however, who find something sacred in numbers. Professional athletes have been known to pay tens of thousands of dollars to secure the rights to wear particular numbers on their jerseys. Fans, by the thousands, pay hundreds to wear those same numbers on replica jerseys. Nor is this simply a Western phenomenon. Some among the Chinese are so fascinated by the power of numbers that they will name their restaurants after them. I used to frequent one called 4-5-6. Why this obsession with numbers?

     I suspect the answer is found in Eden. Numbers, because of their abstract nature, may be that place where our thinking grows closest to God’s. We hear in the harmony of music and we see in the dance of the heavenly spheres echoes and reflections of the beauty of not just creation but the Creator. In its place, this is right and proper. We should always marvel at His glory and power. But we must always remember that His ways are not our ways, His thoughts not our thoughts. We must not, as Satan tempted us, see numbers as a tool for our own power and glory.

     As the tenth century drew to its conclusion, too many Christians saw in that grand, round number what they thought was a glimpse into the private thoughts of God. The millennium bug bit us, and we caught the fever. Disappointments along these lines, then and now, can be peculiarly damaging, as theologies are twisted and Scriptures denied in order to explain how our math turned out wrong. If we say, “We know from searching the Scriptures that Jesus will return by this date,” and He does not return, we are left with the choice of affirming either that the Bible is not clear, or worse, wrong, or that Jesus did something else important. (See the founding of Seventh-day Adventism for the latter response.)

     As the twentieth century drew to its close, many of us suffered from the same folly. Whether it was 88 Reasons Jesus Will Return in 1988 or even the technological version of millennial fever that we who are Reformed tended to favor, we thought our math would show us the mind and plan of God. We were wrong.

     There is, however, a number that has the power to reveal to us God’s will for our lives — first. Jesus commands that we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. It’s the only number we need to know. Jesus not only doesn’t tell us to divine the day and the hour, He insists that no man knows this. He doesn’t tell us to cook our numbers so that we might read the future in their tea leaves. He tells us to leave all such foolishness and to be busy about the business of pursuing His kingdom.

     Any study of church history ought to remind us of our folly. When we see the saints a thousand years ago thinking they could read the future, we should learn to better read the past. What they should have seen was hundreds and hundreds of more years of God’s people slowly learning to believe all His promises. What we should see is that we haven’t learned quite as much as we would like to think. Such ought not to discourage us. Instead, it should encourage us. We are not, as some would again have us believe, at the very end of history. We are instead at the beginning of His story. As we more faithfully seek His kingdom, we set the trajectory for centuries to come. We raise up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, that they might follow in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. We instruct them in the importance of instructing their children. And as many as are afar off seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. God’s kingdom grows not only wider over time, as the gospel covers the world as the waters cover the sea, it grows more deep as each generation succeeds the last in covenant fidelity.

     Leave the numbers to our one true King. Seek first His kingdom, remembering that there is one faith, one baptism, and one Lord, world without end. Amen.

Click here to go to source

     R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.

     R.C. Sproul Jr. Books |  Go to Books Page

The Crown of Thorns Club

By Chris Donato 8/1/2010

     When was the last time you went to a private social club? If you think that kind of thing is for the elite members of our society alone, guess again. The Yellow Pages are filled with lists of social clubs in which anyone in the neighborhood can become a member. They meet mainly on Sunday mornings — but don’t be foolish enough to wait for an invitation.

     Unfortunately, like most other clubs, this one is designed to keep certain people in and other people out. You will find in it a decidedly internalized and individualized faith, complete with its own set of man-made regulations. You will find in it a group of folks who act as if they are enjoying life to the fullest, no matter where they are or what they are doing. And what do they do? They do exactly what they wish to do. In this Sunday club, then, it comes as no surprise that God Is He Who Exists for Me.

     But in reality, this private social club has been called out of the world of clubs, not to be just another club — albeit a little cleaner (if not a lot less fun) — but to be the anti-club, the place where the mantra above is flipped: I Am He Who Exists for God. Apart from this, we would have no purpose, being left anchorless in a torrid sea, unable to know our worth as creatures among other creatures wrought and redeemed by a transcendent God.

     Recovering a sense of awe over God’s grace and our extrinsic worth (our worth given to us by God in Christ) as God’s people will, at the very least, produce what it has in every generation: worship of the one true God. And worship is, primarily, a collective thing; that is, groups engage in it. No doubt, individuals do as well (though “in secret,” Matt. 6:4, 6, 18). But far and away the focus in Scripture, when it comes to worship, is its corporate dimension.

Sacred Time and Place

     In our time and place, riddled as it is with hyper-individualism and the temptation to live as if God doesn’t exist, we need now more than ever to recapture the biblically defined idea of sacred time and place, not as a building so much as that which presupposes and points to a personal God — the gathering of His people. “For where two or three are gathered in my name,” Jesus said, “there am I among them” (Matt. 18:20). Not one, but two or three. And then the Christ comes. Our Father, His Son the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit inhabit a new temple — the covenant people (see John 14:16–23). It is in our relationship as individuals with and in this new temple that the triune God has promised to open His love to us. In other words, worship is the way through which the love of God is made accessible to His people. “Worship is an immediate and present means of God’s love, making us new creatures and giving us the ever more abundant life now” (C. FitzSimons Allison, Fear, Love, and Worship, p. 19).

     This assumes that our growth as persons (that is, our development into more fully image-bearing humans) happens only in relation to others — first with God in Christ through His Spirit, and second with the temple of the Most High, His people. Add to this the means of His grace — the preached Word and the Word made visible in the sacraments of baptism and communion — and we’ve got readymade resistance against “the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

The Society of Friends

     Such living, or “faithful presence” (to use James Davison Hunter’s phrase in his recently published book, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World), means enacting “the shalom of God in the circumstances in which God has placed [us] and to actively seek it on behalf of others” (p. 278). While I won’t presume to tell anybody how this shakes out with respect to politics, business, or even coaching little-league soccer, I can say the Christian club mentality wouldn’t thrive under such conditions, since the very air it breathes (a narcissistic air of superiority) would be sucked out of the room by the selfless embodiment of God’s peace (the practicing of sacrificial love) no matter where we find ourselves throughout the week — but especially as we gather for worship.

     In Ephesians 4, one word, among a few others, sums up its theme: friendship. This probably sounds trite to modern ears, but that might have more to do with how trite our friendships are in this shallow, isolated age. The apostle Paul often exhorts the church in Ephesus to simply act like a society of friends. Chapter 4 of the letter is littered with such exhortations: support each other in love and preserve unity (vv. 2–3); use your gifts to knit the body together and strengthen it (vv. 12, 16); “speak the truth” to one another (v. 25); don’t sin in your anger against a friend (vv. 26, 29, 31); and work an honest job in order to share with those in need (vv. 28, 32).

     In short, practice friendship. For a church without friendship, just like a beautiful woman who turns aside from her dignity, is like “a gold ring in a pig’s snout” (Prov. 11:22).

Click here to go to source

     Chris Donato is Director of Communications at Trinity International University, former senior associate editor of Tabletalk magazine, and editor of Perspectives on the Sabbath.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 78

Tell the Coming Generation
78 A Maskil Of Asaph.

1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

5 He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;

ESV Study Bible

Slay Them In My Name

By Anthony Zarrella 9/18/2018

Luke 19:27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’ ”   ESV

     Yes, Jesus said those words.

     And David, in Psalms 14 and 53, did literally write, “There is no God.”

     But David attributes those words as what “the fool” says “in his heart”—he is not adopting that sentiment as his own, but in fact condemning it.

     Similarly, Jesus makes the quoted statement as the words of a character in a parable.

     Unlike David, He is not condemning the sentiment. In fact, He is adopting it as His own. But He is not actually giving a command to His followers to slay unbelievers.

     He is giving them a prophetic parable of how things will be when He returns in glory—the “nobleman” who goes away and comes back is Jesus, but He has not left yet at the time of the parable. When He returns at the eschaton, people will have the choice to follow Him and receive eternal life, or reject Him and receive an unending “second death”.

     Some people might still find that objectionable. I’m well aware that there are plenty of people who wish to impose human morality upon God rather than divine morality upon humanity.

     But in proper context, what this verse assuredly does not mean is that Jesus commanded His actual disciples to go out and kill people who didn’t follow Him.

Click here to go to source

Anthony Zarrella | Conservative Catholic, Attorney/Councilor, Constitutionalist

The Frozen Chosen

By Keith Mathison 8/1/2010

     Reformed Christians are often accused of being cold and callous, virtual Stoics or fatalists. We’ve all heard the epithet “the frozen chosen” applied to Reformed believers. We usually protest that such a nickname does not truly describe us, and of course, we all know many brothers and sisters to whom such a name would never stick. But the fact that this nickname, this description of us, is so common should give us pause. Do we sometimes speak and act in ways that give rise to such an idea? Sadly, I believe we do.

     Take grief, for example. I cringe when I think of the number of times I’ve heard completely heartless and, frankly, offensive words come out of the mouths of Reformed Christians when speaking about death. The problem is a lack of biblical balance. As believers, we do now rest assured that when believing loved ones die, they are then in the presence of the Lord, finally free from sin. We also rest assured of the resurrection, when our bodies will be raised incorruptible from the grave. And, trusting the sovereignty of God, we always attempt to be prepared for whatever time God shall choose to call us to Himself.

     To be present with the Lord is a great good. To be free from sin is a great good. For these things it is appropriate to long. This is what John Calvin means when he says, “Let us, however, consider this settled: that no one has made progress in the school of Christ who does not joyfully await the day of death and final resurrection” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.10.5). But the fact that these things are good does not mean that death, in and of itself, is good. God, in His Word, refers to death as “the wages of sin” (Rom. 6:23). Hell is “the second death” (Rev. 20:6). Paul describes death as God’s “last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26). Is an enemy of God good? No. Death is the result of sin. It is an unnatural abomination in God’s creation, an ally of Satan that will ultimately be eradicated. As the apostle John tells us, in the new heaven and earth “death shall be no more” (Rev. 21:4).

     Now because believers are in Christ and share in His resurrection, death will not conquer us, but the fact that Christ has taken the ultimate sting out of death for believers does not change the fact that death is still an enemy of God, which will be completely destroyed by Christ. This understanding of death affects the way we look at grief. The fact that believers who die are present with the Lord and that their bodies will be raised means that we do not grieve as unbelievers grieve (1 Thess. 4:13). It does not mean, however, that we do not grieve at all.

     Somehow, many Reformed Christians have gotten it into their heads that to grieve with those who grieve is to deny the belief that a deceased loved one is in the presence of God. Some seem to have convinced themselves that true compassion for the grieving or true hatred of this enemy of God somehow betrays a lack of faith in the sovereignty of God. But who has a greater certainty of God’s sovereignty than Jesus? Who knows better what is on the other side of death for believers? And yet how did Jesus respond when Lazarus died? Did He look at it with a heartless Stoicism? No. Jesus wept (John 11:35). He wept, even though He knew what He was about to do in raising Lazarus back to life.

     Jesus’ response is how we should respond to death in this time between the times. Jesus has already conquered death in His resurrection. He will completely destroy it at the final resurrection of the dead. Here and now, we grieve with those who grieve, not as unbelievers with no hope of the resurrection, but as believers who know death cannot defeat us, but who still hate this enemy of God and the pain and loneliness it causes to our brothers and sisters. We grieve as those who cannot wait to see death destroyed once and for all.

     Is such hatred of God’s last enemy and compassion for its victims “Calvinist”? On the one hand, such a question is irrelevant, but those who doubt that it is “Calvinist” should read some of the letters of Calvin himself. Take Calvin’s letter of April 1541 to Monsieur de Richebourg as an example. Calvin wrote this letter to console him on the death of his son. Calvin writes that when he first heard the news, “I was so utterly overpowered that for many days I was fit for nothing but to grieve.” After consoling his friend with the truths I mentioned above concerning the resurrection, Calvin continues: “It is difficult … to shake off or suppress the love of a father, as not to experience grief on occasion of the loss of a son. Neither do I insist upon your laying aside all grief. Nor, in the school of Christ, do we learn any such philosophy as requires us to put off that common humanity with which God has endowed us, that, being men, we should be turned to stones.” All Calvin urges him to do is refrain from grieving as unbelievers grieve. As Jesus wept, so too did Calvin weep. If we are human, we too will weep.

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Per Amazon, Keith A. Mathison (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary; PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is dean of the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and an associate editor of Tabletalk magazine at Ligonier Ministries. He is editor of When Shall These Things Be: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism and associate editor of The Reformation Study Bible. He lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife and children.

Keith Mathison Books:

By John Walvoord

Judgment Is Inevitable, but True Repentance Will Bring Restoration

     Jeremiah 15:1–4. Even though Moses and Samuel interceded, God would nevertheless punish His people. They were destined to death by the sword, by starvation, and by captivity (v.  2 ). Four kinds of destroyers would attack them: the sword, the dogs, the birds, and the beasts of the earth (v.  3 ). Even the nations would abhor them because they followed the sins of Manasseh (v.  4 ). This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.

     Jeremiah 15:5–21. No one would pity Jerusalem in her day of distress because she had rejected the Lord (vv.  5–6 ). There would be many widows, more than the sands of the sea (v.  8 ). These survivors would be put to the sword (v.  9 ). God promised to deliver Jeremiah in the time of distress. Their wealth would be plundered, and they would be enslaved to their enemies. Jeremiah was promised that if he was a worthy spokesman of God, he would be like “a fortified wall of bronze” (v.  20 ). God promised to save him from the hand of the wicked (v.  21 ). These prophecies were fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.

The Coming Disaster

     Jeremiah 16:1–13. Jeremiah was instructed not to marry or have sons and daughters because they would be destined to die by the sword and by famine like the others.

     Jeremiah was also told not to join in the funeral meal or to show pity for those in bereavement because God had withdrawn His pity from this people, and they were destined for a sad end. No more would the bride and the bridegroom celebrate with joy.

     Jeremiah was instructed to tell the people that a great disaster was coming because not only they but their fathers had forsaken the Lord (vv.  10–12 ). They would be carried captive to a strange land and there would serve other gods (v.  13 ). These prophecies were fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity and in Jeremiah’s experience.

God’s Ultimate Purpose to Restore Israel

     Jeremiah 16:14–15. Though the near prospect for Israel was that of disaster and removal from the land, God affirmed that even in this context of apostasy He would restore them to the land: “‘However, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when men will no longer say “As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,” but they will say, “As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.” For I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers.’”

     Two things may be noted about this prophecy: (1) It was delivered in a time of apostasy when Israel certainly did not deserve this promise. (2) The promise of the land was still understood as a literal promise, as it is all through the Old Testament. Just as Israel was being literally carried off into captivity from her land to another, so she will be literally brought back from other lands to her homeland. The time of fulfillment will be at the second coming of Christ when Israelites will come “out of all the countries where he had banished them” (v.  15 ). Her regathering will enable her to participate in the millennial kingdom following the second advent.

Captivity to Precede Restoration

     Jeremiah 16:16–18. In contrast to the merciful regathering of Israel mentioned in the preceding verses, this prophecy describes hunting down the Israelites who would be carried off into captivity. Israelites who were hidden would be searched out, and they would suffer for their sins and the sins of their forefathers. This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.

Gentiles Also to Be Saved

     Jeremiah 16:19–21. God, who had been the refuge of those who turned to Him, would eventually bring to Himself those from all nations who trust in the Lord (v.  19 ). When they return to the Lord, He will teach them of His “power and might. Then they will know that my name is the LORD” (v.  21 ). This is fulfilled in God’s program of salvation.

The Wicked and the Righteous Contrasted

     Jeremiah 17:1–18. The sin of Judah was inscribed indelibly on her heart, causing God to punish her (vv.  1–2 ). Her wealth would be taken from her (v.  3 ); she would lose her inheritance (v.  4 ) and would be enslaved (v.  4 ). God pronounced a curse on the one who trusted in man and described him as a bush in the desert (vv.  5–6 ).

     By contrast, the blessed man “will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (v.  8 ). Israel at the time, however, was like a desert bush, not a righteous person drawing from an abundant supply of water. The problem with Israel and Judah was that their hearts were deceitful (v.  9 ), and this resulted in God’s forsaking them and putting them to shame (v.  13 ). Because Jeremiah’s persecutors would not believe him, Jeremiah called on God to bring the judgment he had prophesied (vv.  14–18 ).

Keeping the Sabbath

     Jeremiah 17:19–27. Jeremiah’s plea with the children of Israel to keep the Sabbath went unheeded. God offered her a conditional promise: If she would keep His Sabbath and observe His Law, He would bless her; if she would not, “then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses” (v.  27 ).

Sign of the Potter’s House

     Jeremiah 18:1–10. Using the illustration of a marred pot of clay being shaped in the potter’s hands, God declared to Jeremiah that He could do what the potter did as Israel was clay in His hands. God declared that if a nation under the curse of His judgment would repent of its evil, He would relieve them of the disaster (v.  8 ). If, on the other hand, He announced blessing on the nation or kingdom but it did evil, then God would “reconsider the good I had intended to do for it” (v.  10 ). Blessing under the Mosaic law was conditioned on obedience. This prophecy was fulfilled in the history of Israel.

Disaster Predicted

     Jeremiah 18:11–23. In light of this, God declared, “‘Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart’” (vv.  11–12 ). God charged Israel with a “most horrible thing” (v.  13 ). Israel had forgotten God and had been burning incense to idols that were worthless (v.  15 ). As a result, “their land will be laid waste, an object of lasting scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads” (v.  16 ). Jeremiah asked God to fulfill His plans to punish Israel because she was making plots against Jeremiah himself.

Sign of the Broken Pot

     Jeremiah 19:1–15. Jeremiah was instructed to buy a clay jar from the potter and then pronounce judgment on Israel because of her sins (vv.  1–5 ). Instead of calling the place “Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom,” they would call it “the Valley of Slaughter” (v.  6 ). God described the terrible judgment on Israel that would devastate her cities and even cause her to eat the flesh of her children (vv.  7–9 ). Jeremiah then broke the jar and declared that God “will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired. They will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no room” (v.  11 ). God will defile Jerusalem just as He defiled Topheth (vv.  12–13 ).

     Jeremiah repeated his judgment that God would bring disaster on Jerusalem and the surrounding villages because “they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words” (v.  15 ). This judgment was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.

     Jeremiah 20:1–6. After Jeremiah was beaten by Pashhur the priest (vv.  1–2 ), Jeremiah repeated the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem (v.  4 ). He declared that they would see their friends fall by the sword and see the treasures of Jerusalem taken to Babylon (vv.  4–5 ). He predicted that Pashhur himself would go into exile in Babylon and would die and be buried there (v.  6 ). This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity ( 2 Chron. 36:15–21).


Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

The Continual Burnt Offering (Luke 9:26)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

July 21
Luke 9:26  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.   ESV

     The claims of Christ are paramount to all others. He asks for a full, unreserved surrender to Himself. None but God is entitled to this. He is God become man for our redemption. Therefore all authority is His. To yield to Him will mean the recognition that we are not our own, but are to be henceforth at His command. To lay down our lives is to put them absolutely at His disposal. If this ever means literally to die for Him, it will but open the door to eternal bliss. To shrink from suffering, to seek to avoid death by denying Him, will mean the life — the true self — lost. To acknowledge Him openly before men, whatever the consequences, will mean an open acknowledgment of us by Him in the day of His revelation, His glorious appearing. He who died to redeem the soul claims our fullest allegiance.

Not my own, but saved by Jesus,
Who redeemed me by His blood,
Gladly I accept the message,
I belong to Christ the Lord.

Not my own! My time, my talents,
Freely all to Christ I bring;
To be used in joyful service
For the glory of my King.
--- D. W. Whittle

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

  • Obedience of Faith
  • Cut-Throat Christianity
  • Thanksgiving

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     10/1/2014    Every Jot and Tittle

     Although we don’t like to admit it, the reason many of us don’t read the Bible regularly is because we are afraid of it. We are afraid of the Bible because we are ignorant of the Bible. Many of the theological words and concepts we come across in the Bible are foreign to us and, therefore, frighten us. When we come across such words, we often don’t know what to make of them. So, we just move on to the next word and, to our own detriment, fail to grasp the full meaning and beauty of the passage we’re reading. This isn’t just the case with big theological words we run into from time to time, but with common words we’re familiar with that appear on every page of the Bible. Part of the reason we move on is because we are often trying to read the Bible simply to get through a particular chapter or book rather than digging into it to study it in its fullness. In fact, the Bible doesn’t ever call us just to read it. Rather, the Bible calls us to study it, to examine it, to devour it, to meditate on it, to let it dwell within our hearts richly, and to hide it in our hearts that we might not sin against the Lord.

     As a pastor, one of my greatest concerns is that people know the Bible for themselves so that they might know God, love God, glorify God, and enjoy God. As Dr. R.C. Sproul and I preach every Sunday at Saint Andrew’s Chapel, we strive to help our congregation know the Bible by preaching verse-by-verse through entire books of the Bible. Recently, I completed preaching 150 sermons through 1 and 2 Corinthians, and in most of these sermons, following the example set by Dr. Sproul, I defined key theological words so that the congregation would be better equipped and unafraid to study Scripture on their own and with their families.

     Some words we come across in the Bible require that we not only examine their meaning, but also the meanings of related words. This is because a word itself is often just one part of a two-part concept—a dichotomy—in Scripture. For instance, when we come across the word blessing, we must also know the biblical and theological distinction between blessing and its opposite, cursing. Similarly, in order to fully grasp the meaning of wisdom, we must examine the meaning of foolishness. If we study one without the other, we do ourselves a great disservice in our understanding and application of the theology of God’s Word. God’s Word is truth—it not only contains the truth, it defines the truth, and it is by that truth we are sanctified. Consequently, the more we know God’s truth, the more we will grow in the grace, knowledge, and holiness of Jesus Christ, by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Let us therefore study not only the major stories and theological themes of the Bible, but also every word, every jot and tittle, that we might know and love our Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, coram Deo, before the face of the God who has revealed Himself to us for our eternal good and His eternal glory.

     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)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The famous Monkey Trial ended this day, July 21, 1925, as John Scopes, a Highschool biology teacher in Tennessee was fined for teaching a theory of origins called evolution. Williams Jennings Bryan, three time Democratic Presidential candidate, was the prosecuting attorney. He objected to a tooth being presented as proof of humans evolving from apes. Later the tooth was admitted to be that of a pig. William Jennings Bryan, who died five days after the trial, once stated: “I am interested in the science of government, but I am more interested in religion … and I shall be in the church even after I am out of politics.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7

Thus it was fitting that man should be created,
in the first place,
so that he could will both good and evil--
not without reward, if he willed the good;
not without punishment, if he willed the evil.
But in the future life he will not have the power
to will evil;
and yet this will not thereby restrict his free will.
Indeed, his will will be much freer,
because he will then have no power whatever to serve sin.
For we surely ought not to find fault with such a will,
nor say it is no will,
or that it is not rightly called free,
when we so desire happiness
that we not only are unwilling to be miserable,
but have no power whatsoever to will it.
--- Saint Augustine

All that is thought should not be said,
all that is said should not be written,
all that is written should not be published,
all that is published should not be read.
--- Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgenstern of Tomashov
(the Kotzker Rebbe)

Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face to face;
here would I touch and handle things unseen,
here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace,
and all my weariness upon Thee lean.
Here would I feed upon the bread of God,
here drink with Thee the royal wine of heav’n.
Here would I lay aside each earthly load,
here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiv’n.
--- Horatius Bonar

You know a constellation of imperishable values. Live by the mighty truth and power of God. Live above the sludge of a sick society. Live among dispirited humans as the vanguard of peace and good news. Remember, our Commander in Chief has no use for tin soldiers.
--- Carl F.H. Henry

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 16.

     Cestius Sends Neopolitanus The Tribune To See In What Condition The Affairs Of The Jews Were. Agrippa Makes A Speech To The People Of The Jews That He May Divert Them From Their Intentions Of Making War With The Romans.

     1. However, Florus contrived another way to oblige the Jews to begin the war, and sent to Cestius, and accused the Jews falsely of revolting [from the Roman government], and imputed the beginning of the former fight to them, and pretended they had been the authors of that disturbance, wherein they were only the sufferers. Yet were not the governors of Jerusalem silent upon this occasion, but did themselves write to Cestius, as did Bernice also, about the illegal practices of which Florus had been guilty against the city; who, upon reading both accounts, consulted with his captains [what he should do]. Now some of them thought it best for Cestius to go up with his army, either to punish the revolt, if it was real, or to settle the Roman affairs on a surer foundation, if the Jews continued quiet under them; but he thought it best himself to send one of his intimate friends beforehand, to see the state of affairs, and to give him a faithful account of the intentions of the Jews. Accordingly, he sent one of his tribunes, whose name was Neopolitanus, who met with king Agrippa as he was returning from Alexandria, at Jamnia, and told him who it was that sent him, and on what errands he was sent.

     2. And here it was that the high priests, and men of power among the Jews, as well as the sanhedrim, came to congratulate the king [upon his safe return]; and after they had paid him their respects, they lamented their own calamities, and related to him what barbarous treatment they had met with from Florus. At which barbarity Agrippa had great indignation, but transferred, after a subtle manner, his anger towards those Jews whom he really pitied, that he might beat down their high thoughts of themselves, and would have them believe that they had not been so unjustly treated, in order to dissuade them from avenging themselves. So these great men, as of better understanding than the rest, and desirous of peace, because of the possessions they had, understood that this rebuke which the king gave them was intended for their good; but as to the people, they came sixty furlongs out of Jerusalem, and congratulated both Agrippa and Neopolitanus; but the wives of those that had been slain came running first of all and lamenting. The people also, when they heard their mourning, fell into lamentations also, and besought Agrippa to assist them: they also cried out to Neopolitanus, and complained of the many miseries they had endured under Florus; and they showed them, when they were come into the city, how the market-place was made desolate, and the houses plundered. They then persuaded Neopolitanus, by the means of Agrippa, that he would walk round the city, with one only servant, as far as Siloam, that he might inform himself that the Jews submitted to all the rest of the Romans, and were only displeased at Florus, by reason of his exceeding barbarity to them. So he walked round, and had sufficient experience of the good temper the people were in, and then went up to the temple, where he called the multitude together, and highly commended them for their fidelity to the Romans, and earnestly exhorted them to keep the peace; and having performed such parts of Divine worship at the temple as he was allowed to do, he returned to Cestius.

     3. But as for the multitude of the Jews, they addressed themselves to the king, and to the high priests, and desired they might have leave to send ambassadors to Nero against Florus, and not by their silence afford a suspicion that they had been the occasions of such great slaughters as had been made, and were disposed to revolt, alleging that they should seem to have been the first beginners of the war, if they did not prevent the report by showing who it was that began it; and it appeared openly that they would not be quiet, if any body should hinder them from sending such an embassage. But Agrippa, although he thought it too dangerous a thing for them to appoint men to go as the accusers of Florus, yet did he not think it fit for him to overlook them, as they were in a disposition for war. He therefore called the multitude together into a large gallery, and placed his sister Bernice in the house of the Asamoneans, that she might be seen by them, [which house was over the gallery, at the passage to the upper city, where the bridge joined the temple to the gallery,] and spake to them as follows:

          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 21:21-22
     by D.H. Stern

21     He who pursues righteousness and kindness
finds life, prosperity and honor.

22     A wise man can go up into a city of warriors
and undermine the strength in which it trusts.

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 gateway to the kingdom

     Blessed are the poor in spirit. --- Matthew 5:3.

     Beware of placing Our Lord as a Teacher first. If Jesus Christ is a Teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalize me by erecting a standard I cannot attain. What is the use of presenting me with an ideal I cannot possibly come near? I am happier without knowing it. What is the good of telling me to be what I never can be—to be pure in heart, to do more than my duty, to be perfectly devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as Saviour before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of an ideal which leads to despair. But when I am born again of the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come to teach only: He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives are based on that disposition.

     The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the natural man—the very thing Jesus means it to do. As long as we have a self-righteous, conceited notion that we can carry out Our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to go on until we break our ignorance over some obstacle, then we are willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. ‘Blessed are the paupers in spirit,’ that is the first principle in the kingdom of God. The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility—‘I cannot begin to do it.’ Then Jesus says—
‘Blessed are you.’ That is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor! The knowledge of our own poverty brings us on to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.

My Utmost for His Highest

A Priest To His People
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                A Priest To His People

Men of the hills, wantoners, men of Wales,
With your sheep and your pigs and your ponies,
     your sweaty females,
How I have hated you for your irreverence,
     your scorn even
Of the refinements of art
     and the mysteries of the Church,
I whose invective would spurt like a flame of fire
To be quenched always in the coldness of your stare.
Men of bone, wrenched from the bitter moorland,
Who have not yet shaken the moss from your savage skulls,
Or prayed the peat from your eyes,
Did you detect like an ewe or an ailing whether,
Driven into the undergrowth by the nagging flies,
My true heart wandering in a wood of lies?

You are curt and graceless, yet your sudden
Is sharp and bright as a whipped pool,
When the win strikes or the clouds are flying;
And all the devices of church and school
Have failed to ripple your unhallowed movements,
Or put a halter on your wild soul.
You are lean and spare, yet your strength is a
Of the pale words in the black Book,
And why should you come like sparrows for prayer
Whose hands can dabble in the world's blood?

I have taxed your ignorance of rhyme and sonnet,
Your want of deference to the painter's skill,
But I know, as I listen, that your speech has in it
The source of all poetry, clear as a rill
Bubbling from your lips; and what a brushwork
could equal
The artistry of your dwelling on the bare hill?

You will forgive, then, my initial hatred,
My first intolerance of your uncouth ways,
You who are indifferent to all that I can offer,
Caring not whether I blame or praise.

With your pigs and your sheep and your sons
and holly-cheeked daughters
You will still continue to unwind your days
In a crude tapestry under the jealous heavens
To affront, bewilder, yet compel my gaze.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Searching For Meaning In Midrash

     The Hebrew word for elder, זָקֵן/zaken, is related to the Hebrew word for beard, זָקֵן/zakan. Just as a beard comes with age, so too, the Midrash believes, does wisdom. The young were taught to revere their elders, not out of pity for those who were old and infirm and decrepit, but because those who had lived many years had accumulated much experience and wisdom. These were to be found not in cyberspace, but in the head of a man with a beard who had been blessed with long life and had learned much along the way.

     Imagine a young person, two thousand years ago, having to make a trek across a desert. There were no Jeeps to rent, no guides to hire, no guidebooks to buy. Just one person, on his own, against the elements. How did he know which route to take? Where would he find drinkable water? What hostile tribes and wild animals did he need to look out for? When was the best time to travel? If he wanted to survive, he would go to an elder in the family or the clan, sit at his feet, and learn all that he could. With the elder resided the accumulated experience and wisdom that had been passed down from generation to generation for a thousand years.

     Mark Twain had a classic witticism that wonderfully captures the initial arrogance of youth, and the lessons they come to learn about their elders:

When I was 14, my father was so stupid I could barely stand to have the old man around. When I was 21, I was amazed at how much he had learned in seven years.…
The rabbis had another proverb that tells us about the young who never learned the lesson:…
There are many old camels bearing the hides of young camels on their backs. (Sanhedrin 52a)…
We learn to respect our elders—not simply for their sakes, but for our own.


     Let’s make a case for those without beards, youth and women, for Rabbinic literature was written by Rabbis, and these were all men. A lot of them probably had beards. The Rabbis spoke in a language that was quite gendered: It was masculine both in its grammar and its outlook. Thus, the Hebrew word for elder, from the same root as “beard,” denotes someone with knowledge, someone who has something to contribute to the discussion. Those without a beard—females and the young—were too often easily dismissed.

     Yet even the Rabbis themselves realized that wisdom isn’t always dressed in a beard. In the Talmud, in a selection quoted in the Passover Haggadah, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah compares himself to one who is seventy years old. The Rabbis tell us that Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah was only eighteen at the time. He had only recently assumed the responsibility of being head of the study house and felt as if he were seventy. He was chronologically young but old enough in wisdom (and aged by the burden of leadership) to guide scholars many years older. At age eighteen, Rabbi Elazar was a זָקֵן/zaken, “elder,” even though his beard may not have been long and white.

     In our world, younger people often have knowledge and experience that the elders do not. Our children may surpass us with knowledge of technology. Youngsters race through their homework using the Internet as a tool, while “elders” take longer to do research in books and catalogues.

     And it’s not just a question of age; it’s also one of gender. In the Midrash, we hear few women’s voices. On several occasions, Beruriah, wife of Rabbi Meir, is quoted in the Talmud for her sagacity and sensitivity. How would the collections of Midrash have read if the feminine perspective had been added throughout? What additional and enriching views would women have added to the Rabbis’ reading of the Bible? How fascinating that the word for counsel and advice, עֵצָה/eitzah, is feminine! We can only guess what women might have contributed then; fortunately, we can hear and benefit from their wisdom now.

     Today, we recognize that the Rabbis often grouped “women and children” into one category, glossing over the significant differences between them. Let’s take advice and wisdom from every source, regardless of age or gender.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     July 21

     Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
--- Matthew 11:28–30.

     We can always find him where we are. (John A. Broadus, “Come unto Me,” downloaded from the Web site of Blessed Hope Ministries of Shiloh Church, Gainesville, Georgia, at members.aol.com/blesshope, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) And since this is so, go to him as people did when he was on earth. Many testify that they have gone and been heard, and none [have] been sent away empty—go, and you too will hear him say, “Your sins are forgiven.” Go with the same humility the Syrophoenician woman felt when she pleaded that the dogs, though they should not eat the children’s food, might yet have the crumbs that fell under the table—and that she, though a Gentile, might yet have some humble share in salvation. Go with all the earnestness the poor blind man felt. He heard that Jesus was passing, and none could hinder him from crying, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And when the Savior commanded him to be called, they said to him, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Even so, my hearer, Jesus commands you to be called, as you sit in your spiritual blindness. Just as Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak that nothing might hinder him and went eagerly to Jesus, so you go at once to him and ask that you may receive your sight. You too shall hear him say, “Go, your faith has healed you.”

     And go to Jesus just as you are. Do not wait to be ready—don’t think of being prepared, don’t dream of being fit to go. The readiness, the preparation, the fitness—all must be his gift. How wrong to put off your going to him till you have that which he alone can give! You are a burdened sinner—isn’t it so? Jesus invites you, “Come to me.” Do you say you are not sorry for sin as you ought to be? I know you are not. But go to Jesus and ask that he will help you to repent. If you have no faith, ask that he will give you faith. All must come from him. Let him be your Savior and your all.

     You shall find rest. He will not send you away. He came into the world to save sinners—he suffered and died to save sinners—he invited burdened sinners to him. Then take this invitation to yourself—go to Jesus, and your soul shall live. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life”
--- Rev. 22:17.
--- John A. Broadus

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

On This Day
     O Susanna  July 21

     What a difficult life. She was the twenty-fifth child in a Dissenter’s family. Though brilliant, she procured little education. Though strong-willed, she lived in a male-dominated age. She married an older man and bore him 19 children. Nine of them died. Her house burned up, her barn fell down, her health failed, and she lived with a wolf at the door.

     She was Susanna Wesley.

     Samuel and Susanna, married in 1689, began pastoring in dreary little Epworth in 1697. They served there 40 years, enduring hardships like these:

•     Samuel’s salary was so small (and he was so incapable of managing it) that he was thrown into debtor’s prison, leaving Susanna to fend for herself.

•     The two were strong-willed and argumentative. Samuel once prayed for the king and waited for Susanna’s “Amen.” She didn’t say it. “I do not believe the prince of Orange to be the king,” she said spiritedly. “Then you and I must part,” replied Samuel, “for if we have two kings we must have two beds.” They separated, to be reunited only after the king’s death.

•     They also disagreed about Susanna’s ministry, for her Bible lessons drew more listeners than his RS Thomas.

•     Susanna gave birth to a daughter during the election of 1705. The nurse, exhausted by overnight revelry, slept so heavily the next Morning that she rolled on the baby and smothered it.

•     Susanna herself was often bedfast, having to delegate home duties to the children. But several of her children were so wayward that she called them “a constant affliction.”

•     Her brother, having promised her a sizable gift, disappeared mysteriously and was never heard from again.

•     Finally, on July 21, 1731, Susanna described an accident in which her horses stampeded, throwing Samuel from their wagon and injuring him so that he was never well from that day.

     A difficult life. And yet …

     And yet the parsonage at Epworth was destined to become the most celebrated in English history, for from it came two of the greatest evangelists of all time, John and Charles Wesley. And the mother who raised them shook the world.

     … it looks like nothing. But cheer up! Because I, the LORD All-Powerful, will be here to help you with the work, just as I promised your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt. Don’t worry. My Spirit is right here with you.
--- Haggai 2:3b-5.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - July 21

     “The daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.” --- Isaiah 37:22.

     Reassured by the Word of the Lord, the poor trembling citizens of Zion grew bold, and shook their heads at Sennacherib’s boastful threats. Strong faith enables the servants of God to look with calm contempt upon their most haughty foes. We know that our enemies are attempting impossibilities. They seek to destroy the eternal life, which cannot die while Jesus lives; to overthrow the citadel, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. They kick against the pricks to their own wounding, and rush upon the bosses of Jehovah’s buckler to their own hurt.

     We know their weakness. What are they but men? And what is man but a worm? They roar and swell like waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame. When the Lord ariseth, they shall fly as chaff before the wind, and be consumed as crackling thorns. Their utter powerlessness to do damage to the cause of God and his truth, may make the weakest soldiers in Zion’s ranks laugh them to scorn.

     Above all, we know that the Most High is with us, and when he dresses himself in arms, where are his enemies? If he cometh forth from his place, the potsherds of the earth will not long contend with their Maker. His rod of iron shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel, and their very remembrance shall perish from the earth. Away, then, all fears, the kingdom is safe in the King’s hands. Let us shout for joy, for the Lord reigneth, and his foes shall be as straw for the dunghill.

     “As true as God’s own word is true;
     Nor earth, nor hell, with all their crew,
     Against us shall prevail.
     A jest, and by-word, are they grown;
     God is with us, we are his own,
     Our victory cannot fail.”

          Evening - July 21

     “Why go I mourning?” --- Psalm 42:9.

     Canst thou answer this, believer? Canst thou find any reason why thou art so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told thee that the night would never end in day? Who told thee that the sea of circumstances would ebb out till there should be nothing left but long leagues of the mud of horrible poverty? Who told thee that the winter of thy discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow, and ice, and hail, to deeper snow, and yet more heavy tempest of despair? Knowest thou not that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Hope thou then! Hope thou ever! For God fails thee not. Dost thou not know that thy God loves thee in the midst of all this? Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God’s love is as true to thee now as it was in thy brightest moments. No father chastens always: thy Lord hates the rod as much as thou dost; he only cares to use it for that reason which should make thee willing to receive it, namely, that it works thy lasting good. Thou shalt yet climb Jacob’s ladder with the angels, and behold him who sits at the top of it—thy covenant God. Thou shalt yet, amidst the splendours of eternity, forget the trials of time, or only remember them to bless the God who led thee through them, and wrought thy lasting good by them. Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Make the wilderness to blossom like the rose! Cause the desert to ring with thine exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then “for ever with the Lord,” thy bliss shall never wane.

     “Faint not nor fear, his arms are near,
     He changeth not, and thou art dear;
     Only believe and thou shalt see,
     That Christ is all in all to thee.”

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     July 21


     Louisa M. R. Stead, c. 1850–1917

     That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Ephesians 1:12)KJV

     Out of one of the darkest hours of her life—the tragic drowning of her husband— a young mother proclaimed through her tears, “ ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus … and I know that thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end.” As Louisa Stead, her husband and their little daughter were enjoying an ocean side picnic one day, a drowning boy cried for help. Mr. Stead rushed to save him but was pulled under by the terrified boy. Both drowned as Louisa and her daughter watched helplessly. During the sorrowful days that followed, the words of this hymn came from the grief stricken wife’s heart.

     Soon after this Mrs. Stead and her daughter left for missionary work in South Africa. After more than 25 years of fruitful service, Louisa was forced to retire because of ill health. She died a few years later in Southern Rhodesia. Her fellow missionaries had always loved “ ’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” and wrote this tribute after her death:

     We miss her very much, but her influence goes on as our five thousand native Christians continually sing this hymn in their native language.

     Out of a deep human tragedy early in her life, Louisa Stead learned simply to trust in her Lord. She was used to “the praise of His glory” for the remainder of her life. Still today, her ministry continues each time we sing and apply the truth of these words:

     ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word, just to rest upon His promise, just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”
     O how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to trust His cleansing blood, just in simple faith to plunge me ’neath the healing, cleansing flood!
     Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease, just from Jesus simply taking life and rest and joy and peace.
     I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; and I know that Thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end.
     Chorus: Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!

     For Today: Psalm 91:4; Isaiah 26:3, 4; Acts 10:43; Romans 1:16, 17; 5:1, 2; Ephesians 1:3–14.

     Express thanks to God for the lessons of trust He has taught you. Sing with this hymn writer—“O for grace to trust Him more!” Carry this musical reminder with you because ---

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. XCIII. — THIS, therefore, is not the place, this is not the time for adoring those Corycian caverns, but for adoring the true Majesty in its to-be-feared, wonderful, and incomprehensible judgments; and saying, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. vi. 10). Whereas, we are no where more irreverent and rash, than in trespassing and arguing upon these very inscrutable mysteries and judgments. And while we are pretending to a great reverence in searching the Holy Scriptures, those which God has commanded to be searched, we search not; but those which He has forbidden us to search into, those we search into and none other; and that with an unceasing temerity, not to say, blasphemy.

     For is it not searching with temerity, when we attempt to make the all-free prescience of God to harmonize with our freedom, prepared to derogate prescience from God, rather than lose our own liberty? Is it not temerity, when He imposes necessity upon us, to say, with murmurings and blasphemies, “Why doth He yet find fault? for who hath resisted His will?” (Rom. ix. 19). Where is the God by nature most merciful? Where is He who “willeth not the death of a sinner?” Has He then created us for this purpose only, that He might delight Himself in the torments of men? And many things of the same kind, which will be howled forth by the damned in hell to all eternity.

     But however, natural Reason herself is compelled to confess, that the living and true God must be such an one as, by His own liberty, to impose necessity on us. For He must be a ridiculous God, or idol rather, who did not, to a certainty, foreknow the future, or was liable to be deceived in events, when even the Gentiles ascribed to their gods ‘fate inevitable.” And He would be equally ridiculous, if He could not do and did not all things, or if any thing could be done without Him. If then the prescience and omnipotence of God be granted, it naturally follows, as an irrefragable consequence that we neither were made by ourselves, nor live by ourselves, nor do any thing by ourselves, but by His Omnipotence. And since He at the first foreknew that we should be such, and since He has made us such, and moves and rules over us as such, how, I ask, can it be pretended, that there is any liberty in us to do, in any respect, otherwise than He at first foreknew and now proceeds in action!

     Wherefore, the prescience and Omnipotence of God, are diametrically opposite to our “Free-will.” And it must be, that either God is deceived in His prescience and errs in His action, (which is impossible) or we act, and are acted upon, according to His prescience and action. — But by the Omnipotence of God, I mean, not that power by which He does not many things that He could do, but that actual power by which He powerfully works all in all, in which sense the Scripture calls Him Omnipotent. This Omnipotence and prescience of God, I say, utterly abolishes the doctrine of “Free-will.” No pretext can here be framed about the obscurity of the Scripture, or the difficulty of the subject-point: the words are most clear, and known to every school-boy; and the point is plain and easy and stands proved by judgment of common sense; so that the series of ages, of times, or of persons, either writing or teaching to the contrary, be it as great as it may, amounts to nothing at all.

The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library

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