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3/11/2024     Yesterday     Tomorrow

Joshua 1 - 4

Joshua 1

God Commissions Joshua

Joshua 1:1     After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua Assumes Command

10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”

12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18 Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

Joshua 2

Rahab Hides the Spies

Joshua 2:1     And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. 2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.

8 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you,  for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”

15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father's household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

22 They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. 23 Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. 24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”

Joshua 3

Israel Crosses the Jordan

Joshua 3:1     Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. 2 At the end of three days the officers went through the camp 3 and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. 4 Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” 5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 6 And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.

7 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” 9 And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13 And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

14 So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Joshua 4

Twelve Memorial Stones from the Jordan

Joshua 4:1     When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’ ” 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

8 And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the LORD told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down there. 9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua.

The people passed over in haste. 11 And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the LORD and the priests passed over before the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. 13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the LORD for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14 On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.

15 And the LORD said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.

19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

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Lay Aside the Weight of Discouragement

By Jon Bloom 3/10/2017

     Discouragement often feels circumstantially determined, something we can’t help feeling because powerful forces beyond our control are causing it. That’s why our response to discouragement is often passive — we sit, weighed down with a heavy spiritual listlessness looking at the world through the grey, bleak lenses of fear.

     Yes, discouragement is a species of fear. It is a loss of courage. We don’t always recognize discouragement as fear because it can feel like hopelessness with a side of cynicism. We might even call it depression because we have an accumulation of fears that are intermingled and seem somewhat undefined. And, of course, if we’re discouraged, we feel depressed. We feel like giving up.

     And when we feel like giving up, we are vulnerable to a whole range of temptations. When we give in to those temptations, our sin just confirms our discouragement, and we easily slip into a cycle in which fear drives us into hiding, hiding opens us to sins of selfishness and self-indulgence, and caving in increases our sense of helplessness and self-pity. So we sit, weighed down by fear and condemnation, feeling stuck.

     But God doesn’t want us feeling stuck. Jesus didn’t endure crucifixion so we would live defeated. He has purchased our forgiveness of sins, our freedom from the weight of fear, and our power to overcome the world, our flesh, and the devil. Discouragement is not as powerful as it feels. We can defeat it if we confront it.

     Discouragement Defeated | A famous biblical example of discouragement is when the twelve spies returned after scoping out the Promised Land. They reported the land indeed “[flowed] with milk and honey,” but the inhabitants were “strong,” some were giants, and the cities “fortified and very large” (Numbers 13:27–28). Ten of the twelve spies said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are” (Numbers 13:31). This so discouraged the people that they refused to trust in God’s promises and power. As a result, they wandered in the wilderness forty more years. Only Joshua and Caleb, the two faithful spies, lived to see those fears defeated.

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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

Called to childlessness: The surprising ways of God

By Karen Swallow Prior 3/6/2017

     God’s model for the family is beautiful and good, the very picture of the union of Christ and his church: the fruitful marriage of one man and one woman.

     Yet, the church often doesn’t know what to do with those who—whether by circumstance, conscience, choice or simply through the brokenness of creation—fall outside the mold that shapes this ideal of family life.

     There is an unspoken assumption that this failure to fit the pattern is just that—a failure. To be sure, sometimes we break the mold by our choices, even our sins. But ours is a God of great imagination and infinite surprises. He sometimes calls us out of the standard mold and into a new one.

     The primary calling of God for all Christians is, of course, the call to salvation, followed by the call to obedience to his will as revealed in his Word. This mold is for every believer. But the way in which God further refines and shapes that mold in calling each believer individually to serve the kingdom—through our vocation—can sometimes upend our expectations and even our desires.

     It would be nice if God’s call on our life always coincided neatly with our passions and talents, but that’s not always, perhaps not even often, how it works. While it’s certainly true that our passions and talents hint at our calling, God sometimes calls us to things we don’t want to do and don’t have a knack for.

     Just ask Moses. Just ask Martin and Katharina Luther.

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     Karen Swallow Prior is a professor of English at Liberty University, research fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States. She is the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions—The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist.

Taking Possession Of Our Inheritance

Charles Haddon Spurgeon May 12, 1889
Scripture: Joshua 1:2-3
At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

     UNDER the leadership of Moses the children of Israel had been journeying towards the land of promise. Owing to their waywardness, what might have been done in less than a month occupied many years. They wandered up and down in the wilderness, sometimes close on the border of their inheritance and other times lost in the great desert. Alas, many of God’s people are still in this unsatisfactory condition — they have come out of Egypt — the depths have swallowed up their adversaries and they are on the way to the promised heritage. But they have not yet entered into rest. They will, we trust, ultimately reach the peace of God which passes all understanding, for they have sufficient faith to prove them to be God’s people and therefore, the Lord will surely bring them in. But, assuredly, they make a great deal of marching for very small progress. For lack of faith they go about when, with a step, they might possess the promised Canaan.

     Today my earnest prayer and desire is that going towards the promised heritage may come to an end with you this day and you may enter into heavenly blessings in Christ Jesus by an immediate act of faith. I want the Lord’s people so to persevere in their seeking, by divine strength, that they may get out of the great and terrible wilderness and come to Mount Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem and enter into their heritage, according to that word, “We which have believed do enter into rest.” Our friends have come as far as that first verse of our Lord’s invitation,  “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” And they have a measure of that rest which comes of pardoned sin and confidence in Jesus. The pity is that they have not advanced to His next word of exhortation,  “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; and you shall find rest unto your souls.” This is a rest discovered and enjoyed through willing service —  “You shall find rest unto your souls.” Many people are saved in one sense but in another sense they are seeking salvation. Oh that we may come to be saved in every sense — may salvation be ours in the broadest, widest, deepest, highest meaning of that blessed word! May we not only be saved from but saved to! Saved from sin — that makes us safe; saved to holiness — that makes us happy. May we realize our completeness in Christ this day and cease from the wanderings of fear! It is time that we took possession of that goodly heritage which the Lord has made our own, for in Christ Jesus “we have obtained an inheritance” and have the earnest of it in our possession of the Spirit of God.

Hear the watchword of the morning,
you that have tarried long enough in the wilderness—
“Arise, go over this Jordan”!

     If I read the whole verse it is a command to myself — “Arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” For our help in this desirable step, first let us take a survey of the inheritance. Secondly, let us glance at the title deeds. And thirdly, let us make a move towards taking immediate possession. For all this may the Holy Spirit make us sufficient!

     I. First LET US TAKE A SURVEY OF THE INHERITANCE. I cannot carry you to the top of Pisgah. And if I could, you would probably reckon that you ought to die there. Your time has not yet come for that journey to the sky — but I would invite you to view the purchased possession with the eye of an enlightened understanding and then to cross over  the Jordan of indecision  to possess the country.

     I would say of this inheritance which God has prepared for His saints and has given to them by a covenant of salt that it is exceedingly broad. We read here in this Book of Joshua, “From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.” These people did not conquer all the country but were content with the narrow bounds of Canaan. They began their enterprise bravely but soon showed a contracted spirit. Moses, in the 34th chapter of Numbers, which is well worthy of careful reading, gave them a little map or ordnance survey of the inner country which they were commanded to conquer and out of which they were to drive the inhabitants with the edge of the sword.

     The various races of Canaanites had brought upon themselves the curse of a righteous God. Their existence upon the face of God’s earth had become a calamity to mankind by reason of their horrible vices. They were doomed to utter extinction by the justice of God, as other races have been whose story blackens history records. The Israelites were appointed to be their executioners. But they did not accomplish their task — after a little while they began to make treaties and marriages with the doomed people and their intended victims became thorns in their sides. Outside of these Canaanite nations were greater territories which stretched right away from the Lebanon ranges down to the border of Egypt and as far east as the great river Euphrates, from whose banks their fathers came. This large domain was never altogether conquered by Israel although David possessed a large portion of it, and Solomon still more. The people of these wide regions were not so far gone in evil as the degraded tribes of Canaan, and so they were to be spared, if they submitted to the sway of Israel. Even the inner kingdom Israel did not wholly subdue — and the wider region it left for centuries untouched.

     Beloved, this is a sadly correct picture of what happens to numbers of God’s people today. The inheritance that God has given us to enjoy in Christ Jesus is exceedingly broad. But we limit ourselves; all that we can think or desire is ours in the covenant of grace. There are immeasurable breadths and lengths, but we confine ourselves to close quarters. Truly “there is very much land yet to be possessed”! Some divine graces you must have or you are not saved. Some sins must at once be driven out of your life at the sword’s point or you are not the Lord’s. As for the choicer graces — you are foolish, indeed, if you think of doing without them! And as for the less violent sins — you err greatly if you spare one of them. The deep knowledge, the spiritual experience, the high joy, the extreme delight, and the heavenly communion which fall to the lot of certain of the saints should be enjoyed by us all. There is no reason why one should miss them, for if they have but faith enough to grasp all that God gives, they have full permission to do so. The Lord may truly say to us, “You are not straitened in Me, but you are straitened in your own heart.” We are petty princelings when we might have an imperial inheritance.

     Just let me show what I mean. When we at first come to Christ by faith, we begin to enter into our inheritance for we obtain the pardon of sin. Some believers are not even sure that they have a present and perfect remission — but some of us know that we are, once and for all, “washed in the blood of the Lamb.” We know, therefore, in God’s eyes we are whiter than snow. But beyond that lies “acceptance in the Beloved,” which possibly we have not dared to claim. Hosts of professors are satisfied to be washed but have not yet asked to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Beloved, we are not only absolved but we are positively delightful unto God in Christ Jesus. He accepts our offerings, our prayers, our praises, and our heart’s love. Our name is Hephzibah, for the Lord delights in us.

     Pardon of sin is like the little Canaan that must be conquered. But why not advance to the wider regions of “accepted in the Beloved”? Brethren, let us walk in the light, as God is in the light and have fellowship with Him while the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleans us from all sin.

     Think of another great blessing, namely, that of sonship. Beloved, we could sing heartily that hymn just now —

“Behold what wondrous grace"
The Father has bestowed
On sinners of a mortal race,
To call them sons of God!”

     But sonship is not all — “If children, then heirs, heirs of God, joint - heirs with Jesus Christ.” Adoption you must have — heirship you ought to have. How rich you are since God Himself is yours — “heirs of God”! Yes, God Himself is as truly yours as He is Christ’s — “joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.” Why are we naked and poor and miserable when we are heirs of a kingdom by reason of our adoption of the Lord? Let us take the good the Lord provides us.

     Consider now the matter of regeneration. When we come to Christ by faith we are born again and made new creatures in Christ Jesus — this must be. But, brethren, when we are born again we perceive that the new birth begets a new life and that new life develops itself in the beauty of holiness. Holiness is the fruit of regeneration. Yet some imagine that they cannot be holy, at least not to any great extent. They believe that they can be saved from certain grosser evils but they cannot ascend to those glorious heights of consecration and sanctification without which the believer can never attain to the stature of a man in Christ Jesus. My message to you is, Arise, go over this Jordan and take possession of the larger inheritance. Take possession of it all — seek after holiness — follow on to know the Lord. Be not satisfied until you are conformed unto His image, who is “the First-born among many brethren.” Aspire to the utmost God can give. You have not seen the goodly heights of Lebanon. As yet you are satisfied to stop at Jericho, by the river’s brink, as if the conquest of one city had satisfied you. Gird on your harness and go forth to the fight — for the Lord is with you and the land is before you.

     Again, as soon as a man has believed in Jesus he is safe. If you believe that Jesus is the Christ you are born of God. And, being born of God you come under the divine wing and the Lord shall preserve you from all evil. Many are satisfied that this is true but they do not, therefore, enter into peace as they should. That undisturbed serenity which springs from a sense of perfect safety in Christ Jesus is a glorious domain into which they do not enter. Our soul is made by faith to be as calm as the lake upon a summer’s evening when the surface is unbroken by a ripple. Alas, we give way at times to doubt and fear and hardly know whether we are the Lord’s people or not. This must not go on. We must have faith. But we may have, and we ought to have, the full assurance of faith; in full assurance lies the spring of perpetual serenity. The Lord can create in us habitual calm — in the midst of trouble He can give us joy; in the hour of struggle He can give us confidence. Oh rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him — then shall your times be free from disturbance and your days as the days of heaven upon the earth. It may be so if you have divine grace enough to claim the whole of the wide territory which the Lord has allotted you. Oh, for divine grace to cry — “Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine! Over Edom will I cast out my shoe; who will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me into Edom?” God will bring us where unaided nature can never enter.

     Once more — when we come to Christ by faith we have communion with God. And this is a land that flows with milk and honey. Out of communion comes usefulness and there are certain ones who fancy that they can never be very useful. The Lord cannot do many mighty works through them because of their unbelief. They have to be fed with a spoon like invalid children. If they had but faith enough to receive power from on high by fuller communion with God they might become as David. There is no limit to the possibilities of usefulness in any man or woman when perfectly consecrated. Let us not imagine that we are doomed to small usefulness. That branch of the vine which up to now has yielded little or no fruit may yet be made by the heavenly Vinedresser to bring forth much fruit. By faith let the divine sap of grace be received. Let living graces bring the living Christ into us and then we shall bring forth clusters large as those which the spies brought from Eshcol of old. Thus much, then, concerning our survey of the goodly heritage of salvation. The land of promise is exceedingly broad.

     Next, it is exceedingly desirable. The country into which Israel entered was of a very choice kind. Travelers in Palestine tell us that it is the world condensed. Within that narrow strip of territory you get plains and hills, frosts of winter and heats of summer. You find products both of semitropical and temperate zones. Palestine is the whole earth in miniature and all the advantages of all lands are gathered into it. It was, in Joshua’s days, a place of extreme fertility — “A land that flows with milk and honey.”

     Nor was this all — while it was fertile on the surface it was rich underneath. It was a land “whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you may dig brass.” The useful metals were near at hand as was every other convenience. Besides being fertile and wealthy it was prepared for immediate habitation. The tribes had not to build houses — they inhabited what others had built. They had not to plant vineyards but to eat the fruit of former labors. All things were waiting for the true heirs of the land. Beloved, when faith gets her heritage in Christ, she is brought into a wealthy place. When sin is driven out and we come to live in God’s own land, then we find precious treasure. We dig and we are enriched. We have all things in Christ — yes, in Him we have all that our utmost want can require. As He has gone into heaven to prepare a place for us — so on earth He has already prepared — in the covenant of grace, everything that is needed for the way home. Why do we not take possession of that which He has prepared for us?

     This heritage upon which we are now looking down from the summit of our faith is full of variety. In Palestine there were fertile plains and rich valleys between rising hills and towering mountains. It was a land of brooks and rivers, a land which the Lord God thought upon. It was, in those days, the joy of all the earth — it was as the garden of the Lord for exceeding excellence. Beloved, if you come to Christ you shall never need to go away from Him to find variety of joys. In His teaching you shall find Lebanons of sublime doctrine and Sharons of pleasant precept. Here are Hermons of experience, Tabors of communion, Jabboks of prevailing prayer, and Cheriths of divine providence.  The revelation of God is a blessed country, full of all manner of delights. They that live in Christ dwell in spiritual realms which for light and joy are as heaven below. Above all things, it is “your land, O Immanuel!” That is the dearest name for the Canaan of divine grace. The saints’ inheritance is the choicest form of life and peace and joy.  We come to live with Christ, in Christ, for Christ, and as Christ — we rise in Him to fellowship with the Father and with the church of the First-born. One heart sympathizes with all the purposes of God, and we joy in God Himself. I cannot properly describe all this, but I live in the enjoyment of it. We live through our Lord and with our Lord. And this is life eternal. This is “the life which is life, indeed.” Compared with it, all other life is death. Divine grace is glory in the bud — it will be full-blown by - and - by. This privilege is enjoyed none the less because of daily affliction, bodily pain, opposition and reproach —it may even be enjoyed all the more because of these — if they are borne for Jesus’ sake. Our light afflictions are like the black shadows of a picture which throw up the bright lights and set them out more vividly. Christ Jesus becomes more and more precious to us when we have a straitness of earthly things. Yet this promised portion may be enjoyed if we have abundance of earthly things.  God may multiply your possessions. And if he gives you more of Himself at the same time, they will not harm you. As you find all in God when you are poor, you shall find God in all when you are rich. Your life consists not in what you possess, nor in what you lack. You shall find in Christ fullness, a soul-filling satisfaction. And this shall be a pledge of that something better which the Beloved has laid up in store for a still brighter day. What a word is that where we read of being “filled with all the fullness of God”! I do not think any man can exaggerate the possibilities that lie before believers. If any man shall draw a line and say he can go no further, I must take leave to blot out that line — where God has set no bound we will not allow a stop, lest we be found guilty of limiting the Holy One of Israel—

“All our capacious powers can wish
In Christ does richly meet.”

     All that is in Christ is meant for all believers and therefore all believers may have all that is in Christ who is all in all. We should not be content with pennies when He endows us with pounds. No child of God could ever yet say, “I have taken all that God can give me and still I am wanting more.” God allsufficient is our heritage, and He more than fills our deepest need, our highest aspiration. Thus have we surveyed our measureless inheritance.

     II. I beg you, in the next place TO GLANCE AT THE TITLE DEEDS OF OUR INHERITANCE.

     We shall not require a lawyer to assist us in our examination. But if there should be here a legal critic who would like to overhaul our papers, he is welcome to do so. I would not mind exhibiting our title before the whole bench of judges, for it has no flaw in it and will stand in the highest court —yes, even in the last judgment. I have pleaded this incomparable title in several courts already and it has been found to convey to me a valid gift. Here is the title deed, “The land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” It is repeated further on, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you.” This is an abstract of our title.

     First, notice its covenant character. “I have given it to you.” The Lord had given it to them from of old when He promised it to their father Abraham. When the deep sleep fell upon Abraham and he saw the vision of the burning lamp and the smoking furnace, then the Lord gave to him the wide domain and He mentions in detail all the tribes which then held the inner circle. You will find the full conveyance in the 15th chapter of Genesis, beginning at the 18th verse— “Unto your seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenites and the Kenizzites and the Kadmonites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Rephaims and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” Thus they came into possession by an ancient deed of gift which entailed it upon them from generation to generation. I am glad that our tenure of the kingdom of divine grace is ancient and well established and that it is not so much with us, directly, as with One infinitely greater, with whom it stands fast forever. Had the covenant been made with me, individually, I should fear that my unworthiness would corrupt it. But it is made with One whose name forbids all fear of forfeiture. The covenant of grace is not made with you or with me individually because of our personal righteousness. But it is made with our Covenant Head and Representative whose life and death have sealed and ratified it. As the Lord could never run back from His promise to righteous Abraham, “In you and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” so will He never return from His promise which He gave to us in our blessed covenant head. He has given us an inheritance by an act of sovereign grace and not because of any goodness in ourselves. His gift will never be recalled since the ground of it never alters. Each believer may say, “He has in Christ Jesus made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: and therefore do I possess all spiritual blessings, and shall possess them world without end.”

     Observe, next, that this deed of gift is notable for its graciousness. What does it say? Which I do sell to them? Ah, no, it is no sale but a free gift. Does it say, “Which I do offer to them if they will earn it”? No, no — it is a present unconditional grant of sovereign love. Nothing is freer than a gift — “the gift of God is eternal life.” He has given us all things for nothing, that we might behold the exceeding riches of His grace.  Makes me think of Ephesians 2:8

     Note well the righteousness of our title — “Which I do give to them.” The Lord God has a right to give what He pleases, for “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein.” Of His own has He given unto us. In the great sacrifice of His dear Son He has satisfied all claims of justice and He acts justly when He blesses largely those for whom Jesus died. When a man has the free hold of his land, he has a right to give it away if so it pleases him — the Most High God is possessor of all things and when He says to His people, “I give you this,” who shall dispute His right? The blessings of the covenant of grace are a royal gift — they come to us by divine right. Who shall question Jehovah’s will? He asks peremptorily, “Shall I not do as I will with My own?” That which divine grace has given us is ours by a surer title than anything else can ever be.

     Do not fail to see its sureness. He not only says, “I have given it,” and in some other places, “I will give it,” but He declares “I do give it.” God gives Christ and His grace to us every day. The blessings of the covenant are continually fresh gifts of His hand. By two immutable things wherein it is impossible for God to lie, He has given the covenant possessions to us and if it were to be done again He would do it without hesitation. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” “I do give,” says He, and thus He stands to His act and deed. O children of God, what do you think of your title deeds? You stand possessed of your kingdom by the gift of Him who has a right to give what He pleases. The kingdom is given to you because it is your Father’s good pleasure to give it to you. Not only was it his good pleasure but it remains so. What great simpletons we are if we do not take possession of the brave country which is ceded to us! Does God give and do we decline to accept? Does God give and do we let the blessing lie untouched? O sheep, you well deserve to starve if you will not feed on the pastures into which the Good Shepherd leads you! The highest privileges of the covenant of grace are not the monopoly of advanced saints — they are the common property of all believers. A habit is growing up of saying, “Such-and-such a man is a saint.” And then you set him up in a niche after the fashion of Rome. Are you not also a saint? You will never enter heaven unless you are. If you are a saint, why not take a saint’s inheritance? “Oh, but certain chosen ones are the Lord’s favorites!” What? Has He not also chosen you and favored you? If not, it will go hard with you. Well then, being yourselves favored and chosen, why do you not take hold upon the glorious estate which belongs to the chosen family? No part of Scripture is of private interpretation — no bit of the promised country may be hedged in as the peculiar portion of a few. It all belongs to all the redeemed if they have but faith to make it their own. Do not hedge about the words spoken of the Lord and say, “Ah, He said that to Jacob.” Does not the Lord tell us by His servant Hosea that, “He found him in Bethel and there he spoke with us”? ( Hosea 12:4 ).

     Although choice words were first of all spoken to this man or that, yet were they spoken for all believing people throughout all time. In the holy heritage all who have Christ have all that Christ brings with Him. “If children, then heirs” — not if grown-up children, not if comely children, nor if vigorous children but — “if children, then heirs.” If you are not children, what will become of you? But “if children, then heirs.” Come, brethren, bestir yourselves, and claim your heirship! Take possession of the whole territory of divine grace which the Lord has dedicated to your use!

     III. Now I have brought you to the third point — LET US MAKE A MOVE TOWARDS OUR POSSESSION. There is your land but Jordan rolls between.

     The first thing to do in this matter is to go over this Jordan. What do we mean? Out in the wilderness as a seeker, whose faith does not enter in, you are like a sheep which wanders from the fold and you find little rest. You are apt to be numbered with the Bedouin of the desert and not with the people of the Lord. Come out from the world and be separate. The land of gracious experience is meant for you to dwell in so that you may be recognized as the Lord’s peculiar people, separated unto the Most High. Are you ready to come right out — to be settled in Immanuel’s land — to break every link with “the world which lies in wickedness”? I have heard a great deal of talk about this separation but I have seen these very talkers hesitate when the decisive act of separation from false doctrine and unholy living has been expected of them. I pray you hear the divine voice which cries, “Come out from among them and be you separate, says the Lord and touch not the unclean thing. And I will receive you and will be a Father unto you and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” It is required of you in order to receive your full entrance into the grace state, that you take up a decided stand on the Lord’s side. On the other side of Jordan is your portion and not in the wilderness of Sin. Did I hear you say to yourself, “Suppose I am beaten?” Well, you cannot retreat from the land for there is no bridge over the Jordan. The river effectually bars all retreat. Are you willing to make a life decision? Will you draw the sword and burn the scabbard? It is death or glory with you. May you have divine grace to take the one irreversible step and be the Lord’s — wholly and only — forever! You can never take the kingdom of divine grace until with deliberate resolve you quit the sand of the desert for the soil of Canaan. A balloon cannot go up into the sky until the last rope is cut. Oh, for that sharp, decisive step, by which, like Abraham, you come out from your father’s house that you may be a sojourner with God in the land which His grace will show you!

     Having decided for the Lord, you are next to take possession by an act of simple faith. The Lord says to you, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you.” This is an easy way of taking land — to put your foot down upon it. I delight in that word of the Lord to Jacob when he lay asleep, “The land whereon you lie, to you will I give it and to your seed.” If you can, by faith, lie down on a promise and find rest in it, it is yours. Every place in the grace country upon which the sole of your foot shall tread is yours. You will remember that the Red Indians agreed to sell to William Penn as much land as a man could walk round in a day. And I do not wonder that at the end of the day they complained that the white brother had made a big walk. I think I should have put my best leg foremost, if whatever I could put my foot upon would be mine — would not you? Why, then, do you not hurry up in spiritual matters? Do you value earthly things more than spiritual? Mark, then, that if you put your foot down upon a blessing and say, “This is mine,” it is yours. What a very simple operation is the claim of faith! You do not have to pass through the Universities to learn that — it is grasping with the hand or appropriating with the foot. Many of the Lord’s poor and unlearned ones obtain more from the promises than the more cultured ever do. The learned man lifts his head up, but the simple put their foot down. And this last is the way to the inheritance. By criticism you may put your foot in it, but by faith you put your foot on it. Strangers find fault, children claim. He that can trust his Lord may say, “In the name of the living God this blessing is mine.” Come, then, brothers and sisters, if there is a need for more holiness; put your foot on it. If you need more happiness, put your foot on it. If more usefulness is what you want, put your foot on it. Lay your claim to all that is put within your reach in Scripture. This is the victory that overcomes the world and conquers Canaan — our faith!

     But the Canaanite was there! Yes, I know. But you see, he had no right there — the Lord had outlawed him. The land was Israel’s by the Lord’s gift and they had a right to fight for the possession of their own estates. They first put their foot on it and it was theirs. And then they said to the aboriginal Canaanites, “Clear out!” The old nations had forfeited their lease through breach of covenant and they were, therefore, to give up possession to the incoming tenants, whose right was indefeasible. God’s people are in conflict with sin and they carry out this war vigorously when they have first seen their right to the blessings of divine grace as given them by the living God. You may not claim a piece of land unless you are sure that it is really yours. You are a thief if you do. But when you are sure that an estate is rightfully yours, then you commence your action and strive to win it. In spiritual things waive no spiritual right. Say to sin that now mars your peace, “Peace is mine, clear out!” Say to sin that stops your usefulness, “That usefulness is mine, I claim it — clear out! “Hivite, Jebusite, Girgashite—whatever sort of fellow you are — clear out of my heart and life for holiness is mine. God, the sovereign possessor of all things has given us our redeemed nature, to have and to hold for His glory, and we mean to have it! Each blessing is yours since you put the foot of faith upon it. But the actual enjoyment of it will need a struggle. War! War! War! With every Canaanite! Break their images and cut down their groves. They must be driven out at the sword’s point. You have God’s help with you in this holy battle. Your warfare will be accomplished, for the Lord Himself has said, “There shall not any man be able to stand before you all the days of your life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you, nor forsake you.”

     I long to encourage you, my friends, to carry on this sacred crusade; I would have you grasp all which the hand of love holds out to you. Need I urge you? If there is such need, you are in a sorry way. I do not believe that if I should read from this pulpit that my friend John Smith had been left five thousand acres of land, I should have to follow him home to persuade him to go and look at it. If my sister yonder received a notification that a very nice little estate had been left her in the country, I do not believe I would need beg her to look after it. She would take an early train tomorrow morning to go and look over her farm. Brothers and sisters, here is an inheritance so broad and wide and lasting—why do you not hasten to take it? There is holiness, do you not want it? There is serenity, do you not desire it? There is joy unspeakable and full of glory, do you not wish for it? There is usefulness, do you not hunger for it? This is the reason why some are so indifferent—they are ignorant—they do not even know that these choice blessings are to be had! All that any child of God was, you may be. All the joy and bliss and holiness ever enjoyed on earth, you may enjoy. The land is before you—go in and possess it. Do not be without the knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord, for in Him is “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Some of our dear friends hear a doctrine which is gospel and water, and they really do not know what the undiluted gospel is. The doctrines of grace are the cream which many cautious preachers skim from the milk of the Word lest it should prove too rich for the stomachs of their hearers. A solid portion of Calvinistic doctrine is like a joint of nourishing meat, and the people of this generation are such babes that they cannot digest it. “It is too rich for me!” cries one. I know it, I know it, but I pray the Lord to make you grow into men who can enjoy the fat things full of marrow and the wines on the lees well refined. There are glorious truths of God of which beginners know nothing, and through not knowing of them they miss much joy. Full many a child of God goes fretting and worrying when he ought to be singing and rejoicing, and would be so if he knew what God has provided for him.

Many do not possess the land because of unbelief—
“Alas, it seems too good to be true”
“I’m a poor sinner and nothing at all.”

     Yes, that is quite true. But are you going to sing that one line forever? Is that your style of singing — one line forever? If our leader, just now, when we sang the hymn, had kept on with — “Behold, what wondrous grace!” “Behold, what wondrous grace!” it would have been very sweet — but I should have pulled his coat-tail and said, “Go on with the whole verse.” So, in this case, you say — “I’m a poor sinner and nothing at all.” Why not go on to sing—

     “But Jesus Christ is my all in all”?

     You are empty but Jesus fills you. You are in prison but Jesus sets you at liberty. Why not rejoice in that liberty? The Lord deliver us from unbelief, for it is enough to shut any man out of the inheritance! Many are indolent, Oh, the laziness of some of God’s people! I will not enlarge upon this matter; probably you know something about it yourselves.

     Lastly, the indecision of a great many is another cause why they do not possess the land. There is a hesitancy to go up and seize it. They mean to be better Christians before they die. I wonder how many Christians here would like to finish their lives today! Would your life, if now ended, be a life worth living? Suppose it were now threatened to be cut short. Would you not pray with anguish, “Lord, let me live a little longer, that I may distribute more of my money to Your cause, may bear better testimony to Your truth and may set my house in order”? Set your house in order at once, my brothers and sisters. Give away a full portion of your substance immediately. Begin to work for Jesus at once. Why should you hesitate? You blame the sinner when he delays — surely the saint is to be blamed, too, when he also lingers.

     I have done when I have said to any soul here that is seeking the Lord — if you today come in and accept the blessings of the covenant, you may have them and welcome. Do not say to yourself, “It will be a presumptuous thing for me to believe in Jesus.” It will be a kind of presumption which has no sin in it. If a rich man, in one of the famine - stricken districts of China were to say to his servant, “provide a great feast and set it out in the street.” And he were then to put up a notice to hungry Chinamen, “Whoever will may come,” I do not think that if I were a hungry Chinaman, I should keep away from the dinner from fear of presumption. I should go gladly and ask no questions — for my stomach’s sake — if for nothing else.

     O poor, doubting sinner, you had better do the same. Feed freely and fear not. When God’s cry is, “Come and welcome,” come at once and ask no questions. Or if a question does arise, let your hunger answer and tell you that you must. God gives His grace freely — freely take it. Come, let us sing together that little ditty —

“I do believe, I will believe,
That Jesus died for me;
And on the cross He shed His blood
From sin to set me free.”

     This will be a blessed morning for you if you can not only sing it, but carry it out at once by a simple faith in our living, risen, reigning Savior. God bless you, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

     C.H. Spurgeon Books |  Go to Books Page

Stop Calling Everything Hate

By Tim Challies 3/8/2017

     Over time, a word can change its meaning, sometimes picking up an entirely new definition and sometimes expanding or contracting an existing one. It is not unusual to see a familiar word explode into contemporary parlance with a far more expansive definition than it has had in the past. Think about “tolerance.” For many years the word quietly meant something like, “accepting the rights of others to have a belief different from your own.” Then, suddenly, the word was everywhere and carried a meaning like, “accepting other people’s views without critique.” As D.A. Carson says, “this shift from ‘accepting the existence of different views’ to ‘acceptance of different views,’ from recognizing other people’s right to have different beliefs or practices to accepting the differing views of other people, is subtle in form, but massive in substance.”

     We still hear a lot about tolerance and the unpardonable sin of intolerance. And now, closely related, we’ve got a second word to describe the people who commit such an offense: They are haters. And, like “tolerance,” the word “hate” has taken on a new and wider meaning. It has always been used to describe an extreme, passionate dislike for another person. But suddenly it is being used to describe simple disagreement, especially when that disagreement is with society’s prevailing opinions and agendas. Any perceived intolerance is quickly drowned out by cries of “hate!” or “hater!” The problem, of course, is that if everything’s hate, nothing’s hate. As we expand the use of the word, it loses any meaningful definition.

     Today, everything short of glowing endorsement can be counted as hate. If you express concern about transgendered adults using the same changing rooms as children of the opposite sex, someone will accuse you of hate. If you express careful, kindly-spoken disagreement with same-sex marriage, perhaps urging caution to such a quick change to an institution foundational to society, the cries of “hater” will be immediate and loud. If you urge freedom of conscience for people who hesitate to bake cakes or arrange flowers for certain festivities, you’ll be considered full of hatred. Coming to blows is hate, sure, but so is constructive critique. Berating and verbally abusing is hate—no one disagrees with that—but so is measured disagreement. In a few short years we’ve completely transformed what it means to hate.

     This matters to Christians because words tend to worm their way from the outside of the church to the inside. “Tolerance” tried but, thankfully, Christians managed to cling to its long-standing definition. Today “hatred” is on the move, making its attempt to enter our parlance in its new form. A few days ago, I linked to a critique of a popular pastor and his woefully inadequate view of the doctrine of Scripture. This critique was careful, measured, and weighed against not only the Bible but also the long history of the church. Yet it did not take long before I was told the writer had expressed “vile anger” and was full of hatred. According to some, writing a critical book review is a form of hate, expressing measured disagreement with another evangelical leader is being a hater, and confronting sin is a sign of a deep hatred toward those who dissent from your viewpoint.

     We need to resist this updated definition of “hate,” to keep the new, expansive form of the word out of the church. Otherwise, we risk confusing hatred with confidence about revealed truth—we need to have the ability to confidently declare what is orthodox and what is heterodox, what is consistent with the Bible and what is heretical. We risk confusing hatred with the obedient exercise of church discipline—we need to be willing and able to remove people from church membership who are clinging to sin or teaching error. We risk confusing hatred with caution—we need to be able to debate and discuss, especially as we wade into new moral waters and answer perplexing questions about gender, marriage, and sexuality. In these ways and many others, we need to be able to confidently explore, discuss, believe, and obey the Bible without being labeled as “haters.”

Click here to go to source

     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 30

Joy Comes with the Morning
30 A Psalm Of David. A Song At The Dedication Of The Temple

1 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
3 O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

ESV Study Bible

By Gleason Archer Jr.


      More fundamental an issue than the length of the creative days is the question of the fact of divine creation as over against such competing theories of origin as Darwinian evolution. As formulated by Charles Darwin in his Origin of Species (1859), evolution sought to explain the origin of biological species by natural selection rather than by God’s design. That is to say, the process by which plants and animals developed was not governed by any divine intelligence according to teleological principles, but rather according to a completely mechanical principle: the survival of the fittest. As the reproductive cycle progresses, taught Darwin, the following generation shows slight variations from the generation preceding. Over a long period of time, after hundreds and thousands of generations, some of these variations become more or less fixed characteristics which are passed on to the descendants. These new characteristics contribute to the formation of varieties or subspecies, and finally to the emergence of new species. Those characteristics which enabled their possessors to compete more successfully in the ceaseless struggle with their environment insured their survival. But those who developed peculiarities which gave them no advantage, but only disadvantage, in coping with their competitors, naturally tended to die off. Hence only those that were fittest to survive were perpetuated and became a successful species. Thus the lower and simpler gradually became more advanced and complex, until finally Homo sapiens appeared as the climactic product of natural selection—presumably because man is the most fitted for survival and can most successfully cope with his environment.

      As to the most fundamental question of all, the origin of matter itself, and the related question as to the origin of the earliest form of life to appear in the primeval ooze, Darwin had no answer to give, except possibly a deistic one (which dismisses God as a mere First Cause, who simply started the mechanism going and then completely removed Himself from the scene). “Therefore I should infer from analogy,” he says in one passage, “that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived upon this earth have descended from one primordial form into which life was first breathed by the Creator.” Therefore there is nothing completely atheistic about Darwin’s formulation of evolution so far as the origin of matter is concerned (even though many of his followers have decided for the eternal existence of matter rather than concede the existence of God). Yet there remained no objective basis at all for the moral law or for spiritual values beyond materialistic considerations of survival, the survival of “the fittest.” Furthermore, the Darwinian theory left no room for any meaningful divine activity in the process of “creation”; except for the supplying of primeval raw material, there really was no creation but only development according to natural selection. But we must ask who or what determined the selective process? And what or who determined fitness?! This represented almost a total contradiction of  Gen. 1.

      Space will not permit a detailed or adequate treatment of the theory of evolution in a book of this sort (even if its author had the equipment to handle it with competence). But it will perhaps be sufficient to point out a few areas in which Darwin’s theory does not seem to square with the evidence, and where it betrays such serious inadequacies as to relegate it increasingly to the status of a mere passing phenomenon in the history of scientific thought. We shall treat these weaknesses under the following four headings.

      1. From the standpoint of genetics (the science of heredity), the basic assumptions of natural selection run quite contrary to the evidence. Many decades of painstaking research have demonstrated that while it is true that individuals within a species do vary slightly from one another, it is not true that these variations are specifically inheritable by the next generation. The extensive experiments of Gregor J. Mendel showed that the range of variation possible within a species was strictly limited and afforded no progress whatsoever toward the development of a new species. Thus the individuals of a race of pure-bred tall peas might vary slightly in height, but the progeny of the tall ones was not on the average taller than the progeny of the short ones. It is true that by selective breeding, certain characteristics possible within a single species may be emphasized to form a special strain (as in the case of the many different types of dog), but there is a strictly limited circle of possibilities beyond which no breeder can go. He is powerless, in other words, to develop a new species. Mendel’s work proved conclusively that the “chance variations” by which Darwin had set so much store are quite predictable and cannot possibly contribute to the formation of new species.

      The same verdict must be pronounced on Jean Baptiste de Lamarck’s theory of the inheritability of acquired characteristics (a theory to which Darwin occasionally appealed when mere natural selection seemed inadequate to account for a set of facts). Despite the enormous number of experiments undertaken to prove Lamarckian “use inheritance” (as it is called), the end result has been altogether negative. Characteristics acquired by special effort on the part of a parent are not passed on to his children, for the simple reason that there is no possible way in which these acquired characteristics (such as a special athletic proficiency) can affect his genes. All of heredity (on the nonspiritual side, at least) seems to depend upon the chemistry of the genes themselves. So far as the form or structure of animals is concerned, there is not a single claim to have established the theory of use inheritance which has not subsequently been discredited.

      It should be added that while evidence is lacking for the inheritability of individual variations, there are sudden changes or mutations which occasionally take place in the history of a species. For example, a new variety of plants when isolated in small colonies, as on a Mountainside, may result from a sudden mutation (involving a slight alteration in the genes themselves). Yet the fact remains that even though thousands of mutations have been closely studied, not a single clear example has been demonstrated whereby a mutation has made an animal more complicated or brought any new structure into existence. No progress whatsoever has been made since Darwin’s time in solving any of the fundamental problems of evolution. In a review of M. J. D. White’s Animal Cytology and Evolution (1954), I. Manton remarked: “The fundamental causes of evolution on the grand scale, as it has occurred through geological time and in the fashioning of the great groups of animals and plants, cannot yet be described or explained.”

      2. Darwin’s argument from the data of embryology has proved quite fallacious. He reasoned that in the development of the fetus in the womb it recapitulates its entire evolutionary past, as the fertilized ovum enlarges and produces more and more complicated organs and members. The visceral pouches in the human embryo, for example, were essentially the same organ as the gills of a fish, and therefore point back to man’s emergence from a form of fish life. But this line of reasoning conveniently overlooks the undeniable fact that these structures never function as gills at any stage in embryonic life. Indeed, it is hard to see how the recapitulation theory can be squared with the actual sequence of development within the fetus. For example, the respiratory surface does not develop until very late in the formation of the embryo in the womb; yet it is inconceivable that in any prehuman stage the putative ancestor of man could have survived without any respiratory mechanism at all. Again, the size of the head in an embryo is simply enormous in proportion to the rest of the body, and yet the head of all the alleged prehuman ancestors was relatively small in proportion to the rest. Nor is it true that simple organs in the fetus slowly become more complicated. The eye, for example, results from the final fitting together of several different parts which appear to be formed separately at first and then are combined according to a predetermined pattern for which there is no ascertainable physical cause.

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

Dangerous Gospel: “Hating” Your Family (Jonathan Storment)

By Scot McKnight 3/8/2017

     Dangerous Gospel: Hating Your Family, by Jonathan Storment

     Of all the disturbing things that Jesus says, the top of the list for most Western people has got to be, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”

     This is obviously not the passage you preach on Easter.

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     Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author or editor of more than fifty books, is the Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.  Dr. McKnight has given interviews on radios across the nation, has appeared on television, and is regularly speaks at local churches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries in the USA and abroad. Dr. McKnight obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Nottingham (1986) and has been a professor for more than three decades.

     Scot McKnight is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Society for New Testament Studies. He is the author of the award-winning The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others, which won the Christianity Today book of the year for Christian Living. His books include Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of UsThe Story of the ChristPraying with the Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, TodayThe Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of JesusA Community Called Atonement (Living Theology). He broadened his Jesus Creed project in writing a daily devotional: 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed. His studies in conversion were expanded with his newest book, Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy, a book he co-authored with his former student Hauna Ondrey. Other books are The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible and Fasting: The Ancient Practices, as well as A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God's Design for Life Together and Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church.

     McKnight wrote a commentary on James (The Letter of James (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)), a book on discipleship (One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow), and a Jesus Creed book for high school students (with Syler Thomas and Chris Folmsbee) called The Jesus Creed for Students: Loving God, Loving Others. His research on gospel was published in the Fall of 2011 in a book called The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited. Along with Joe Modica, McKnight co-edited Jesus Is Lord, Caesar Is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament Studies. Also he published an e-book affirming the importance of the doctrine of perseverance in a book called A Long Faithfulness: The Case for Christian Perseverance. His most recent commentary is Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary). In the Fall of 2015 his book on heaven appeared: The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible's Truth About Life to Come, and he has a book appearing in 2017 The Hum of Angels: Listening for the Messengers of God Around Us.

     He co-wrote with his daughter a Jesus Creed book for children: Sharing God's Love: The Jesus Creed for Chldren.

     McKnight’s current projects is a commentary on Colossians (Eerdmans) as well as a book on the Holy Spirit.

     Other books include Who Do My Opponents Say That I Am?: An Investigation of the Accusations Against the Historical Jesus (The Library of New Testament Studies)Jesus and His Death: Historiography, the Historical Jesus, and Atonement TheoryLight Among the Gentiles: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period by Scot McKnight (1991-04-02)A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context (Studying the Historical Jesus)Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the GospelsGalatians (The NIV Application Commentary) and Galatians (The NIV Application Commentary)Interpreting the Synoptic Gospels (Guides to New Testament Exegesis), and he is a co-editor with J.B. Green and I.H. Marshall of the award-winning Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series) as well as the co-editor, with J.D.G. Dunn, The Historical Jesus in Recent Research. He regularly contributes chapter length studies to dictionaries, encyclopedias, books and articles for magazines and online webzines. McKnight’s books have been translated into Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Portuguese.

     Scot McKnight was also ordained by Bishop Todd Hunter to the Diaconate in Churches for the Sake of Others, a segment of Anglican Churches of North America. He and Kris are active in their church, Church of the Redeemer.

     McKnight blogs at Jesus Creed.

     Scot McKnight was elected into the Hall of Honor at Cornerstone University in honor of his basketball accomplishments during his college career. He and his wife, Kristen, live in Libertyville, Illinois. They enjoy traveling, long walks, gardening, and cooking. They have two adult children, Laura (married to Mark Barringer) and Lukas (married to Annika Nelson), and two grandchildren: Aksel and Finley.

Exodus 22; John 1; Job 40; 2 Corinthians 10

By Don Carson 3/11/2018

     We shall do well to a little of the case law found in the Pentateuch — beginning now with some of the laws of restitution found in Exodus 22:1-15.

     Thieves must not only pay back what they stole, but something extra as well (22:1, 4). This extra amount is not only a punishment for them, but compensates the victim for the sense of being violated, or for the inconvenience of being deprived of whatever had been stolen. Zacchaeus understood the principle, and his repentance was demonstrated by his resolution to make restitution fourfold, and give generously to the poor (Luke 19:1-10).

     If a thief cannot pay back what he has stolen, the law demanded that he be sold into slavery to pay for his theft (22:3). Slavery in this culture had economic roots. There were no modern bankruptcy laws, so a person might sell himself into slavery to deal with outstanding debts. But in Israel, slavery was not normally to be open-ended: it was supposed to come to an end in seven-year cycles (21:2-4).

     The succeeding verses lay out the restitution to be made for various offenses, with exceptions included to make the law flexible enough to handle the hard cases or delicate cases (e.g., 22:14-15). In some instances, conflicting claims must be brought before a judge, who is charged with discerning who is telling the truth. For instance, if someone gives his neighbor claims that they were stolen from him by a thief, a judge must determine whether the neighbor is telling the truth, or is himself a thief. If the thief is caught, he must pay back double. If the judge determines that the neighbor is a liar, the neighbor must himself pay back double the amount (22:7-9).

     When the crime is theft, restitution most directly preserves the notion of justice. Where thieves are simply sent to prison, it will not be long before experts debate whether the purpose of prison is remedial, therapeutic, educational, custodial (for the preservation of society), or vengeful. A sentence directly related to the crime preserves the primacy of justice. The same is true, of course, of the much maligned lex talionis, the “eye for an eye” statute (21:23-25) that was not an excuse for a personal vendetta but a way of giving the courts punishments that exactly fitted the crime. This sense of justice needing to be satisfied permeates the Old Testament treatments of sin and transgression as well, ultimately preparing the way for an understanding of the cross as the sacrifice that meets the demands of justice (cf. Rom. 3:25-26).

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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

     Don Carson Books |  Go to Books Page

1. The Word of Forgiveness

A.W. Pink from The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross

     "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

     4. Here we see the blindness of the human heart.

     "They know not what they do." This does not mean that the enemies of Christ were ignorant of the fact of his crucifixion. They did know full well that they had cried out "Crucify him". They did know full well that their vile request had been granted them by Pilate. They did know full well that he had been nailed to the tree for they were eye-witnesses of the crime. What then did our Lord mean when he said, "They know not what they do"? He meant they were ignorant of the enormity of their crime. They "knew not" that it was the Lord of glory they were crucifying. The emphasis is not on "They know not" but on "they know not what they do".

     And yet they ought to have known. Their blindness was inexcusable. The Old Testament prophecies which had received their fulfillment in him were sufficiently plain to identify him as the Holy One of God. His teaching was unique, for his very critics were forced to admit "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46). And what of his perfect life! He had lived before men a life which had never been lived on earth before. He pleased not himself. He went about doing good. He was ever at the disposal of others. There was no self-seeking about him. His was a life of self-sacrifice from beginning to end. His was a life ever lived to the glory of God. His was a life on which was stamped heaven’s approval, for the Father’s voice testified audibly, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am wellpleased". No, there was no excuse for their ignorance. It only demonstrated the blindness of their hearts. Their rejection of the Son of God bore full witness, once for all, that the carnal mind is "enmity against God".

     How sad to think this terrible tragedy is still being repeated! Sinner, you little know what you are doing in neglecting God’s great salvation. You little know how awful is the sin of slighting the Christ of God and spurning the invitations of his mercy. You little know the deep guilt which is attached to your act of refusing to receive the only one who can save you from your sins. You little know how fearful is the crime of saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us". You know not what you do. You regard the vital issue with callous indifference. The question comes today as it did of old, "What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?" For you have to do something with him: either you despise and reject him, or you receive him as the Saviour of your soul and the Lord of your life. But, I say again, it seems to you a matter of small moment, of little importance, which you do. For years you have resisted the strivings of his Spirit. For years you have shelved the all-important consideration. For years you have steeled your heart against him, closed your ears to his appeals, and shut your eyes to his surpassing beauty. Ah! you know not WHAT you do. You are blind to your madness. Blind to your terrible sin. Yet are you not excuseless? You may be saved now if you will. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." 0 come to the Saviour now and say with one of old, "Lord, that I might receive my sight."

     "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

     5. Here we see a lovely exemplification of his own teaching.

     In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord taught his disciples, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). Above all others Christ practiced what he preached. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. He not only taught the truth but was himself the truth incarnate. Said he, "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). So here on the cross he perfectly exemplified his teaching of the mount. In all things he has left us an example.

     Notice Christ did not personally forgive his enemies. So in Matthew 5:44 he did not exhort his disciples to forgive their enemies, but he does exhort them to "pray" for them. But are we not to forgive those who wrong us? This leads us to a point concerning which there is much need for instruction today.

     Does scripture teach that under all circumstances we must always forgive? I answer emphatically, it does not. The word of God says, "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying, 1 repeat, thou shalt forgive him" (Luke 17:3,4). Here we are plainly taught that a condition must be met by the offender before we may pronounce forgiveness. The one who has wronged us must first "repent", that is, judge himself for his wrong and give evidence of his sorrow over it. But suppose the offender does not repent? Then 1 am not to forgive him.

     But let there be no misunderstanding of our meaning here. Even though the one who has wronged me does not repent, nevertheless, I must not harbor ill-feelings against him. There must be no hatred or malice cherished in the heart. Yet, on the other hand, I must not treat the offender as if he had done no wrong. That would be to condone the offence, and therefore I should fail to uphold the requirements of righteousness, and this the believer is ever to do. Does God ever forgive where there is no repentance? No, for scripture declares, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). One thing more. If one has injured me and repented not, while I cannot forgive him and treat him as though he had not offended, nevertheless, not only must! hold no malice in my heart against him, but I must also pray for him. Here is the value of Christ’s perfect example. If we cannot forgive, we can pray for God to forgive him.

     "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross

By James Orr 1907


To what result — we must now ask — does our whole investigation conduct us on the origin of the Priestly Writing, and the age and composition of the Pentateuch generally. We began by leaving it an open question whether, or how many, separate documents were employed in the compilation of that work, and if so, what were the ages and mutual relations of these documents. To what conclusions have we now been led?

For one thing, it is first to be said, not to the conclusion that Moses himself wrote the Pentateuch in the precise shape or extent in which we now possess it; for the work, we think, shows very evident signs of different pens and styles, of editorial redaction, of stages of compilation. As before observed, its composition has a history, whether we are able ever to track satisfactorily that history or not. On the other hand, next, very strongly to the view of the unity, essential Mosaicity, and relative antiquity of the Pentateuch. The unity which characterises the work has its basis mainly in the history, knit together as that is by the presence of a developing divine purpose; but arises also from the plan of the book, which must have been laid down early, by one mind, or different minds working together, while the memory of the great patriarchal traditions was yet fresh, and the impressions of the stupendous deliverance from Egypt, and of the wonderful events connected with, and following it, were yet recent and vivid. In the collation and preparation of the materials for this work — some of them, perhaps, reaching back into pre-Mosaic times —and the laying of the foundations of the existing narratives, to which Moses by his own compositions, according to constant tradition, lent the initial impulse, many hands and minds may have co-operated, and may have continued to co-operate, after the master-mind was removed; but unity of purpose and will gave a corresponding unity to the product of their labours. So far from such a view being obsolete, or disproved by modern criticism, we hold that internal indications, external evidence, and the circumstances of the Mosaic age itself, unite in lending their support to its probability.

1. It is in favour of the view we defend that it is in line with the Bible’s own constant tradition of the Mosaicity of the Pentateuchal books, which the modern hypothesis contradicts at every point. The Biblical evidence on this subject of Mosaic origin is often unduly minimised, but it is really very strong and pervasive. Apart from the assumption of the existence of a “book of the law of Moses” in passages of the historical books, and the implication of its existence in passages where it is not expressly mentioned; apart also from the firm belief of the Jews in the days of our Lord and His apostles — a belief which our Lord Himself shared — there can be no question:—

(1) That all the three Codes — the Book of the Covenant, the Deuteronomic discourses, and the Levitical Code — profess to come from Moses, and the first and second profess to have been written by him.

(2) That the Deuteronomic discourses imply the existence, in substance and in part in written form, of the JE history; and that the P writing, likewise, presupposes the JE history, with which, in its narrative part, it is parallel.

(3) That king Josiah and the Jewish people of his day received  Deuteronomy as a genuine work of Moses, and that the nation ever after regarded it as his.

(4) That the Jewish people of Ezra’s time similarly accepted the whole Pentateuch — including the Levitical legislation — as genuinely Mosaic.

(5) That the Samaritans received the Pentateuch at the hands of the Jews as an undoubtedly Mosaic book.

To these firm strands of tradition we may with much confidence attach ourselves, without feeling that “traditionalist,” in such a connection, is any term of reproach. As has happened in the case of the New Testament, so, it may be predicted, it will prove also in the case of the Old, that greater respect will yet come to be paid to consentient tradition than it is now the fashion to accord to it.

2. It is not, however, tradition merely which supports the idea of an essential Mosaicity of the Pentateuch. A strict application of critical methods leads to the same conclusion. We may sum up here the chief results at which we have arrived.

(1) We have found no good reason for separating the J and E of the critics, and regarding them as independent documents; and as little for placing their origin as late as the ninth or eighth century. We attach, as formerly said, no importance to the supposed mirroring of later events in the narratives, on which the argument for a late date is chiefly founded. Gunkel, we saw, can find no trace in the tradition in  Genesis, apart from the reference to Edom (chap.  27:40 ), which looks beyond 900 B.C.;3 and the bulk of the JE narrative may well go back to Mosaic or immediately post-Mosaic times. The older scholars did not feel the need of bringing it, at latest, below the days of the undivided kingdom, and there is no new evidence.

(2) We have been led, on historical and critical grounds, to reject the theory of the Josianic origin of  Deuteronomy, and, in accordance with the claim of the book itself, to affirm the genuineness of the Deuteronomic discourses, substantially in the form in which we have them. But  Deuteronomy, as repeatedly shown, attests the existence and Mosaic character of the Book of the Covenant, founds upon the JE history, and involves at least the presence of a measure of Levitical legislation.

(3) We have found that there are the strongest critical reasons for denying that the P writing (the peculiarities of which are acknowledged) ever subsisted as an independent document, and for regarding it, especially in  Genesis, as mainly a “framework” enclosing the contents of JE, though it has also, at certain points, its original, and, in parts, considerable contributions to bring to the history. We found ourselves compelled to reject the post-exilian date assigned to the laws in this writing by the critics; but equally (here in agreement with the Wellhausen school) the mediating view of those who regard the Code as a private document originating in priestly circles under the monarchy. There remains as the only alternative to the post - exilian date the view — which was also that of the older scholars — of the substantially Mosaic origin of the laws. It has been seen that these contain no anachronisms, but keep strictly within the limits of the Mosaic age. If, however, the laws are early, there can be no good reason for doubting the antiquity of the history with which they are connected, for it was simply the assumption of the late date of the laws which led, for consistency’s sake, to the putting of the history late. Further, from the close relation subsisting between P and JE in the narratives, we are compelled to assign both, as elements in a composite work, to practically the same age.

     The Problem of the Old Testament

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream (Part 2)

By John Bunyan 1678


     Well, the time grew on that the pilgrims must go on their way; wherefore they prepared for their journey. They sent for their friends; they conferred with them; they had some time set apart therein to commit each other to the protection of their Prince. There were again that brought them of such things as they had, that were fit for the weak and the strong, for the women and the men, and so laded them with such things as were necessary.

Acts 28:10 They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.   ESV

     Then they set forward on their way; and their friends accompanying them so far as was convenient, they again committed each other to the protection of their King, and parted.

     They therefore that were of the pilgrims’ company went on, and Mr. Great-Heart went before them. Now, the women and children being weakly, they were forced to go as they could bear; by which means Mr. Ready-to-halt and Mr. Feeble-mind, had more to sympathize with their condition.

     When they were gone from the townsmen, and when their friends had bid them farewell, they quickly came to the place where Faithful was put to death. Therefore they made a stand, and thanked him that had enabled him to bear his cross so well; and the rather, because they now found that they had a benefit by such a manly suffering as his was.

     They went on therefore after this a good way further, talking of Christian and Faithful, and how Hopeful joined himself to Christian after that Faithful was dead.

     Now they were come up with the hill Lucre, where the silver mine was which took Demas off from his pilgrimage, and into which, as some think, By-ends fell and perished; wherefore they considered that. But when they were come to the old monument that stood over against the hill Lucre, to wit, to the pillar of salt, that stood also within view of Sodom and its stinking lake, they marvelled, as did Christian before, that men of such knowledge and ripeness of wit as they were, should be so blinded as to turn aside here. Only they considered again, that nature is not affected with the harms that others have met with, especially if that thing upon which they look has an attracting virtue upon the foolish eye.

     I saw now, that they went on till they came to the river that was on this side of the Delectable Mountains; to the river where the fine trees grow on both sides, and whose leaves, if taken inwardly, are good against surfeits; where the meadows are green all the year long, and where they might lie down safely.

Psa. 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.

By this river-side, in the meadows, there were cotes and folds for sheep, a house built for the nourishing and bringing up of those lambs, the babes of those women that go on pilgrimage. Also there was here one that was intrusted with them, who could have compassion; and that could gather these lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that were with young.

Hebrews 5:2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.   ESV

Isaiah 40:11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

Now, to the care of this man Christiana admonished her four daughters to commit their little ones, that by these waters they might be housed, harbored, succored, and nourished, and that none of them might be lacking in time to come. This man, if any of them go astray, or be lost, will bring them again; he will also bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen them that are sick.

Jer. 23:4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD.   ESV

Ezek. 34:11–16 11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.   ESV

Here they will never want meat, drink, and clothing; here they will be kept from thieves and robbers; for this man will die before one of those committed to his trust shall be lost. Besides, here they shall be sure to have good nurture and admonition, and shall be taught to walk in right paths, and that you know is a favor of no small account. Also here, as you see, are delicate waters, pleasant meadows, dainty flowers, variety of trees, and such as bear wholesome fruit: fruit, not like that which Matthew ate of, that fell over the wall out of Beelzebub’s garden; but fruit that procureth health where there is none, and that continueth and increaseth it where it is. So they were content to commit their little ones to him; and that which was also an encouragement to them so to do, was, for that all this was to be at the charge of the King, and so was as an hospital to young children and orphans.

     Now they went on. And when they were come to By-path Meadow, to the stile over which Christian went with his fellow Hopeful, when they were taken by Giant Despair and put into Doubting Castle, they sat down, and consulted what was best to be done: to wit, now they were so strong, and had got such a man as Mr. Great-Heart for their conductor, whether they had not best to make an attempt upon the giant, demolish his castle, and if there were any pilgrims in it, to set them at liberty before they went any further. So one said one thing, and another said the contrary. One questioned if it was lawful to go upon unconsecrated ground; another said they might, provided their end was good; but Mr. Great-Heart said, Though that assertion offered last cannot be universally true, yet I have a commandment to resist sin, to overcome evil, to fight the good fight of faith: and I pray, with whom should I fight this good fight, if not with Giant Despair? I will therefore attempt the taking away of his life, and the demolishing of Doubting Castle. Then said he, Who will go with me? Then said old Honest, I will. And so will we too, said Christiana’s four sons, Matthew, Samuel, Joseph, and James; for they were young men and strong.

1 John 2:13-14 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

So they left the women in the road, and with them Mr. Feeble-mind, and Mr. Ready-to-halt with his crutches, to be their guard until they came back; for in that place the Giant Despair dwelt so near, they keeping in the road, a little child might lead them.

Isa. 11:6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

     So Mr. Great-Heart, old Honest, and the four young men, went to go up to Doubting Castle, to look for Giant Despair. When they came at the castle gate, they knocked for entrance with an unusual noise. At that the old Giant comes to the gate, and Diffidence his wife follows. Then said he, Who and what is he that is so hardy, as after this manner to molest the Giant Despair? Mr. Great-Heart replied, It is I, Great-Heart, one of the King of the Celestial country’s conductors of pilgrims to their place; and I demand of thee that thou open thy gates for my entrance: prepare thyself also to fight, for I am come to take away thy head; and to demolish Doubting Castle.

     Now Giant Despair, because he was a giant, thought no man could overcome him: and again thought he, Since heretofore I have made a conquest of angels, shall Great-Heart make me afraid? So he harnessed himself, and went out. He had a cap of steel upon his head, a breast-plate of fire girded to him, and he came out in iron shoes, with a great club in his hand. Then these six men made up to him, and beset him behind and before: also, when Diffidence the giantess came up to help him, old Mr. Honest cut her down at one blow. Then they fought for their lives, and Giant Despair was brought down to the ground, but was very loth to die. He struggled hard, and had, as they say, as many lives as a cat; but Great-Heart was his death, for he left him not till he had severed his head from his shoulders.

     Then they fell to demolishing Doubting Castle, and that you know might with ease be done, since Giant Despair was dead. They were seven days in destroying of that; and in it of pilgrims they found one Mr. Despondency, almost starved to death, and one Much-afraid, his daughter: these two they saved alive. But it would have made you wonder to have seen the dead bodies that lay here and there in the castle yard, and how full of dead men’s bones the dungeon was.

     When Mr. Great-Heart and his companions had performed this exploit, they took Mr. Despondency, and his daughter Much-afraid, into their protection; for they were honest people, though they were prisoners in Doubting Castle to that tyrant Giant Despair. They, therefore, I say, took with them the head of the giant, (for his body they had buried under a heap of stones,) and down to the road and to their companions they came, and showed them what they had done. Now, when Feeble-mind and Ready-to-halt saw that it was the head of Giant Despair indeed, they were very jocund and merry. Now Christiana, if need was, could play upon the viol, and her daughter Mercy upon the lute: so, since they were so merry disposed, she played them a lesson, and Ready-to-halt would dance. So he took Despondency’s daughter, Much-afraid, by the hand, and to dancing they went in the road. True, he could not dance without one crutch in his hand, but I promise you he footed it well: also the girl was to be commended, for she answered the music handsomely.

     As for Mr. Despondency, the music was not so much to him; he was for feeding rather than dancing, for that he was almost starved. So Christiana gave him some of her bottle of spirits for present relief, and then prepared him something to eat; and in a little time the old gentleman came to himself, and began to be finely revived.

     Now I saw in my dream, when all these things were finished, Mr. Great-Heart took the head of Giant Despair, and set it upon a pole by the highway-side, right over against the pillar that Christian erected for a caution to pilgrims that came after, to take heed of entering into his grounds. Then he writ under it upon a marble stone these verses following:

“This is the head of him whose name only
In former times did pilgrims terrify.
His castle’s down, and Diffidence his wife
Brave Mr. Great-Heart has bereft of life.
Despondency, his daughter Much-afraid,
Great-Heart for them also the man has play’d.
Who hereof doubts, if he’ll but cast his eye
Up hither, may his scruples satisfy.
This head also, when doubting cripples dance,
Doth show from fears they have deliverance.”

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

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

March 11
2 Kings 20:12 At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. 13 And Hezekiah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.

Isaiah 39:1 At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered.

     Yesterday we saw Hezekiah spreading out the letter of blasphemy before the Lord. Today we see how sadly he failed and how differently he acted when there came a letter and a present from the idolatrous king of Babylon. Hezekiah was flattered by this attention and did not feel the need of taking it to God as he did in the other case. And so he erred grievously and Israel was destined to suffer terribly for the king’s blunder. We need to be as much before God when the world patronizes us as when it openly disapproves. It is never safe to forget to pray.

We bless Thee for Thy peace, O God!
Deep as the boundless sea,
Which falls like sunshine on the road
Of those who trust in Thee.

We ask not, Father, for repose
Which comes from outward rest,
If we may have through all life’s woes
Thy peace within our breast.

That peace which suffers and is strong,
Trusts where it cannot see,
Deems not the trial way too long,
But leaves the end with Thee.

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

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     18. Though a good part of the world rested in these soothing suggestions, by which this fatal poison was somewhat tempered, it was not because they thought that God was satisfied, or they had quite satisfied themselves; it was rather like an anchor cast out in the middle of the deep, which for a little interrupts the navigation, or a weary, worn-out traveler, who lies down by the way. [350] I give myself no trouble in proving the truth of this fact. Every one can be his own witness. I will mention generally what the nature of this law is. First. The observance of it is simply impossible; and hence its only results to destroy, condemn, confound, to plunge into ruin and despair. Secondly, By withdrawing sinners from a true sense of their sins, it makes them hypocritical, and ignorant both of God and themselves. For, while they are wholly occupied with the enumeration of their sins, they lose sight of that lurking hydra, their secret iniquities and internal defilements, the knowledge of which would have made them sensible of their misery. But the surest rule of confession is, to acknowledge and confess our sins to be an abyss so great as to exceed our comprehension. On this rule we see the confession of the publican was formed, "God be merciful to me, a sinner," (Luke 18:13); as if he had said, How great, how very great a sinner, how utterly sinful I am! the extent of my sins I can neither conceive nor express. Let the depth of thy mercy engulf the depth of sin! What! you will say, are we not to confess every single sin? Is no confession acceptable to God but that which is contained in the words, "I am a sinner"? Nay, our endeavor must rather be, as much as in us lies, to pour out our whole heart before the Lord. Nor are we only in one word to confess ourselves sinners, but truly and sincerely acknowledge ourselves as such; to feel with our whole soul how great and various the pollutions of our sins are; confessing not only that we are impure, but what the nature of our impurity is, its magnitude and its extent; not only that we are debtors, but what the debts are which burden us, and how they were incurred; not only that we are wounded, but how numerous and deadly are the wounds. When thus recognizing himself, the sinner shall have poured out his whole heart before God, let him seriously and sincerely reflect that a greater number of sins still remains, and that their recesses are too deep for him thoroughly to penetrate. Accordingly, let him exclaim with David, "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults," (Ps. 19:12). But when the Schoolmen affirm that sins are not forgiven, unless the resolution to confess has been firmly conceived, and that the gate of Paradise is closed on him who has neglected the opportunity of confessing when offered, far be it from us to concede this to them. The remission of sins is not different now from what it has ever been. In all the passages in which we read that sinners obtained forgiveness from God, we read not that they whispered into the ear of some priest. [351] Indeed, they could not then confess, as priests were not then confessionaries, nor did the confessional itself exist. And for many ages afterwards, this mode of confession, by which sins were forgiven on this condition, was unheard of: But not to enter into a long discussion, as if the matter were doubtful, the word of God, which abideth for ever, is plain, "When the wicked shall turn away from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die," (Ezek. 18:21). He who presumes to add to this declaration binds not sins, but the mercy of God. When they contend that judgment cannot be given unless the case is known, the answer is easy, that they usurp the right of judging, being only self-created judges. And it is strange, how confidently they lay down principles, which no man of sound mind will admit. They give out, that the office of binding and loosing has been committed to them, as a kind of jurisdiction annexed to the right of inquiry. That the jurisdiction was unknown to the Apostles their whole doctrine proclaims. Nor does it belong to the priest to know for certainty whether or not a sinner is loosed, but to Him from whom acquittal is asked; since he who only hears can ever know whether or not the enumeration is full and complete. Thus there would be no absolution, without restricting it to the words of him who is to be judged. We may add, that the whole system of loosing depends on faith and repentance, two things which no man can know of another, so as to pronounce sentence. It follows, therefore, that the certainty of binding and loosing is not subjected to the will of an earthly judge, because the minister of the word, when he duly executes his office, can only acquit conditionally, when, for the sake of the sinner, he repeats the words, "Whose soever sins ye remit;" lest he should doubt of the pardon, which, by the command and voice of God, is promised to be ratified in heaven.

19. It is not strange, therefore, that we condemn that auricular confession, as a thing pestilent in its nature, and in many ways injurious to the Church, and desire to see it abolished. But if the thing were in itself indifferent, yet, seeing it is of no use or benefit, and has given occasion to so much impiety, blasphemy, and error, who does not think that it ought to be immediately abolished? They enumerate some of its uses, and boast of them as very beneficial, but they are either fictitious or of no importance. One thing they specially commend, that the blush of shame in the penitent is a severe punishment, which makes him more cautious for the future, and anticipates divine punishment, by his punishing himself. As if a man was not sufficiently humbled with shame when brought under the cognizance of God at his supreme tribunal. Admirable proficiency--if we cease to sin because we are ashamed to make one man acquainted with it, and blush not at having God as the witness of our evil conscience! The assertion, however, as to the effect of shame, is most unfounded, for we may every where see, that there is nothing which gives men greater confidence and license in sinning than the idea, that after making confession to priests, they can wipe their lip, and say, I have not done it. And not only do they during the whole year become bolder in sin, but, secure against confession for the remainder of it, they never sigh after God, never examine themselves, but continue heaping sins upon sins, until, as they suppose, they get rid of them all at once. And when they have got rid of them, they think they are disburdened of their load, and imagine they have deprived God of the right of judging, by giving it to the priest; have made God forgetful, by making the priest conscious. Moreover, who is glad when he sees the day of confession approaching? Who goes with a cheerful mind to confess, and does not rather, as if he were dragged to prison with a rope about his neck, go unwillingly, and, as it were, struggling against it? with the exception, perhaps, of the priests themselves, who take a fond delight in the mutual narrative of their own misdeeds, as a kind of merry tales. I will not pollute my page by retailing the monstrous abominations with which auricular confession teems; I only say, that if that holy man (Nectarius, of whom supra sec. 7) did not act unadvisedly when for one rumour of whoredom he banished confession from his church, or rather from the memory of his people, the innumerable acts of prostitution, adultery, and incest, which it produces in the present day, warn us of the necessity of abolishing it.

20. As to the pretence of the confessionaries respecting the power of the keys, and their placing in it, so to speak, the sum and substance of their kingdom, we must see what force it ought to have. Were the keys then (they ask), given without a cause? Was it said without a cause, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven?" (Mt. 18:18). Do we make void the word of Christ? I answer, that there was a weighty reason for giving the keys, as I lately explained, and will again show at greater length when I come to treat of Excommunication (Book 4, cap. 12). But what if I should cut off the handle for all such questions with one sword--viz. that priests are neither vicars nor successors of the Apostles? But that also will be elsewhere considered (Book 4, cap. 6). Now, at the very place where they are most desirous to fortify themselves, they erect a battering-ram, by which all their own machinations are overthrown. Christ did not give his Apostles the power of binding and loosing before he endued them with the Holy Spirit. I deny, therefore, that any man, who has not previously received the Holy Spirit, is competent to possess the power of the keys. I deny that any one can use the keys, unless the Holy Spirit precede, teaching and dictating what is to be done. They pretend, indeed, that they have the Holy Spirit, but by their works deny him; unless, indeed, we are to suppose that the Holy Spirit is some vain thing of no value, as they certainly do feign, but we will not believe them. With this engine they are completely overthrown; whatever be the door of which they boast of having the key, we must always ask, whether they have the Holy Spirit, who is arbiter and ruler of the keys? If they reply, that they have, we must again ask, whether the Holy Spirit can err? This they will not venture to say distinctly, although by their doctrine they indirectly insinuate it. Therefore, we must infer, that no priestlings have the power of the keys, because they every where and indiscriminately loose what the Lord was pleased should be bound, and bind what he has ordered to be loosed.

21. When they see themselves convicted on the clearest evidence, of loosing and binding worthy and unworthy without distinction, they lay claim to power without knowledge. And although they dare not deny that knowledge is requisite for the proper use, they still affirm that the power itself has been given to bad administrators. This, however, is the power, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Either the promise of Christ must be false, or those who are endued with this power bind and loose properly. There is no room for the evasion, that the words of Christ are limited, according to the merits of him who is loosed or bound. We admit, that none can be bound or loosed but those who are worthy of being bound or loosed. But the preachers of the Gospel and the Church have the word by which they can measure this worthiness. By this word preachers of the Gospel can promise forgiveness of sins to all who are in Christ by faith, and can declare a sentence of condemnation against all, and upon all, who do not embrace Christ. In this word the Church declares, that "neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers," "nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God," (1 Cor. 6:9, 10). Such it binds in sure fetters. By the same word it looses and consoles the penitent. But what kind of power is it which knows not what is to be bound or loosed? You cannot bind or loose without knowledge. Why, then, do they say, that they absolve by authority given to them, when absolution is uncertain? As regards us, this power is merely imaginary, if it cannot be used. Now, I holds either that there is no use, or one so uncertain as to be virtually no use at all. For when they confess that a good part of the priests do not use the keys duly, and that power without the legitimate use is ineffectual, who is to assure me, that the one by whom I am loosed is a good dispenser of the keys? But if he is a bad one, what better has he given me than this nugatory dispensation,--What is to be bound or loosed in you I know not, since I have not the proper use of the keys; but if you deserve it, I absolve you? As much might be done, I say not by a laic (since they would scarcely listen to such a statement), but by the Turk or the devil. For it is just to say, I have not the word of God, the sure rule for loosing, but authority has been given me to absolve you, if you deserve it. We see, therefore, what their object was, when they defined (see sec. 16) the keys as authority to discern and power to execute; and said, that knowledge is added as a counselor, and counsels the proper use; their object was to reign libidinously and licentiously, without God and his word.

22. Should any one object, first, that the lawful ministers of Christ will be no less perplexed in the discharge of their duty, because the absolution, which depends on faith, will always be equivocal; and, secondly, that sinners will receive no comfort at all, or cold comfort, because the minister, who is not a fit judge of their faith, is not certain of their absolution, we are prepared with an answer. They say that no sins are remitted by the priest, but such sins as he is cognizant of; thus, according to them, remission depends on the judgment of the priest, and unless he accurately discriminate as to who are worthy of pardon, the whole procedure is null and void. In short, the power of which they speak is a jurisdiction annexed to examination, to which pardon and absolution are restricted. Here no firm footing can be found, nay, there is a profound abyss; because, where confession is not complete, the hope of pardon also is defective; next, the priest himself must necessarily remain in suspense, while he knows not whether the sinner gives a faithful enumeration of his sins; lastly, such is the rudeness and ignorance of priests, that the greater part of them are in no respect fitter to perform this office than a cobbler to cultivate the fields, while almost all the others have good reason to suspect their own fitness. Hence the perplexity and doubt as to the Popish absolution, from their choosing to found it on the person of the priest, and not on his person only, but on his knowledge, so that he can only judge of what is laid before him investigated, and ascertained. Now, if any should ask at these good doctors, whether the sinner is reconciled to God when some sins are remitted? I know not what answer they could give, unless that they should be forced to confess, that whatever the priest pronounces with regard to the remission of sins which have been enumerated to him will be unavailing, so long as others are not exempted from condemnation. On the part of the penitent, again, it is hence obvious in what a state of pernicious anxiety his conscience will be held; because, while he leans on what they call the discernment of the priest, he cannot come to any decision from the word of God. From all these absurdities the doctrine which we deliver is completely free. For absolution is conditional, allowing the sinner to trust that God is propitious to him, provided he sincerely seek expiation in the sacrifice of Christ, and accept of the grace offered to him. Thus, he cannot err who, in the capacity of a herald, promulgates what has been dictated to him from the word of God. The sinner, again, can receive a clear and sure absolution when, in regard to embracing the grace of Christ, the simple condition annexed is in terms of the general rule of our Master himself,--a rule impiously spurned by the Papacy,--"According to your faith be it unto you," (Mt. 9:29).

23. The absurd jargon which they make of the doctrine of Scripture concerning the power of the keys, I have promised to expose elsewhere; the proper place will be in treating of the Government of the Church (Book 4, c. 12). Meanwhile, let the reader remember how absurdly they wrest to auricular and secret confession what was said by Christ partly of the preaching of the Gospel, and partly of excommunication. Wherefore, when they object that the power of loosing was given to the Apostles, and that this power priests exercise by remitting sins acknowledged to them, it is plain that the principle which they assume is false and frivolous: for the absolution which is subordinate to faith is nothing else than an evidence of pardon, derived from the free promise of the Gospel, while the other absolution, which depends on the discipline of the Church, has nothing to do with secret sins; but is more a matter of example for the purpose of removing the public offense given to the Church. As to their diligence in searching up and down for passages by which they may prove that it is not sufficient to confess sins to God alone, or to laymen, unless the priest take cognizance, it is vile and disgraceful. For when the ancient fathers advise sinners to disburden themselves to their pastor, we cannot understand them to refer to a recital which was not then in use. Then, so unfair are Lombard and others like-minded, that they seem intentionally to have devoted themselves to spurious books, that they might use them as a cloak to deceive the simple. They, indeed, acknowledge truly, that as forgiveness always accompanies repentance, no obstacle properly remains after the individual is truly penitent, though he may not have actually confessed; and, therefore, that the priest does not so much remit sins, as pronounce and declare that they are remitted; though in the term declaring, they insinuate a gross error, surrogating ceremony [352] in place of doctrine. But in pretending that he who has already obtained pardon before God is acquitted in the face of the Church, they unseasonably apply to the special use of every individual, that which we have already said was designed for common discipline when the offense of a more heinous and notorious transgression was to be removed. Shortly after they pervert and destroy their previous moderation, by adding that there is another mode of remission, namely, by the infliction of penalty and satisfaction, in which they arrogate to their priests the right of dividing what God has every where promised to us entire. While He simply requires repentance and faith, their division or exception is altogether blasphemous. For it is just as if the priest, assuming the office of tribune, were to interfere with God, [353] and try to prevent him from admitting to his favor by his mere liberality any one who had not previously lain prostrate at the tribunicial bench, and there been punished.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • Camp Areté and
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  • Psalm 89
    the Kings of Israel

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     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The Mothers’ Honour Roll
     3/11/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘And a book of remembrance was written.’

(Mal 3:16) Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. ESV

     Is it possible that when we get to heaven there’ll be a ‘Mothers’ Honour Roll’, listing the names of all the faithful mothers who prayed day and night on behalf of their children and grandchildren? Maybe, but this much we do know: God honours mothers who honour God! He responded to the prayers of Hannah and gave her a son who would grow up to be a prophet and lead the nation of Israel. And Paul writes concerning Timothy: ‘I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also’ (2 Timothy 1:5 NKJV). The Bible tells us God keeps records: ‘Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another…the Lord hearkened …and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and…thought upon his name.’ John writes: ‘I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works’ (Revelation 20:12 KJV). Susanna Wesley had nineteen children (nine died as infants), and she spent an hour every day praying for each one by name. Her prayers paid off. One of her sons, John, brought a spiritual awakening to Britain and founded the Methodist Church. Maybe there will be an honour roll for mothers in heaven, and maybe not. But one thing is sure – when mothers pray, God listens and lives are changed. So never stop praying for your kids, Mum.

Luke 4:31-44
Psalm 26-28

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     His outspoken stand against slavery resulted in a Congressman from Carolina violently beating him on the head with a cane while he was sitting at his desk on the Senate Floor, the injuries from which he never fully recovered. Who was he? Senator Charles Sumner, who died this day, March 11, 1874. A founder of the Republican Party, Charles Sumner declared: “That great story of redemption, when God raised up the slave-born Moses to deliver His chosen people from bondage, and… that sublimer story where our Saviour died a cruel death that all men, without distinction of race, might be saved, makes slavery impossible.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     There is a way of life so hid with Christ in God that in the midst of the day's business one is inwardly lifting brief prayers, short ejaculations of praise, subdue'd whispers of adoration and of tender love to the Beyond that is within. No one need know about it. I only speak to you because it is a sacred trust, not mine but to be given to others. One can live in a well-nigh continuous state of unworded prayer, directed toward God, directed toward people and enterprises we have on our heart. There is no hurry about it all; it is a life unspeakable and full of glory, an inner world of splendor within which we, unworthy, may live. Some of you know it and live in it; others of you may wistfully long for it; it can be yours.

     Now out from such a holy Center come the commissions of life. Our fellowship with God issues in world-concern. We cannot keep the love of God to ourselves. It spills over. It quickens us. It makes us see the world's needs anew. We love people and we grieve to see them blind when they might be seeing, asleep with all the world's comforts when they ought to be awake and living sacrificially, accepting the world's goods as their right when they really hold them only in temporary trust. It is because from this holy Center we relove people, relove our neighbors as ourselves, that we are bestirred to be means of their awakening. The deepest need of men is not food and clothing and shelter, important as they are. It is God. We have mistaken the nature of poverty, and thought it was economic poverty. No, it is poverty of soul, deprivation of God's recreating, loving peace. Peer into poverty and see if we are really getting down to the deepest needs, in our economic salvation schemes. These are important. But they lie farther along the road, secondary steps toward world reconstruction. The primary step is a holy life, transformed and radiant in the glory of God.

     This love of people is well-nigh as amazing as the love of God. Do we want to help people because we feel sorry for them, or because we genuinely love them? The world needs something deeper than pity; it needs love. (How trite that sounds, how real it is!) But in our love of people are we to be excitedly hurried, sweeping all men and tasks into our loving concern? No, that is God's function. But He, working within us, portions out His vast concern into bundles, and lays on each of us our portion. These become our tasks. Life from the Center is a heaven-directed life.

     Much of our acceptance of multitudes of obligations is due to our inability to say No. We calculated that that task had to be done, and we saw no one ready to undertake it. We calculated the need, and then calculated our time, and decided maybe we could squeeze it in somewhere. But the decision was a heady decision, not made within the sanctuary of the soul. When we say Yes or No to calls for service on the basis of heady decisions, we have to give reasons, to ourselves and to others. But when we say Yes or No to calls, on the basis of inner guidance and whispered promptings of encouragement from the Center of our life, or on the basis of a lack of any inward "rising" of that Life to encourage us in the call, we have no reason to give, except one-the will of God as we discern it. Then we have begun to live in guidance. And I find He never guides us into an intolerable scramble of panting feverishness. The Cosmic Patience becomes, in part, our patience, for after all God is at work in the world. It is not we alone who are at work in the world, frantically finishing a work to be offered to God.

     Life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic. He is at the helm. And when our little day is done we lie down quietly in peace, for all is well.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Let us put theology out of religion. Theology has always sent the worst to heaven, the best to hell.
--- Robert G. Ingersoll
The gods.

It is not your idea, not your understanding, not your thinking, not your reasoning, not even your profession of faith, that here can quench the thirst. The home-sickness goes out after God Himself... it is not the name of God but God Himself whom your soul desires and cannot do without.
--- Abraham Kuyper
Space for God: Study and Practice of Spirituality and Prayer (Bible Way)

By a Carpenter mankind was made,
and only by that Carpenter can mankind be remade.
--- Desiderius Erasmus
27/28: Literary and Educational Writings, volume 27 and volume 28: 5: Panegyricus / Moria / Julius exclusus / Institutio principis christiani . ... 6: Ciceronianus (Collected Works of Erasmus)

It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man and the security of a god.
--- Seneca
Essays: Or, Counsels Civil and Moral, and the Two Books of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 3/11
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     This exercise came upon me in the afternoon on the second day of the Yearly Meeting, and on going to bed I got no sleep till my mind was wholly resigned thereto. In the morning I inquired of a Friend how long the Assembly was likely to continue sitting, who told me it was expected to be prorogued that day or the next. As I was desirous to attend the business of the meeting, and perceived the Assembly was likely to separate before the business was over, after considerable exercise, humbly seeking to the Lord for instruction, my mind settled to attend on the business of the meeting; on the last day of which I had prepared a short essay of a petition to be presented to the Legislature, if way opened. And being informed that there were some appointed by that Yearly Meeting to speak with those in authority on cases relating to the Society, I opened my mind to several of them, and showed them the essay I had made, and afterwards I opened the case in the meeting for business, in substance as follows: --

     "I have been under a concern for some time on account of the great number of slaves which are imported into this colony. I am aware that it is a tender point to speak to, but apprehend I am not clear in the sight of Heaven without doing so. I have prepared an essay of a petition to be presented to the Legislature, if way open; and what I have to propose to this meeting is that some Friends may be named to withdraw and look over it, and report whether they believe it suitable to be read in the meeting. If they should think well of reading it, it will remain for the meeting to consider whether to take any further notice of it, as a meeting, or not." After a short conference some Friends went out, and, looking over it, expressed their willingness to have it read, which being done, many expressed their unity with the proposal, and some signified that to have the subjects of the petition enlarged upon, and signed out of meeting by such as were free, would be more suitable than to do it there. Though I expected at first that if it was done it would be in that way, yet such was the exercise of my mind that to move it in the hearing of Friends when assembled appeared to me as a duty, for my heart yearned towards the inhabitants of these parts, believing that by this trade there had been an increase of inquietude amongst them, and way had been made for the spreading of a spirit opposite to that meekness and humility which is a sure resting-place for the soul; and that the continuance of this trade would not only render their healing more difficult, but would increase their malady.

     Having proceeded thus far, I felt easy to leave the essay amongst Friends, for them to proceed in it as they believed best. And now an exercise revived in my mind in relation to lotteries, which were common in those parts. I had mentioned the subject in a former sitting of this meeting, when arguments were used in favor of Friends being held excused who were only concerned in such lotteries as were agreeable to law. And now, on moving it again, it was opposed as before; but the hearts of some solid Friends appeared to be united to discourage the practice amongst their members, and the matter was zealously handled by some on both sides. In this debate it appeared very clear to me that the spirit of lotteries was a spirit of selfishness, which tended to confuse and darken the understanding, and that pleading for it in our meetings, which were set apart for the Lord's work, was not right. In the heat of zeal, I made reply to what an ancient Friend said, and when I sat down I saw that my words were not enough seasoned with charity. After this I spoke no more on the subject. At length a minute was made, a copy of which was to be sent to their several Quarterly Meetings, inciting Friends to labor to discourage the practice amongst all professing with us.

     Some time after this minute was made I remained uneasy with the manner of my speaking to the ancient Friend, and could not see my way clear to conceal my uneasiness, though I was concerned that I might say nothing to weaken the cause in which I had labored. After some close exercise and hearty repentence for not having attended closely to the safe guide, I stood up, and, reciting the passage, acquainted Friends that though I durst not go from what I had said as to the matter, yet I was uneasy with the manner of my speaking, believing milder language would have been better. As this was uttered in some degree of creaturely abasement after a warm debate, it appeared to have a good savor amongst us.

     The Yearly Meeting being now over, there yet remained on my mind a secret though heavy exercise, in regard to some leading active members about Newport, who were in the practice of keeping slaves. This I mentioned to two ancient Friends who came out of the country, and proposed to them, if way opened, to have some conversation with those members. One of them and I, having consulted one of the most noted elders who had slaves, he, in a respectful manner, encouraged me to proceed to clear myself of what lay upon me. Near the beginning of the Yearly Meeting, I had had a private conference with this said elder and his wife, concerning their slaves, so that the way seemed clear to me to advise with him about the manner of proceeding. I told him I was free to have a conference with them all together in a private house; or if he thought they would take it unkind to be asked to come together, and to be spoken with in the hearing of one another, I was free to spend some time amongst them, and to visit them all in their own houses. He expressed his liking to the first proposal, not doubting their willingness to come together; and, as I proposed a visit to only ministers, elders, and overseers, he named some others whom he desired might also be present. A careful messenger being wanted to acquaint them in a proper manner, he offered to go to all their houses, to open the matter to them, -- and did so. About the eighth hour the next morning we met in the meeting-house chamber, the last-mentioned country Friend, my companion, and John Storer being with us. After a short time of retirement, I acquainted them with the steps I had taken in procuring that meeting, and opened the concern I was under, and we then proceeded to a free conference upon the subject. My exercise was heavy, and I was deeply bowed in spirit before the Lord, who was pleased to favor with the seasoning virtue of truth, which wrought a tenderness amongst us; and the subject was mutually handled in a calm and peaceable spirit. At length, feeling my mind released from the burden which I had been under, I took my leave of them in a good degree of satisfaction; and by the tenderness they manifested in regard to the practice, and the concern several of them expressed in relation to the manner of disposing of their negroes after their decease, I believed that a good exercise was spreading amongst them; and I am humbly thankful to God, who supported my mind and preserved me in a good degree of resignation through these trials.

John Woolman's Journal

What Is Faith?
     by Martin Luther

     Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. “Faith is not enough,” they say, “You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.” They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, “I believe.” That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn’t come from this `faith,’ either.

     Instead, faith is God’s work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.

     Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.

     An excerpt from “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

nbsp;    Translated by Rev. Robert E. Smith from DR. MARTIN LUTHER’S VERMISCHTE DEUTSCHE SCHRIFTEN. Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63 Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125. [EA 63:124-125]

Ligonier Ministries
The Second Coming
     By William Butler Yeats

   Turning and turning in the widening gyre
   The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
   Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
   Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
   The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
   The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
   The best lack all conviction, while the worst
   Are full of passionate intensity.

   Surely some revelation is at hand;
   Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
   The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
   When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
   Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
   A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
   A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
   Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
   Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
   The darkness drops again; but now I know
   That twenty centuries of stony sleep
   Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
   And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
   Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Collected Poems (MacMillan Collector's Library)

     It is this threat to Christian faith that forms the backdrop to this study, but by its end I shall seek to argue that though the experience of modernity poses great, though often unseen perils to Christian faith, it also provides a strange ground for hope. It is, perhaps, one of the oddities of God's providence that reformation in the church's life, of which the evangelical world surely stands in need, has often been abetted, if not triggered, by social disorder. Before God rebuilds, he often pulls down and plucks up. Unhealthy habits of mind and injurious patterns of life that might have been in the making for long periods of time are often more easily swept away by social chaos than by a preacher's appeals to conscience. It was so with unhappy regularity throughout the Old Testament, and it seems to have been so throughout the life of the Church. The moments of deep transformation, such as those that occurred at the time of the Reformation, also seem to happen at times of great upheaval in society. I believe that we are now living in such times, and though I see many of the omens that could portend a very troubled future and perhaps the disintegration of Western civilization, this is also a moment when, in God's mercy and providence, the Church could be deeply transformed for good — provided that, unlike the frog, it knows how to jump out of the pot.

No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?

What Is Faith?
     by Martin Luther

     Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. “Faith is not enough,” they say, “You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.” They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, “I believe.” That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn’t come from this `faith,’ either.

     Instead, faith is God’s work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.

     Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.

     An excerpt from “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

nbsp;    Translated by Rev. Robert E. Smith from DR. MARTIN LUTHER’S VERMISCHTE DEUTSCHE SCHRIFTEN. Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63 Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125. [EA 63:124-125]

Ligonier Ministries

Proverbs 12:12-13
     by D.H. Stern

12     The wicked covet the loot of evil men,
but the root of the righteous gives forth of itself.
13     The wicked is trapped by his own sinful speech,
but the righteous finds a way out of trouble.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Great Divorce - A Dream
     C.S. Lewis


     I was not left very long at the mercy of the Tousle-Headed Poet, because another passenger interrupted our conversation: but before that happened I had learned a good deal about him. He appeared to be a singularly ill-used man. His parents had never appreciated him and none of the five schools at which he had been educated seemed to have made any provision for a talent and temperament such as his. To make matters worse he had been exactly the sort of boy in whose case the examination system works out with the maximum unfairness and absurdity. It was not until he reached the university that he began to recognise that all these injustices did not come by chance but were the inevitable results of our economic system. Capitalism did not merely enslave the workers, it also vitiated taste and vulgarised intellect: hence our educational system and hence the lack of ‘Recognition’ for new genius. This discovery had made him a Communist. But when the war came along and he saw Russia in alliance with the capitalist governments, he had found himself once more isolated and had to become a conscientious objector. The indignities he suffered at this stage of his career had, he confessed, embittered him. He decided he could serve the cause best by going to America: but then America came into the war too. It was at this point that he suddenly saw Sweden as the home of a really new and radical art, but the various oppressors had given him no facilities for going to Sweden. There were money troubles. His father, who had never progressed beyond the most atrocious mental complacency and smugness of the Victorian epoch, was giving him a ludicrously inadequate allowance. And he had been very badly treated by a girl too. He had thought her a really civilised and adult personality, and then she had unexpectedly revealed that she was a mass of bourgeois prejudices and monogamic instincts. Jealousy, possessiveness, was a quality he particularly disliked. She had even shown herself, at the end, to be mean about money. That was the last straw. He had jumped under a train …

     I gave a start, but he took no notice.

     Even then, he continued, ill luck had continued to dog him. He’d been sent to the grey town. But of course it was a mistake. I would find, he assured me, that all the other passengers would be with me on the return journey. But he would not. He was going to stay ‘there’. He felt quite certain that he was going where, at last, his finely critical spirit would no longer be outraged by an uncongenial environment—where he would find ‘Recognition’ and ‘Appreciation’. Meanwhile, since I hadn’t got my glasses, he would read me the passage about which Cyril Blellow had been so insensitive …

     It was just then that we were interrupted. One of the quarrels which were perpetually simmering in the bus had boiled over and for a moment there was a stampede. Knives were drawn: pistols were fired: but it all seemed strangely innocuous and when it was over I found myself unharmed, though in a different seat and with a new companion. He was an intelligent-looking man with a rather bulbous nose and a bowler hat. I looked out of the windows. We were now so high that all below us had become featureless. But fields, rivers, or mountains I did not see, and I got the impression that the grey town still filled the whole field of vision.

     ‘It seems the deuce of a town,’ I volunteered, ‘and that’s what I can’t understand. The parts of it that I saw were so empty. Was there once a much larger population?’

     ‘Not at all,’ said my neighbour. ‘The trouble is that they’re so quarrelsome. As soon as anyone arrives he settles in some street. Before he’s been there twenty-four hours he quarrels with his neighbour. Before the week is over he’s quarrelled so badly that he decides to move. Very likely he finds the next street empty because all the people there have quarrelled with their neighbours—and moved. If so he settles in. If by any chance the street is full, he goes further. But even if he stays, it makes no odds. He’s sure to have another quarrel pretty soon and then he’ll move on again. Finally he’ll move right out to the edge of the town and build a new house. You see, it’s easy here. You’ve only got to think a house and there it is. That’s how the town keeps on growing.’

     ‘Leaving more and more empty streets?’

     ‘That’s right. And time’s sort of odd here. That place where we caught the bus is thousands of miles from the Civic Centre where all the newcomers arrive from earth. All the people you’ve met were living near the bus stop: but they’d taken centuries—of our time—to get there, by gradual removals.’

     ‘And what about the earlier arrivals? I mean—there must be people who came from Earth to your town even longer ago.’

     ‘That’s right. There are. They’ve been moving on and on. Getting further apart. They’re so far off by now that they could never think of coming to the bus stop at all. Astronomical distances. There’s a bit of rising ground near where I live and a chap has a telescope. You can see the lights of the inhabited houses, where those old ones live, millions of miles away. Millions of miles from us and from one another. Every now and then they move further still. That’s one of the disappointments. I thought you’d meet interesting historical characters. But you don’t: they’re too far away.’

The Great Divorce   or   The Great Divorce

What Is The Gospel
     A Great Definition

     I heard Alistair Begg read this in a message from several years ago.

     There is nothing in us or done by us at any stage of our earthly development because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ's sake or we cannot be accepted at all. This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing nor does the nature of our relationship to him or to God the Father through him ever alter. No matter matter what our attainments in christian graces or our achievement in behavior may be. It is always on his blood and righteousness alone that we can rest.

From the works of BB Warfield volume 2 ( Collected Works of BB Warfield, Volume 2 (Annotated) (Trinity Classical Library, BB Warfield) )

God Speaks
     Teacher's Commentary

     Elihu had prepared the way. Then God spoke. But in speaking God neither reassured His servant, nor explained the reason for Job’s suffering. Instead God revealed His omnipotence (38:1–40:2), and then compared His power with human frailty (40:10–41:34). No one can demand to meet God on equal terms. God and man simply are not equal. God is the Lord. And human beings mere creatures of the dust.

     Job suddenly understood. He accepted his position as a creature before the Creator, and asked no more for a confrontation.

     I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.… My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

     The confrontation was over. Job had bowed his knee. Job had recognized God as God. Beyond this, the questioning sufferer had received no answer.

The Teacher's Commentary

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


     I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.
Acts 26:19.

     If we lose the vision, we alone are responsible, and the way we lose the vision is by spiritual leakage. If we do not run our belief about God into practical issues, it is all up with the vision God has given. The only way to be obedient to the heavenly vision is to give our utmost for God’s highest, and this can only be done by continually and resolutely recalling the vision. The test is the sixty seconds of every minute, and the sixty minutes of every hour, not our times of prayer and devotional meetings.

     “Though it tarry, wait for it.” We cannot attain to a vision, we must live in the inspiration of it until it accomplishes itself. We get so practical that we forget the vision. At the beginning we saw the vision but did not wait for it; we rushed off into practical work, and when the vision was fulfilled, we did not see it. Waiting for the vision that tarries is the test of our loyalty to God. It is at the peril of our soul’s welfare that we get caught up in practical work and miss the fulfilment of the vision.

     Watch God’s cyclones. The only way God sows His saints is by His whirlwind. Are you going to prove an empty pod? It will depend on whether or not you are actually living in the light of what you have seen. Let God fling you out, and do not go until He does. If you select your own spot, you will prove an empty pod. If God sows you, you will bring forth fruit.

     It is essential to practise the walk of the feet in the light of the vision.

My Utmost for His Highest

The Boy's Tale
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

           The Boy's Tale

   Skipper wouldn't pay him off,
   Never married her;
   Came home by Port Said
   To a Welsh valley;
   Took a girl from the tip,
   Sheer coal dust
   The blue in her veins.
   Every time I go now
   Through black sunlight,
   I see her scratch his name
   On the pane of her breath.
   Caught him in her thin hair,
   Couldn't hold him -
   Voices from the ports
   Of the stars, pavilions
   Of unstable water.
   She went fishing in him;
   I was the bait
   That became cargo,
   Shortening his trips,
   Waiting on the bone's wharf.
   Her tongue ruled the tides.

Teacher's Commentary
     Regulations for Priests: Leviticus 21–22

     The priesthood, set aside for service to God, was regarded as specially holy. Priests lived under more restrictions than the rest of the people. This was particularly true of whom a priest was allowed to marry: “The woman he marries must be a virgin. He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people” (Leviticus 21:13–14).

     God established a religious year for Israel, broken into patterned celebrations which permitted Israel to relive its heritage annually.

     Three of the annual feasts were “pilgrim festivals,” during which families were to journey to a central place of worship, later established in Jerusalem. These were times of special joy and celebration, linked with the agricultural seasons, but intended to help Israel relive salvation history and reaffirm commitment to God.

     The three pilgrim festivals were Passover, including the week-long Feasts of Unleavened Bread (Ex. 13:3–10; Lev. 23:4–8; Deut. 16:1–8), Firstfruits (also called the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost) (Lev. 23:9–21; Deut. 16:9–11), and Tabernacles (also called the Feast of Booths) (Ex. 23:16; Lev. 23:33–43; Deut. 16:13). During this last festival the people lived outside in rough shelters, commemorating the years of travel from Sinai to the Promised Land.

     A vital principle underlying this religious system helps us understand how we can better communicate our own faith.

     The principle is expressed in a Hebrew term, zikkaron, which is often translated as “memorial” and means “a reminder” or “a remembrance.” It is used of objects or actions that help Israel identify with some particular religious truth. For instance, the pile of stones beside the River Jordan that commemorated Israel passing through on dry ground is one such memorial (Josh. 4:7).

     What was the zikkaron intended to do? It was intended to help individuals who saw or participated in it sense his or her identity with what God had done in the past. In essence the festivals of Israel were designed to help each new generation relive God’s great and wonderful acts for His people. In the festivals that annually reminded Israel of what God had done for them, the people were intended to sense their own identity with their forefathers, and to realize that God had worked His wonders for each one of them!

The Teacher's Commentary

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Berakhot 44a, 45a


     A parent says to a child: “Maybe you didn’t see that lady’s toes when you drove the shopping cart over them. I think that she deserves an apology.” More often than not, the child mumbles “Sorry.” Is that enough? To a certain degree, it depends on the emotions used in the apology. The child’s “Sorry” may or may not reflect sincere regret. The words themselves are only an opportunity to express true feelings. Most of us would agree that saying “I’m sorry” is insufficient without the genuine emotions and sentiments that go with the words.

     Every “Sorry” and “I love you” is a formula, an opportunity for expressing what we truly feel. We need not delete such expressions from our language simply because some are perfunctory. On the contrary: They are the opportunity to express our sincerest sentiments. The words which reflect our innermost feelings will touch not only others but ourselves as well.

     This means not only that we have to offer our prayers with tears. We also have to be moved by the tears of others, as they cry, appeal to us, seek understanding and compassion from us. Only if we respond to others’ tears can we expect God to be touched by ours.

     The great medieval Hebrew poet Moshe ibn Ezra said: “Words that come from the heart enter another heart.” If we expect others to be moved, we must be moved, beyond words to our very heart and soul. If we want others to listen, we must first listen, in the fullest sense of the word. If we ask God not to disregard our appeal but to answer our prayers, then we have to respond to them ourselves by being moved by them, even moved to tears.

     Go and see what the people are doing.

     Text / Mishnah (6:8): One who drinks water to quench his thirst recites the blessing “… by whose word all things come into being.” Rabbi Tarfon says: “… Who creates many beings and their needs.”

     Gemara: “Rabbi Tarfon says: ‘… Who creates many beings and their needs.’ ” Rava bar Rav Ḥanan said to Abaye—but some say to Rav Yosef: “What is the law?” He said to him: “Go and see what the people are doing.”

     Context / Today, the laws regarding which berakhah to say over which food are well established. The first opinion, that of the anonymous teacher, is now the accepted practice: Before drinks like water and fruit juices, one recites shehakol nihyeh bidvaro, “by whose word all things come into being.” However, Rabbi Tarfon’s formula has been incorporated into the tradition, even if his opinion of when to recite it was rejected. Rather than being recited before drinks, it is recited after eating or drinking anything that requires the berakhah shehakol nihyeh bidvaro, “by whose word all things come into being.”

     Over most fruits, vegetables, and all other things which are not grown in the ground, the concluding berakhah is “… borei nefashot rabbot (Who creates many beings and their needs).” (Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayyim 207)

     In the Mishnah, there is a disagreement over which berakhah, or blessing, is recited by a person before drinking water. The first opinion is to recite “… shehakol nihyeh bidvaro,” or “[Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe] by whose word all things come into being.” The view of Rabbi Tarfon is that a different berakhah, “… borei nefashot,” or “[Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe] Who creates many beings and their needs,” is recited.

     In the time of the Mishnah and Gemara, these rules were still quite fluid (even when dealing with water!). Here, we see the process of debating what the law should actually be. A century after the Mishnah, the law had not yet been fixed, and Rava was still attempting to understand which opinion of the Mishnah to follow. The answer of Abaye is: Either opinion could be legitimate. We follow what people are doing. One genuine way of knowing which of the two legitimate positions has become the law is to go and see how people actually observe.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Three - Internal Consolation

     The Second Chapter / Truth Speaks Inwardly Without The Sound Of Words

     The Disciple

     SPEAK, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” (
1 Kings 3:9) “I am Thy servant. Give me understanding that I may know Thine ordinances6 … Incline my heart to Thine ordinances7 … Let Thy speech distil as the dew.” (Deuteronomy 32:2)

     The children of Israel once said to Moses: “Speak thou to us and we will hear thee: let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die.” (
Exodus 20:19)

     Not so, Lord, not so do I pray. Rather with Samuel the prophet I entreat humbly and earnestly: “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” Do not let Moses or any of the prophets speak to me; but You speak, O Lord God, Who inspired and enlightened all the prophets; for You alone, without them, can instruct me perfectly, whereas they, without You, can do nothing. They, indeed, utter fine words, but they cannot impart the spirit. They do indeed speak beautifully, but if You remain silent they cannot inflame the heart. They deliver the message; You lay bare the sense. They place before us mysteries, but You unlock their meaning. They proclaim commandments; You help us to keep them. They point out the way; You give strength for the journey. They work only outwardly; You instruct and enlighten our hearts. They water on the outside; You give the increase.

     They cry out words; You give understanding to the hearer.

     Let not Moses speak to me, therefore, but You, the Lord my God, everlasting truth, speak lest I die and prove barren if I am merely given outward advice and am not inflamed within; lest the word heard and not kept, known and not loved, believed and not obeyed, rise up in judgment against me.

     Speak, therefore, Lord, for Your servant listens. “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:69) Speak to me for the comfort of my soul and for the amendment of my life, for Your praise, Your glory, and Your everlasting honor.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     March 11

     If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right is born of him.
1 John 2:29.

     Righteousness is ours is by faith. ( Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: First Series (The Early Church Fathers, First Series , So14) ) Perfect righteousness exists not, except in the angels—and scarcely in angels, if compared with God. Yet if there is any perfect righteousness of souls and spirits, it is in the angels. In them is perfect righteousness.

     But in us [righteousness] has begun, by faith, by the Spirit. The beginning of our righteousness is the confession of sins. You have begun not to defend your sin; now you have made a beginning of righteousness, but it will be perfected in you when “death has been swallowed up in victory,” when there will be no itching of lust, when there will be triumph over the enemy—then will there be perfect righteousness.

     At present we are still fighting. We pummel and are pummeled, but who will conquer remains to be seen. And those conquer who presume not on their own strength but rely on God. The Devil is alone when he fights against us. If we are with God, we overcome the Devil, for if you fight alone with the Devil, you will be overcome.

     He is a skillful enemy! Consider to what he has cast us down. That we are born mortal comes of this, that he in the first place cast down from Paradise our very original. What then is to be done, seeing he is so well practiced? Let the Almighty be invoked to your aid. Let him who cannot be overcome dwell in you, and you will securely overcome him who is accustomed to overcome those in whom God dwells not. For Adam being in Paradise despised the commandment of God as if he desired to be his own master, loath to be subject to the will of God, so he fell from that immortality, from that blessedness.

     This is what the epistle would have us lay to heart, that we may overcome the Devil, but not of ourselves. “If you know that he is righteous,” it says, “you know that every one who does what is right is born of him”—of God, of Christ. And in that he has said, “is born of him,” he cheers us on. Already therefore, in that we are born of him, we are perfect.
--- Augustine of Hippo

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

On This Day   March 11
     Art or Idols?

     If we aren’t careful our traditions can become our idols, and rooting them out may be hazardous to the church’s health. This was the case in Eastern Christianity’s infamous iconoclast controversy.

     During Medieval times, Christians began worshiping and praying to saints, a practice that gradually led to the prominence of icons—flat pictures representing Christ, Mary, or some other saint. While Christian art has edified believers since the days of the catacombs, the Eastern church began worshiping these images. The pictures were reverently kissed. Incense was offered before them. Prayers were rendered to them. Some icons reputedly possessed miracle-working powers.

     The Byzantine emperor Leo III was repelled by the worship of icons, perhaps because his political enemies, the Jews and the Moslems, accused him of heading an empire of idolaters. In 726 he outlawed image worship and soon thereafter ordered the destruction of icons everywhere. But image worship had become so entrenched in the Byzantine church that his edicts were viewed as attacks on Christianity itself. An uprising raged through his empire, and many died. Pope Gregory in Rome ridiculed the emperor and held two synods condemning Leo’s iconoclasm (icon-breaking).

     Leo’s son, Constantine V, continued his father’s war against icons with vigor. He convened a church council in Constantinople, attended by 360 bishops. The council, citing the second commandment, denounced icons as idols and declared all religious paintings and sculpture as pagan. Their use in public and private worship was forbidden. The council’s decree was carried out with intensity, and sacred images were smashed, destroyed, painted over, and burned. Fifty thousand icon-producing monks fled or perished. For the next 89 years, the icon controversy seesawed back and forth, tearing the church, ripping its unity, and providing it with a new crop of dubious martyrs.

     The persecution ended only after the death of Emperor Theophilus, the last great iconoclast, in 842. On March 11, 843 icons were formally sanctioned and reintroduced in all Eastern Orthodox churches. This day, the so-called “Triumph of Orthodoxy,” has been commemorated in Eastern congregations around the world for over 1,000 years.

  People of Israel, your God is a mystery,
  Though he alone can save.
  Anyone who makes idols will be confused
  And terribly disgraced.
  But Israel, I, the LORD, will always keep you safe
  And free from shame.
  --- Isaiah 45:15-17.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - March 11

     “Sin … exceeding sinful.” --- Romans 7:13.

     Beware of light thoughts of sin. At the time of conversion, the conscience is so tender, that we are afraid of the slightest sin. Young converts have a holy timidity, a godly fear lest they should offend against God. But alas! very soon the fine bloom upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the rough handling of the surrounding world: the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a willow in after life, too pliant, too easily yielding. It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds. At first a little sin startles us; but soon we say, “Is it not a little one?” Then there comes another, larger, and then another, until by degrees we begin to regard sin as but a little ill; and then follows an unholy presumption: “We have not fallen into open sin. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main. We may have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our conversation, it has been consistent.” So we palliate sin; we throw a cloak over it; we call it by dainty names. Christian, beware how thou thinkest lightly of sin. Take heed lest thou fall by little and little. Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison? Who knows its deadliness? Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes spoil the grapes? Doth not the tiny coral insect build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continual droppings wear away stones? Sin, a little thing? It girded the Redeemer’s head with thorns, and pierced his heart! It made him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe. Could you weigh the least sin in the scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor the least appearance of evil. Look upon all sin as that which crucified the Saviour, and you will see it to be “exceeding sinful.”

          Evening - March 11

     “Thou shalt be called, Sought out.” --- Isaiah 62:12.

     The surpassing grace of God is seen very clearly in that we were not only sought, but sought out. Men seek for a thing which is lost upon the floor of the house, but in such a case there is only seeking, not seeking out. The loss is more perplexing and the search more persevering when a thing is sought out. We were mingled with the mire: we were as when some precious piece of gold falls into the sewer, and men gather out and carefully inspect a mass of abominable filth, and continue to stir and rake, and search among the heap until the treasure is found. Or, to use another figure, we were lost in a labyrinth; we wandered hither and thither, and when mercy came after us with the gospel, it did not find us at the first coming, it had to search for us and seek us out; for we as lost sheep were so desperately lost, and had wandered into such a strange country, that it did not seem possible that even the Good Shepherd should track our devious roamings. Glory be to unconquerable grace, we were sought out! No gloom could hide us, no filthiness could conceal us, we were found and brought home. Glory be to infinite love, God the Holy Spirit restored us!

     The lives of some of God’s people, if they could be written would fill us with holy astonishment. Strange and marvellous are the ways which God used in their case to find his own. Blessed be his name, he never relinquishes the search until the chosen are sought out effectually. They are not a people sought to-day and cast away to-morrow. Almightiness and wisdom combined will make no failures, they shall be called, “Sought out!” That any should be sought out is matchless grace, but that we should be sought out is grace beyond degree! We can find no reason for it but God’s own sovereign love, and can only lift up our heart in wonder, and praise the Lord that this night we wear the name of “Sought out.”

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     March 11


     Words and Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1838–1876

     But Daniel resolved not to defile himself ... (Daniel 1:8)

     Doubt sees the obstacles—Faith sees the way.
     Doubt sees the darkest night—Faith sees the day.
     Doubt dreads to take a step—Faith soars on high.
     Doubt questions, “Who believes?”—Faith answers, “I.”

--- Unknown

     The book of Daniel is really a textbook of instruction and an example of how God’s people can live in difficult conditions and come through victoriously. Even as the Jewish people were living in Babylonian captivity, so Christians today are pilgrims and sojourners in a foreign culture. We, like Daniel and his friends, must exercise our implicit faith in God’s purposes and leading for our lives. We too must resolve in advance that we will not be defiled by the world. And whether our God delivers us or not from the fiery furnace, we will remain faithful to Him (Daniel 3:17, 18).

     Daniel and his friends also personify for us Christian courage at its best—not merely a desperate type of courage for some emergency situation, but a quiet steadfast courage that enables us to live in a Christ-like manner each day. It takes courage to be an unpopular minority when truth and right are involved. It takes courage to defend God’s name when everyone else is using it in blasphemy. It takes courage to be another Daniel in a godless society.

     This is another of the fine Sunday school songs by Philip P. Bliss, one of the truly important contributors to both early gospel hymnody and the rise of the Sunday school movement. Bliss, like many other Christian leaders, realized the unusual potential of teaching our youth spiritual truths through appropriate songs.

     Standing by a purpose true, heeding God’s command, honor them, the faithful few! All hail to Daniel’s Band!
     Many mighty men are lost, daring not to stand, who for God had been a host, by joining Daniel’s Band!
     Many giants, great and tall, stalking thro’ the land, headlong to the earth would fall, if met by Daniel’s Band!
     Hold the gospel banner high! On to vict’ry grand! Satan and His host defy, and shout for Daniel’s Band!
     Refrain: Dare to be a Daniel; dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known.

     For Today: Daniel 6:7, 10, 16, 22, 23; Psalm 27:14; Ephesians 6:11.

     God is still seeking people who by faith will dare to prove His greatness and will represent Him courageously—regardless of the circumstances. Let this musical line be the desire of your life ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Joshua 1-4
     Jon Courson

Joshua 1:8
Meditation: The Key To Prosperity
Jon Courson

click here

Joshua 1
Jon Courson

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Joshua 2:1-11
The Purpose For The Power
Jon Courson

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Joshua 2
Jon Courson

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Joshua 3
Jon Courson

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Joshua 4
Jon Courson

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Joshua 1-24
Jon Courson

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Joshua 1:16-18
Watch Out . . . You're Being Followed
Jon Courson

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Joshua 1-5
Jon Courson

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Joshua 1:1-9
The Principle Of Partnering
Jon Courson

click here

Jon Courson

Joshua 1-4
     Skip Heitzig

Joshua 1-2
Calvary Chapel NM

Joshua 2
From House of Shame
to Hall of Fame | Calvary Chapel NM

Joshua 3-4
Calvary Chapel NM

Joshua 4:1-8
Calvary Chapel NM

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Joshua 1-4
     Paul LeBoutillier

Joshua 1
Joshua takes over for Moses
09-04-2013 | Paul LeBoutillier

Joshua 2
Rahab and the Spies
09-11-2013 | Paul LeBoutillier

Joshua 3-4
Crossing the Jordan and Remembering
09-18-2013 | Paul LeBoutillier

Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Joshua 1-4
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Joshua 1:1-9
Step Up | s2-108


Joshua 1


Joshua 2
Rahab The Harlot | s2-109


Joshua 2-3


Joshua 4-5


Brett Meador | Athey Creek

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