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Joshua 12 - 15



Kings Defeated by Moses

Joshua 12:1  Now these are the kings of the land whom the people of Israel defeated and took possession of their land beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise, from the Valley of the Arnon to Mount Hermon, with all the Arabah eastward: 2 Sihon king of the Amorites who lived at Heshbon and ruled from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and from the middle of the valley as far as the river Jabbok, the boundary of the Ammonites, that is, half of Gilead, 3 and the Arabah to the Sea of Chinneroth eastward, and in the direction of Beth-jeshimoth, to the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, southward to the foot of the slopes of Pisgah; 4 and Og king of Bashan, one of the remnant of the Rephaim, who lived at Ashtaroth and at Edrei 5 and ruled over Mount Hermon and Salecah and all Bashan to the boundary of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and over half of Gilead to the boundary of Sihon king of Heshbon. 6 Moses, the servant of the LORD, and the people of Israel defeated them. And Moses the servant of the LORD gave their land for a possession to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

Kings Defeated by Joshua

7 And these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the people of Israel defeated on the west side of the Jordan, from Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir (and Joshua gave their land to the tribes of Israel as a possession according to their allotments, 8 in the hill country, in the lowland, in the Arabah, in the slopes, in the wilderness, and in the Negeb, the land of the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites): 9 the king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one; 10 the king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one; 11 the king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one; 12 the king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one; 13 the king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one; 14 the king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one; 15 the king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one; 16 the king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one; 17 the king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one; 18 the king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one; 19 the king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one; 20 the king of Shimron-meron, one; the king of Achshaph, one; 21 the king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one; 22 the king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam in Carmel, one; 23 the king of Dor in Naphath-dor, one; the king of Goiim in Galilee, one; 24 the king of Tirzah, one: in all, thirty-one kings.

Joshua 13

Land Still to Be Conquered

Joshua 13:1  Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the LORD said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess. 2 This is the land that yet remains: all the regions of the Philistines, and all those of the Geshurites 3 (from the Shihor, which is east of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron, it is counted as Canaanite; there are five rulers of the Philistines, those of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron), and those of the Avvim, 4 in the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, to Aphek, to the boundary of the Amorites, 5 and the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrise, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath, 6 all the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians. I myself will drive them out from before the people of Israel. Only allot the land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded you. 7 Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh.”

The Inheritance East of the Jordan

8 With the other half of the tribe of Manasseh the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond the Jordan eastward, as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them: 9 from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and the city that is in the middle of the valley, and all the tableland of Medeba as far as Dibon; 10 and all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, as far as the boundary of the Ammonites; 11 and Gilead, and the region of the Geshurites and Maacathites, and all Mount Hermon, and all Bashan to Salecah; 12 all the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei (he alone was left of the remnant of the Rephaim); these Moses had struck and driven out. 13 Yet the people of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maacathites, but Geshur and Maacath dwell in the midst of Israel to this day.

14 To the tribe of Levi alone Moses gave no inheritance. The offerings by fire to the LORD God of Israel are their inheritance, as he said to him.

15 And Moses gave an inheritance to the tribe of the people of Reuben according to their clans. 16 So their territory was from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and the city that is in the middle of the valley, and all the tableland by Medeba; 17 with Heshbon, and all its cities that are in the tableland; Dibon, and Bamoth-baal, and Beth-baal-meon, 18 and Jahaz, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath, 19 and Kiriathaim, and Sibmah, and Zereth-shahar on the hill of the valley, 20 and Beth-peor, and the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth, 21 that is, all the cities of the tableland, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses defeated with the leaders of Midian, Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the princes of Sihon, who lived in the land. 22 Balaam also, the son of Beor, the one who practiced divination, was killed with the sword by the people of Israel among the rest of their slain. 23 And the border of the people of Reuben was the Jordan as a boundary. This was the inheritance of the people of Reuben, according to their clans with their cities and villages. 24 Moses gave an inheritance also to the tribe of Gad, to the people of Gad, according to their clans. 25 Their territory was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the Ammonites, to Aroer, which is east of Rabbah, 26 and from Heshbon to Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the territory of Debir, 27 and in the valley Beth-haram, Beth-nimrah, Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, having the Jordan as a boundary, to the lower end of the Sea of Chinnereth, eastward beyond the Jordan. 28 This is the inheritance of the people of Gad according to their clans, with their cities and villages. 29 And Moses gave an inheritance to the half-tribe of Manasseh. It was allotted to the half-tribe of the people of Manasseh according to their clans. 30 Their region extended from Mahanaim, through all Bashan, the whole kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty cities, 31 and half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. These were allotted to the people of Machir the son of Manasseh for the half of the people of Machir according to their clans.

32 These are the inheritances that Moses distributed in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan east of Jericho. 33 But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance, just as he said to them.

Joshua 14

The Inheritance West of the Jordan

Joshua 14:1  These are the inheritances that the people of Israel received in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the people of Israel gave them to inherit. 2 Their inheritance was by lot, just as the LORD had commanded by the hand of Moses for the nine and one-half tribes. 3 For Moses had given an inheritance to the two and one-half tribes beyond the Jordan, but to the Levites he gave no inheritance among them. 4 For the people of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. And no portion was given to the Levites in the land, but only cities to dwell in, with their pasturelands for their livestock and their substance. 5 The people of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses; they allotted the land.

Caleb’s Request and Inheritance

6 Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. 8 But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God. 9 And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’ 10 And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.”

13 Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14 Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD, the God of Israel. 15 Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war.

Joshua 15

The Allotment for Judah

Joshua 15:1  The allotment for the tribe of the people of Judah according to their clans reached southward to the boundary of Edom, to the wilderness of Zin at the farthest south. 2 And their south boundary ran from the end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that faces southward. 3 It goes out southward of the ascent of Akrabbim, passes along to Zin, and goes up south of Kadesh-barnea, along by Hezron, up to Addar, turns about to Karka, 4 passes along to Azmon, goes out by the Brook of Egypt, and comes to its end at the sea. This shall be your south boundary. 5 And the east boundary is the Salt Sea, to the mouth of the Jordan. And the boundary on the north side runs from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. 6 And the boundary goes up to Beth-hoglah and passes along north of Beth-arabah. And the boundary goes up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 7 And the boundary goes up to Debir from the Valley of Achor, and so northward, turning toward Gilgal, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south side of the valley. And the boundary passes along to the waters of En-shemesh and ends at En-rogel. 8 Then the boundary goes up by the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the southern shoulder of the Jebusite (that is, Jerusalem). And the boundary goes up to the top of the mountain that lies over against the Valley of Hinnom, on the west, at the northern end of the Valley of Rephaim. 9 Then the boundary extends from the top of the mountain to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah, and from there to the cities of Mount Ephron. Then the boundary bends around to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim). 10 And the boundary circles west of Baalah to Mount Seir, passes along to the northern shoulder of Mount Jearim (that is, Chesalon), and goes down to Beth-shemesh and passes along by Timnah. 11 The boundary goes out to the shoulder of the hill north of Ekron, then the boundary bends around to Shikkeron and passes along to Mount Baalah and goes out to Jabneel. Then the boundary comes to an end at the sea. 12 And the west boundary was the Great Sea with its coastline. This is the boundary around the people of Judah according to their clans.

13 According to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the people of Judah, Kiriath-arba, that is, Hebron (Arba was the father of Anak). 14 And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the descendants of Anak. 15 And he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir. Now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16 And Caleb said, “Whoever strikes Kiriath-sepher and captures it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as wife.” 17 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it. And he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife. 18 When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she got off her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 19 She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

20 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Judah according to their clans. 21 The cities belonging to the tribe of the people of Judah in the extreme south, toward the boundary of Edom, were Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, 22 Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, 23 Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan, 24 Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, 25 Hazor-hadattah, Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor), 26 Amam, Shema, Moladah, 27 Hazar-gaddah, Heshmon, Beth-pelet, 28 Hazar-shual, Beersheba, Biziothiah, 29 Baalah, Iim, Ezem, 30 Eltolad, Chesil, Hormah, 31 Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, 32 Lebaoth, Shilhim, Ain, and Rimmon: in all, twenty-nine cities with their villages.

33 And in the lowland, Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, 34 Zanoah, En-gannim, Tappuah, Enam, 35 Jarmuth, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah, 36 Shaaraim, Adithaim, Gederah, Gederothaim: fourteen cities with their villages.

37 Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal-gad, 38 Dilean, Mizpeh, Joktheel, 39 Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, 40 Cabbon, Lahmam, Chitlish, 41 Gederoth, Beth-dagon, Naamah, and Makkedah: sixteen cities with their villages.

42 Libnah, Ether, Ashan, 43 Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, 44 Keilah, Achzib, and Mareshah: nine cities with their villages.

45 Ekron, with its towns and its villages; 46 from Ekron to the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.

47 Ashdod, its towns and its villages; Gaza, its towns and its villages; to the Brook of Egypt, and the Great Sea with its coastline.

48 And in the hill country, Shamir, Jattir, Socoh, 49 Dannah, Kiriath-sannah (that is, Debir), 50 Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, 51 Goshen, Holon, and Giloh: eleven cities with their villages.

52 Arab, Dumah, Eshan, 53 Janim, Beth-tappuah, Aphekah, 54 Humtah, Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior: nine cities with their villages.

55 Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, 56 Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, 57 Kain, Gibeah, and Timnah: ten cities with their villages.

58 Halhul, Beth-zur, Gedor, 59 Maarath, Beth-anoth, and Eltekon: six cities with their villages.

60 Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah: two cities with their villages.

61 In the wilderness, Beth-arabah, Middin, Secacah, 62 Nibshan, the City of Salt, and Engedi: six cities with their villages.

63 But the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people of Judah could not drive out, so the Jebusites dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Finding the Lover of Your Soul in Jesus Christ

By Sylvia Ronnau 3/2/2017

     My heart beat to the sound of a metronome as I played a Chopin waltz. The rushing of the water from the shower sounded like a stream would during snow melt season. My husband, Fred, stepped out of the shower. It was my birthday, but I cared only about Fred and whether Wharton School of Business accepted him.

     I followed him and perched on the couch behind his shoulder and squinted to see if they had made the decision. Once I heard, “Yes!” I knew we had a new adventure on our hands. With a grin on my face, I changed into running gear and pulled my hair into a high ponytail. After giving my husband a huge hug, I began my run and then turned onto a busier lane in Menlo Park. It was wintertime, the birds were chirping songs of joy, and my heart sung to the melody of ecstasy. I ran into Palo Alto and took a right turn on University Avenue. Memories of my undergraduate years at Stanford University flooded my mind, good memories and sad memories of friendship, deceit, and pain. I pushed that aside as I ran towards the university and zipped up Stanford Avenue to the Dish. As I pushed my body uphill, I started to pant and panic at the same time. My heart raced, I could not breathe, and I felt nauseous. I quickly darted around the loop to home.

     No one was home. I just passed the bar exam and started a new job in a week. These new developments would change everything. In six months, we would be traipsing the streets of Philadelphia. Suddenly an intense fear gripped me, a fear that would not let go even once we arrived in Philadelphia. I had hit the new normal—panicky Sylvia.

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Sylvia Ronnau: I blog three to four times a week and would love to keep in touch with you. You can always email me when you struggle anytime at sronnau@rocketmail.com. Please subscribe to my blog at the lower right side of the home page. Visit with me now where I talk about God’s beauty in our trials. http://sylviaronnau.net/a-daily-dose-of-gods-beauty-in-trials/

What is the Meaning of the Cross?

By J. Warner Wallace 5/7/2014

     When I first became interested in examining the Gospels as eyewitness accounts, I really had no interest in Jesus as God. I was willing to survey and consider the wisdom of Jesus as an ancient sage, but nothing more. Once I was convinced these Gospel accounts were reliable, however, I knew I had to reconsider my naturalistic presuppositions. If Jesus truly rose from the grave, He was more than a wise sage. In those early months of my investigation, I eventually embraced “belief that”; I was convinced that the Gospels were telling me the truth about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But I still didn’t have “belief in” Jesus as Savior. In fact, I can remember asking my wife if she knew why Jesus had to die on the cross to as part of God’s plan of Salvation. Although she had grown up as a cultural Catholic, she was unable to provide an answer.

     I then began a second investigation; this time examining both the history and theology of the cross. Although the symbol of the cross appears in much pagan history prior to Jesus, the crucifixion cross described in the Gospels was a real, historical method of execution. As an instrument of death, the cross was detested by the Jews, so it became a stumbling block for them when considering Jesus. How could the Messiah be executed on a cross? The Greek and Roman Empire executed thousands of criminals and captives in this manner (Alexander the Great executed two thousand Tyrian captives on crosses after the fall of Tyre). This form of punishment was usually reserved for criminals guilty of such crimes as treason, desertion, robbery, piracy, and assassination. It continued to be used in the Roman Empire until the era of Constantine, when it was eventually abolished as an insult to Christianity.

     Even though I became convinced the Gospels accurately described Jesus’ death on the cross, I still had many questions. How could God allow this type of horrific death to occur to His only Son? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross in the first place? What did he do deserving this kind of death? The Bible provides a path to the answers as we trace how the authors used the word and described the cross as an instrument of our Salvation:

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

The Pareto Principle for Churches

By David Murray 3/13/2017

     Most of us have heard of the 80/20 rule, sometimes called the Pareto principle.

     It was named after it’s “inventor,” Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who noticed about 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

     To put it more generally, it says that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. to put it more concretely:

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Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

David Murray is a Pastor, Professor and Author. All opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent Puritan Reformed Seminary or the Free Reformed Church.

By Gleason Archer Jr.

The Antiquity of the Human Race

      Since the first discoveries of the fossils and artifacts of prehistoric man back in the 1850s, the antiquity of the human race has provided a problem of reconciliation with the  Genesis record. According to modern estimates the so-called Swanscombe man (found in Kent, England), the Pithecanthropus (found in Java) and the Sinanthropus (found in Peking, China) lived anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000 years ago. All of them show marked differences from Homo sapiens, to be sure, and some paleanthropologists have conceded that “the cranial and dental differences … appear to be as well marked as those which are commonly accepted as justifying a genetic distinction between the gorilla and the chimpanzee.”

      As for the Neanderthal man, commonly dated from 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, the same writer says: “The skeletal differences from Homo sapiens are of much the same order as those which have been accepted as valid evidence of specific distinction in other groups of primates.” These early anthropoids cannot be dismissed as mere apes in their mentality, for their remains are accompanied by stone implements, such as arrowheads and ax heads; and charred remains indicate strongly the use of fire for cooking purposes. Especially in the case of the Neanderthal deposits, there seems to be evidence of burial with adjacent implements as if there was some sort of belief in life after death (necessitating the use of such implements — or their spiritual counterpart — by the deceased). Some crude statuettes have likewise been discovered which may possibly have had cultic purposes, and some of the remarkable paintings discovered in some of the caves may have been of Neanderthal origin (although most were perhaps from a later age). The radiocarbon analysis of the more recent find indicates strongly an age of at least 50,000 years. The fluorine content of the bones of the Pithecanthropus erectus indicates that they were contemporaneous with the surrounding deposit in which they were found. The Zinjanthropus of Tanganyika is dated by the potassium-argon process as 1,750,000 years old, according to a report by L. S. B. Leakey.

      It is theoretically possible, of course, that later research may prove that all of these chronological estimates were based upon faulty methodology, and it may conceivably be that these earlier anthropoids will have to be dated as much more recent. On the other hand, it is most unlikely that they can be brought within the time span indicated by the genealogical lists of  Gen. 5 and  10. Either we must regard these lists as having no significance whatever as time indicators, or else we must reject these earlier humanlike species as being descended from Adam at all.

      Buswell states: “There is nothing in the Bible to indicate how long ago man was created.” This appears to be an overstatement, for even allowing the numerous gaps in the chronological tables given in  Gen. 5 and  Gen. 10 it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that a hundred times as many generations are omitted in these tables as are included in them. (And yet this is what a 200,000 B.C. date for Adam would amount to.) In the genealogy of the Lord Jesus given in  Matt. 1:2–17 there are only seven possible links missing as against a total of forty-two given (during the 2000 years between Abraham and Christ), or a ratio of one to six. This is slender ground upon which to build a theory that 1,980 generations were omitted from the list between Adam and Abraham, and only nineteen or twenty were given. It therefore seems a dubious option for one who holds to the accuracy of the  Genesis record to accept a date of 200,000 B.C. for Adam.

      The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible lists three possibilities for the genealogies of  Gen. 5 and  10.

      1. If they represent literal generations without any gaps, the total from Adam to the Flood comes out to 1,656 years, and the total from the Flood to the birth of Abraham about 290 years. This makes up a grand total of 1,946 years from Adam to Abraham. This interpretation is dubious, however, since no such grand total (long date) is given in the text itself, and since the grouping into ten predeluge and ten postdeluge generations is suspiciously similar to the schematized fourteen, fourteen, fourteen of  Matt. 1 (where demonstrably there are six or seven links missing). Moreover,  Luke 3:36 indicates that a Cainan, son of Arphaxad, is missing in  Gen. 10:24 (which states that Arphaxad was the “father” of Shelach, the son of Cainan according to  Luke 3 ).

      2. The genealogies record only the most prominent members of the ancestry of Abraham, omitting an undetermined number of links (although presumably not as many links as actually are named in the lists concerned). A variation of this view would construe the formula “A begat B” as meaning either B himself or some unnamed ancestor of B (perfectly allowable in Hebrew parlance, since grandfathers are occasionally said to have begotten their grandsons; at least Bilhah’s grandsons are spoken of as her sons in  1 Chron. 7:13 ). The ages of the patriarchs who lived several centuries (even 900 years or more) would be understood as the actual lifetime of the individuals named. This view would allow for a time span of possibly five or six thousand years between Adam and Abraham — depending upon how many links are omitted.

      Incidentally, there is some question whether Abraham was really Terah’s oldest son, even though he was mentioned first in  Gen. 11:26, where Terah is stated to have begotten all three sons when he was seventy — or at least he began fatherhood at that age. In  Gen. 11:27 it is stated that Terah begat Abraham, Nahor and Haran (who was apparently the eldest of the three sons). But since Terah died at the age of 205 according to  11:32, Abraham could not have been born until his father was 130, if he was only seventy-five at Terah’s decease — as suggested by  12:4. (While there is nothing in  Gen. 11 or  12 that states positively that Terah had died before Abraham left Haran, this is made quite explicit in  Acts 7:4. )

      3. Or else the names listed in  Genesis 5 represent an individual and his direct line by primogenitor — an interpretation which makes possible adding the entire lifetime figures almost end to end, thus coming out to a grand total of 8,227 years between the birth of Adam and the flood. For example, when Adam is said to have lived 930 years, this really means that Adam and his direct line were at the head of affairs for 930 years. At the end of this time they were superseded by the family of Seth, which remained in control through Seth’s main line for 912 years ( Gen. 5:8 ). Thus it would not have been until 1,842 years after Adam’s birth that the family of Enosh took over the leadership — and so on. One difficulty with this theory, however, is that Seth is the oldest surviving son of Adam to be mentioned, apart from the exiled Cain, and it is difficult to imagine by what other son Adam’s direct line would have descended before the allegedly collateral line of Seth took over.  This has been interesting, but it certainly has no bearing on what is true. The Bible is true and one day everyone will know it.

      On the whole, then, the second interpretation seems the most tenable of the three. (The first interpretation, of course, leaves insufficient room to account even for the attested history of Egypt, which doubtless goes back to at least 3500 years B.C., and that, too, necessarily after the flood.)

      To revert to the problem of the Pithecanthropus, the Swanscombe man, the Neanderthal and all the rest (possibly even the Cro-Magnon man, who is apparently to be classed as Homo sapiens, but whose remains seem to date back at least to 20,000 B.C.), it seems best to regard these races as all prior to Adam’s time, and not involved in the Adamic covenant. We must leave the question open, in view of the cultural remains, whether these pre-Adamite creatures had souls (or, to use the trichotomic terminology, spirits). But the clear implication of  Gen. 1:26 is that God was creating a qualitatively different being when he made Adam (for note that the word rendered “man” in  Gen. 1:26–27 is the Hebrew ʾAdam), a being who was uniquely fashioned in the image of God. Only Adam and his descendants were infused with the breath of God and a spiritual nature corresponding to God Himself.  Romans 5:12–21 demands that all mankind subsequent to Adam’s time, at least, must have been literally descended from him, since he entered into covenant relationship with God as the representative of the entire race of man. This indicates that there could have been no true genetic relationship between Adam (the first man created in the image of God) and the pre-Adamite races. However close the skeletal structure of the Cro-Magnon man (for example) may have been to Homo sapiens, this factor is scarcely relevant to the principal question of whether these cave men possessed a truly human soul or personality. They may have been exterminated by God for unknown reasons prior to the creation of the original parent of the present human race. Adam, then, was the first man created in the spiritual image of God, according to  Gen. 1:26–27, and there is no evidence from science to disprove it.

      After these preliminary questions relating to the confrontation between the first chapter of  Genesis and modern science, we are now in a position to proceed with the study of the remainder of the book in the chapter following.

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

God and the Beginning of the Universe

By William Lane Craig

     The absolute origin of the universe, of all matter and energy, even of physical space and time themselves, in the Big Bang singularity contradicts the perennial naturalistic assumption that the universe has always existed. One after another, models designed to avert the initial cosmological singularity--the Steady State model, the Oscillating model, Vacuum Fluctuation models--have come and gone. Current quantum gravity models, such as the Hartle-Hawking model and the Vilenkin model, must appeal to the physically unintelligible and metaphysically dubious device of "imaginary time" to avoid the universe's beginning. The contingency implied by an absolute beginning ex nihilo points to a transcendent cause of the universe beyond space and time. Philosophical objections to a cause of the universe fail to carry conviction.

     The Fundamental Question

     From time immemorial men have turned their gaze toward the heavens and wondered. Both cosmology and philosophy trace their roots to the wonder felt by the ancient Greeks as they contemplated the cosmos. According to Aristotle,

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Books by William Lane Craig -

On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision
Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview
On Guard for Students: A Thinker's Guide to the Christian Faith
Five Views on Apologetics
God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism
The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology
Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time
The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge & Human Freedom
The Son Rises: Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus

Is Jesus A Copy Of Pagan Gods?

By Steven Bancarz 3/7/2017

     By Steven Bancarz| Is Jesus a copy of pagan god myths like Zeitgiest and Religulous claim? We often hear that Jesus is just one of many saviour figures of the ancient world, and that dying-and-rising gods populated the Mediterranean for almost 1000 years before Jesus was born.

     It’s suggested that Jesus is just a mishmash and knock-off of gods like Horus, Mithra, and Dionysus, who the early Jews constructed and deified to give themselves a saviour figure of their own. These claims, while popular on the blogosphere, receive no serious consideration from experts.

     In this video, Dr. Gary Habermas, a historian and lecturer who specializes in New Testament studies, faces off with Tim Callahan, an editor for Skeptic Magazine. This debate takes place on Lee Strobel’s former show called “Faith under Fire”, which started airing in 2005.

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RE: John 4

     In trying to understand the great power of words we cannot afford to overlook their spiritual nature. Spirit is unbodied, personal force. It is personal reality that can and often does work independently of physical or bodily forces. It can also work in conjunction with them. We can most clearly see spirit in our own selves as the force that belongs to thought, emotion and intention. In the biblical view, spirit reaches far beyond these—and beyond our limited understanding—and ultimately serves as the foundation of all reality. “God is spirit.” (Jn 4:24).

     The view of words as spiritual forces is common to both Scripture and pagan philosophers. Once, when his followers were struggling to understand him and were overemphasizing the material realm, Jesus said to them, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn 6:63). This meant that through his words Jesus imparted himself and in some measure conferred on those who received his words the powers of God’s sovereign rule. Through him they “have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Heb 6:5). This imparted power is referred to in Jesus’ later explanation that “if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jn 15:7).

     Plato, the great philosopher of ancient Greece, also spiritualized words by treating our thinking as an inner “conversation” that the soul holds with itself.[ Plato, Theaetetus ] In treating thought as a kind of language—as words, but as words hidden away in the nonphysical realm—he set a pattern that many thinkers have followed up to the present day.

     St. Augustine carried that tradition on, joining it to Christian thought, in saying that “he who thinks speaks in his heart.” He explicitly founded his view,[ Augustine: On the Trinity Books 8-15 (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) ] in part, on Gospel passages such as Matthew 9:2-4, where “some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming’ ” (see also Lk 12:17).

     The word as a person’s speaking is therefore to be understood as a spiritual power—whether of ourselves, of God or of some other personal agency and whether for evil or for good. It is the power of the one who is speaking. It is precisely in this realm that God seeks for those who would worship him “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23). He desires truth in the “inward being” and will “teach me wisdom in my secret heart” (Ps 51:6).

     William Penn says, with a characteristically Quaker emphasis, For the more mental our worship, the more adequate to the nature of God; the more silent, the more suitable to the language of the spirit. Words are for others, not for ourselves: nor for God who hears not as bodies do; but as spirits should. If we would know this dialect we must learn of the divine principle in us. As we hear the dictates of that, so does God hear us. The Peace of Europe: The Fruits of Solitude and Other Writings (Classic Reprint)

     The word of God, when no further qualification is added, is his speaking, his communicating. When God speaks, he expresses his mind, his character and his purposes. Thus God is always present with his word.

     All expressions of God’s mind are “words” of God. This is true whether the specific means are external to the human mind (as in natural phenomena [Ps 19:1-4], other human beings, the incarnate Christ [the Logos] or the Bible) or internal to the human mind (in our own thoughts, intentions and feelings). God’s rule over all things, including the affairs of humankind, is carried out through his word, understood in this way.


Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God

 

By James Orr 1907


APPENDIX TO CHAPTER X | THE LATER HISTORICAL BOOKS (cont)

The alleged P element in  Judges is found in redactional notes, but chiefly in the alleged working over of an older narrative (so most think: not Wellhausen) in chaps,  20, 21:11 It is this section also (the story of the Levite and his concubine, and of the war with Benjamin, chaps.  19–21:14 ) which, in the eyes of the critics, lacks most clearly in credibility, though a historical kernel is sometimes recognised. Besides the unity argument, and linguistic phenomena thought to betray a later age (dependent on the assumption about P), stress is laid on the apparent exaggeration of numbers. Such exaggerations, assuming them to exist, may grow up in far less time than the critics allow, and may be pressed too far. Dr. Driver, in turn, exaggerates when he reads into the text that on the first two days of battle “not one of the 25,000+700 of the Benjamites fell.” We are hardly dealing here with head by head counts; besides, “fell,” “smitten,” “destroyed,” do not necessarily mean that every man was “slain.”

There seems to us no convincing ground, apart from the reasonings on D and P, for placing the Book of  Judges later than the period of the undivided kingdom. There is no trace of Jerusalem as capital, or of the temple. The expression “until the day of the captivity of the land” in chap.  18:30, is naturally the equivalent of “all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh” in ver.  31.5 It is precarious, at least, to build an argument for a later date on this verse alone.

2. A next example of critical procedure is afforded by the Books of  Samuel. Kautzsch here admits old and valuable sources — a “Saul-Source,” a “David-Source,” a “Jerusalem-Source,” dating from times immediately after Solomon, with, of course, later and less reliable, but still eighth century, narratives, and “redactional additions of various kinds,” some of them post-exilian. Dr. Driver also makes the work as a whole “pre-Deuteronomic.” A considerably different view is taken by Professor H. P. Smith. In his Commentary on  Samuel this critic distinguishes a work which he calls Sl, written soon after the death of Solomon, embracing a brief life of Saul, an account of David at the court of Saul and as outlaw, and a history of David’s reign. With this was united a second—divergent and theocratic—account, denoted by him Sm, which contained narratives of the early life and doings of Samuel, and of the early life, adventures, and part of the reign of David. This he supposes to have originated, with incorporation of older matter, “perhaps in or after the exile.” In details also the analysis is far from agreeing. There is tolerable agreement that chaps.  9–10:16, 11; 13:2–14:46 belong (mainly) to an old “Saul” source, which represents a different type of narrative from that in chaps.  7:2–17, 8; 10:17–25, 12; 15; but otherwise there are important differences. Dr. Driver, e.g., connects chaps.  1–4:1a, as a “somewhat later” introduction, with chaps.  4:1b–7:1; and divides this whole section from chaps.  7:2–17 (“of later origin”),  8, etc. — the “theocratic” story (= Sm). But H. P. Smith puts chaps.  1–3 into his (exilian) Sm story, and assigns to Sm also, from older sources, the other parts up to chap.  7.5 Dr. Kautzsch divides still more minutely, and in  2 Samuel makes a separate source (his “Jerusalem-Source”) of  2 Sam. 6; 9–20, which H. P. Smith, again, includes in his Sl. All, however, happily, make this long narrative quite early. The chief point is that H. P. Smith carries down to the exile a long narrative (Sm), beginning with  1 Sam. 1–6, which the others take to be at least not later (apart from redactional touchings) than the eighth century. But then in an Appendix Professor H. P. Smith has to contend against a new writer, Dr. M. Löhr (1898), who discards Sm for fragments inserted into Sl at different dates.

All this is bewildering enough; but, even with different sources, the attempt to break up the unity of the book, and establish for the different narrators opposite and irreconcilable points of view, is vastly overdone. The “theocratic” view is presumed to be a later gloss upon the history, and the earlier account, which is said to represent  Samuel as “the seer of a small town, respected as one who blesses the sacrifices and presides at the local festival, but known only as a clairvoyant, whose information concerning lost or strayed property is reliable,” is accepted as the really historical version. Thus  Samuel gets effectively stripped of any false glory a pious imagination has invested him with! It is, however, the imagination of the critic chiefly that is astray. Dr. Driver, who is not extreme here, divides chaps.  1–7:1 from what follows expressly on the ground that “hither to  Samuel has appeared only as a prophet; here (chap.  7 ff. ) he is represented as a ‘judge.’ ” Yet all these chapters, as shown above, Professor H. P. Smith gives to his “theocratic” narrator (Sm) — the same who represents  Samuel as a “judge.” The charge of “partisanship,” again, often brought against the “Saul” and “David” sources (both mostly included in H. P. Smith’s Sl) is fittingly dealt with by Dr. Kautzsch. “But the partisanship,” he says, “of the one source for Saul and of the other for David, which used to be so frequently asserted, cannot really be proved.… After all, it is by no means impossible for both sources to have come from one hand.”

The Books of  Samuel, it appears to us, may well be based on such nearly contemporary narratives as are referred to in  1 Chron. 29:29, and the date of their composition need not be carried much lower than where Ewald puts it, some twenty or thirty years after the death of Solomon.

3. We glance finally, briefly, at the Books of  Chronicles. These are, it is well known, the veritable bête noire of the critics. The Levitical proclivities and representations of this writer — only, however, be it said, in certain parts of his work, for in the greater portion of it the parallelism with the older texts is close — are a constant irritation to them. De Wette made the first vigorous onslaught on the credibility of  Chronicles; Graf returned to the charge with new arguments; and Wellhausen, from the standpoint of the post-exilian origin of the law, has elaborated the attack with unsparing scorn and severity. Yet unfairly — and unnecessarily. Let all be granted that can be fairly alleged of the Chronicler’s predominant Levitical interest, of his homiletical expansions, as, e.g., in the speech of Abijah ( 2 Chron. 13:4 ff. ), of his dropping the veil on the sins of David and Solomon, of his occasional exaggeration in numbers — whether his own or a copyist’s — the gravamen of the charge against him still lies in the assumption, wholly unfounded, as we believe, that the Levitical system was not in operation before the exile. If it was, there is no a priori objection to the representations of the Chronicler. On the other hand, the supposition of Wellhausen, that all the Chronicler’s elaborate descriptions, lists of names, details of arrangements, are pure inventions of his fancy, is weighted with the heaviest improbabilities, and cannot be reconciled with the integrity of the writer, which some are still anxious to uphold. We find it hard to imagine, for instance, how anyone can read the long and circumstantial account of Hezekiah’s great passover, or even the elaborate descriptions of David’s sanctuary arrangements, and not feel that the writer is reproducing bona fide — if in some places in his own fashion — documentary information that has come down to him. The critics, on the other hand, will allow him no other sources than our existing Books of  Samuel and  Kings — a view which not only his own references, but many phenomena in his book decidedly contradict — and set down all else to sheer wantonness of invention. The evidence points in a quite different direction — to the use of older sources dealing with these matters from the point of view of the temple, in which case his narratives afford a valuable positive corroboration of the results already obtained.

While, therefore, it is freely admitted that  Chronicles can only take secondary rank as a historical authority in comparison with  Samuel and  Kings, we have no reason to doubt the perfect good faith of its author, the value of much of his Levitical information, and, in general, the credibility of his book. In special points in which its accuracy has been impugned — as in the captivity of Manasseh in Babylon — discovery has brought to it valuable corroboration. Apart from the numbers, which, taken literally, are indeed in some cases “incredibly large,” Zöckler goes so far as to say that “the only nearly certain example of error on his part, arising, apparently, from geographical ignorance, is the explanation of the Tarshish ships of the Red Sea as being designed to trade to Tarshish” ( 2 Chron. 9:21; 20:36 ). Even in regard to the numbers he says: “If we except this one passage, all else of an erroneous nature in the text is most probably to be reduced to errors in copying, that either existed in his sources, or were introduced into his text.” That may be too unqualified also. Possibly, as Keil suggests, such excessive numbers as we have in  2 Chron. 13:3, 17, 800,000 fighting men for Israel, 400,000 for Judah, 500,000 of Israel slain, are, if not corrupt, meant to be taken only as round numerical expressions for the whole or half of the respective forces (cf.  2 Sam. 24:9 ). It is not to be overlooked, moreover, that sometimes it is  Chronicles that gives the smaller number (cf., e.g.,  1 Chron. 11:11, with  2 Sam. 23:8; 2 Chron 9:25, with  1 Kings 4:26 ), and in some cases the numbers are undeniably corrupt. On the whole there is abundant ground for the moderate and sensible judgment of an older critic like Bleek: “If we only possessed this work alone as an historical source for the times and circumstances treated of in the  Chronicles, the latter would in no way afford us a complete and exact picture of them; but, together with the other books, it gives us very valuable and important additions to the accounts of the latter, and a crowd of important details, which serve to make them complete both in general, and in special points.”

     The Problem of the Old Testament

How Do We Know We Are Believers? | 2 Cor 13:5

By Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

     The issue that is being placed under the microscope of pastoral analysis here is then not how we become believers, but how do we know we are believers? This is a matter of self-awareness. It is a reflex act of faith, not its direct act. So any discussion of the topic must take place within the context of faith, never apart from it. There is no alternative route to the assurance of salvation, as if it were legitimate to ask, “Apart from route A (faith), will you take me along route B without faith?”

     This proper self-conscious awareness of genuine faith (i.e., that the individual is a true and not a false believer) develops within three dimensions.

     Grace and Faith

     Faith seeks understanding and is nourished through it. It is possible, of course, to have little knowledge and yet real assurance because faith has nourished itself richly on the knowledge it possesses. Correspondingly, it is possible to have much knowledge and little assurance if an individual responds disproportionately to the knowledge he or she possesses.

     In particular, assurance is nourished on a clear understanding of grace and especially of union with Christ and the justification, adoption, and regeneration that are ours freely in him.   ( Human Nature in Its Fourfold State )

     The chief enemies of the Christian’s assurance at this point are probably three.

     The first is our native tendency to drift from the fact that our salvation is all of grace, and even our active participation in its reception is both the fruit of grace and, although active, noncontributory to the salvation itself. It is all too possible to make some progress in growth and sanctification but then ever so subtly slip into thinking that “of course it was appropriate that God was gracious to me—he knew that I would become the growing Christian that I now am.”

     The second is a phenomenon we have met before in these pages: the difficulty some Christians have in believing that they are freely justified by the Father, who in his love sent his Son for them. They may have been nurtured in a womb of preaching that has portrayed Christ as one who by his sacrifice persuades a wrathful Father to pardon us, in view of what he (Christ) has done. When grace no longer reaches back into the very fountainhead, then deep and suspicious thoughts of God the Father develop, and assurance is not possible. To quote John Owen again:

     Few can carry up their hearts and minds to this height by faith, as to rest their souls in the love of the Father; they live below it, in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds. All here is serene and quiet. But how to attain to this pitch they know not. This is the will of God, that he may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love. This is that which Christ came to reveal.   ( The Works of John Owen (16 Volume Set) )

     To fail here is, sadly, to lose hold of the harmony of the Trinity and to lose sight of the sheer grace of God in the gospel. God the Father is absolutely, completely, and totally to us what he reveals himself to be to us in Christ. ( See John 14:7 ) Understand this and sense the light it brings to the mind and affections, and faith strengthens while assurance is nourished.

     A third problem here that militates against the enjoyment of assurance is a failure to recognize that justification is both final and complete. It is final because it is the eschatological justification of the last day brought forward into the present day. It is complete because in justification we are counted as righteous before the Father as Christ himself, since the only righteousness with which we are righteous is Jesus Christ’s righteousness. When faith thus grasps the reality of this inheritance, then Christ himself looms large. This is the key to the enjoyment of assurance precisely because assurance is our assurance that he is a great Savior and that he is ours.

     Thus in gospel assurance Christ is central; indeed Christ is everything. Yet contrary to an entire trend in historical theological scholarship, this does not mean there is no place for the practical syllogism.

     Excerpt from The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance

     Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is a Ligonier teaching fellow and distinguished visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.      Sinclair Ferguson Books |  Go to Books Page

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 31

Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit
31 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

3 For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the LORD.
7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.

ESV Reformation Study

Contemporary Tolerance Is Intrinsically Intolerant

By Don Carson 2/26/12

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

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

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

     Which Tolerance?

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

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

     Don Carson Books |  Go to Books Page

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

March 14
2 Chronicles 9:6 but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, half the greatness of your wisdom was not told me; you surpass the report that I heard. 7 Happy are your wives! Happy are these your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!

1 Kings 10:7 but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard.

2 Chronicles 9:5 And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom,

1 Kings 4:31 For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations.

1 Kings 4:34 And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.
  ESV

     What the queen of Sheba said of King Solomon may well be applied to our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. None can realize His worth until they come to Him in faith and prove for themselves the wonders of His grace, and the glory of His power. Then indeed the adoring heart admits with joy and gladness that His wisdom and goodness are far beyond all that has ever been proclaimed by the heralds of His gospel. Faith, we are told, comes by hearing (or, a report). He who hears the word and believes the message is the recipient of life eternal and enters into fellowship with Him who is the source of that life. Then the heart can say, “The half…was not told me.”


For Thou exceedest all the fame
Our ears have ever heard;
How happy they who love Thy Name
And trust Thy faithful Word.

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



  • Boyfriend’s Porn
  • Sexual Identity My Choice?
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#1 John Piper | Desiring God

 

#2 John Piper | Desiring God

 

#3 John Piper | Desiring God

 


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Break your alabaster jar (3)
     1/14/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘She has done a beautiful thing to me.’

(Mk 14:6) But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. ESV


     Most of us are good actors, but it’s difficult to fake a reaction. And when the woman broke the alabaster jar, the reaction of the disciples is telling. ‘Why this waste?’ They thought she was pouring her perfume down the drain by pouring it at Jesus’ feet. They called it a waste, but He called it ‘a beautiful thing’. Then He went on to say, ‘Wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her’ (v. 9 NIV 2011 Edition). Can you imagine what this one statement did for her self-image? It had probably been years since she’d heard a kind word or a compliment. Those words could be paraphrased, ‘You may not believe in yourself, but I believe in you.’ No one can spot potential like Jesus. That’s because He’s the One who gave it to us in the first place. And that’s why God will never give up on you. It’s not in His nature (see Philippians 1:6). His ‘goodness and mercy shall follow [you] all the days of [your] life’ (Psalm 23:6 KJV). All you have to do is turn around. This woman was desperate enough to crash the party, and Jesus responds to desperate people. How desperate are you? Desperate enough to make a move, make a change, make a sacrifice? Desperate enough to pray through the night? Read through the Bible? Reconcile the conflict? Plead with a friend who is a lost cause? Give your life savings to a kingdom cause? The path of least resistance won’t get you to where you need to be. But if you go out of your way for God, God will go out of His way for you.

Numbers 26-28
Mark 8:31-38

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Born in Germany this day, March 14, 1879, he began teaching himself calculus at the age of fourteen. He developed the theory of relativity, which was the basis for the application of atomic energy and won the Nobel Prize in 1921. His name was Albert Einstein. While on a lecture tour in America, the Nazi’s confiscated his home. Einstein then became a U.S. citizen. In 1952 he was offered the position of President of Israel, but declined. Albert Einstein’s statement inscribed in Fine Hall at Princeton University reads: “God is clever, but not dishonest.”

American Minute
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


The most dangerous sin of all is the presumption of righteousness.
--- Martin Luther


It is important to draw a distinction between attempting to observe the principles embodied in the law and legalism. Scripture does not give us any basis for disregarding God’s revealed commands. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14: 15), and “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). We are not at liberty to reject such commands; to do so would be an abuse of Christian freedom. Therefore, we must seek to guide our lives by these precepts. Such behavior is not legalism. Legalism is a slavish following of the law in the belief that one thereby earns merit; it also entails a refusal to go beyond the formal or literal requirements of the law. It is ineffectual because it ignores the facts that we never outgrow the need for divine grace and that the essence of the law is love.
--- Millard J. Erickson   Christian Theology

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.
--- George Mueller 1805-1898   Streams in the Desert

Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up, does rejoice. I guess I just miss my friend.
--- Shawshank Redemption   The Shawshank Redemption (BFI Film Classics)

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 3/14
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     We attended the Quarterly Meeting at Sandwich, in company with Ann Gaunt and Mercy Redman, which was preceded by a Monthly Meeting, and in the whole held three days. We were in various ways exercised amongst them, in gospel love, according to the several gifts bestowed on us, and were at times overshadowed with the virtue of truth, to the comfort of the sincere and stirring up of the negligent. Here we parted with Ann and Mercy, and went to Rhode Island, taking one meeting in our way, which was a satisfactory time. Reaching Newport the evening before their Quarterly Meeting, we attended it, and after that had a meeting with our young people, separated from those of other societies. We went through much labor in this town; and now, in taking leave of it, though I felt close inward exercise to the last, I found inward peace, and was in some degree comforted in a belief that a good number remain in that place who retain a sense of truth, and that there are some young people attentive to the voice of the Heavenly Shepherd. The last meeting, in which Friends from the several parts of the quarter came together, was a select meeting, and through the renewed manifestation of the Father's love the hearts of the sincere were united together.

     The poverty of spirit and inward weakness, with which I was much tried the fore part of this journey, has of late appeared to me a dispensation of kindness. Appointing meetings never appeared more weighty to me, and I was led into a deep search, whether in all things my mind was resigned to the will of God; often querying with myself what should be the cause of such inward poverty, and greatly desiring that no secret reserve in my heart might hinder my access to the Divine fountain. In these humbling times I was made watchful, and excited to attend to the secret movings of the heavenly principle in my mind, which prepared the way to some duties that in more easy and prosperous times as to the outward, I believe I should have been in danger of omitting.

     From Newport we went to Greenwich, Shanticut, and Warwick, and were helped to labor amongst Friends in the love of our gracious Redeemer. Afterwards, accompanied by our friend John Casey from Newport, we rode through Connecticut to Oblong, visited the meetings in those parts, and thence proceeded to the Quarterly Meeting at Ryewoods. Through the gracious extendings of Divine help, we had some seasoning opportunities in those places. We also visited Friends at New York and Flushing, and thence to Rahway. Here our roads parting, I took leave of my beloved companion and true yokemate Samuel Eastburn, and reached home the 10th of eighth month, where I found my family well. For the favors and protection of the Lord, both inward and outward, extended to me in this journey, my heart is humbled in grateful acknowledgments, and I find renewed desires to dwell and walk in resignedness before him.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 12:18-19
     by D.H. Stern

18     Idle talk can pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise can heal.
19     Truthful words will stand forever,
lying speech but a moment.


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

          3

     A cliff had loomed up ahead. It sank vertically beneath us so far that I could not see the bottom, and it was dark and smooth. We were mounting all the time. At last the top of the cliff became visible like a thin line of emerald green stretched tight as a fiddle-string. Presently we glided over that top: we were flying above a level, grassy country through which there ran a wide river. We were losing height now: some of the tallest tree tops were only twenty feet below us. Then, suddenly we were at rest. Everyone had jumped up. Curses, taunts, blows, a filth of vituperation, came to my ears as my fellow-passengers struggled to get out. A moment later, and they had all succeeded. I was alone in the bus, and through the open door there came to me in the fresh stillness the singing of a lark.

     I got out. The light and coolness that drenched me were like those of summer morning, early morning a minute or two before the sunrise, only that there was a certain difference. I had the sense of being in a larger space, perhaps even a larger sort of space, than I had ever known before: as if the sky were further off and the extent of the green plain wider that they could be on this little ball of earth. I had got ‘out’ in some sense which made the Solar System itself seem an indoor affair. It gave me a feeling of freedom, but also of exposure, possibly of danger, which continued to accompany me through all that followed. It is the impossibility of communicating that feeling, or even of inducing you to remember it as I proceed, which makes me despair of conveying the real quality of what I saw and heard.

     At first, of course, my attention was caught by my fellow-passengers, who were still grouped about in the neighbourhood of the omnibus, though beginning, some of them, to walk forward into the landscape with hesitating steps. I gasped when I saw them. Now that they were in the light, they were transparent—fully transparent when they stood between me and it, smudgy and imperfectly opaque when they stood in the shadow of some tree. They were in fact ghosts: man-shaped stains on the brightness of that air. One could attend to them or ignore them at will as you do with the dirt on a window pane. I noticed that the grass did not bend under their feet: even the dew drops were not disturbed.

     Then some re-adjustment of the mind or some focussing of my eyes took place, and I saw the whole phenomenon the other way round. The men were as they had always been; as all the men I had known had been perhaps. It was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance, so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison. Moved by a sudden thought, I bent down and tried to pluck a daisy which was growing at my feet. The stalk wouldn’t break. I tried to twist it, but it wouldn’t twist. I tugged till the sweat stood out on my forehead and I had lost most of the skin off my hands. The little flower was hard, not like wood or even like iron, but like diamond. There was a leaf—a young tender beech-leaf, lying in the grass beside it. I tried to pick the leaf up: my heart almost cracked with the effort, and I believe I did just raise it. But I had to let it go at once; it was heavier than a sack of coal. As I stood, recovering my breath with great gasps and looking down at the daisy, I noticed that I could see the grass not only between my feet but through them. I also was a phantom. Who will give me words to express the terror of that discovery? ‘Golly!’ thought I, ‘I’m in for it this time.’

     ‘I don’t like it! I don’t like it,’ screamed a voice. ‘It gives me the pip!’ One of the ghosts had darted past me, back into the bus. She never came out of it again as far as I know.

     The others remained, uncertain.

     ‘Hi, Mister,’ said the Big Man, addressing the Driver, ‘when have we got to be back?’

     ‘You need never come back unless you want to,’ he replied. ‘Stay as long as you please.’ There was an awkward pause.

     ‘‘This is simply ridiculous,’ said a voice in my ear. One of the quieter and more respectable ghosts had sidled up to me. ‘There must be some mismanagement,’ he continued. ‘What’s the sense of allowing all that riff-raff to float about here all day? Look at them. They’re not enjoying it. They’d be far happier at home. They don’t even know what to do.’

     ‘I don’t know very well myself,’ said I. ‘What does one do?’

     ‘Oh me? I shall be met in a moment or two. I’m expected. I’m not bothering about that. But it’s rather unpleasant on one’s first day to have the whole place crowded out with trippers. Damn it, one’s chief object in coming here at all was to avoid them!’

     He drifted away from me. And I began to look about. In spite of his reference to a ‘crowd’, the solitude was so vast that I could hardly notice the knot of phantoms in the foreground. Greenness and light had almost swallowed them up. But very far away I could see what might be either a great bank of cloud or a range of mountains. Sometimes I could make out in it steep forests, far-withdrawing valleys, and even mountain cities perched on inaccessible summits. At other times it became indistinct. The height was so enormous that my waking sight could not have taken in such an object at all. Light brooded on the top of it: slanting down thence it made long shadows behind every tree on the plain. There was no change and no progression as the hours passed. The promise—or the threat—of sunrise rested immovably up there.

     Long after that I saw people coming to meet us. Because they were bright I saw them while they were still very distant, and at first I did not know that they were people at all. Mile after mile they drew nearer. The earth shook under their tread as their strong feet sank into the wet turf. A tiny haze and a sweet smell went up where they had crushed the grass and scattered the dew. Some were naked, some robed. But the naked ones did not seem less adorned, and the robes did not disguise in those who wore them the massive grandeur of muscle and the radiant smoothness of flesh. Some were bearded but no one in that company struck me as being of any particular age. One gets glimpses, even in our country, of that which is ageless—heavy thought in the face of an infant, and frolic childhood in that of a very old man. Here it was all like that. They came on steadily. I did not entirely like it. Two of the ghosts screamed and ran for the bus. The rest of us huddled closer to one another.

The Great Divorce   or   The Great Divorce
Teacher's Commentary
     Exodus 25–31

     God knows the need of believers for continual cleansing and enablement. Israel had not yet seen herself as a still-needy people. Yet God began to meet the need before it was understood. His provision was in the tabernacle—a tent of worship which became the only place where Israelites might approach God. (Later it was replaced by a temple, erected in the Promised Land.)

     Looking back, the writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews focuses on Exodus 25:9. The tabernacle was to be made “exactly like the pattern I will show you.” The New Testament points to this as evidence that the tabernacle is a kind of mirror of reality. Its design reflects truth about our relationship with God and the special provision God has made for us. In the New Testament the tabernacle is called “a copy and shadow of what is in heaven” (Heb. 8:5). Looking at it, we can discover much about the reality you and I experience in Christ.

     The tabernacle plan. The tabernacle is a “type” (an Old Testament character, event, or institution which has a place and purpose in Bible history, but which also, by divine design, foreshadows something future). In every aspect the tabernacle pictures the relationship between God and a redeemed people. In every aspect the tabernacle shows how God’s presence with us not only sets us apart from all others, but meets our need for daily deliverance from sin’s power.

     What, then, was the tabernacle like—and what does it tell us about our own need to experience freedom?

     The tabernacle was a large tent, surrounded by an outer court—a long, rectangular enclosure 150 by 75 feet. It was portable, the walls of the court and the tent itself being made of curtains. The tabernacle was a sanctuary, a dwelling place for God. It consisted of an outer “holy place” and an inner “most holy place” into which the high priest alone could enter, and then only once a year.

     During the time in the wilderness, God’s presence was a visible thing, marked by a cloudy, fiery pillar which always stood over the tabernacle. When erected, the tabernacle always stood in the middle of the camp, with the people ranged around it on every side.

     God chooses to dwell in the center of His people. He is to be the center of our lives. Never just on the periphery.

The Teacher's Commentary
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Obedience

His servants ye are to whom ye obey. --- Romans 6:16.

     The first thing to do in examining the power that dominates me is to take hold of the unwelcome fact that I am responsible for being thus dominated because I have yielded. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame for it because at a point away back I yielded myself to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because I have yielded myself to Him.

     Yield in childhood to selfishness, and you will find it the most enchaining tyranny on earth. There is no power in the human soul of itself to break the bondage of a disposition formed by yielding. Yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust (remember what lust is: ‘I must have it at once,’ whether it be the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind), once yield and though you may hate yourself for having yielded, you are a bond-slave to that thing. There is no release in human power at all, but only in the Redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One Who can break the dominating power, viz., the Lord Jesus Christ. “He hath anointed Me … to preach deliverance to the captives.”

     We find this out in the most ridiculously small ways—‘Oh, I can give that habit up when I like.’ You cannot, you will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you yielded to it willingly. It is easy to sing—“He will break every fetter,” and at the same time be living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. Yielding to Jesus will break every form of slavery in any human life.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
Sailors' Hospital
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

           Sailors' Hospital

It was warm
  Inside, but there was
  Pain there. I came out
  Into the cold wind
  Of April. There were birds
  In the brambles' old,
  Jagged iron, with one striking
  Its small song. To the west,
  Rising from the grey
  Water, leaning one
  On another were the town's
  Houses. Who first began
  That refuse: time's waste
  Growing at the edge
  Of the clean sea? Some sailor
  Fetching up on the
  Shingle before wind
  Or current, made it his
  Harbour, hung up his clothes

In the sunlight; found women
  To breed from - those sick men
  His descendants. Every day
  Regularly the tide
  Visits them with its salt
  Comfort; their wounds are shrill
  In the rigging of the
  Tall ships.
  With clenched thoughts,
  That not even the sky's
  Daffodil could persuade
  To open, I turned back
  To the nurses in their tugging
  At him, as he drifted
  Away on the current
  Of his breath, further and further,
  Out of hail of our love.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Teacher's Commentary
     Commentary

     I remember Laura as she sobbed in my office. She’d just become a Christian, and life was hard. As a teen she was fighting against the pull of her past and her conflicts with her parents. And she felt a good deal of guilt as well as frustration.

     It was good to remind her that God had forgiven her, so she could forgive herself too. And to point out that everyone makes mistakes. It’s part of growing. The exciting thing is that God promises we will grow in Him, grow beyond ourselves and our limitations.

     But for the pain of her present, Laura didn’t really need either sympathy or pity. She needed only help to face the problems that her circumstances created. In the face of her difficulties, in the conflict with her family, the help she needed was help to make responsible choices.

     Responsible / This was the issue confronting Israel at the beginning of the Book of Numbers. This people had been redeemed from slavery by God’s great power. The people had been taught God’s will in a Law that revealed much of His character. And provision had been made to cleanse the Israelites from the sins that would inevitably come. The door to God was held open, guaranteed by the tabernacle, sacrifice, and the priesthood. The forgiven people had been instructed how to live in fellowship with their God.

         The message that came then to Israel was simply this: “You have been provided with everything you need to live a holy life. Now you are responsible.”

         The people of Israel were about to face difficult and challenging circumstances. But there could be no excuses for failing to respond to God. In each situation Israel was now responsible for the choices the people made—and also responsible for the results of those choices. What happened now would inevitably be a direct consequence of Israel’s decision to follow—or to reject—the leading of God.

     My friend Laura was young, both as a person and as a Christian. Learning to be responsible was hard for her. It’s hard at any age. Some of us learn the lesson of responsibility only after a great deal of pain, as wrong choices work out their results in our lives. Some of us learn quickly, from others.

         In this section of Scripture we have lessons on responsibility that we can learn from others, and thus avoid the pain of learning the hard way. 1 Cor 10:11–12 tells us that “these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us.… So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

         It’s comforting to understand our position in Christ as forgiven people. But it is important to realize that, however exalted our position, as we live our daily lives we must accept responsibility for all our choices and act as redeemed people—lest we fall.

The Teacher's Commentary
Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Berakhot 54a, 60b

     D’RASH

     Two scenes from a marriage: The first—the couple on their wedding day. The bride is absolutely breathtaking, the groom incredibly handsome. They are surrounded and attended by loving family and dearest friends. At the end of the ceremony, when the groom breaks the glass, they kiss with such passion and feeling that some of the guests actually cry. The orchestra plays romantic music while the caterer serves the most delicious feast. The photographer mentions that he has rarely seen two young people so much in love: They cannot take their eyes off each other. When they dance, they hold each other tightly and gaze into each other’s eyes.

     The second scene—same couple, seven years later, an ordinary day. The living room is cluttered with baby toys strewn all over the floor. The sink is filled with dirty dishes. The wife is wearing a T-shirt covered with an infant’s spit-up. The baby is crying, chewing on a teething ring. The husband is sitting at the dining room table, desperately trying to finish the report that is due on the boss’s desk at 9 A.M. the next day. He is also trying to figure out how he is going to pay this month’s mortgage, the electric bill, the oil bill, the car loan, and fix the leaky roof. Amid the stress, the tumult, and the chaos, the wife comes over and puts her hand on her husband’s shoulder; he kisses her hand. They look into one another’s eyes and smile.

     There are those, like Bet Shammai, who hold that “we live for the moments,” that what is most important are the infrequent, special occasions which mark our lives—the birth of a baby, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a college graduation, a wedding, a fiftieth anniversary. We look forward to them and when they come, we celebrate with all our heart and soul. The same is true of holidays that come along once a year, or even of Shabbat, which stands out as the unique day in seven. When these special times come, we put aside all else because they are so very important and meaningful to us.

     Other people, like Bet Hillel, acknowledge the importance of unique occasions, but they hold that what counts more in life is not the special, but the everyday. You can tell more about a couple’s marriage from how they are doing on that mundane, ordinary day seven years after that romantic wedding day. Life is made up mostly of the regular, frequent moments and what we make of them. Special occasions come and go. Bet Hillel, by placing the blessing over the wine first, is teaching us that what remains primary is the blessing over the wine that was probably said every single day. We should anticipate the blessings that come to us in the special, infrequent moments, but we must also look forward to the blessings that are found every single day, all around us.

     A person must bless God for the bad just as one must bless God for the good.

     Text / Mishnah (9:5): A person must bless God for the bad just as one must bless God for the good, as it says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” [
Deuteronomy 6:5]. “With all your heart”—with both inclinations, with the good inclination and with the evil inclination. “With all your soul”—even if He takes your soul. “And with all your might”—with all your money. Another interpretation: “With all your might” (me’odekha)—with such and every measure (midah) that He gives (moded) you, you are to acknowledge (modeh) Him.

Gemara: What is meant by “A person must bless God for the bad just as one must bless God for the good”? If you say that just as we recite the blessing “[Blessed are You, Lord,] Who is good and Who does good” for good things, so too we recite the blessing “Who is good and Who does good” for bad things. Has it not been taught: “Over good news, one says ‘Who is good and Who does good’; over bad news, one says ‘Blessed are You the Judge of truth’?” Rava said: “We require this to teach us to accept it with joy.”

     Context / To “bless” does not mean the same thing as “to thank.” Despite Rava’s comment at the end of the Gemara, it is too much to expect most people to actually thank God for the bad things that happen to them. Barukh, the Hebrew word for “bless,” comes from the same root as the word for knee, berekh. Many scholars see a connection: To bless God is to kneel or bow before the Divine (either literally or symbolically), acknowledging God as greater and more powerful, and the Source of all—both good and bad—that happens.

     The Mishnah teaches that we must recite a berakhah, or blessing, for the bad things that occur, just as we are obligated to recite one for the good things. The biblical source for this notion is found in the Sh’ma. The Rabbis first note the unusual spelling of the expression “your heart” (l’vavvkha, with a double vet, instead of the less poetic word lib’kha). They interpret this spelling to allude to our dual impulses, one toward good, one toward bad. The yetzer hara or “the evil inclination” is the rabbinic name for the selfish, darker side of human nature. The Rabbis often counsel that we should channel these impulses for good. Sexuality, for instance, is not repressed or denied but is channeled positively within marriage.

     The second phrase (“with all your soul”) teaches that we are to love God even to the point of sacrificing our lives. Finally, the third phrase (“with all your might”) is interpreted by means of a word play (me’od, midah, modeh) that makes the point that we are to acknowledge God for all that God gives us. The Gemara asks the specific halakhic question: Which berakhah is actually to be in response to misfortune or bad news? The answer is the formula barukh Dayan ha-emet, “Blessed are You the Judge of truth.” This is, by the way, the same blessing that is recited by a mourner when he or she tears clothing (or a ribbon pinned onto the clothing) just prior to the funeral or burial of an immediate relative.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Three - Internal Consolation

     The Fifth Chapter / The Wonderful Effect Of Divine Love

          The Disciple

     I BLESS You, O heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, for having condescended to remember me, a poor creature. Thanks to You, O Father of mercies, God of all consolation, Who with Your comfort sometimes refresh me, who am not worthy of it. I bless You always and glorify You with Your only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, forever and ever.

          Ah, Lord God, my holy Lover, when You come into my heart, all that is within me will rejoice. You are my glory and the exultation of my heart. You are my hope and refuge in the day of my tribulation. But because my love is as yet weak and my virtue imperfect, I must be strengthened and comforted by You. Visit me often, therefore, and teach me Your holy discipline. Free me from evil passions and cleanse my heart of all disorderly affection so that, healed and purified within, I may be fit to love, strong to suffer, and firm to persevere.

     Love is an excellent thing, a very great blessing, indeed. It makes every difficulty easy, and bears all wrongs with equanimity. For it bears a burden without being weighted and renders sweet all that is bitter. The noble love of Jesus spurs to great deeds and excites longing for that which is more perfect. Love tends upward; it will not be held down by anything low. Love wishes to be free and estranged from all worldly affections, lest its inward sight be obstructed, lest it be entangled in any temporal interest and overcome by adversity.

          Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger or higher or wider; nothing is more pleasant, nothing fuller, and nothing better in heaven or on earth, for love is born of God and cannot rest except in God, Who is above all created things.

     One who is in love flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free, not bound. He gives all for all and possesses all in all, because he rests in the one sovereign Good, Who is above all things, and from Whom every good flows and proceeds. He does not look to the gift but turns himself above all gifts to the Giver.

     Love often knows no limits but overflows all bounds. Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of troubles, attempts more than it is able, and does not plead impossibility, because it believes that it may and can do all things. For this reason, it is able to do all, performing and effecting much where he who does not love fails and falls.

     Love is watchful. Sleeping, it does not slumber. Wearied, it is not tired. Pressed, it is not straitened. Alarmed, it is not confused, but like a living flame, a burning torch, it forces its way upward and passes unharmed through every obstacle.

     If a man loves, he will know the sound of this voice. For this warm affection of soul is a loud voice crying in the ears of God, and it says: “My God, my love, You are all mine and I am all Yours. Give me an increase of love, that I may learn to taste with the inward lips of my heart how sweet it is to love, how sweet to be dissolved in love and bathe in it. Let me be rapt in love. Let me rise above self in great fervor and wonder. Let me sing the hymn of love, and let me follow You, my Love, to the heights. Let my soul exhaust itself in praising You, rejoicing out of love. Let me love You more than myself, and let me not love myself except for Your sake. In You let me love all those who truly love You, as the law of love, which shines forth from You, commands.”

     Love is swift, sincere, kind, pleasant, and delightful. Love is strong, patient and faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and manly. Love is never self-seeking, for in whatever a person seeks himself there he falls from love. Love is circumspect, humble, and upright. It is neither soft nor light, nor intent upon vain things. It is sober and chaste, firm and quiet, guarded in all the senses. Love is subject and obedient to superiors. It is mean and contemptible in its own eyes, devoted and thankful to God; always trusting and hoping in Him even when He is distasteful to it, for there is no living in love without sorrow. He who is not ready to suffer all things and to stand resigned to the will of the Beloved is not worthy to be called a lover. A lover must embrace willingly all that is difficult and bitter for the sake of the Beloved, and he should not turn away from Him because of adversities.

The Imitation Of Christ
Take Heart
     March 14

     O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
---
Psalm 96:9. KJV

     The word translated “beauty” here is somewhat rare. (G. Campbell Morgan, “Worship, Beauty, Holiness,” downloaded from Tom Garner’s Web page; previously published in The Westminster Pulpit, vol. 2 (Westwood,) It suggests honor or glory or beauty, an inherent quality, not something put on from without, but something revealed to the eye and appealing to the emotion and the mind as glorious and beautiful in itself, yet belonging essentially to the item with which we are brought into contact.

     The psalmist is appealing to people to praise God, calling them to recognize his greatness, his glory, calling them to think of his power and majesty, urging them to answer the things their eyes see and their hearts feel by offering praise to him. In this call so poetic and full of beauty is revealed the meaning of worship, its condition and glory. “O worship the LORD.” The supreme thing is worship. But how is worship to be rendered? “In the beauty of holiness.” Wherever you find beauty, it is the outcome of holiness. Wherever you find beauty as the outcome of holiness, that beauty itself is incense, is worship. To live the life of holiness is to live the life of beauty, and that is to worship.

     When Charles Kingsley lay dying, he said, “How beautiful God is!” We are almost startled by the word. We speak of his majesty. We speak of his might. We speak of his mercy, his holiness, his love. Yet there is nothing of God that he has made more conspicuous to us than his beauty. Every manifestation of God is full of beauty.

     The beauty of God, blossoming in the daisy, blazing in the starry heavens—brings you back to my text, “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” All the beauty of flowers, in form and color and perfume, are of God. All the beauty of the seasons—spring and summer and autumn and winter; all that is beautiful in human beings physically, mentally, spiritually, and all that is beautiful in the interrelation between people is of God.

     God is a God of glory. God is a God of love. But he is also the God of beauty.

     I stayed with a friend in Devonshire who brought from his greenhouse a spray of roses and put them under the microscope. And the more closely I looked, the more perfect they were. The beauty of God is revealed in the tiniest cell of the flower. God is very beautiful, and everything that is of God is essentially beautiful.

--- G. Campbell Morgan

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day | March 14
     Dr. Livingstone, I Presume

     As missionary David Livingstone plunged ever more deeply into the African interior, all the world followed him. He was a hero, an explorer whose every foray was widely discussed. But in the early 1870s word from him ceased. The world held its breath and waited and wondered. Five years passed. Finally the New York Herald sent reporter Henry Stanley to find him, dead or alive. Stanley was an untamed adventure-seeker and journalist. He was also an infidel who viewed Christianity with considerable cynicism. “Spare no expense,” his newspaper said. Stanley organized 200 persons in five caravans and plunged into the jungle.

     Stanley finally located Livingstone near Lake Tanganyika. He bowed and uttered his famous words, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” He arrived just in time, for the old missionary was sick, lonely, and desperate for medicine, supplies, and news from home. Stanley stayed with Livingstone four months, and the two men grew very attached. Stanley later reported, I went to Africa as prejudiced against religion as the worst infidel in London. But I saw this solitary old man there, and I asked myself, “What is it that inspires him?” For months I found myself listening to him, wondering at the old man carrying out the words, “leave all and follow me.” Little by little, seeing his piety, gentleness, zeal, and how he went quietly about his business, I was converted by him.

     On their last day together, March 14, 1872, the two said little. Stanley lingered as long as he dared, then he said, “Now, my dear doctor, the best friends must part.…” Livingstone, heart throbbing, replied, “God guide you safe home and bless you, my friend.” Stanley went a way then turned for a last look. Livingstone had also turned. Stanley waved his handkerchief, and Livingstone lifted his hat. They would not see each other on earth again. When Stanley heard of Livingstone’s death the following year he determined to follow his footsteps.

     Paul … knelt down with all of them and prayed. Everyone cried and hugged and kissed him. They were especially sad because Paul had told them, “You will never see me again.”
--- Acts 20:36-38.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - March 14

     “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
--- 1 Corinthians 10:12.

     It is a curious fact, that there is such a thing as being proud of grace. A man says, “I have great faith, I shall not fall; poor little faith may, but I never shall.” “I have fervent love,” says another, “I can stand, there is no danger of my going astray.” He who boasts of grace has little grace to boast of. Some who do this imagine that their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantly from the fountain head, or else the brook will soon be dry. If a continuous stream of oil comes not to the lamp, though it burn brightly to-day, it will smoke to-morrow, and noxious will be its scent. Take heed that thou gloriest not in thy graces, but let all thy glorying and confidence be in Christ and his strength, for only so canst thou be kept from falling. Be much more in prayer. Spend longer time in holy adoration. Read the Scriptures more earnestly and constantly. Watch your lives more carefully. Live nearer to God. Take the best examples for your pattern. Let your conversation be redolent of heaven. Let your hearts be perfumed with affection for men’s souls. So live that men may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus, and have learned of him; and when that happy day shall come, when he whom you love shall say, “Come up higher,” may it be your happiness to hear him say, “Thou hast fought a good fight, thou hast finished thy course, and henceforth there is laid up for thee a crown of righteousness which fadeth not away.” On, Christian, with care and caution! On, with holy fear and trembling! On, with faith and confidence in Jesus alone, and let your constant petition be, “Uphold me according to thy word.” He is able, and he alone, “To keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”


          Evening - March 14

     “I will take heed to my ways." Psalm 39:1.

     Fellow-pilgrim, say not in your heart, “I will go hither and thither, and I shall not sin;” for you are never so out of danger of sinning as to boast of security. The road is very miry, it will be hard to pick your path so as not to soil your garments. This is a world of pitch; you will need to watch often, if in handling it you are to keep your hands clean. There is a robber at every turn of the road to rob you of your jewels; there is a temptation in every mercy; there is a snare in every joy; and if you ever reach heaven, it will be a miracle of divine grace to be ascribed entirely to your Father’s power. Be on your guard. When a man carries a bomb-shell in his hand, he should mind that he does not go near a candle; and you too must take care that you enter not into temptation. Even your common actions are edged tools; you must mind how you handle them. There is nothing in this world to foster a Christian’s piety, but everything to destroy it. How anxious should you be to look up to God, that he may keep you! Your prayer should be, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” Having prayed, you must also watch; guarding every thought, word, and action, with holy jealousy. Do not expose yourselves unnecessarily; but if called to exposure, if you are bidden to go where the darts are flying, never venture forth without your shield; for if once the devil finds you without your buckler, he will rejoice that his hour of triumph is come, and will soon make you fall down wounded by his arrows. Though slain you cannot be; wounded you may be. “Be sober; be vigilant, danger may be in an hour when all seemeth securest to thee.” Therefore, take heed to thy ways, and watch unto prayer. No man ever fell into error through being too watchful. May the Holy Spirit guide us in all our ways, so shall they always please the Lord.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     March 14

          STANDING ON THE PROMISES

     Words and Music by R. Kelso Carter, 1849–1928

     For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. (2 Corinthians 1:20 KJV)

     All of us have times in life when a crisis or problem seems larger than we can possibly bear, and we become very fearful. Often, however, the Lord has to get our attention through such an adversity to cause us once more to rely solely on His promises.

     Bible scholars have pointed our that the phrase “fear not” appears in the Bible 365 times—a reassuring promise for each day of the year. A daily dependence upon the divine promises is the only real remedy for our human fears. Often even well-intentioned parents make hasty promises to their children, promises they are unable to fulfill. How different are the promises of God! They are “yea and amen,” the only assurances on which we can securely stand.

     The author and composer, Russell Kelso Carter, was an unusually talented and versatile person. At various times in his 79 year lifetime he was an athlete, an active Methodist minister, a sheep rancher, a professor and publisher of various textbooks, and in his later years a practicing physician in Baltimore. In addition to “Standing on the Promises,” Carter wrote a number of other hymn texts and tunes as well as assisting in compiling the 1891 hymnal Hymns for the Christian Life for the Christian Missionary Alliance denomination. Mr. Carter’s fruitful life reflects the truth of this hymn—that only as we stand on God’s promises are we enabled to live with purpose for God’s glory.

     Standing on the promises of Christ my King, thru eternal ages let His praises ring; glory in the highest I will shout and sing, standing on the promises of God.
     Standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living Word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God.
     Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord, bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord, overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword, standing on the promises of God.
     Standing on the promises I now can see perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me; standing in the liberty where Christ makes free, standing on the promises of God,
     Standing on the promises I cannot fall, list’ning ev’ry moment to the Spirit’s call, resting in my Savior as my all in all, standing on the promises of God.
     Chorus: Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God my Savior. Standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God.


     For Today: Psalm 34:18; Psalm 55:22; 2 Peter 1:4.

     Claim a scriptural promise as especially for you this day. Live confidently in its truth. Carry this tune as a reminder ---

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