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3/8/2019     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     Deuteronomy  28 - 29


Deuteronomy 28

Blessings for Obedience

1 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. 3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

7 “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. 8 The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 9 The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. 10 And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. 11 And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, 14 and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Curses for Disobedience

15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. 16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. 17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18 Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

20 “The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. 21 The Lord will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 22 The Lord will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. 23 And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. 24 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away. 27 The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed. 28 The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind, 29 and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you. 30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat any of it. Your donkey shall be seized before your face, but shall not be restored to you. Your sheep shall be given to your enemies, but there shall be no one to help you. 32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all day long, but you shall be helpless. 33 A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually, 34 so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see. 35 The Lord will strike you on the knees and on the legs with grievous boils of which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.

36 “The Lord will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone. 37 And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the Lord will lead you away. 38 You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall eat them. 40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off. 41 You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity. 42 The cricket[c] shall possess all your trees and the fruit of your ground. 43 The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

45 “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. 46 They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you. 49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand, 50 a hard-faced nation who shall not respect the old or show mercy to the young. 51 It shall eat the offspring of your cattle and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed; it also shall not leave you grain, wine, or oil, the increase of your herds or the young of your flock, until they have caused you to perish.

52 “They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the Lord your God has given you. 53 And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. 54 The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces, and to the last of the children whom he has left, 55 so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. 56 The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter, 57 her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.

58 “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, 59 then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. 60 And he will bring upon you again all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. 61 Every sickness also and every affliction that is not recorded in the book of this law, the Lord will bring upon you, until you are destroyed. 62 Whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God. 63 And as the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

64 “And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. 65 And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the Lord will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. 66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life. 67 In the morning you shall say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and at evening you shall say, ‘If only it were morning!’ because of the dread that your heart shall feel, and the sights that your eyes shall see. 68 And the Lord will bring you back in ships to Egypt, a journey that I promised that you should never make again; and there you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.”

Deuteronomy 29

The Covenant Renewed in Moab

Deuteronomy 29 1 These are the words of the covenant that the LORD commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb.

2 And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 3 the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. 4 But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. 5 I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. 6 You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the LORD your God. 7 And when you came to this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon and Og the king of Bashan came out against us to battle, but we defeated them. 8 We took their land and gave it for an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of the Manassites. 9 Therefore keep the words of this covenant and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

10 “You are standing today all of you before the LORD your God: the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11 your little ones, your wives, and the sojourner who is in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, 12 so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the LORD your God, which the LORD your God is making with you today, 13 that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 14 It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, 15 but with whoever is standing here with us today before the LORD our God, and with whoever is not here with us today.

16 “You know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed. 17 And you have seen their detestable things, their idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold, which were among them. 18 Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, 19 one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. 20 The LORD will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. 21 And the LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law. 22 And the next generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the LORD has made it sick— 23 the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger and wrath— 24 all the nations will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’ 25 Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, 26 and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them. 27 Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, 28 and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.’

29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

The Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

How I Learned the Difference Between Belief THAT and Belief IN

By J. Warner Wallace 2/13/2017

     I got the call at about 1:00 a.m. Detectives who are assigned to the homicide unit also investigate officer-involved shootings (OISs), and all of us on the OIS team were called out for this one. When I arrived at the scene, Officer Mark Walker was standing by his patrol car talking with a sergeant and waiting for our arrival. I shook his hand, made sure he was ready to talk about the shooting, and began to walk through the events that precipitated our “callout.”

     Mark told me that he was working patrol when he saw a man driving down the street, swerving from lane to lane as though he was drunk. He pulled the driver over and approached his car. When he leaned in to talk to the man, he could smell the alcohol on his breath. Mark asked the man to step out from the car, and the driver reluctantly complied. As the man stood outside his car, Mark could see that he was angry and defiant. Mark decided to conduct a quick “pat-down” search to make sure the irritated driver wasn’t carrying any weapons. Mark had no idea that the driver was Jacob Stevens, a parolee with a long arrest record in an adjacent city. Jacob had just been released from state prison. He was on parole for an assault charge, and tonight he was carrying a loaded Colt .45-caliber pistol hidden in his waistband. Jacob knew that he would go back to jail if the gun was discovered, and he was determined to stay out of jail.

     When Mark asked Jacob Stevens to turn around so he could conduct the pat-down search, Jacob turned away for a moment, pulled his gun, and then turned back toward Mark, pointing the gun at Mark’s chest.

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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.

Veggie Tales, Moralism, and Modern Preaching

By Michael J. Kruger 3/6/2017

     A number of years ago, my kids were into Veggie Tales. And, truthfully, so was I. It was actually quite enjoyable to watch these charming videos, cataloging the journeys of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, et al. Indeed, I could probably recite the opening song word for word.

     The other day, my daughter Emma (who is now 16) told that she had heard some folks critiquing Veggie Tales as just “moralism” and not something Christians should let their kids be watching. So, she asked me what I thought about that.

     This sort of critique reminded of an interview several years ago with World Magazine in which the creator of Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer, expressed regret over the “moralism” of Veggie Tales:

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Books by Michael J. Kruger:

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Note, I really enjoyed this book.)
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives
The Early Text of the New Testament

What the Bible Says About Not Being So Stressed Out

By Cara Joyner 1/19/2017

     Years ago, Mad TV did a skit with Bob Newhart where he played a psychologist. A new client walked into his office and began to share her fears. He listened carefully, rocking back in his chair before saying that he wanted her to pay close attention while he told her two words that would solve all her problems. She grabbed a pen and paper and prepared to take notes. Newhart, who had been quiet and reserved up to this point, suddenly yelled, “Stop it! Just, stop it!”

     As funny as the skit is, it can strike an unsettling cord. To someone who is overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, the well-meaning advice that is often given, particularly by Christians, is to simply “stop worrying and trust God.” It is almost never that simple.

     I used to believe anxiety was a sinful sign of my lack of faith, so I ignored it.

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     Cara Joyner: I'm a mama of four - three in my arms and one in my heart. Most days are filled with an over-consumption of coffee, wrangling our not-so-organized chaos, and pretending that I'm going to put away laundry.

     These boys have been the center of my energy for the last five years, but they're now sharing a few pieces with graduate school as I finish up my Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Wake Forest University. In addition to writing and speaking, I work as a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and Professional Doula. As a writer, my featured work can be found at RELEVANT, iBelieve, Today's Christian Woman & Lamaze International.


What 2016 Taught Me About God

By Cara Joyner 1/18/2017

     I took this picture last August from our balcony at the beach. A powerful storm was coming off the shore, pushing over the sea. We had been stretched out in the sun just an hour earlier; but in a matter of minutes, tents were broken down, chairs were cleared and a surf full of children was left empty. Thunderstorms aren't a rare phenomenon for most of us, but we experience them differently at the beach. We notice the changes that come before - the temperature drops, the water stirs, the clouds darken. At home, obviously those signs don't go unseen, but they have our full attention on a stage like this. Nothing is obstructing our view and all we can do is watch and wait and wonder.

     The months leading up to vacation had felt like this moment, living life on the outer edge of a storm - weeks in the overcast, weeks in the rain, moments in the sun - deeply grateful for what we had while desperately trying to not to break under compounding pressure. Like that afternoon at the beach, the air felt different for most of 2016. That colder, darker, less stable place - it was is if we were living there. And as the election progressed and the year wore on, it seemed like everyone was living there.

     For the Joyners, much of 2016 was bands of rain hitting us in the face, but we were safe and the road out wasn't too long. We saw broken transmissions and flooded basements and empty bank accounts. We saw emergency rooms visits and surgery and a long cycle of rotating household germs. In July, the sky grew darker with the death of my grandmother, a pain that continues to linger today, as I expect it always will.

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     Cara Joyner: I'm a mama of four - three in my arms and one in my heart. Most days are filled with an over-consumption of coffee, wrangling our not-so-organized chaos, and pretending that I'm going to put away laundry.

     These boys have been the center of my energy for the last five years, but they're now sharing a few pieces with graduate school as I finish up my Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Wake Forest University. In addition to writing and speaking, I work as a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and Professional Doula. As a writer, my featured work can be found at RELEVANT, iBelieve, Today's Christian Woman & Lamaze International.


Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 28

28 Of David.

6 Blessed be the LORD!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.

8 The LORD is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

ESV Study Bible

Deuteronomy 28:20-68

By Don Carson 6/23/2018

     There are not many passages in the Bible more fearsome than Deuteronomy 28:20-68. What the text depicts is the judgments that will befall the people of God if they disobey the terms of the covenant and rebel against God, if they “do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name — the LORD your God” (Deut. 28:58).

Deuteronomy 28:20-68 20 “The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. 21 The LORD will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 22 The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. 23 And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. 24 The LORD will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

25 “The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away. 27 The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed. 28 The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind,
  ESV

     There are many striking elements about these judgments. Two occupy our attention here.

     First, all the judgments depicted could be interpreted by the secular mind as the accidents of changing political and social circumstance, or, within a pagan worldview, as the outworking of various malign gods. On the face of it, the judgments all take place in the “natural” world: wasting disease, drought, famine, military defeat, boils, poverty, vassal status under a superior power, devastating swarms of locusts, economic misfortunes, captivity, slavery, the horrible ravages of prolonged sieges, decrease in numbers, dispersal once again among the nations. In other words, there is no judgment that sounds like some obviously supernatural “Zap!” from heaven. So those who have given up on listening to God’s words are in the horrible position of suffering the punishments they do not believe come from him.

     That is part of the judgment they face: they endure judgment, but so hardened is their unbelief that even such judgment they cannot assess for what it is. The blessings they had enjoyed had been granted by God’s gracious pleasure, and they failed to receive them as gifts from God; the curses they now endure are imposed by God’s righteous pleasure (Deut. 28:63), and still they fail to recognize them as judgments from God. The blindness is systemic, consistent, humanly incurable.

Deut. 28:63 And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.   ESV

     Second, God’s judgments extend beyond externally imposed tragedies to minds that are unhinged — in part by the sheer scale of the loss, but in any case by God himself. The Lord will give these people “an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life” (Deut. 28:65-66). This God not only controls the externals of history, but also the minds and emotions of those who fall under his judgment.

Deut. 28:65-66 And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. 66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life.   ESV

     Before such a God, it is unimaginable folly to try to hide or outwit him. What we must do is repent and cast ourselves on his mercy, asking him for the grace to follow in honest obedience, quick to perceive the sheer horror of rebellion, with eyes open to take in both God’s providential goodness and his providential judgment. We must see God’s hand; we must weigh everything with an unswerving God-centeredness in our interpretive focus.

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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

Deuteronomy 29

By Don Carson 6/24/2018

     “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29). The two principal points bear reflection.

     First, the responsibility of the covenant community in this matter is to focus on the things that God has revealed. They not only belong “to us and to our children forever,” but were given to us in order “that we may follow all the words of this law.” That is the fundamental purpose of placing this text at the end of a long chapter on covenant renewal. True, we cannot know many hidden things. But what has been revealed to us — in this context, the terms of the Mosaic Covenant, with all their vast potential for blessing and judgment — is what must capture our interest and devoted obedience.

     Second, we must frankly admit that some things are hidden from our eyes. We really do not understand, for instance, the relationships between time and eternity, nor do we have much of an idea how the God who inhabits eternity discloses himself to us in our finite, space/time history. It is revealed that he does; we have various words to describe certain elements of this disclosure (e.g., Incarnation, accommodation). But we do not know how. We do not know how God can be both personal and sovereign/transcendent; we do not know how the one God can be triune.

     Yet in none of these cases is this a subtle appeal to ignorance, or an irresponsible hiding behind the irrational or the mystical. When we admit — indeed, insist — that there are mysteries about these matters, we do not admit they are nonsensical or self-contradictory. Rather, we are saying that we do not know enough, and we admit our ignorance. What God has not disclosed of himself we cannot know. The secret things belong to God.

     Indeed, because of the contrast in the text, the implication is that it would be presumptuous to claim we do know, or even to spend too much time trying to find out — lest we should be presuming on God’s exclusive terrain. Some things may be temporarily hidden to induce us to search: Proverbs 25:2 tells us it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search a matter out, to get to the bottom of things. But that is not a universal rule: the very first sin involved trying to know some hidden things and thus be like God. In such cases, the path of wisdom is reverent worship of him who knows all things, and careful adherence to what he has graciously disclosed.

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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

Why Would an Infinite Creator Employ the Same Designs?

By Dr. Fazale Rana 12/21/2016

     Because I am a Christian, I see evidence for design in the biological realm. But for me, the converse is also true. Because I see design in the biological realm, I am a Christian. In fact, the elegant designs of biochemical systems convinced me as a graduate student that a Creator must exist and be responsible for life’s origin, paving the way for my conversion to Christianity.

     “Yet, many skeptics see the features of biological systems very differently than I do. They maintain that life’s origin, design, and diversity are best explained as the outworking of evolutionary processes. As evidence for this view, biologists point to the shared biological and biochemical features (homologies) possessed by organisms that naturally group or cluster together.

     Homologous features may perform different functions and superficially appear different, yet they are fundamentally built around the same design. The quintessential example of a biological homology is the vertebrate forelimb—the human hand, the whale’s flipper, a dog’s paw, a bird’s wing, etc. Though these forelimbs are structurally distinct and perform different biological tasks, they are fundamentally built around the same design. The forelimb of every vertebrate consists of a long bone (humerus) in the arm, an elbow, two bones in the forearm (the radius and ulna), wrist bones (carpals), bones in the “hand” (metacarpals), and “fingers” (phalanges).

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Lord, Free Me from the Fear of Death

By Jon Bloom 3/7/2017

     Jesus has a deep, intense desire to give you a gift so great you do not yet have the capacities to conceive of it (1 Corinthians 2:9). But you do catch glimpses of it in biblical metaphors and imagery, and in sublime moments when an experience of glory briefly transcends anything else here on earth.

     “Jesus longs so intensely for you to have this gift that he pleads with the Father to give it to you:

     “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)

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

     John Bloom Books |  Go to Books Page

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     24. To some it seems harsh, and at variance with the divine mercy, utterly to deny forgiveness to any who retake themselves to it. This is easily disposed of. It is not said that pardon will be refused if they turn to the Lord, but it is altogether denied that they can turn to repentance, inasmuch as for their ingratitude they are struck by the just judgment of God with eternal blindness. There is nothing contrary to this in the application which is afterwards made of the example of Esau, who tried in vain, by crying and tears, to recover his lost birthright; nor in the denunciation of the Prophet, "They cried, and I would not hear." Such modes of expression do not denote true conversion or calling upon God, but that anxiety with which the wicked, when in calamity, are compelled to see what they before securely disregarded--viz. that nothing can avail but the assistance of the Lord. This, however, they do not so much implore as lament the loss of. Hence all that the Prophet means by crying, and the apostle by tears, is the dreadful torment which stings and excruciates the wicked in despair. It is of consequence carefully to observe this: for otherwise God would be inconsistent with himself when he proclaims through the Prophet, that "If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has committed,"--"he shall surely live, he shall not die," (Ezek. 18:21, 22). And (as I have already said) it is certain that the mind of man cannot be changed for the better unless by his preventing grace. The promise as to those who call upon him will never fail; but the names of conversion and prayer are improperly given to that blind torment by which the reprobate are distracted when they see that they must seek God if they would find a remedy for their calamities, and yet shun to approach him.

25. But as the Apostle declares that God is not appeased by feigned repentance, it is asked how Ahab obtained pardon, and averted the punishment denounced against him (1 Kings 21:28, 29), seeing, it appears, he was only amazed on the sudden, and afterwards continued his former course of life. He, indeed, clothed himself in sackcloth, covered himself with ashes, lay on the ground, and (as the testimony given to him bears) humbled himself before God. It was a small matter to rend his garments while his heart continued obstinate and swollen with wickedness, and yet we see that God was inclined to mercy. I answer, that though hypocrites are thus occasionally spared for a time, the wrath of God still lies upon them, and that they are thus spared not so much on their own account as for a public example. For what did Ahab gain by the mitigation of his punishment except that he did not suffer it alive on the earth? The curse of God, though concealed, was fixed on his house, and he himself went to eternal destruction. We may see the same thing in Esau (Gen. 27:38, 39). For though he met with a refusal, a temporal blessing was granted to his tears. But as, according to the declaration of God, the spiritual inheritance could be possessed only by one of the brothers, when Jacob was selected instead of Esau, that event excluded him from the divine mercy; but still there was given to him, as a man of a groveling nature, this consolation, that he should be filled with the fulness of the earth and the dew of heaven. And this, as I lately said, should be regarded as done for the example of others, that we may learn to apply our minds, and exert ourselves with greater alacrity, in the way of sincere repentance, as there cannot be the least doubt that God will be ready to pardon those who turn to him truly and with the heart, seeing his mercy extends even to the unworthy though they bear marks of his displeasure. In this way also, we are taught how dreadful the judgment is which awaits all the rebellious who with audacious brow and iron heart make it their sport to despise and disregard the divine threatening. God in this way often stretched forth his hand to deliver the Israelites from their calamities, though their cries were pretended, and their minds double and perfidious, as he himself complains in the Psalms, that they immediately returned to their former course (Psalm 78:36, 37). But he designed thus by kindness and forbearance to bring them to true repentance, or leave them without excuse. And yet by remitting the punishment for a time, he does not lay himself under any perpetual obligation. He rather at times rises with greater severity against hypocrites, and doubles their punishment, that it may thereby appear how much hypocrisy displeases him. But, as I have observed, he gives some examples of his inclination to pardon, that the pious may thereby be stimulated to amend their lives, and the pride of those who petulantly kick against the pricks be more severely condemned.

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[304] The French adds in explanation, "C'est à dire, que cela s'accorde bien, que nous ne soyons pas sans bonnes oeuvres, et toutesfois que nous soyons reputés justes sans bonnes oeuvres;"--That is to say, that the two propositions are quite consistent--viz. that we are not without good works, and yet that we are accounted righteous without works.

[305] Latin, "Initialis timor," which is thus paraphrased by the French: "Et c'est une erainte comme on la voit aux petits enfans, qui ne sont point gouvernés par arison;"--And it is a fear such as we see in little children, who are not governed by reason.

[306] Gen. 4:13; 1 Sam. 15:30; Matt. 27:3, 4.

[307] 2 Kings 20:2; Isa. 37:2; Jonah 3:5; 2 Sam. 24:10; 12:13, 16; Acts 2:37; Mt. 26:75; Luke 22:62

[308] Mt 3:2; 1 Sam. 7:8; Luke 3:8; Rom. 6:4; Acts 26:20.

[309] French, "une regeneration spirituelle;"--a spiritual regeneration.

[310] 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:23, 24; Col. 3:10; 2 Cor. 4:16.

[311] See August. ad Bonif. Lib. 4 et cont. Julianum, Lib. 1 and 2. See also Serm. 6, de Verbis Apost. See also Calv. cont. Pighium, and Calv. ad Conc. Trident.

[312] Latin, "Reatus."--the imputation of sin.

[313] See Calvin, adv. Libertinos, cap. 18.

[314] French, "Circonstances qui convenoyent specialement alore;"--circumstances which were then specially suitable.

[315] French, "Fust la coustume de ce temps-la, et ne nous appartienne aujourduhui de rien;"--was the custom of that time, and we have nowadays nothing to do with it.

[316] The French adds, "Soit de guerre, de famine, ou de pestilence;"--whether of war, famine, or pestilence.

[317] Latin, "Calamitosis temporibus peculiariter destinari."--French, "Convient particulierement a ceux qui veulent testifier quils se recognoissant avoir merité l'ire de Dieu, et neantmoins requierent pardon de sa clemence;"--is particularly suitable to those who acknowledge they have deserved the wrath of God, and yet seek pardon of his mercy.

[318] The French adds, "pource qu'il lui est propre, et comme naturel, de sauver ce que est perdu;"--because it is proper, and as it were natural to him to save that which is lost

[319] Isiah 56:1; 59:20; 55:6, 7; Acts 2:38; 3:19.

[320] This is to be found in different passages of his work, and often in the Phaido.

[321] French, "L'Eglise primitive du temps des Apostres;"--the primitive Church of the Apostles' time.

[322] The French adds, "Et ce non seulement au regard d'un jour. mais de tout le cours de notre vocation;"--and this in regard not only to a single day, but to the whole course of our vocation.

[323] August. Lib. de Correp. et Gratia, cap. 12

[324] The Greek is "tou pneu'matos blasphemi'a" This Calvin translates in Latin, "Spiritum blasphemiæ,", and in French, "Esprit de blaspheme."

[325] The omission of this last clause in the French seems to be an improvement.

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     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

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

By John Bunyan 1678

THE SIXTH STAGE

     Gaius also proceeded, and said, I will now speak on the behalf of women, to take away their reproach. For as death and the curse came into the world by a woman,

Genesis 3 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The LORD God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
but he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”


20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
  ESV

so also did life and health: God sent forth his Son, made of a woman.

Gal. 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,   ESV

Yea, to show how much they that came after did abhor the act of the mother, this sex in the Old Testament coveted children, if happily this or that woman might be the mother of the Saviour of the world. I will say again, that when the Saviour was come, women rejoiced in him, before either man or angel.

Luke 1:42–46 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”   ESV

I read not that ever any man did give unto Christ so much as one groat; but the women followed him, and ministered to him of their substance.

Luke 8:2-3 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.   ESV

’Twas a woman that washed his feet with tears,

Luke 7:37–50 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
  ESV

and a woman that anointed his body at the burial.

John 11:2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.   ESV

John 12:3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.   ESV

They were women who wept when he was going to the cross,

Luke 23:27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him.   ESV

and women that followed him from the cross,

Matt. 27:55-56 55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.   ESV

Luke 23:55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid.   ESV

and sat over against his sepulchre when he was buried.

Matt. 27:61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.   ESV

They were women that were first with him at his resurrection-morn,

Luke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.   ESV

and women that brought tidings first to his disciples that he was risen from the dead.

Luke 24:22-23 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.   ESV

Women therefore are highly favored, and show by these things that they are sharers with us in the grace of life.

     Now the cook sent up to signify that supper was almost ready, and sent one to lay the cloth, and the trenchers, and to set the salt and bread in order.

     Then said Matthew, The sight of this cloth, and of this forerunner of the supper, begetteth in me a greater appetite for my food than I had before.

     GAIUS. So let all ministering doctrines to thee in this life beget in thee a greater desire to sit at the supper of the great King in his kingdom; for all preaching, books, and ordinances here, are but as the laying of the trenchers, and the setting of salt upon the board, when compared with the feast which our Lord will make for us when we come to his house.

     So supper came up. And first a heave-shoulder and a wave-breast were set on the table before them; to show that they must begin their meal with prayer and praise to God. The heave-shoulder David lifted up his heart to God with; and with the wave-breast, where his heart lay, he used to lean upon his harp when he played.

Lev. 7:32–34 32 And the right thigh you shall give to the priest as a contribution from the sacrifice of your peace offerings. 33 Whoever among the sons of Aaron offers the blood of the peace offerings and the fat shall have the right thigh for a portion. 34 For the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed I have taken from the people of Israel, out of the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons, as a perpetual due from the people of Israel.   ESV

Lev. 10:14-15 14 But the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed you shall eat in a clean place, you and your sons and your daughters with you, for they are given as your due and your sons’ due from the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the people of Israel. 15 The thigh that is contributed and the breast that is waved they shall bring with the food offerings of the fat pieces to wave for a wave offering before the LORD, and it shall be yours and your sons’ with you as a due forever, as the LORD has commanded.”   ESV

Psalm 25:1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.   ESV

Heb. 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.   ESV

These two dishes were very fresh and good, and they all ate heartily thereof.

     The next they brought up was a bottle of wine, as red as blood.

Deut. 32:14 Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock,
with fat of lambs,
rams of Bashan and goats,
with the very finest of the wheat—
and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape.
  ESV

Judges 9:13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’   ESV

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.   ESV

So Gaius said to them, Drink freely; this is the true juice of the vine, that makes glad the heart of God and man. So they drank and were merry.

     The next was a dish of milk well crumbed; Gaius said, Let the boys have that, that they may grow thereby.

1 Pet. 2:1-2 1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—   ESV

     Then they brought up in course a dish of butter and honey. Then said Gaius, Eat freely of this, for this is good to cheer up and strengthen your judgments and understandings. This was our Lord’s dish when he was a child: “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.”

Isa. 7:15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.   ESV

     Then they brought them up a dish of apples, and they were very good-tasted fruit. Then said Matthew, May we eat apples, since it was such by and with which the serpent beguiled our first mother?

     Then said Gaius,

“Apples were they with which we were beguil’d,
Yet sin, not apples, hath our souls defil’d:
Apples forbid, if ate, corrupt the blood;
To eat such, when commanded, does us good:
Drink of his flagons then, thou church, his dove,
And eat his apples, who art sick of love.”

     Then said Matthew, I made the scruple, because I a while since was sick with the eating of fruit.

     GAIUS. Forbidden fruit will make you sick; but not what our Lord has tolerated.

     While they were thus talking, they were presented with another dish, and it was a dish of nuts.

Song 6:11 I went down to the nut orchard
to look at the blossoms of the valley,
to see whether the vines had budded,
whether the pomegranates were in bloom.
  ESV


Then said some at the table, Nuts spoil tender teeth, especially the teeth of children: which when Gaius heard, he said,

“Hard texts are nuts, (I will not call them cheaters,)
Whose shells do keep the kernel from the eaters:
Open the shells, and you shall have the meat;
They here are brought for you to crack and eat.”

     Then were they very merry, and sat at the table a long time, talking of many things. Then said the old gentleman, My good landlord, while we are cracking your nuts, if you please, do you open this riddle:

“A man there was, though some did count him mad,
The more he cast away, the more he had.”

     Then they all gave good heed, wondering what good Gaius would say; so he sat still a while, and then thus replied:

“He who bestows his goods upon the poor,
Shall have as much again, and ten times more.”

     Then said Joseph, I dare say, sir, I did not think you could have found it out.

     Oh, said Gaius, I have been trained up in this way a great while: nothing teaches like experience. I have learned of my Lord to be kind, and have found by experience that I have gained thereby. There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty: There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing; there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

Prov. 11:24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
  ESV


Prov. 13:7 One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
  ESV


     Then Samuel whispered to Christiana, his mother, and said, Mother, this is a very good man’s house: let us stay here a good while, and let my brother Matthew be married here to Mercy, before we go any further. The which Gaius the host overhearing, said, With a very good will, my child.

     So they stayed there more than a month, and Mercy was given to Matthew to wife.

     While they stayed here, Mercy, as her custom was, would be making coats and garments to give to the poor, by which she brought a very good report upon the pilgrims.

     But to return again to our story: After supper the lads desired a bed, for they were weary with travelling: Then Gaius called to show them their chamber; but said Mercy, I will have them to bed. So she had them to bed, and they slept well: but the rest sat up all night; for Gaius and they were such suitable company, that they could not tell how to part. After much talk of their Lord, themselves, and their journey, old Mr. Honest, he that put forth the riddle to Gaius, began to nod. Then said Great-Heart, What, sir, you begin to be drowsy; come, rub up, now here is a riddle for you. Then said Mr. Honest, Let us hear it. Then replied Mr. Great-heart,

“He that would kill, must first be overcome:
Who live abroad would, first must die at home.”

     Ha, said Mr. Honest, it is a hard one; hard to expound, and harder to practise. But come, landlord, said he, I will, if you please, leave my part to you: do you expound it, and I will hear what you say.

     No, said Gaius, it was put to you, and it is expected you should answer it. Then said the old gentleman,

     “He first by grace must conquered be,

That sin would mortify;
Who that he lives would convince me,
Unto himself must die.”

     It is right, said Gaius; good doctrine and experience teach this. For, first, until grace displays itself, and overcomes the soul with its glory, it is altogether without heart to oppose sin. Besides, if sin is Satan’s cords, by which the soul lies bound, how should it make resistance before it is loosed from that infirmity? Secondly, Nor will any one that knows either reason or grace, believe that such a man can be a living monument of grace that is a slave to his own corruptions. And now it comes into my mind, I will tell you a story worth the hearing. There were two men that went on pilgrimage; the one began when he was young, the other when he was old.

     The young man had strong corruptions to grapple with; the old man’s were weak with the decays of nature. The young man trod his steps as even as did the old one, and was every way as light as he. Who now, or which of them, had their graces shining clearest, since both seemed to be alike?

     HON. The young man’s, doubtless. For that which makes head against the greatest opposition, gives best demonstration that it is strongest; especially when it also holdeth pace with that which meets not with half so much, as to be sure old age does not. Besides, I have observed that old men have blessed themselves with this mistake; namely, taking the decays of nature for a gracious conquest over corruptions, and so have been apt to beguile themselves. Indeed, old men that are gracious are best able to give advice to them that are young, because they have seen most of the emptiness of things: but yet, for an old and a young man to set out both together, the young one has the advantage of the fairest discovery of a work of grace within him, though the old man’s corruptions are naturally the weakest. Thus they sat talking till break of day.

     Now, when the family were up, Christiana bid her son James that he should read a chapter; so he read 53d of Isaiah. When he had done, Mr. Honest asked why it was said that the Saviour was to come “out of a dry ground;” and also, that “he had no form nor comeliness in him.”

Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
  ESV


     GREAT. Then said Mr. Great-Heart, To the first I answer, because the church of the Jews, of which Christ came, had then lost almost all the sap and spirit of religion. To the second I say, the words are spoken in the person of unbelievers, who, because they want the eye that can see into our Prince’s heart, therefore they judge of him by the meanness of his outside; just like those who, not knowing that precious stones are covered over with a homely crust, when they have found one, because they know not what they have found, cast it away again, as men do a common stone.

     Well, said Gaius, now you are here, and since, as I know, Mr. Great-Heart is good at his weapons, if you please, after we have refreshed ourselves, we will walk into the fields, to see if we can do any good. About a mile from hence there is one Slay-good, a giant, that doth much annoy the King’s highway in these parts; and I know whereabout his haunt is. He is master of a number of thieves: ’t would be well if we could clear these parts of him. So they consented and went: Mr. Great-Heart with his sword, helmet, and shield; and the rest with spears and staves.

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


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#1 John Piper | Desiring God

 

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     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Take better care of your body
     3/8/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Honour God with your body.’

(1 Co 6:20) for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ESV

     Unless you get into better shape physically, you may go to heaven sooner than you planned. The Bible says, ‘Honour God with your body.’ How do you do that? 1) Change your diet. Many of us eat for the wrong reasons – like stress, boredom, fatigue, anger, depression, and low self-esteem. Try to get to the root of your problem. Insufficient fruit, vegetables, and fibre, and too much fast food can wreak havoc with your health. Practise self-control. ‘Those who belong to Christ…have given up their old selfish feelings and…things they wanted to do’ (Galatians 5:24 NCV). 2) Start exercising. The secret is to start slowly. Take the stairs instead of the lift, park your car and walk, play ball with your kids instead of watching TV. God designed your body to move, and that doesn’t mean strolling from your car to your desk every morning. Exercising three times a week for thirty minutes will reduce your blood pressure and stress, and boost your sense of well-being. Come on, get with it! 3) Go to bed earlier. Pastor Tony Jenkins consulted his doctor about his wife’s snoring. ‘Does it really bother you that much?’ the doctor asked. ‘It’s not just me,’ Jenkins replied. ‘It’s bothering the whole congregation!’ Seriously, you require eight hours of shut-eye. You can probably get by on less, but do you want to just ‘get by’? The psalmist said, ‘It is no use…to get up early and stay up late…The Lord gives sleep to those he loves’ (Psalm 127:2 NCV). So, turn off the TV and the computer and turn in at a reasonable hour. The word for you today is: take better care of your body!

Numbers 13-14
Mark 6:1-29

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Known as THE GREAT DISSENTER because of his unconventional opinions, he served for thirty years on the Supreme Court. Who was he? Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., born this day, March 8, 1841. A Union soldier during the Civil War, he went on to become a Harvard Law School Professor. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served to a more advanced age than other justice. On his 90th birthday, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., replied to a reporter: “Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered I was not God.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     And we are unhappy, uneasy, strained, oppressed, and fearful we shall be shallow. For over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. Strained by the very mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If only we could slip over into that Center! If only we could find the Silence which is the source of sound! We have seen and known some people who seem to have found this deep Center of living, where the fretful calls of life are integrated, where No as well as Yes can be said with confidence. We've seen such lives, integrated, unworried by the tangles of close decisions, unhurried, cheery, fresh, positive. These are not people of dallying idleness nor of obviously mooning meditation; they are busy carrying their full load as well as we, but without any chafing of the shoulders with the burden, with quiet joy and springing step. Surrounding the trifles of their daily life is an aura of infinite peace and power and joy. We are so strained and tense, with our burdened lives; they are so poised and at peace.

     If the Society of Friends has anything to say, it lies in this region primarily. Life is meant to be lived from a Center, a divine Center. Each one of us can live such a life of amazing power and peace and serenity, of integration and confidence and simplified multiplicity, on one condition-that is, if we really want to. There is a divine Abyss within us all, a holy Infinite Center, a Heart, a Life who speaks in us and through us to the world. We have all heard this holy Whisper at times. At times we have followed the Whisper, and amazing equilibrium of life, amazing effectiveness of living set in. But too many of us have heeded the Voice only at times. Only at times have we submitted to His holy guidance. We have not counted this Holy Thing within us to be the most precious thing in the world. We have not surrendered all else, to attend to it alone. Let me repeat. Most of us, I fear, have not surrendered all else, in order to attend to the Holy Within.

     John Woolman did. He resolved so to order his outward affairs as to be, at every moment, attentive to that voice. He simplified life on the basis of its relation to the divine Center. Nothing else really counted so much as attentiveness to that Root of all living which he found within himself. And the Quaker discovery lies in just that: the welling-up whispers of divine guidance and love and presence, more, precious than heaven or earth. John Woolman never let the demands of his business grow beyond his real needs. When too many customers came, he sent them elsewhere, to more needy merchants and tailors. His outward life became simplified on the basis of an inner integration. He found that we can be heaven-led men and women, and he surrendered himself completely, unreservedly to that blessed leading, keeping warm and close to the Center.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Rick Adams


Faith is to believe what you do not see;
the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
--- Saint Augustine
A Place Of Faith: When There Is Nowhere Else To Go


In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
--- Albert Schweitzer
First Thing Every Morning: Turn Your Life Around One Day at a Time

Not for yourself, O church, do you exist, any more than Christ existed for himself.
--- Charles Spurgeon
Christ's Words from the Cross

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.
--- Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass
... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 3/8
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     Twenty-eighth eleventh month. -- This day I attended the Quarterly Meeting in Bucks County. In the meeting of ministers and elders my heart was enlarged in the love of Jesus Christ, and the favor of the Most High was extended to us in that and the ensuing meeting.

     I had conversation at my lodging with my beloved friend Samuel Eastburn, who expressed a concern to join in a visit to some Friends in that county who had negroes, and as I had felt a drawing in my mind to the said work, I came home and put things in order. On 11th of twelfth month I went over the river, and on the next day was at Buckingham Meeting, where, through the descendings of heavenly dew, my mind was comforted and drawn into a near unity with the flock of Jesus Christ.

     (The following is really powerful!)

     Entering upon this business appeared weighty, and before I left home my mind was often sad, under which exercise I felt at times the Holy Spirit which helps our infirmities, and through which my prayers were at times put up to God in private that he would be pleased to purge me from all selfishness, that I might be strengthened to discharge my duty faithfully, how hard so ever to the natural part. We proceeded on the visit in a weighty frame of spirit, and went to the houses of the most active members who had negroes throughout the county. Through the goodness of the Lord my mind was preserved in resignation in times of trial, and though the work was hard to nature, yet through the strength of that love which is stronger than death, tenderness of heart was often felt amongst us in our visits, and we parted from several families with greater satisfaction than we expected.

     We visited Joseph White's family, he being in England; we had also a family-sitting at the house of an elder who bore us company, and were at Makefield on a first day: at all which times my heart was truly thankful to the Lord who was graciously pleased to renew his loving-kindness to us, his poor servants, uniting us together in his work.

     In the winter of this year, the small-pox being in our town, and many being inoculated, of whom a few died, some things were opened in my mind, which I wrote as follows: -- The more fully our lives are conformable to the will of God, the better it is for us; I have looked on the small-pox as a messenger from the Almighty, to be an assistant in the cause of virtue, and to incite us to consider whether we employ our time only in such things as are consistent with perfect wisdom and goodness. Building houses suitable to dwell in, for ourselves and our creatures; preparing clothing suitable for the climate and season, and food convenient, are all duties incumbent on us. And under these general heads are many branches of business in which we may venture health and life, as necessity may require.

     This disease being in a house, and my business calling me to go near it, incites me to consider whether this is a real indispensable duty; whether it is not in conformity to some custom which would be better laid aside, or, whether it does not proceed from too eager a pursuit after some outward treasure. If the business before me springs not from a clear understanding and a regard to that use of things which perfect wisdom approves, to be brought to a sense of it and stopped in my pursuit is a kindness, for when I proceed to business without some evidence of duty, I have found by experience that it tends to weakness.

     If I am so situated that there appears no probability of missing the infection, it tends to make me think whether my manner of life in things outward has nothing in it which may unfit my body to receive this messenger in a way the most favorable to me. Do I use food and drink in no other sort and in no other degree than was designed by Him who gave these creatures for our sustenance? Do I never abuse my body by inordinate labor, striving to accomplish some end which I have unwisely proposed? Do I use action enough in some useful employ, or do I sit too much idle while some persons who labor to support me have too great a share of it? If in any of these things I am deficient, to be incited to consider it is a favor to me. Employment is necessary in social life, and this infection, which often proves mortal, incites me to think whether these social acts of mine are real duties. If I go on a visit to the widows and fatherless, do I go purely on a principle of charity, free from any selfish views? If I go to a religious meeting it puts me on thinking whether I go in sincerity and in a clear sense of duty, or whether it is not partly in conformity to custom, or partly from a sensible delight which my animal spirits feel in the company of other people, and whether to support my reputation as a religious man has no share in it.

     Do affairs relating to civil society call me near this infection? If I go, it is at the hazard of my health and life, and it becomes me to think seriously whether love to truth and righteousness is the motive of my attending; whether the mannner of proceeding is altogether equitable, or whether aught of narrowness, party interest, respect to outward dignities, names, or distinctions among men, do not stain the beauty of those assemblies, and render it doubtful; in point of duty, whether a disciple of Christ ought to attend as a member united to the body or not. Whenever there are blemishes which for a series of time remain such, that which is a means of stirring us up to look attentively on these blemishes, and to labor according to our capacities, to have health and soundness restored in our country, we may justly account a kindness from our gracious Father, who appointed that means.

     The care of a wise and good man for his only son is inferior to the regard of the great Parent of the universe for his creatures. He hath the command of all the powers and operations in nature, and "doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." Chastisement is intended for instruction, and instruction being received by gentle chastisement, greater calamities are prevented. By an earthquake hundreds of houses are sometimes shaken down in a few minutes, multitudes of people perish suddenly, and many more, being crushed and bruised in the ruins of the buildings, pine away and die in great misery.

     By the breaking in of enraged merciless armies, flourishing countries have been laid waste, great numbers of people have perished in a short time, and many more have been pressed with poverty and grief. By the pestilence, people have died so fast in a city, that, through fear, grief, and confusion, those in health have found great difficulty in burying the dead, even without coffins. By famine, great numbers of people in some places have been brought to the utmost distress, and have pined away from want of the necessaries of life. Thus, when the kind invitations and gentle chastisements of a gracious God have not been attended to, his sore judgments have at times been poured out upon people.

     While some rules approved in civil society and conformable to human policy, so called, are distinguishable from the purity of truth and righteousness, -- while many professing the truth are declining from that ardent love and heavenly-mindedness which was amongst the primitive followers of Jesus Christ, it is time for us to attend diligently to the intent of every chastisement, and to consider the most deep and inward design of them.

     The Most High doth not often speak with an outward voice to our outward ears, but if we humbly meditate on his perfections, consider that he is perfect wisdom and goodness, and that to afflict his creatures to no purpose would be utterly averse to his nature, we shall hear and understand his language both in his gentle and more heavy chastisements, and shall take heed that we do not, in the wisdom of this world, endeavor to escape his hand by means too powerful for us.

     "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things, and do them, and the God of peace shall be with you."

     Had he endowed men with understanding to prevent this disease (the small-pox) by means which had never proved hurtful nor mortal, such a discovery might be considered as the period of chastisement by this distemper, where that knowledge extended. But as life and health are his gifts, and are not to be disposed of in our own wills, to take upon us by inoculation when in health a disorder of which some die, requires great clearness of knowledge that it is our duty to do so.

John Woolman's Journal

On the Imitation of Christ
     By Richard J. Foster 3/6/2017

     “My little children…I am…in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you (Galations 4:19).”

     These words are the centerpiece for Christian spiritual formation. They are words of effort and pain and travail. But they also speak of hope and promise and new life. To experience the reality of Christ being formed in us does indeed take something like the travail of childbirth. But in the end it brings with it the joy of a life penetrated through by love, the faith that can see everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, and the hope to carry us through the most difficult of circumstances.

     This brings me to the theme for this article, the great tradition of De Imitatione Christi, the imitation of Christ. In the early days of this tradition some five hundred years ago it was called the Devotio Moderna, the modern or the New Devotion. And it did indeed cut a new path for that day, a path that called for the soul’s growth and development (formation if you will) into Christlikeness by prayerful imitation of Jesus’ own life, thoughts, habits, and intentions. Now, this was no slavish imitation of externals. No, it was rather an interior emphasis upon humility, simplicity, and holiness grounded in a deep devotion to Jesus and intent upon developing an intimate relationship with God. Out of the rich spiritual experience of these folk known as The Brethren of the Common Life sprang The Imitation of Christ, a book that for half a millennium has been the unchallenged devotional masterpiece for Christians everywhere. It has been translated into more than fifty different languages and there have been many fine efforts to translate it into English.

Click here for entire article

Richard Foster Books:

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth

Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home

Richard J. Foster's Study Guide for "Celebration of Discipline"

Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines

Celebrating the Disciplines: A Journal Workbook to Accompany ``Celebration of Discipline''

Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World

Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer
Life with God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation

Proverbs 12:5-7
     by D.H. Stern

5     The plans of the righteous are just,
but the schemes of the wicked are deceitful.

6     The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush,
but the speech of the upright rescues them.

7     Once the wicked are down, it’s the end of them;
but the house of the upright endures.

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

                The relinquished life

     I am crucified with Christ. --- Gal. 2:20.

     No one is ever united with Jesus Christ until he is willing to relinquish not sin only, but his whole way of looking at things. To be born from above of the Spirit of God means that we must let go before we lay hold, and in the first stages it is the relinquishing of all pretence. What Our Lord wants us to present to Him is not goodness, nor honesty, nor endeavour, but real solid sin; that is all He can take from us. And what does He give in exchange for our sin? Real solid righteousness. But we must relinquish all pretence of being anything, all claim of being worthy of God’s consideration.

     Then the Spirit of God will show us what further there is to relinquish. There will have to be the relinquishing of my claim to my right to myself in every phase. Am I willing to relinquish my hold on all I possess, my hold on my affections, and on everything, and to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?

     There is always a sharp painful disillusionment to go through before we do relinquish. When a man really sees himself as the Lord sees him, it is not the abominable sins of the flesh that shock him, but the awful nature of the pride of his own heart against Jesus Christ. When he sees himself in the light of the Lord, the shame and the horror and the desperate conviction come home.

     If you are up against the question of relinquishing, go through the crisis, relinquish all, and God will make you fit for all that He requires of you.

My Utmost for His Highest

Coming of Age
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Coming of Age

He grew up into an emptiness
he was on terms with. The duplicity
of language that could name
what was not there was accepted

by him. He was content, remembering
the unseen writing of Christ
on the ground, to interpret
it in its own way. Adultery

of the flesh has the divine
pardon. It is the mind
catching itself in the act
of unfaithfulness that must cast no stone.

Modern Classics Selected Poems (Penguin Modern Classics)

Teacher's Commentary
     The Holy

     To understand the importance of some of the regulations that we are about to look at in Leviticus, we need an understanding of the Old Testament concept of holiness. The following discussion of the Old Testament concept of holiness is quoted from the author’s Zondervan Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

     The root of the words translated “holy” and “holiness” is qadas. The verb means “to be consecrated,” “to be dedicated,” “to be holy.” Anything that is holy is set apart. It is removed from the realm of the common and moved to the sphere of the sacred.

     The focus of the sacred realm is God Himself, Israel’s Holy One (
2 Kings 19:22; Job 6:10; Pss. 16:10; 22:3; 71:22, etc.). “Holy” becomes a technical religious term used of persons, places, times, and things that were considered sacred because they were associated with and consecrated to God. The seventh day was holy, to be reserved for worship and rest (Gen. 2:3; Ex. 20:8–11; Deut. 5:12). Mount Sinai was holy, for God appeared there in fire to give the Ten Commandments (Ex. 19:23). The priests of Israel were holy (Lev. 21:7), and everything associated with worship and sacrifice was to be considered holy. In a very significant sense Israel itself was considered holy, for this people was chosen by God to be His own special possession (Deut. 7:6; 14:2, 21).

     It is important to realize that great stress is placed in the Old Testament on maintaining the distinction between what is sacred and what is secular. The holy must never be used in a common or profane way. That which was consecrated to God must be for His use alone—forever.

     Ritual holiness. The religion of Israel was both cultic and moral. The cultic element established religious ritual and many aspects of the lifestyle of God’s people. A person was in a state of holiness when he observed cultic restrictions. It was a responsibility of the priests to “distinguish between the holy and the profane, between the unclean and the clean, and [they were required to] teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord [had] given them through Moses” (
Lev. 10:10–11). Both essential and nonmoral practices, such as not cooking a young goat in its mother’s milk (Ex. 34:26), and religious ceremonies were aspects of ritual uncleanness.

     Moral holiness. Two aspects of God’s nature are associated with holiness in the Old Testament. One is His essential power and splendor. When two of Aaron’s sons violated the ritual regulations governing worship, God, as quoted by Moses, announced: “Among those who approach Me I will show Myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored” (
Lev. 10:3). Fire flared from the Lord on that occasion and consumed the men who had treated Him with contempt by ignoring His commands. God’s holiness was displayed in this exercise of awesome power.

     
Leviticus 19:2 displays a moral dimension to God’s holiness. “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel,” the Lord told Moses, “and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.’ ”

     The commands that follow this statement are not cultic but are moral in character. They deal with theft, idolatry, lying, fraud, slander, revenge, etc., and include the command to love one’s neighbor. These commands are punctuated regularly by the reminder, “I am the Lord.”

     In this Old Testament passage and many others, God’s holiness is directly linked with His own moral character. That holiness is displayed in His moral perfection and His faithful commitment to good and in His judgment on those who desert the way of goodness for sin. “The Lord Almighty will be exalted by His justice, and the Holy God will show Himself holy by His righteousness” (
Isa. 5:16). When Israel was set apart to God by God’s sovereign choice, both the ritual and the moral aspects of obedience to God were essential in their life of holiness.

     Because God is a holy God, those who are associated with Him are to be holy in all they do.

The Teacher's Commentary

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Berakhot 25b

     D’RASH

     Rabbi Yosé’s words, “Don’t give Satan an opening,” are often used in modern speech to mean “Don’t tempt fate,” that is, if you say something bad, it might just happen. We do not believe in Satan, but we do know the evil that surrounds us, all the bad things Satan symbolizes. Speaking of bad things may just make them happen! Several years ago, an editorial cartoon pictured a public school principal speaking to a group of parents. He told them, “Teen pregnancy could be reduced if society wasn’t too embarrassed to talk about you know what with you know who before they end up you know how.”

     If we believe that just speaking about a bad thing can make it happen, isn’t the converse true, that saying something good can help to bring it about? Aren’t there also self-fulfilling prophecies for good? A famous study in the 1960s proved that when we expect good from people, we often find just that. Psychologists gave students in an elementary school an “intelligence test,” later informing teachers that five students in each class had done exceptionally well and were likely to excel in school that year. In actuality, the students had been chosen at random. Nonetheless, by the end of that school year, those students had done significantly better. Based on the study’s name, psychologists dubbed this “the Pygmalion effect.” Teachers saw students who were labeled as “likely to succeed” and helped them—unconsciously and subtly—achieve these gains.

     In our day and age, we see self-fulfilling prophecies at work all the time. We know that it is not because of Satan or fate, but because of the Pygmalion effect: what we see in others is what we get from them. A youngster labeled “problem child” will likely become one, fulfilling the prophecy, whether or not the child has the ability to change and become a better person. Does that student fail because of fate, character—or because of living up to the label we have given the youngster?

     Conversely, when we see potential good in people, we may find these qualities. How often has it happened that we have achieved more because a parent, teacher, or friend saw the good (or potential good) in us and said “You have the ability to do more”? We may not have believed it at the time, but that person helped us believe in ourselves and thus achieve more. The Rabbis of the Talmud were not so much superstitious as psychologically astute: More often than not, what we expect is what we get.

     The Torah was not given to the ministering angels.

     The Rabbis taught: “In clear water, he sits in it up to his neck and recites [the Sh’ma].” Some say: “He stirs it with his foot.” According to the first teacher, his heart sees his nakedness! He [the first teacher] thinks: “His heart seeing his nakedness is permitted.” But his heel sees his nakedness! He thinks: “His heel seeing his nakedness is permitted.” It is taught: “His heel seeing his nakedness is permitted.” Touching—Abaye said it is prohibited, while Rava said it is permitted. This is how Rav Zevid taught it. But Rav Ḥin’na son of Rav Ikka taught it this way: “Touching—everyone agrees that it is forbidden. Seeing—Abaye said it is forbidden, while Rava said it is permitted: The Torah was not given to the ministering angels.” And the law is: Touching is forbidden, seeing is permitted.

     Context / Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead; inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (
Deuteronomy 6:4–9)

     The Talmud’s teaching about the Sh’ma is based on people’s experiences. Those who recite the Sh’ma religiously, morning and evening, every day of the year, will eventually be in a situation where the time for Sh’ma arrives and they are unprepared or unfit for it. This is the case being discussed in this Gemara: It is early morning and a man, taking a pre-dawn bath, has not yet recited the morning Sh’ma which, according to one opinion, must be recited before sunrise. Normally, a person would recite the Sh’ma fully dressed, as a sign of respect. However, in our case, he will not have time to get out of the water and get dressed before the time for reciting the Sh’ma has passed. What should this man do?

     The Rabbis teach that he covers himself with water up to his neck, using the water as a “garment,” and recites the Sh’ma. There is another opinion, though: (“Some say”) that the man should muddy the waters with his foot so that he does not see his own nudity while reciting the Sh’ma. But, asks the Gemara, as long as he is still nude, isn’t this still disrespectful (“his heart sees his nakedness”)? The Tanna Kamma, or unnamed first teacher, holds that being naked is permitted (and is preferable to allowing the time for the Sh’ma to elapse). The Gemara then says: “But his heel sees his nakedness,” that is, his own body, crouched down in the water, is touching skin to skin and is aware of his nudity. Certainly this is improper, disrespectful, and distracting. No, answers the Gemara; the Tanna Kamma holds that “his heel seeing his nakedness,” that is, his body crouched in the water and close to itself, is permitted.

     Yet, this is only seeing his nakedness, that is, being nude without touching skin to skin. With regard to touching one body part to another while covered with water, Abaye holds that this is not allowed, while Rava says it is allowed. However, Rav Ḥin’na has a different tradition. He learned that everyone believes that touching body part to body part while under water is forbidden. The questionable action is seeing his own nudity (and, presumably, being distracted while reciting the Sh’ma). According to Rav Ḥin’na, there is no argument that touching is prohibited. Abaye and Rava argue over a man seeing himself in the water while reciting the Sh’ma, Abaye holding that it is not allowed, Rava that it is.

     Rava’s reasoning is that “the Torah was not given to the ministering angels”; in other words, only angels would be able to live under the stringencies that Abaye expects of a person reciting the Sh’ma in water. In Rava’s mind, it is enough to expect a man quickly to cover himself up to his neck with water and recite the Sh’ma before the time has passed. In so doing, he should not touch his heel to his genitals. Expecting this man not to be able to see himself in the water is virtuous and exemplary but practically impossible for human beings.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Two / The Interior Life

     The Eleventh Chapter / Few Love The Cross Of Jesus

     JESUS has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him. Many follow Him to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His passion. Many revere His miracles; few approach the shame of the Cross. Many love Him as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise and bless Him as long as they receive some comfort from Him. But if Jesus hides Himself and leaves them for a while, they fall either into complaints or into deep dejection. Those, on the contrary, who love Him for His own sake and not for any comfort of their own, bless Him in all trial and anguish of heart as well as in the bliss of consolation. Even if He should never give them consolation, yet they would continue to praise Him and wish always to give Him thanks. What power there is in pure love for Jesus—love that is free from all self-interest and self-love!

     Do not those who always seek consolation deserve to be called mercenaries? Do not those who always think of their own profit and gain prove that they love themselves rather than Christ? Where can a man be found who desires to serve God for nothing? Rarely indeed is a man so spiritual as to strip himself of all things. And who shall find a man so truly poor in spirit as to be free from every creature? His value is like that of things brought from the most distant lands.

     If a man give all his wealth, it is nothing; if he do great penance, it is little; if he gain all knowledge, he is still far afield; if he have great virtue and much ardent devotion, he still lacks a great deal, and especially, the one thing that is most necessary to him. What is this one thing? That leaving all, he forsake himself, completely renounce himself, and give up all private affections. Then, when he has done all that he knows ought to be done, let him consider it as nothing, let him make little of what may be considered great; let him in all honesty call himself an unprofitable servant. For truth itself has said:
“When you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: ‘we are unprofitable servants.’ ”(Luke 17:10)

     Then he will be truly poor and stripped in spirit, and with the prophet may say: “I am alone and poor.” (
Psalm 25:16) No one, however, is more wealthy than such a man; no one is more powerful, no one freer than he who knows how to leave all things and think of himself as the least of all.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     March 8

     As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
---
Psalm 103:13.

     Our children have our pity when anybody has wronged them. ( Spurgeon's Sermons, 5 Volumes ) I have heard say that there are some men that you might insult, almost with impunity, and should you even give them a blow they would stop to ask the reason before showing any resentment. But if you put a hand on their children, you will see the father’s blood come up into his face, and the most patient man will, all of a sudden, become the most passionate. There was a livid blue mark where you struck the child, and the father looks as though he could forgive you if that were on his own body, but on his child—no, that he cannot endure. He turns it over and over, and he cannot resist his indignation that his child should be carelessly made to suffer. The wrongs of children call fondly for redress in the ears of every sensitive man or woman, but they are sure to awake a thrilling echo in a father’s heart.

     “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?… I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” There is no wrong done to his people but it is registered in God’s archives. “Whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.” Christ seemed to sit still in heaven till he saw the blood of his saints shed, and then he stood up as in indignation when they stoned Stephen. You remember how he cries, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” It was he himself who suffered, though his saints were made to die. Leave, then, your wrongs with God. “ ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord,” and let your reply be always gentleness and kindness toward those who hate you, for righteousness’ sake.
--- C. H. Spurgeon

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

On This Day   March 8
     An Evening Sermon

     Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, read voraciously through the week, but not until Saturday night did he determine and develop his message for the following morning. Only on Sunday afternoon did he prepare his evening address. But it worked. For 30 years, he kept London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle packed. On Sunday night, March 8, 1874, Spurgeon preached from 1 Corinthians 6:20: God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God. Had you entered Metropolitan Tabernacle that evening, you would have heard Spurgeon’s carillon voice pealing these words through the lamplit hall:

     … you young men who come to London amidst its vices, shun everything that is akin to lewdness or leads on to unchasity, for your bodies were bought with your Lord’s lifeblood, and they are not yours to trifle with. Shun the strange woman, her company, her wine, her glances, her house, her songs, her resorts. Your bodies are not yours to injure by self-indulgence of any sort. Keep them pure and chaste for that heavenly Bridegroom who has bought them with his blood.

     And then your soul is bought too. I was obliged to mention the body, because it is mentioned here, and it is so needful it should be kept pure. But keep the soul pure. Christ has not bought these eyes that they should read novels calculated to lead me into vanity and vice, such as are published nowadays. Christ has not bought this brain of mine that I may revel in the perusal of works of blasphemy and filthiness. He has not given me a mind that I may drag it through the mire with the hope of washing it clean again.…

     Your whole manhood belongs to God if you are a Christian. Every faculty, every natural power, every talent, every possibility of your being, every capacity of your spirit.… It is all bought with blood. Therefore keep the whole for Jesus, for it belongs to him.


     Don’t be immoral in matters of sex. That is a sin against your own body in a way that no other sin is. You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God.
--- 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - March 8

     “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” --- Acts 14:22.

     God’s people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when he chose his people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, he included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ’s last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: he has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the “Father of the faithful.” Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honour are distinguished. But although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have his presence and sympathy to cheer them, his grace to support them, and his example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it.


          Evening - March 8

     “She called his name Benoni (son of sorrow), but his father called him Benjamin (son of my right hand).” --- Genesis 35:18.

     To every matter there is a bright as well as a dark side. Rachel was overwhelmed with the sorrow of her own travail and death; Jacob, though weeping the mother’s loss, could see the mercy of the child’s birth. It is well for us if, while the flesh mourns over trials, our faith triumphs in divine faithfulness. Samson’s lion yielded honey, and so will our adversities, if rightly considered. The stormy sea feeds multitudes with its fishes; the wild wood blooms with beauteous florets; the stormy wind sweeps away the pestilence, and the biting frost loosens the soil. Dark clouds distil bright drops, and black earth grows gay flowers. A vein of good is to be found in every mine of evil. Sad hearts have peculiar skill in discovering the most disadvantageous point of view from which to gaze upon a trial; if there were only one slough in the world, they would soon be up to their necks in it, and if there were only one lion in the desert they would hear it roar. About us all there is a tinge of this wretched folly, and we are apt, at times, like Jacob, to cry, “All these things are against me.” Faith’s way of walking is to cast all care upon the Lord, and then to anticipate good results from the worst calamities. Like Gideon’s men, she does not fret over the broken pitcher, but rejoices that the lamp blazes forth the more. Out of the rough oyster-shell of difficulty she extracts the rare pearl of honour, and from the deep ocean-caves of distress she uplifts the priceless coral of experience. When her flood of prosperity ebbs, she finds treasures hid in the sands; and when her sun of delight goes down, she turns her telescope of hope to the starry promises of heaven. When death itself appears, faith points to the light of resurrection beyond the grave, thus making our dying Benoni to be our living Benjamin.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     March 8

          SAVIOR, LIKE A SHEPHERD LEAD US

     Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1779–1847

     I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. (Psalm 32:8)

     Divine guidance is the very essence of Christianity. The Bible equates being guided by the Spirit of God with being a child of God (Romans 8:14). But even as our natural children can sometimes rebel against parental authority, so we too can forsake God’s leading in our lives and seek to go our own ways. God’s leading, then, doesn’t just happen. There must be the sincere desire and willingness to be guided. With implicit faith we must recognize that God has a planned path for each of His children, and we must deeply desire to follow that path wherever it leads. Scriptural promises such as Jeremiah 29:11 become our source of daily encouragement:

     For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

     The author of this popular hymn, Dorothy Thrupp, was born and lived in London, England. She was a rather prolific writer of children’s hymns and devotional materials although she seldom signed her name to any of her works. When she did, she would use a pseudonym. For this reason it has never been fully proven that she was the actual author of “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us.” The hymn first appeared unsigned in her collection Hymns for the Young, in 1836.

     Savior, like a shepherd lead us; much we need Thy tender care; in Thy pleasant pastures feed us; for our use Thy folds prepare: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou has bought us, Thine we are; blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.
     We are Thine—do Thou befriend us; be the Guardian of our way; keep Thy flock, from sin defend us; seek us when we go astray: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, hear, O hear us when we pray; blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, hear, O hear us when we pray.
     Thou has promised to receive us, poor and sinful tho we be; Thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and pow’r to free: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, early let us turn to Thee; blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, early let us turn to Thee.
     Early let us seek Thy favor; early let us do Thy will; blessed Lord and only Savior, with Thy love our bosoms fill: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast loved us; love us still; blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast loved us, love us still.

     For Today: Psalm 23; Proverbs 16:1, 3, 6, 9; Isaiah 40:11; John 10:14–16, 27.

     Walk the path one step at a time in the confidence of God’s leading and presence. Do not become burdened by the distant future. Sing this musical truth as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Works Of Grace
     Selected Scriptures | John MacArthur


Part One






Part Two




The Lord's Greatest Prayer
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Part Two




The Beauty and Blessing of Forgiveness
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Part Two




Deuteronomy 28 - 29
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


Deuteronomy 29-30
m2-100 | 1-20-2016




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