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     Malachi   1 - 4

Malachi 1 - 4

Malachi 1

Malachi 1:1     The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.

The LORD’s Love for Israel

2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.’ ” 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!”

The Priests’ Polluted Offerings

6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ 7 By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. 8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. 9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.

Malachi 2

The LORD Rebukes the Priests

Malachi 2:1     “And now, O priests, this command is for you. 2 If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 3 Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. 4 So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the LORD of hosts. 5 My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, 9 and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

Judah Profaned the Covenant

10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the LORD of hosts!

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

The Messenger of the LORD

17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

Malachi 3

Malachi 3:1     “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.

Robbing God

6 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.

13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’ ”

The Book of Remembrance

16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

Malachi 4

The Great Day of the LORD

Malachi 4:1      “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.

4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Why Is the Penalty of Hell the Same, Even Though People Are So Different?

By J. Warner Wallace 9/6/2017

     The notion of Hell is incredibly controversial, even among Christians. Many believers struggle to reconcile the mercy and grace of God with the existence of Hell and have tried to redefine Hell in an effort to remove what they perceive as offensive. For some, Hell seems too inequitable to be possible. Would a Loving God punish everyone in the same way? Isn’t it unfair to send someone like Gandhi to Hell (simply because he was not a Christian) alongside someone like Hitler (who committed unspeakable atrocities)? A reasonable and just God would not be the source of such inequitable punishment, would He?

     In one sense, it is true: All sin has the same consequence when measured against God’s perfection. Lying is just as significant as murder when it comes to assessing our imperfection relative to the perfection of God. Even the slightest sin demonstrates our inadequacy and need for a Savior. But make no mistake about it; some sins are clearly more heinous than others in the eyes of God (John 19:11-12). As a result, the God of the Bible equitably prescribes punishments for wrongdoing on earth and in the next life:

     There Are Degrees of Punishment on Earth

     When God gave the Law to Moses, He made one thing very clear: Some sins are more punishable than others. God assigned different penalties to different crimes, based on the offensive or heinous nature of the sin itself. The Mosaic Law is filled with measured responses to sin. God prescribed punishments appropriate to the crimes in question (Exodus 21:23-25). In fact, the Mosaic Law carefully assured that each offender would be punished “according to his guilt” and no more (Deuteronomy 25:2-3). The Mosaic Law is evidence of two things. First, while any sin may separate us from the perfection of God, some sins are unmistakably more offensive than others. Second, God prescribes different punishments for different crimes based on the severity of each crime.

     There Are Degrees of Punishment in Hell

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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.

Expository Preaching—The Antidote to Anemic Worship

By Albert Mohler 2/27/2017

     The anemia of evangelical worship—all the music and energy aside—is directly attributable to the absence of genuine expository preaching.

     Evangelical Christians have been especially attentive to worship in recent years, sparking a renaissance of thought and conversation on what worship really is and how it should be done. Even if this renewed interest has unfortunately resulted in what some have called the “worship wars” in some churches, it seems that what A. W. Tozer once called the “missing jewel” of evangelical worship is being recovered.

     Nevertheless, if most evangelicals would quickly agree that worship is central to the life of the church, there would be no consensus to an unavoidable question: What is central to Christian worship? Historically, the more liturgical churches have argued that the sacraments form the heart of Christian worship. These churches argue that the elements of the Lord’s Supper and the water of baptism most powerfully present the gospel. Among evangelicals, some call for evangelism as the heart of worship, planning every facet of the service—songs, prayers, the sermon—with the evangelistic invitation in mind.

     Though most evangelicals mention the preaching of the word as a necessary or customary part of worship, the prevailing model of worship in evangelical churches is increasingly defined by music, along with innovations such as drama and video presentations. When preaching the word retreats, a host of entertaining innovations will take its place.

     Traditional norms of worship are now subordinated to a demand for relevance and creativity. A media-driven culture of images has replaced the word-centered culture that gave birth to the Reformation churches. In some sense, the image-driven culture of modern evangelicalism is an embrace of the very practices rejected by the Reformers in their quest for true biblical worship.

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Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

     Albert Mohler Books |  Go to Books Page

If it is so obvious that Jesus is the Messiah, why didn’t the disciples understand it?

By Chab123 (Eric Chabot) 9/30/2017

     Over the years, I have been asked if the messianic prophecies are so clear about the coming of Jesus, why didn’t the disciples understand His mission? This question can be dealt with in a number of ways.

     First, we must understand the different messianic expectations at the time of Jesus. As I have said before, there wasn’t one dominant messianic expectation at the time of Jesus

     Secondly, we need to understand the various ways the New Testament authors interpret the Jewish Scriptures.

     Third, we need to possibly consider the words of Michael Heiser here. He says:

     “Have you ever wondered how it was that the disciples never seemed to get the things that Jesus told them about himself? Think about it. When Jesus told them that it was time for him to go to Jerusalem and die, it angered and scared them (Matt. 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32). No one replied, “That’s right—I read that in the Scriptures.” Peter even rebuked Jesus for saying such a thing (Matt. 16:21-23). The truth is that the disciples had little sense of what was going on. Even after the resurrection their minds had to be supernaturally enabled to get the message (Luke 24:44-45). We shouldn’t be too hard on the disciples. They weren’t dumb. Their ignorance was the result of God’s deliberate plan to conceal messianic prophecy. Paul talked about the need for that when writing to the Corinthians: But we speak the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery, which God predestined before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew. For if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Cor. 2:7-8) Had Satan and the other powers of darkness known that instigating people to kill the messiah was precisely what God had designed to accomplish their own doom, they never would have done it. The gospels are clear that Satan and demons knew the prophesied son of David had come (Matt. 8:28-29; Luke 4:31-35). The Old Testament was clear that would happen at some point. But what it concealed was the plan of redemption."

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     Chab123 (Eric Chabot): Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society

     Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.

     Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.

     Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.

Are There Over 300 Messianic Prophecies?

By Chab123 (Eric Chabot) 5/2/2014

     When I was a new Christian, I read several Christian apologetic books that stated there are over 300 Messianic prophecies that are all fulfilled in Jesus.  At the time I thought this was a convincing evidential apologetic for the truth claims of our  faith. But as the years have gone by, I have realized this approach to Messianic prophecy is not as effective as one might think. Now please let me clarify: I do think there is Messianic  prophecy.  Prophecy was one of the primary ways the apostles spread the faith in the first century. However, I think we need to tweak our approach. I have taught on this subject on several occasions.  In my opinion, here are some helpful tips:

     #1: Messianic prophecy does matter for the following reasons:

  • 1. The Bible is considered to be God’s revelation to mankind. However, The Quran, The Book of Mormon, and other holy books are considered to be God’s word. Messianic prophecy has apologetic value in that it confirms the Bible as a true revelation.
  • 2. Historical Verification: Has God revealed Himself in the course of human history? If so, when and where has He done this?
  • 3. While prophecy does not prove the existence of God, it does show that unusual events predicted in his Name that come to pass are evidence of his special activity.
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     Chab123 (Eric Chabot): Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society

     Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.

     Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.

     Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.

Who Were The First Apologists? A Look At The Apostles

By Chab123 (Eric Chabot) 7/27/2012

     Over the years I have had plenty of people ask me how to go about sharing their faith with others. They always ask whether they should just go ahead and share their personal testimony. I agree that using a personal testimony can be effective in that it shows the difference that Jesus makes in the reality of life. There is nothing wrong with this. But allow me to offer a few suggestions:

     Pragmatism has been one of the most prominent philosophies within American culture over the first quarter of the twentieth century. John Dewey was at the forefront of pragmatism within the educational system. For the pragmatist, an idea is said to be true if it “works” or brings desired results. Pragmatism is not as interested if the idea is objectively true, but simply if an idea leads to expedient or practical results.

     God can and does use our testimony in a powerful way. In other words, by sharing our testimony, we want to show that faith in Jesus works; He is responsible for transforming the human heart. While it is true that Jesus changes lives, let me share some examples of personal conversations I have had with several people. I will go ahead and refer to Barry  as a common person I encounter on a regular basis.

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     Chab123 (Eric Chabot): Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society

     Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.

     Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.

     Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.

Ministry to Grieving Parents

By Nancy Guthrie 8/01/2014

     When we witness the anguish, the anger, the questions, the devastation that comes to families that experience the death of a child, we find ourselves desperate to figure out what we can do, what we can say, that will truly help. In the retreats my husband and I host for couples who have faced the death of a child, participants often talk about the ways people have “been there” for them in the midst of the worst pain they can imagine, as well as the ways people have added to their pain. If you could be a fly on the wall at one of our retreats, here is some of what you would hear them say about how best to minister to them.


     Say something to us, even if it is “I don’t really know what to say.” We’re not looking for any great wisdom or insight. We just want to know that you care and are willing to come alongside us in our sorrow. In fact, to say, “I don’t know what to say” shows a lack of presumption that anything you could say would make this OK. A simple “I’m so sad with you” is enough. It is your saying nothing that really hurts.


     Don’t be afraid to make us cry or to cry with us. We are desperate to know that our child is not forgotten, that we are not the only people who miss him or her. We long to hear the name of our child. But we know you are sometimes afraid to “bring it up,” afraid that you will make us sad. What you must know is that we are already sad, and when you speak to us about our child, you give us a chance to release some of that sadness, and we are assured that we’re not alone.


     Don’t tell us to call you if we need anything. We can hardly think straight enough to know what we need. What we need is for people to figure out how they can help and just do it. Tell me that you’re coming over to do the laundry, pick up a grocery list, or mow the lawn — things we would never pick up the phone and ask you to do.


     Don’t compare our pain to someone else’s or say anything that begins with the phrase, “Well, at least …” You see that we are miserable and want to help us to look at the bright side. But all of your efforts to do so simply serve to diminish our loss.


     Don’t assume our sadness is a problem. We know our sadness makes things awkward. But doesn’t it make sense that we would be sad? It’s a reflection of our child’s worth. We have a lot of tears that need to come out, a lot of firsts to experience without our child that each bring a fresh wave of pain. Sometimes we feel like people want to fix us so we won’t be sad, or want us to “get back to normal” when we will never be the same. Instead of asking, “How are you?” giving us the impression that the desired response is that we are “good” or “better,” why not ask, “What is your grief like these days?” This shows us that you recognize it is normal and expected that we would be sad for a while.


     Don’t tell us that we need to move on, but keep encouraging us to move forward. It is our grief that keeps us feeling close to our child who died, and we are so desperate for that. We need you to understand that leaving our grief behind feels like leaving our child behind. But we also need gentle encouragement to begin to invest ourselves in the living, to embrace the future, and to expect and welcome the healing work of the Holy Spirit in our emotions and relationships.


     Understand and share our desire to see God use our loss for good, but help us to accept that we might never know exactly what that good is. Even though we don’t especially like to have Romans 8:28 quoted at us, our greatest comfort is found in its truth: that God can and will use the worst thing we can imagine — including our child’s death — to accomplish something good. But many of us assume it is up to us to discover what that “good thing” is. We have a hard time believing it is true until we find what that is. We’re looking for a purpose that is identifiable, justifiable, singular, and individualistic. Remind us that though we might never see in this lifetime how God is using our loss for good, we can be sure He is using it.


     Finally, don’t expect that if you only knew the right thing to say or do, the right book or counselor to recommend, that everything would be OK. This kind of loss will hurt a while. Your persistent presence with us, refusing to give up on us, your choosing to be at ease with our sadness and struggle, finding no fixes and few answers, is a great gift to us.

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     Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible at her church, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and at conferences worldwide. She and her husband, David, are the cohosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 10,000 churches nationwide and also host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child. Guthrie is also the host of Help Me Teach the Bible, a podcast of the Gospel Coalition.

Nancy Guthrie Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Book 5 | Psalm 107

Let the Redeemed of the LORD Say So

107:1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5 hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
6 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9 For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

ESV Study Bible

Especially the Parchments

By Charles C. Ryrie     1960

     The heart of any school is its faculty — the living faculty and the written faculty. This is why this is such an important occasion, for the dedication of the Mosher Library to house the written faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary is as important as the addition of qualified men to its living faculty. The emphasis given to the library is a true measure of the alertness of faculty, students, and friends to a proper concept of priorities. And it is to this matter of priorities that we shall address ourselves.

     The most revealing times in a person’s life are the times of stress. The emotional strain of a parting, the stress of illness or accident, wrestlings against spiritual temptations are illustrative of such times. But the nearness of death is perhaps the ultimate of all such times, for the nonessentials are easily forgotten, and what the dying person considers important comes quickly to the fore. I remind you of a New Testament text which illustrates this.  “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me. The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments” 2 Tim 4:9, 13 ).

     Here is a pathetic picture of a doomed man. Prison was not a new experience for the Apostle Paul. Two-thirds of the six years before he wrote this text had been spent in confinement. Apparently his first imprisonment at Rome had ended because no one showed up to press charges, and according to Roman law he had been released by default after eighteen months. He immediately went to Crete, Macedonia, Spain, Miletus, Troas, and Corinth, and there having been rearrested back to Rome. Only this time he was not permitted the luxury of his own hired house. You see, Nero had celebrated his own kind of independence day in July 64 by burning Rome, and had blamed it on the Christians. Naturally since Paul was one of the leaders of that hated group, he was one of the first to be captured. Evidently he had had his pretrial but no man stood with him but all forsook him. Now he was waiting the disposition of his case, with no prospect other than death except that of a bleak winter in the Mamartine Prison before being executed. In this climactic moment of stress and in this text he reveals the things he considers most important.

     First are his friends. Even the great apostle felt keenly the need of friends. Paul had all the intellectual resources which formal training, wide reading, and sensitive observation of life could bring. Paul had rich spiritual resources. Paul had the memories of past victories and personal experiences with the Lord. Paul had even then in that prison the promised presence of his risen Saviour. But Paul was grateful for the presence of Luke and desired Timothy to leave Ephesus and come quickly to Rome. Paul was thus like his Lord who on that night of betrayal desired with desire to eat the Passover with His friends. “Timothy,” he says, “do thy diligence to come shortly unto me. I need the presence of my son in the faith. I need the companionship of my comrade in the work. And you had better come before winter sets in and brings shipping to a standstill. Furthermore, I have a premonition that I may not live to see another spring. Don’t worry about the work in Ephesus. Sometimes it is God’s will to leave the multitude and minister to one. Our Lord commended the visiting of those in prison, so do thy diligence to come shortly.”

     Then there was the cloak. Any tourist today who leaves the guided tours and makes his own way under the brow of the Capitoline Hill in Rome will find himself admitted to a narrow, dark stairway. Descending the winding stone staircase he comes finally to the dismal, dark, low-arched chamber where the apostle lay bound waiting to be offered up. Even on a hot summer day the visitor will sense the constriction of the low ceiling and the dampness of the dungeon. It is no wonder that Paul wanted his cloak before winter.

     Look at that cloak for a moment. It was a travelling cloak with long sleeves. Perhaps Paul had woven it himself, and it may have been over its sleeves that other cloaks had been draped when Stephen was martyred. It had a rich history in the service of Christ. It had been wet with the brine of the Agean, yellow with the dust of the Ignatian Way, white with the snows of Galatia and Pamphylia, and crimson with the blood of his own wounds. And now it was to serve its last purpose and keep an aged man warm during a cold winter.

     It is a pathetic scene but not an uncommon one. Almost 1500 winters later William Tindale languished in Vilvorde prison, and in his only extant letter besought the governor of the castle as follows:

     “I believe, right worshipful, that you are not ignorant of what has been determined concerning me by the council; therefore, I entreat your lordship and that by the Lord Jesus, that if I am to remain here in prison during the winter, you will be kind enough to send me from my goods which he [the Procurer] has in his possession a warmer cap, for I suffer extremely from cold in the head, being afflicted with a perpetual catarrh, which is considerable increased in this cell. A warmer coat also, for that which I have is very thin: also a piece of cloth to patch my leggings: my overcoat is worn out; my shirts are also worn out. He had a woolen shirt of mine, if he will be kind enough to send, it. I have also with him leggings of thicker cloth for putting on above; he also has warmer caps for wearing at night. I wish also his permission to have a lamp in the evening; for it is wearisome to sit alone in the dark. But above all, I entreat and beseech your clemency to be urgent with the Procurer that he may kindly permit me to have my Hebrew Bible, Hebrew Grammar, and Hebrew Dictionary, that I may spend my time with that study. And in return, may you obtain your dearest wish, provided always it be consistent with the salvation of your soul. But if, before the end of winter, a different decision be reached concerning me, I shall be patient, abiding the will of God to the glory of the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, whose spirit, I pray, may ever direct your heart. Amen. W. Tindale.”

     And so it has been with many servants of Christ. God has never promised us material blessing but all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ. If He in His good grace also grants us material bounty as well, then let us recognize it as an undeserved token of favor and thank Him for it. So it is with this library. For the excellence, comfort, and convenience of it we thank God; but for its contents we are the most grateful.

     For Paul it was going to be a long winter as well as a cold one, and to be comfortable physically is never enough. The Apostle recognized the need to have activity for the mind and food for the soul. So he called for his books. You see, Paul was not a man of one book but of many books.

     What were these books which Paul so greatly desired? Exegetical and historical works on the Old Testament, and undoubtedly nonreligious but nonetheless great literature of the world, for we know that Paul was acquainted with such. Now this is a most intriguing request to my way of thinking for many reasons. First, here is a widely travelled missionary who felt the need of a personal library. Second, here is the great homiletician who had barrels full of sermons and little prospect of preaching them who still needed to read and study. Third, here is a man who was not content merely with a file full of notes or a library full of books unless they were used. Fourth, here is the man who under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit wrote a fifth of the inspired books of the Bible but who still sensed his need of learning from the writings of mere men. I think every student and preacher should often remind himself of the well-chosen, though sarcastic, words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon who said:

“In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what He has revealed to others.”

     And finally, Paul’s example reminds all of us not to neglect the ancients. Do not by-pass the worthies of yesterday for the lessers or even greats of today. I shall never forget the thrill when I began to study in the National Library of Scotland. It was surpassed perhaps only by the occasions when I used the library of the British Museum in London. Practically any book that has even been published in the English speaking world, plus many others, can be found in those two libraries, and it is a genuine thrill to feel that you are sitting at the feet of all those whose books are contained in those two libraries. We do all too little reading today.  This article is the text of the address given by Dr. Ryrie at the dedicatory services for the Mosher Library on the campus of Dallas Seminary on January 18, 1960 Television, illustrated magazines, that which is euphemistically called visual education, discussion groups have all taken the place of plain, ordinary, but rewarding, reading. Discussion reaps the limited knowledge of the participants. Reading reaps the limitless knowledge of the sages and of the ages. Give your mind the thrill of a discussion with Warfield or Hodge. Be challenged by Bengel or Orr. Listen again to the sermons of Spurgeon or Finney. Do not content yourselves with less than these greats. And you will find them in books. Make much of the Mosher Library.

     But, though friends are first, the comfort of a cloak expedient, and books so necessary, the most important thing in Paul’s mind was the parchments. Most especially, he says, using superlative and giving top priority to these parchments. What were they? Well, parchments were dressed skins used for writing which were first made at Pergamum. That they were used in the first century and what they were used for is attested to by no less an authority than Sir Frederic Kenyon. He declares: “It is true that skins had been used for the reception of writing in Palestine and elsewhere at an earlier date, and from the tradition recorded in the Talmud, which required all synagogue rolls to be so written, it is fair to conclude that the Old Testament books were habitually written on skins in the first century.” Thus although papyrus was the common material used for writing, parchment was reserved for important and precious documents, like the Scriptures. The parchments which Paul was calling for, then, were his own personal copies of Old Testament books and perhaps some New Testament fragments. These had undoubtedly been carefully collected over the years and were probably annotated in the margins by his own hand. We who can buy a Bible in any dime store can scarcely appreciate how valuable these were to Paul, though anyone who has had to discard a favorite Bible which he has carefully marked for many years can begin to understand. One thing is perfectly clear: Paul considered the sacred Scriptures his most important possession. Do you?

     Why should it be so? Why should a condemned man want to spend his last few months on earth studying these parchments? Because of what the Scriptures are and what they say. This is God’s Word to man, inspired by the Holy Spirit and accurate in every way. Amid shifting standards it is the absolute standard; it is unchanging truth. Further, the Bible sheds light on every problem of life. Men may swagger and boast that they have no need of God or His truth while they are young or at least healthy, but some time all of us must think about death and what lies thereafter. Men may put faith in their works or their minds or their church, but God declares in this book that the only way to heaven is through faith in His Son who died for our sins. If it is important to know how to gain entrance into heaven then it is important to study this book.

     Though Paul had settled this basic question long ago, he still wanted his parchments. For the Bible also brings comfort to a prisoner or anyone else with a problem. Overwhelmed by the oppressive power of Rome, Paul read:  “All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. God bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.” Perplexed by the prospect of his case he remembered that  “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”  How I love  Isaiah 26:3 !!

     But most of all his precious parchments showed him his Savior whom he had served so zealously for more than thirty years; the Savior who had been spoken of in these Old Testament books but whom he had not recognized until he saw Him on the Damascus Road, and the Savior whom the trained rabbi then saw everywhere in the pages of the Old Testament. And now lying in the Mamartine Prison he wanted to become even better acquainted with Him through His written Word before being ushered into His presence.

     And soon he was; for a few months later the guards dragged Paul from the dungeon; his eyes fell on the columns, altars, and temples of the nearby Forum; he was taken outside the city wall; he bowed his head; the executioner’s sword flashed for a moment in the sunshine; and Paul went to be with Christ.

     But he being dead yet speaketh. To all of us he says: What do you consider most important in life? If you had six months to live how would you spend the time? I hope all can respond: I would want to use as much of it as possible to study the Word so that I may know the Savior revealed in it and live a life that reflects His glory. Whether we have six months or six years to live; whether in prison, in a hospital, in business, in home, or in school, this is the most important thing in life.

     And on this dedicatory occasion Paul reminds us once again of the importance of books to lead us into a full, deep, and personal knowledge of the one supreme book of all, the importance of that Bible to show us the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dallas Theological Seminary. (1960; 2002). Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 117 (117:242–248). Dallas Theological Seminary

Charles C. Ryrie Books

The Coming of the Kingdom part 41

By Dr. Andrew Woods 12/15/2015

In this series, the biblical teaching on the kingdom of God has been set forth. This series has also scrutinized the New Testament texts that "kingdom now" theologians rely upon in order to demonstrate the insufficiency of "kingdom now" theology. We then began noting why this trend of equating God's present work in the church with the Messianic kingdom is a matter that believers should be concerned about, since this theology radically alters God's design for the church and is the seedbed of many major false doctrines that have entered Christ's church.

Alliances With Non-Biblical Groups

In the last installment, we called attention to Clarence Larkin's warning concerning the impact of how "kingdom now" negatively impacts the church's calling, purpose, and mission. Larkin noted at least five consequences that 'kingdom now" theology has upon Ecclesiology, or the doctrine of the church. Having already discussed the first two points, we had moved on to the third point. Third, because there are not presently and numerically enough Christians necessary to establish God's kingdom upon the earth, it becomes necessary for the church to find common ground with those who do not share its biblical convictions in order to build the political coalition needed to implement a "kingdom now" social agenda. Larkin well explains:

The great mistake the Church has made is in appropriating to herself in this Dispensation the promises of earthly conquest and glory which belong exclusively to Israel in the "Millennial Age." As soon as the Church enters into an "Alliance with the World," and seeks the help of Parliaments, Congresses, Legislatures, Federations and Reform Societies, largely made up of ungodly men and women, she loses her spiritual power and becomes helpless as a redeeming force. [1]

In prior installments, we noted the "kingdom now" agenda behind popular pastor Rick Warren's "PEACE" plan. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that Warren has become one of the leading advocates of ecumenism in our day. Apparently not content to only build a bridge to Roman Catholicism only, Warren also seems to be building a similar bridge into Islam. Such advocacy of interfaith cooperation across vastly divergent belief systems is revealed through many of Warren's public statements.

Note, for example, the following prayer that Warren offered on January 21, 2009 at President elect Obama's inauguration: "I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray..." (italics added). [2] While most would recognize in Warren's prayer the Hebrew rendering of Jesus (Yeshua) as well as the Spanish pronunciation of the name Jesus, who is "Isa"? World religions expert Eric Barger well explains Isa's true identity:

There I was, watching all of the regalia of the presidential inauguration...Of course, I was also waiting to see just what kind of prayer Rick Warren had co-opted to pray for the new incoming President and his administration...The inaugural prayer was proceeding along and Warren was rightly praying for God to lead and protect Obama...So, just when I thought I could say "amen," it happened. Warren said "I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray, "Our father who art in Heaven..." ...I have researched Islam for many years. Last year I ministered concerning the history, theology and intentions of Islam over 40 times in churches and conferences so naturally, Warren's use of the name of Isa, the false Jesus of Islam, was a glaring slap in the face to all that he had already prayed. "Isa" in no way represents the Jesus of the Bible but is instead the false Jesus of the Qur'an (Koran) and the Muslim Hadith. "Isa" (pronounced "eee-sa") is the Islamic Jesus who was but a prophet and who certainly did not experience a sacrificial death on a cross let alone resurrect from the dead. In fact, in Islam the prophet Isa is actually the destroyer of Christianity — not it's Savior. Obviously, this is simply NOT the same Jesus as is Yeshua. [3]

Thus, Warren in his inaugural prayer seems to equate the Muslim Jesus with the biblical Jesus. The bottom line is that if you are going to try to build the Kingdom of God on the earth, there are not enough Christians in the world to accomplish this goal. Thus, you have to start cooperating with people of different faiths, like Catholics and Muslims. Such spiritual ecumenism represents the natural outworking of the church viewing itself as the kingdom of God.

Dispensing With Prophetic Truth

Fourth, Larkin observed that the discarding of the study of Bible prophecy naturally takes place when "kingdom now" theology gains a foothold in the church. As noted earlier, Larkin observed, "The 'Kingdom Idea' has robbed the Church of her 'UPWARD LOOK,' and of the 'BLESSED HOPE.' There cannot be any 'Imminent Coming' to those who are seeking to 'Set up the Kingdom.'" [4] After all, why be overly preoccupied with God's predicted prophetic plan involving the future overthrow of the Antichrist and His subsequent reign if the church is presently bringing in the kingdom? As already noted, popular pastor Rick Warren is heavily involved in a kingdom now agenda through his "PEACE" plan. Thus, it should also come as no surprise that Warren is a leading critic of those who invest time and energy into seeking to discover what the Bible reveals concerning the future. Interestingly, Warren appears to have a special animus for those who he deems are overly preoccupied with Eschatology, which is the study of God's plan for the future. He writes:

When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. He said in essence, "The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!" If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy. Speculating on the exact timing of Christ's return is futile, because Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Since Jesus said He didn't know the day or hour, why should you try to figure it out? What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the Good News has heard it. Jesus said, "The Good News about God's kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come." If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy. It is easy to get distracted and sidetracked from your mission because Satan would rather have you do anything besides sharing your faith. He will let you do all kinds of good things as long as you don't take anyone to heaven with you. But the moment you become serious about your mission, expect the Devil to throw all kinds of diversions at you. When that happens, remember the words of Jesus: "Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God." [5]

According to Warren's line of thought, those that overly meditate upon the over a quarter of the Bible devoted to Eschatological truth are date setting, pursuing un-Christ-like priorities, unconcerned about evangelism, involved in a distraction, being influenced by Satan, and are unfit for the Kingdom of God! Yet the study of Bible prophecy should not be so quickly discredited and discarded since:  "...we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts 2 Pet. 1:19 )."

Progressive Dispensationalists also emphasize "kingdom now" theology through their belief that Christ now orchestrates an "already" and spiritual phase of the Davidic Kingdom as He now reigns from David's Throne, allegedly in heaven. Thus, it again is not surprising to discover that Progressive Dispensationalists deemphasize Bible Prophecy in general. Key prophetic passages receive scant attention in their teachings and writings. Charles Ryrie observes how Progressive Dispensationalists are guilty of:

...ignoring the great prophecy of the seventy weeks in  Daniel 9:24–27. Nowhere in the progressives' writings to date have I found any discussion of the passage, only very brief and occasional citations of the reference itself...While not denying the pre-tribulation Rapture or the literal tribulation period, revisionists do not give much attention to these aspects of eschatology. Blaising and Bock do not take obvious opportunities to mention the Rapture, and in one place (discussing  1 Thessalonians 5 ) they say only that the rapture "would appear to be pre-tribulational." They decry (as do many of us normative dispensationalists) the sensationalism of some interpreters of prophecy. But abuse of a doctrine is no reason for playing down the truth of that doctrine. Rather, it ought to make us more zealous to present it accurately and in a balanced fashion. Furthermore, there exists already in the writings of progressives a thrust towards positioning the  Revelation as a book that is "difficult" to interpret. Playing up the imagery in the book, as some revisionists do, seems to play down a plain interpretation of it. The locusts in chapter  9 and Babylon in chapters  17 and  18 are examples of such "literal/symbolic difficulty" in interpreting the book. [6]

Again, the bottom line is that if the kingdom is now then the present should be our focus rather than some future event. Such a presupposition logically leads to a discarding of Bible prophecy.

Continue Reading (Part 42 on Oct 2 web page)

[1] Clarence Larkin, Rightly Dividing the Word
[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=tJeNsPIC3vE
[3] Eric Barger, "Rick Warren Invokes the Name of Islamic Jesus at Obama Inauguration," online: http://lit4ever.org/revivalforum/index.php?topic=16453.0;wap2, January 2009, accessed 4 January 2015.
[4] Clarence Larkin, By Clarence Larkin - Second Coming of Christ (1990-10-16)
[5] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
[6] Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism

     Dr. Andrew Woods Books

Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.

Dr. Andrew Woods Ministry Page, YouTube Channel, and Church.

By John Walvoord (1990)

The Prophecy to Philadelphia

     Revelation 3:9–12. The city of Philadelphia is unusual in that its name means “brotherly love,” an expression of affection found six other times in the New Testament ( Rom. 12:10; 1 Thess. 4:9; Heb. 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7 ). This is the only time it is used of a city. Philadelphia was located in an area that was rich in agricultural crops, especially grapes, and the population enjoyed a certain amount of prosperity.

     The message to the church at Philadelphia is unusual in that it is almost entirely praise, in contrast to the message of Sardis, which is almost entirely condemnation. In the introduction to His message to Philadelphia, Christ had declared that there was an open door before the church at Philadelphia. Christ Himself had the key of David, which opens God’s treasury (v.  7 ). The church of Philadelphia was commended because, while its strength was small, it had been true to the name of Jesus (v.  8 ).

     In the prophecy relating to the church at Philadelphia, Christ made the following statement: “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars — I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you” (v.  9 ). Though there was apparently opposition to the church on the part of certain Jews who were unbelievers, the promise is that they will have to acknowledge their faults either in time or eternity and recognize the love of God for the church of Philadelphia.

     The church was also commended for enduring patiently (v.  10 ). Because of this Christ made a promise, “I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth” (v.  10 ). Most of the book of  Revelation concerns the great tribulation and the terrible judgments that will be poured out on the earth at that time. Accordingly, it is very significant that the church in Philadelphia was given the promise that they will be kept from this hour of trial. The language is explicit that they will not simply be kept from the persecution of that time and the great catastrophes that will occur, but they are going to be kept from the whole hour, indicating that God will protect them and they will not enter this period.

     This must be seen in the light of the issue as to whether the church will go through the tribulation or not. What is here promised to the Philadelphian church is, in effect, the promise that they will not enter the period of tribulation that will come on the unbelieving world. Though the passage contains nothing that would intimate that the Philadelphian church would have to go through the trial, the careful selection of words indicates that they will not enter the period.

     The preposition from in relation to the hour of trial (Gr., ek) must be understood as being kept from the entire period and not just deliverance at the end of the time of trouble. The passage states that they would be kept from the hour, not simply the events of the hour. The use of the preposition here coupled with the hour should make it clear that the deliverance is from the period, not deliverance through the period. If it were intended to teach that they would be kept through the time of trouble, it would be proper to use another preposition (Gr., dia), meaning “through.”

     The book of  Revelation sharply contrasts the one hundred forty-four thousand representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel ( Rev. 7; 14 ), who will go through the period unscathed, to the saints in general, both Jews and Gentiles, who will suffer martyrdom ( 7:9–17 ). Actually, the church is never mentioned by name throughout the entire period of the tribulation ( 4:1–19:10 ). Though it may continue to be a subject of debate as to whether this clearly indicates a pretribulation rapture, the passage certainly offers no comfort to those who predict that the church will go through the tribulation. In keeping with the teaching of a pretribulational rapture, the event of His coming is viewed as imminent, in contrast to the second coming, described in  Revelation 19, which has many preceding events, including the whole tribulation ( 4:1–19:10 ). The rapture of the church is always presented as an imminent event that could occur at any time. Accordingly, the promise for the Philadelphian church assured them that when the Lord came, they would be raptured and be taken out of the world before the time of trouble to follow. Because of the special promise to them, however, they were assured they would not go through this period of trouble.

     As history unfolds, the rapture has not taken place, and the Philadelphian church went to glory by means of death, but will be subject to resurrection at the rapture at the time of Christ’s coming. The church at Philadelphia is the recipient of many promises, including the crown ( 3:11 ) and being made a pillar in the temple of God (v.  12 ). This, of course, has to be taken as a figure of speech because an individual human being could not be made into a pillar in the temple. What it refers to is that they will be standing in glory in contrast to others who have fallen.

     Because Philadelphia was in an area subject to great earthquakes and had been destroyed several times by earthquakes, the concept of standing firm indicated the permanence of their salvation and reward. In addition, the promise was given that the name of God and the name of the city of God, the New Jerusalem, which is described as  “coming down out of heaven from God” (cf.  21:1–2 ), would be written on each individual in addition to  “my new name” 3:12 ), which will indicate that he belongs to Christ.

     As in the case of other messages to the churches, appeal is finally made to the individual: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (v.  13 ). Even in Philadelphia there may have been some who were short of saving faith in Christ but going only through the outer form of religion. Accordingly, the message ultimately comes to the individual and concerns his own salvation. The message to the church at Philadelphia should be considered by each individual in relation to his faith in Christ and his hope for the future.

The Prophecy to Laodicea

     Revelation 3:15–18. The church at Laodicea is described as a church from a spiritual standpoint that was bankrupt and without a redeeming feature. Though they did not openly oppose the truth, they did not support the truth either and were what Christ describes as “neither cold nor hot” (v.  15 ).

     Christ stated, “So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (v.  16 ). The Laodicean church was guilty of having religion without sincere faith or zeal to serve the Lord. Part of their problem was that they were in a wealthy and self-sufficient city that had good income from the wool industry. Their lukewarm situation arose from their failure to comprehend their spiritual needs. They were being lulled to sleep by the financial sufficiency of their culture. This was brought out in what Christ had to say to them: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (v.  17 ). They were quite satisfied with being moral, religious, and outwardly conformed to the description of a Christian life. There is no indication that they were guilty of gross sins. Their problem was that they had not recognized their spiritual bankruptcy and their need to turn to Christ.

     The adjectives used are graphic. The word wretched was used by Paul in referring to himself ( Rom. 7:24 ) in his struggle with sin. The word pitiful was also used by Paul in  1 Corinthians 15:19 for one who does not believe in the doctrine of the resurrection. The word used for poor was one meaning complete poverty that would reduce a person to begging. The situation was far from their minds. They were declared to be “blind,” that is, unable to recognize spiritual truth and understand it. They were declared to be “naked” because they did not recognize their need to have spiritual garments.

     Accordingly, Christ counseled them, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” Rev. 3:18 ). The Laodiceans characterized the world as it approached life, seeing the outer garments of gold and silver as evidence of wealth, but unable to see the spiritual needs of the individual who may have everything that wealth can buy. The garments that Christ provides for them will include real gold, used in Scripture to describe the glory of God. White raiment, speaking of righteousness, would cover their nakedness and is symbolic in reference to the righteousness of God that comes on those who put their trust in Christ. Their eye salve was to make them see.

     In Laodicea there was at that time a treatment for eye soreness that was common in the Middle East. They knew what eye salve could do for one physically with sore eyes, and here this was to be transferred to their spiritual needs. In contrast to what wealth could buy, it is most significant that what is being provided here by God is something that cannot be earned or purchased by human wealth but has to be supplied by God Himself to those who put their trust in Him. As indicated in  Isaiah 55:1, those who come to God have an invitation to receive what is necessary without money and without price.

Isaiah 55:1 (ESV)     “Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

Psalm 42:1     As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2     My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 63:1     O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 143:6     I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

Isaiah 41:17     When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the LORD will answer them;
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

Isaiah 44:3     For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.

John 4:14     but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 7:37     On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

Revelation 21:6     And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.

     Unfortunately, many churches in the twentieth century, in whole or in part, resemble the church at Laodicea that is self-sufficient in the things of this life but is in poverty concerning the things of God. Though no clear exhortation for repentance was demanded in connection with the need of the Laodicean church, they were warned that they would be cast out unless they turned to riches that are recognized by God — which would be a repentance, a change of mind concerning their spiritual condition.

The Prophecy Given to Overcomers

     Revelation 3:19–21. At the conclusion of the seven messages to the churches, a general invitation was given to those who will listen and come to Christ. First of all, Christ stated the general principle: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent” (v.  19 ). As is illustrated in the messages to the churches, Christ stated that His purpose was not to judge but to bring them to repentance. An interesting fact is that He addresses them as “those whom I love” (Gr., agapao). The important fact is His rebuke and discipline stems from His love for them. The word discipline has in it the thought of child training taken from childhood to adulthood. The exhortation to self-judgment and repentance is another reminder that Christians who do not judge themselves will be judged, as stated by Paul in  1 Corinthians 11:31–32: “But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.” Because the believer has established an eternal relationship with God as one who is saved, it is revealed that God will not allow him to continue in sin indefinitely, but sooner or later, either in time or eternity, will deal with him.

     Having urged them to have fellowship with Him, Christ now describes Himself as One who is waiting for them to come: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” Rev. 3:20 ). This passage has sometimes been construed to refer to salvation, but in the context it seems to refer to those who already are believers. The issue is not related to salvation by eating with Christ but to fellowship, nourishment, and spiritual growth. God does not force Himself on anyone but waits for believers to come in simple faith to receive from God that which only God can supply.

     The concept of knocking and entering is found in Scripture, of which  Luke 12:35–40 is an illustration. However, in this and many other instances, the thought is that Christ is on the outside and the others who are on the inside waiting for Him to come should open the door when He comes. Christ used this in a parable: “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him” Luke 12:35–36 ).

     The invitation Christ extends here for those who wish to come and eat with Him is a most gracious invitation and illustrates that fellowship with God is always available to those who are willing to put their trust in Christ and come to God. In that fellowship they will not only enjoy the presence of the Savior but also the nourishment and the strengthening that comes from partaking of spiritual truth. They can be strengthened by dining on the things of God, the things of salvation, our wonderful hope, God’s sustaining grace, and all the other blessings that are ours in Christ.

     As Christ expresses it, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne” Rev. 3:21 ). Those who walk with Christ in fellowship in this life will also enjoy the right of fellowship and sharing in the throne of Christ in eternity to come. This invitation is extended to any in the churches who are faithful and who honor and serve the Lord. It is another illustration of the gracious provision God has made for those who trust Him.

     The message to the churches closes with the same invitation repeated in the message of each church: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (v.  22 ). God has spoken in words that should not be misunderstood, but so much depends on individuals hearing and responding to what they hear. The tragedy is that in so many cases no one is listening.

     Taken as a whole, the messages to the seven churches represent the major spiritual problems of the church down through the ages. Ephesus represented the danger of forsaking the love that characterized believers when they first trusted Christ ( 2:4 ). Smyrna illustrated the danger of fear, though otherwise they were faithful to God (v.  10 ). The church at Pergamum is a reminder of the constant danger of doctrinal compromise (v.  14–15 ). The church at Thyatira illustrated moral compromise (v.  20 ). The church at Sardis illustrated the danger of spiritual deadness ( 3:1–2 ). The church at Philadelphia, though faithful, was warned to hold fast to the things that they believed (v.  11 ). Laodicea illustrated the danger of lukewarmness (vv.  15–16 ), of outer religion without inner zeal and reality.

     Though the book of  Revelation deals primarily with prophecy concerning the future, it was written to help the churches of the present age understand the purposes of God and the great events that will characterize the end of the age.


Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

The Continual Burnt Offering (1 Corinthians 13:1)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

October 1
1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.    ESV

     There is a great difference between the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and mere natural affection precious as that is. The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is the expression of the new life communicated to believers in regeneration. It is the display of the divine nature. It was seen in all its perfection in our Lord Jesus Christ as man on earth.  In the measure in which we live and walk in communion with Him the same love will be seen in us.  If we were to change “love” into “Christ,” in verses 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 of this chapter, we would have a perfect picture of our blessed Lord Himself. It is as we show this love that our witness really counts for God, even among those who spurn our message.

1 Corinthians 13:4–7 (Picture of Jesus) 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.   ESV

Faith and hope and love we see,
Joining hand in hand agree,
But the greatest of the three
And the best is love.
Faith will vanish into sight,
Hope be emptied in delight;
Love in heaven will shine more bright;
Therefore give us love.
--- Bishop Christopher Wordsworth

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

  • Rights Talk
  • Inquiry Between Art/Science/Faith
  • Godliness and Truth

J. Budziszewski | Biola University


Brian Wilson | Biola University


Greg Ganssle | Biola University


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Things cut off, things cut back
     (Oct 1)    Bob Gass

     ‘So [you] will produce even more.’

(Jn 15:2) 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. ESV

     Jesus said the vine dresser ‘cuts off every branch…that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes [cuts back] the branches that do bear fruit so they…produce even more.’ Notice two things: 1) God cuts some things off. ‘What kind of things?’ Things you’re comfortable with but that stand in the way of your progress. Things He hasn’t chosen for you. Things that will bring you trouble. Things that refuse to change. Things that have served their purpose. 2) God cuts some things back. A fruit tree that’s just been pruned certainly doesn’t look its best. And when God starts cutting back certain things in your life in order to redirect your energies, for a while you may not look so good either. Sometimes this means letting go of things you thought would always be there, or reprioritising your life, or making do with less for a while, or not being able to explain to your loved ones why you’re going through the pruning process. But life-giving sap flowing into a barren branch with no potential for fruitfulness is a waste! And so is time, attention, and energy taken from first things and given to second and third things. Understand this: God knows what needs to be cut off in your life, and He knows what needs to be cut back. And although you may not understand what He’s doing, pray: ‘Send whoever You will and take away whoever You will. I’ll praise You when they come and I’ll praise You when they go, because Your approval is my reward and Your purpose is my reason to live.’

Luke 18:18-43
Ps 100-102

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “In the language of the Holy Writ, there is a time for all things. There is a time to preach and a time to fight.” Thus ended the sermon of Lutheran pastor John Peter Muhlenburg, as he removed his clerical robes to reveal the uniform in the Continental Army. After church service, 300 men of his congregation rode off with him to join General Washington’s troops. Born this day, October 1, 1746, and he died this same day in 1807. John Peter Muhlenburg was promoted to Major-General, and later Congressman and Senator. A statue of him now stands in the U.S. Capitol.

American Minute
The Soul of Prayer
     by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)

     God has blessed pain even in causing us to pray for relief from it, or profit. Whatever drives us to Him, and even nearer Him, has a blessing in it. And, if we are to go higher still, it is to turn pain to praise, to thank Him in the fires, to review life and use some of the energy we spend in worrying upon recalling and tracing His goodness, patience, and mercy. If much open up to us in such a review we may be sure there is much more we do not know, and perhaps never may. God is the greatest of all who do good by stealth and do not crave for every benefit to be acknowledged. Or we may see how our pain becomes a blessing to others. And we turn the spirit of heaviness to the garment of praise. We may stop grousing and get our soul into its Sunday clothes. The sacrament of pain becomes then a true Eucharist and giving of thanks.

     And if there were a higher stage than all it would be Adoration—when we do not think of favours or mercies to us or ours at all, but of the perfection and glory of the Lord. We feel to His Holy Name what the true artist feels towards an unspeakable beauty. As Wordsworth says:

     I gazed and gazed,
     And did not wish her mine.

     There was a girl of 15, tall, sweet, distinguished beyond her years. And this is how Heine ran into English at the sight of her:

     No flower is half so lovely,
     So dear, and fair, and kind.
     A boundless tide of tenderness
     Flows over my heart and mind.
     And I pray. (There is no answer
     To beauty unearthly but prayer.)
     God answered my prayer, and keep you
     So dear, and fine, and fair.

     Tomorrow begins Chapter 3, The Moral Reactions of Prayer.

--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).

The Soul of Prayer
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Nothing does reason more right,
than the coolness of those that offer it:
For Truth often suffers more
by the heat of its defenders,
than from the arguments of its opposers.
--- William Penn

Happiness can only be achieved by looking inward and learning to enjoy whatever life has and this requires transforming greed into gratitude.
--- John Chrysostom

And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.” (In a letter to John Adams, 4/11/1823)
--- Thomas Jefferson

There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is Vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.

--- Bernard of Clairvaux

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 8.

     How The Romans Took The Second Wall Twice, And Got All Ready For Taking The Third Wall.

     1. Now Caesar took this wall there on the fifth day after he had taken the first; and when the Jews had fled from him, he entered into it with a thousand armed men, and those of his choice troops, and this at a place where were the merchants of wool, the braziers, and the market for cloth, and where the narrow streets led obliquely to the wall. Wherefore, if Titus had either demolished a larger part of the wall immediately, or had come in, and, according to the law of war, had laid waste what was left, his victory would not, I suppose, have been mixed with any loss to himself. But now, out of the hope he had that he should make the Jews ashamed of their obstinacy, by not being willing, when he was able, to afflict them more than he needed to do, he did not widen the breach of the wall, in order to make a safer retreat upon occasion; for he did not think they would lay snares for him that did them such a kindness. When therefore he came in, he did not permit his soldiers to kill any of those they caught, nor to set fire to their houses neither; nay, he gave leave to the seditious, if they had a mind, to fight without any harm to the people, and promised to restore the people's effects to them; for he was very desirous to preserve the city for his own sake, and the temple for the sake of the city. As to the people, he had them of a long time ready to comply with his proposals; but as to the fighting men, this humanity of his seemed a mark of his weakness, and they imagined that he made these proposals because he was not able to take the rest of the city. They also threatened death to the people, if they should any one of them say a word about a surrender. They moreover cut the throats of such as talked of a peace, and then attacked those Romans that were come within the wall. Some of them they met in the narrow streets, and some they fought against from their houses, while they made a sudden sally out at the upper gates, and assaulted such Romans as were beyond the wall, till those that guarded the wall were so affrighted, that they leaped down from their towers, and retired to their several camps: upon which a great noise was made by the Romans that were within, because they were encompassed round on every side by their enemies; as also by them that were without, because they were in fear for those that were left in the city. Thus did the Jews grow more numerous perpetually, and had great advantages over the Romans, by their full knowledge of those narrow lanes; and they wounded a great many of them, and fell upon them, and drove them out of the city. Now these Romans were at present forced to make the best resistance they could; for they were not able, in great numbers, to get out at the breach in the wall, it was so narrow. It is also probable that all those that were gotten within had been cut to pieces, if Titus had not sent them succors; for he ordered the archers to stand at the upper ends of these narrow lanes, and he stood himself where was the greatest multitude of his enemies, and with his darts he put a stop to them; as with him did Domitius Sabinus also, a valiant man, and one that in this battle appeared so to be. Thus did Caesar continue to shoot darts at the Jews continually, and to hinder them from coming upon his men, and this until all his soldiers had retreated out of the city.

     2. And thus were the Romans driven out, after they had possessed themselves of the second wall. Whereupon the fighting men that were in the city were lifted up in their minds, and were elevated upon this their good success, and began to think that the Romans would never venture to come into the city any more; and that if they kept within it themselves, they should not be any more conquered. For God had blinded their minds for the transgressions they had been guilty of, nor could they see how much greater forces the Romans had than those that were now expelled, no more than they could discern how a famine was creeping upon them; for hitherto they had fed themselves out of the public miseries, and drank the blood of the city. But now poverty had for a long time seized upon the better part, and a great many had died already for want of necessaries; although the seditious indeed supposed the destruction of the people to be an easement to themselves; for they desired that none others might be preserved but such as were against a peace with the Romans, and were resolved to live in opposition to them, and they were pleased when the multitude of those of a contrary opinion were consumed, as being then freed from a heavy burden. And this was their disposition of mind with regard to those that were within the city, while they covered themselves with their armor, and prevented the Romans, when they were trying to get into the city again, and made a wall of their own bodies over against that part of the wall that was cast down. Thus did they valiantly defend themselves for three days; but on the fourth day they could not support themselves against the vehement assaults of Titus but were compelled by force to fly whither they had fled before; so he quietly possessed himself again of that wall, and demolished it entirely. And when he had put a garrison into the towers that were on the south parts of the city, he contrived how he might assault the third wall.

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

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
Proverbs 26:1
     by D.H. Stern

1     Like snow in summer or rain at harvest-time,
     so honor for a fool is out of place.

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 sphere of exaltation

     Jesus leadeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves. --- Mark 9:2.

     We have all had times on the mount, when we have seen things from God’s standpoint and have wanted to stay there; but God will never allow us to stay there. The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, something is wrong. It is a great thing to be on the mount with God, but a man only gets there in order that afterwards he may get down among the devil-possessed and lift them up. We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount. We feel we could talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay on the mount. The times of exaltation are exceptional, they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware lest our spiritual selfishness wants to make them the only time.

     We are apt to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching, it is to be turned into something better than teaching, viz., into character. The mount is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a great snare in asking—‘What is the use of it?’ In spiritual matters we can never calculate on that line. The moments on the mountain top are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.

My Utmost for His Highest
Coto Donana
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                Coto Donana

I don't know; ask the place.
  It was there when we found it:
  Sand mostly, and bushes, too;
  Some of them with dry flowers.
  The map indicates a lake;
  We thought we saw it from the top
  Of a sand-dune, but walking brought it
  No nearer.
          There are great birds
  There that stain the sand
  With their shadows, and snakes coil
  Their necklaces about the bones
  Of the carrion. At night the wild
  Boars plough by their tusks'
  Moonlight, and fierce insects
  Sing, drilling for the blood
  Of the humans, whom time's sea
  Has left there to ride and dream.

Selected poems, 1946-1968
Malachi 3:7–12
     Robbing God’s Storehouse
     W. W. Wiersbe

     If “like people, like priest” (Hosea 4:9) applied to the spiritual leaders of the nation, then “like father, like son” (or “like mother, like daughter”) applied to everybody else. From the days of the patriarchs until Malachi’s time, the nation frequently disobeyed God’s Word, and God had to send prophets to call them to repent and return.

     When the people heard Malachi call them to return to the Lord, instead of obeying that call, they began to argue with God’s servant. They remind me of those people who evade the issue by saying, “Define your terms! What do you mean by ‘return’?” But Malachi didn’t hesitate to tell them how to start returning to God: “Bring God the tithes and offerings that are rightfully His!” Theirs was the sin of robbery in at least three different areas.

     They were robbing God (
Mal. 3:7–8). The needs of the priests and Levites were met from the sacrifices and also from the tithes and offerings brought to the temple by the people. The word “tithe” comes from a Hebrew word that means “ten.” A tithe is 10 percent of one’s grain, fruit, animals, or money (Lev. 27:30–34; Neh. 13:5). There were special storage rooms in the temple for keeping the grain, produce, and money that the people brought to the Lord in obedience to His Law. If people didn’t want to carry heavy produce all the way to the temple, they could convert it into cash, but they had to add 20 percent to it just to make sure they weren’t making a profit and robbing God (Lev. 27:31).

     The annual tithe was given to the Levites (
Num. 18:21–24), who in turn gave a tithe of that income to the priests (vv. 25–32). When a worshiper brought his tithe to the temple, he could use part of it to enjoy a special meal with his family and the Levites (Deut. 12:6–7, 17–19). Every third year a tithe was to be brought to the leaders locally to be used for the poor (14:28–29).

     Tithing as an act of worship is as old as Abraham, who gave tithes to Melchizedek, acknowledging that Melchizedek was the representative of the Most High God (
Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7). Jacob vowed to God that he would tithe
Gen. 28:22), so tithing antedates the Law of Moses. However, tithing was officially incorporated into the Law of Moses as a part of Israel’s worship. In bringing the tithes and offerings, the people were not only supporting the ministry of the temple, but they were also giving thanks to God for His bountiful provision for their own needs.

     Over the centuries, many of the Jews committed two errors with regard to the tithe: (1) the legalists obeyed the Law so scrupulously that, like the Pharisees, they even tithed the minute garden herbs (
Matt. 23:23–24), all the while thinking that their obedience would earn them righteousness before God; (2) the irreligious neglected the tithe and by disobeying God deprived the temple ministry of what it needed to keep going. When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, the temple storerooms were empty of produce and many of the priests and Levites had abandoned their service to go back home and work their fields in order to care for their families (Neh. 13:10). The people had vowed to bring their tithes (10:34–39), but they hadn’t kept their vow.

     Since God made and owns everything, He doesn’t need anything that we can bring Him (
Acts 17:25). But when we obey His Word and bring our gifts as an act of worship with grateful hearts, it pleases him. While 1 Corinthians 16:1–2 suggests proportionate giving (“as God has prospered him”), (The offering mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:1–3 was not a regular weekly offering received at a meeting of God’s people. It was a special “relief offering” Paul was receiving from the Gentile believers to give aid to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. ) there is no express command to tithe given to the church in the New Testament. Paul teaches “grace giving” in 2 Corinthians 8–9, which is certainly beyond 10 percent. Many Christians feel that if believers under the Old Covenant brought their tithes, how could Christians under the New Covenant begin with anything less?

     They were robbing themselves (
Mal. 3:9–11). In robbing God, the people were not fulfilling the covenant they had made with the Lord; therefore, God couldn’t fulfill His promise and bless them (Lev. 26:3ff). “The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land” (Deut. 28:8). Insects had invaded the land (“the devourer,” Mal. 3:11) and the grain and fruit were not maturing.

     Whenever we rob God, we always rob ourselves. To begin with, we rob ourselves of the spiritual blessings that always accompany obedience and faithful giving
2 Cor. 9:6–15). But even more, the money that rightfully belongs to God that we keep for ourselves never stays with us. It ends up going to the doctor, the auto body shop, or the tax collector. “You have sown much, and bring in little … and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes” (Hag. 1:6, NKJV). If we don’t trust God to care for us, whatever we do trust will prove futile. People who lovingly give tithes and offerings to God find that whatever is left over goes much farther and brings much greater blessing.

     Yes, giving is an act of faith, but God rewards that faith in every way. That isn’t the reason we give, because that kind of motivation would be selfish. “If you give because it pays, it won’t pay!” said industrialist R.G. LeTourneau, and he was right. We give because we love God and want to obey Him, and because He’s very generous to us. When we lay up treasures in heaven, they pay rich dividends for all eternity.

     The promise in
Malachi 3:10 was linked to the covenant the Israelites had made with the Lord (Deut. 28:1–14), so if they faithfully obeyed Him, He would faithfully keep His promises. But the spiritual principle behind this promise is echoed in Luke 6:38 and 2 Corinthians 9:6–8, so believers today can lay hold of it. For some Christians in America, a tithe would be much too small an amount, but each believer must be fully persuaded in his or her heart what the Lord wants him or her to do. (Multitudes of people have testified to the blessing of regular systematic proportionate giving. However, we must remember that even after we’ve given generously to the Lord, what remains is still His, for we are stewards of everything He gives us. Giving a tithe doesn’t mean we have the right to use the remaining 90 percent for ourselves.)

     They were robbing others (
Mal. 3:12). The remnant that returned to Judah after the exile had a great opportunity to trust God and bear witness to the other nations that their God was the true and living God. Had the Jews trusted the Lord, He would have done great things for them and they would have been a testimony to others. As it was, they floundered in their faith and nobody could look at them and call them blessed.

     God’s promise was, “The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. Then 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” (
Deut. 28:9–10). The Gentiles would have come to Jerusalem to learn about this great and wonderful God who could take a group of refugees and turn them into a blessed nation.

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

Lord’s response (Malachi 3:1–5)
     The certainty of the Messiah’s coming

     The Lord here assures his people that he has not forgotten his promise to send the Messiah. The one whom they were seeking would be preceded by a special messenger from God (John the Baptist). John Benton writes: ‘John the Baptist was like a herald going before the royal procession to indicate the route that the king would take and to make preparations for his coming.’

     Furthermore, the Messiah would ‘suddenly come to his temple.’ The Lord probably chose to emphasize this because of the attitude that the people had towards the temple that had been rebuilt after the captivity. Because it could not compare with their first temple, built by Solomon, many were disappointed. Here the Lord tells them that their temple would have a glory all its own, a glory which could not be matched even by Solomon’s. Their temple would be visited by the Messiah himself!

     We should note that the Messiah is identified as ‘the Messenger of the covenant’. He would come proclaiming a new covenant (
Jer. 31:31; Ezek. 37:26).

     We must not think that the Lord Jesus came to offer a new or different plan of salvation from that which had been previously known. This is, in fact, the view some hold. They see God trying one plan of salvation and then another, only finally to ‘hit on’ the idea of sending his Son.

     The truth is that God has only had one plan of salvation in all of human history, and that plan is the Lord Jesus. The people of the Old Testament era were saved by looking forward in faith to his coming, and those since are saved by looking backward in faith to the Christ who has come. But all are saved by faith in Christ.

     The newness of the covenant Jesus proclaimed is not due to it bringing in blessings that people had never experienced before. It is rather to be found in the degree to which these blessings were understood and enjoyed and the way in which those blessings were to be administered. With regard to the administration, the plan of salvation is the same under the old covenant and the new, that is, faith in the perfect sacrifice of Christ. But under the old, that salvation had to be continually anticipated through the sacrifice of animals. It is enjoyed under the new as a permanently purchased possession.

     Verse 1, then, brings together three messengers. Malachi was proclaiming God’s message of a messenger (John the Baptist), who would precede the greatest of all messengers (the Lord Jesus).

Opening up Malachi (Opening up the Bible)

Malachi 3:13–4:6
     Despising God’s Service
     W. W. Wiersbe

     This is the sixth and last of Malachi’s accusations: “’You have said harsh things against Me,’ says the Lord” (3:13, NIV). As he closes his book, he points out four different groups of people and what they said and did.

     The complainers (
Mal. 3:13–15). These people were guilty of saying “harsh things” against the Lord. For one thing, they felt that serving the Lord was drudgery; it was “futile” to be His servants. The priests may have been the leaders in this complaining, but the common people were just as guilty. “We’re not getting anything out of it!” was their grievance. “Things just keep getting worse.”

     I hear this complaint from some believers about their churches. “We’re not getting anything out of it!” But a church is like a bank or a home: you don’t get anything out of it unless you put something into it. We serve God because it’s the right thing to do, not because we’re rewarded for our service. (We shall be rewarded, but that’s not our main motive.)

     But they had a second complaint: the pagan peoples around them who didn’t know the Lord were in better shape than the people of Judah! The wicked were prospering while the godly were suffering. Of course, it would have been difficult for the Jews to prove that they were “godly,” because they were guilty of disobeying the Lord. God would have blessed them if they had yielded themselves to Him, but they preferred to have their own way and then complain about what didn’t happen.

     It’s a serious thing to serve the Lord, and we’re commanded to “serve the Lord with gladness” (
Ps. 100:2). It’s a sad thing when a servant of God is a drudge, merely doing a job because that’s what he or she has to do or for what they get out of it. Philippians 2:1–12 is God’s portrait of Christ, God’s ideal Servant, and His example is the one that we should follow.

               Imitating Christ’s Humility

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that wasa in Christ Jesus,

6     who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7     but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8     he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

9     Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10     so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11     and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Shining as Lights in the World

12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

NRSV Standard Bible (black) (Php 2:1–13).

     The believers (Mal. 3:16–18). There was a group of true believers in this remnant, and they remained faithful to the Lord. They feared the Lord, which means they held Him in awe and worshiped Him as the Lord Almighty. They met together, not to complain but to encourage and edify each other. They spoke about the Lord and they weren’t afraid for Him to hear what they were saying!

     Their assembly probably wasn’t a large one, and they may have thought that very little was happening because they met and worshiped, but God was paying attention and keeping a record of their words. Their neighbors may have laughed at them, but God was pleased with them. They weren’t wasting their time because they were investing in eternity.

     God claimed them as His own, and God promised to spare them in the future judgment when everybody would see that there is a difference between the righteous and the wicked and that this difference is important.

     One of the sins of the priests was that they failed to make the distinction between the way of holiness and the way of sin. To them, one sacrifice was just as good as another, yet they were supposed to teach the people “the difference between the holy and the common, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” (Ezek. 44:23).

     Many of God’s faithful servants become discouraged because the times are difficult, the crowds are small, and their work seems to be unappreciated. People who aren’t really walking with the Lord seem to be getting more attention than are the faithful servants. But the day will come when God will reveal “His jewels” (“treasured possession,” NIV; see Ex. 19:5; Deut. 7:6), and then the faithful will receive their reward. Every discouraged servant of God needs to read and ponder. 1 Corinthians 4:1–5.

4 Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.

NRSV Standard Bible (black) (1 Co 4:1–5).

     The evildoers (Mal. 4:1–3). Once again, Malachi returns to the theme of the coming Day of the Lord when God will punish all evildoers. Sinners will be burned up the way fire eats up the stubble; they will become like ashes under the feet of the saints! But the true believers will see the dawning of a new day as the “Sun of righteousness” rises (Luke 1:78–79). Then Jesus will reign as King of Kings and His people will frolic like calves let out of their stalls!

     The preachers (
Mal. 4:4–6). Malachi has been faithful as God’s messenger, and he closes his book by reminding the people of two other faithful prophets, Moses and Elijah. The Law of Moses was still God’s rule of life for the Jews, and if they obeyed, God would bless them. Of course, believers today aren’t under the Law (Rom. 6:15; Gal. 5:1–4), but they still practice the righteousness of the Law through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God (Rom. 8:1–4).

     The promise in
Malachi 4:5 was often discussed and debated by the Jewish rabbis who asked, “Who is the Elijah whom the Lord will send?” The Jewish leaders interrogated John the Baptist about it (John 1:19–21) and Peter, James, and John asked Jesus about it (Matt. 17:10).

     The prophet Elijah is mentioned at least thirty times in the New Testament, and ten of those references relate him to John the Baptist. But John the Baptist said plainly that he was no Elijah (
John 1:21, 25). He did come in the “spirit and power” of Elijah and turn the hearts of fathers and children (Luke 1:16–17). Like Elijah, John was a courageous man, a man of prayer empowered by the Spirit, a man who lived alone in the wilderness, and a servant who turned many people back to the Lord, but he was not Elijah returned to earth.

     However, for those who believed on Christ during His earthly ministry, John the Baptist performed the work of Elijah in their lives: he prepared them to meet the Lord.
“And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come” (Matt. 11:14, NIV). “Elijah is come already,” said Jesus, “and they know him not.” The disciples understood Jesus to mean John the Baptist who came in the spirit and power of Elijah (17:10–13).

Malachi 4:5 promises that Elijah himself will come, and that his coming is related to the “Day of the Lord” that will burn the wicked like stubble (v. 1). That’s why Jesus said, “Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matt. 17:11). Many students believe that Elijah is one of the two witnesses whose ministries are described in Revelation 11:3–12. (They believe the other is Moses.) It’s worth noting that both Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3), which explains why the three apostles asked about Elijah.

     Inasmuch as “the great and terrible Day of the Lord” did not occur in New Testament times, we have to believe that John the Baptist was not the promised Elijah, even though he ministered like Elijah. Therefore, this prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. It may well be that Elijah will return to earth as one of the two witnesses (
Rev. 11:3–12), for the signs that these two men will perform remind us of the miracles of Elijah. After the ministry of the witnesses, the Lord will pour out His wrath upon the earth (v. 18; 16:1ff) and the Day of the Lord will burst upon the world in its fury.

     It seems odd that the Old Testament Scriptures should end with the word “curse.” When we get near the end of the New Testament, we read, “And there shall be no more curse” (
Rev. 22:3). All of creation is eagerly awaiting the return of the Savior, expecting Him to deliver creation from the bondage of sin (Rom. 8:18–23). We too should be expecting Him and, while we’re waiting, witness of Him to others. For when the Sun of righteousness arises, it will mean either burning or blessing (Mal. 4:1–2): blessing to those who have trusted Him, burning to those who have rejected Him.

     Nobody can afford to argue with God the way the Israelites did when they heard Malachi, because God will always have the last word.

     For you, will that last word be salvation or judgment?

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

The Dead Sea Scrolls
     by Google and Israel’s National Museum

     The Dead Sea Scrolls have made their way online some 2,000 years after they were written through a partnership between Google and Israel’s national museum.

     The important documents are available in searchable, high-resolution images, accompanied by informative videos, background information, and historical data. So far five of the scrolls have been digitized, including the biblical Book of Isaiah, the Temple Scroll, and three others.

     Managing Director of Google’s R&D Center in Israel, Professor Yossi Matias said they plan to add additional Dead Sea Scroll documents to the site in the future. The AP says nearly all the scrolls will be online by 2016. (PC Magazine)

     Here is technology at its best!           Click Here

Searching For Meaning In Midrash

     In ancient times, the sanctity of Torah created not only a series of rules on how to live life, but also a series of rules on how to decipher Torah. One of those sets of rules is found in the opening chapter of the Sifra, where Rabbi Yishmael taught that “the Torah is interpreted by thirteen principles.” Those rules gave Rabbi Yishmael and his colleagues direction and limitation in their quest for knowledge from Torah. That same list is found in the traditional siddur, where it is read each Morning during the Shaḥarit service. Though rather technical and complex, Rabbi Yishmael’s principles enabled Jews to study a selection of Rabbinic literature each day.

     As this book draws to an end, we offer a series of contemporary rules for understanding Torah in our day, “The Thirteen Guidelines of Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Gershon.”

     Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Gershon said: The Torah can be interpreted through thirteen guidelines.

1.     First, we learn.

     Midrash comes out of an interpretation of the sacred text. We begin not with a message we want to preach, but with a willingness to study, to question, and to search the Torah for what it has to say to us.

2.     Learning requires tools.

     Midrash implies a connection to the Jewish past. We cannot rely on ourselves alone; we need to turn to other commentaries and interpretations—traditional and scholarly, conceptual or technical—to ground us. Jews don’t just read the Bible; they study it.

3.     Ask questions.

     We can’t discover a good answer until we’ve asked the right question. Every verse we read should provoke a series of questions. “Who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” are as good a place as any to start.

4.     Know the context.

      It is critical to know what came before the section we’re studying and what comes after it. How a particular story fits in to what surrounds it is of great importance in Midrash (even though the Midrash itself often takes a verse out of context!).

5.     Pay attention to details.

      The Bible often tells us a lot less than we’d like to know. When it does pay attention to detail, we should too, because this is usually a hint that we are being told something significant.

6.     Don’t get lost in the details.

     Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Always ask: What is the main point or the ultimate value that is being conveyed?

7.     Fill in the blanks.

     Ask what is missing, and then go out and find it. Draw on earlier or later stories about the same characters, or use personal experiences, or turn to the imagination to flesh out the story.

8.     Language is important.

     So much of the Midrash is based on the particular phrases, words, or letters that are being used to tell the story. Why did the author choose this way and not some other? This means that while we may work with translations, the Hebrew text contains many secrets.

9.     Bring in and acknowledge other sources.

     We are links in a chain of tradition. Bringing in other interpretations shows that we do not depend on ourselves alone. Quoting those sources shows our respect for the ideas of others.

10.     There is more than one right answer.

      Two people may see the same verse in very different ways. And we may find that over time, we ourselves have changed our opinions of what the text means. “Both are the words of the living God,” as the Rabbis often said.

11.     Be respectfully radical.

     From time to time, the Rabbis said things that border on the blasphemous. The key is not what we say, but how we say it. Anger, challenge, questioning are tolerated in Midrash, if they come from within the tradition, and if they come with love.

12.     Let the Torah challenge us.

     We don’t use the Torah merely to buttress a position we already believe in. Just as we have to question the Torah, we have to let the Torah question and challenge us.

13.     Connect the Torah to today.

     After we immerse ourselves in the Torah, we turn outward and try to make it speak to something in our lives and to something in the world around us. Or else, what is the point?

     Creating Midrash is difficult, but it is among the most rewarding things that we can do. There is always a need for … another D’rash.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Take Heart
     October 1

     I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
--- Romans 12:1. KJV

     Observe the exactness with which [Paul] uses each word. For he does not say, offer your bodies as a sacrifice, but “present” them, as if he had said, Never again have any interest in them. (A SELECT LIBRARY OF THE NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH Volume XI: Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans.) You have given them up to another. For even they that furnish (same word) the warhorses have no further interest in them. And you too have presented your members for the war against the Devil and for that dread battle array. Do not let them down to selfish use.

     And he shows another thing also from this, that you must make them approved. For it is not to any mortal being that we present them, but to God, the King of the universe. Since then it is both to be presented (that is, as for a king’s use) and is a sacrifice, rid it of every spot, since if it has a spot, it will no longer be a sacrifice. For neither can the eye that looks lecherously be sacrificed nor the hand be presented that is greedy nor the feet that go to playhouses nor the belly that is self-indulgent nor the heart that has rage in it nor the tongue that utters filthy things.

     Thus we must spy out the spots on our bodies. For if those who offered the sacrifices of old were commanded to look on every side and were not permitted to offer “the blind, the injured or the maimed, or anything with warts or festering or running sores” (Lev. 22:22), much more must we, who offer ourselves, be pure in all respects. For if when Elijah offered the visible sacrifice, a flame that came down from above consumed the whole—water, wood, and stones—much more will this be done upon you.

     And if you have anything in you relaxed and secular, and yet offer the sacrifice with a good intention, the fire of the Spirit will wear away that worldliness and perfect (or “carry up”) the whole sacrifice.

     But what is “reasonable service”? It means spiritual ministry, a way of life according to Christ. And this will be so if every day you bring [to] him yourself as a sacrifice and become the priest of your own body and of the virtue of your soul, offering soberness, relief for the poor, and goodness and moral strength. For in doing this you offer “a reasonable service” (or worship).
--- John Chrysostom

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day   October 1
     The Fifteenth Point

     Unity is essential among Christians, but unity does not mean uniformity; and one of the most remarkable patterns in church history is that God uses his church and blesses his children even when they disagree. History’s first missionary team, Paul and Barnabas, argued over John Mark. Wesley and Whitefield were at odds over various points of theology. And the Reformers themselves, strong-willed men, crossed swords over, among other things, the nature of the Lord’s Supper.

     The Swiss Reformers, led by Ulrich Zwingli, insisted that the Lord’s Supper was a memorial service, while the German Reformers, led by Martin Luther, insisted that Christ is actually present in the consecrated bread and wine.

     The conflict was so sharp that a local political leader invited the men to his castle in Marburg on October 1, 1529. In the banquet hall a long table, covered with a velvet runner, sat in the middle of the room. Before the proceedings began, Luther reportedly took a piece of chalk and, on the cloth in front of him, wrote the words, “This is my body.”

     The debate raged for three days. Zwingli insisted that the verb “is” in the phrase “This is my body” should be interpreted as “represents.” Luther said, “Where in the Bible does the verb ‘is’ ever mean ‘represent’?” Zwingli showed him several places. But Luther wouldn’t budge. At the end of the three-day conference, the delegates had agreed on 14 of 15 areas of former confusion. But on the fifteenth—the Lord’s Supper—they failed to reach agreement, and the Reformers were unable to join the German and Swiss factions. As a result, Zwingli lost the support of the German princes. The five Catholic Cantons of Switzerland sent an army against him, and he died in the Battle of Kappel.

     But nothing could stop the Reformers’ fire, and despite the failure of the Marburg meetings, the doctrine of justification by grace through faith spread across the continent.

     During the meal Jesus took some bread in his hands. He blessed the bread and broke it. Then he gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this. It is my body.” Jesus picked up the cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He gave it to his disciples, and they all drank some. Then he said, “This is my blood, which is poured out for many people. … ”
--- Mark 14:22-24.

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

          Morning - October 1

     “Pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.” --- Song of Solomon 7:13.

     The spouse desires to give to Jesus all that she produces. Our heart has “all manner of pleasant fruits,” both “old and new,” and they are laid up for our Beloved. At this rich autumnal season of fruit, let us survey our stores. We have new fruits. We desire to feel new life, new joy, new gratitude; we wish to make new resolves and carry them out by new labours; our heart blossoms with new prayers, and our soul is pledging herself to new efforts. But we have some old fruits too. There is our first love: a choice fruit that! and Jesus delights in it. There is our first faith: that simple faith by which, having nothing, we became possessors of all things. There is our joy when first we knew the Lord: let us revive it. We have our old remembrances of the promises. How faithful has God been! In sickness, how softly did he make our bed! In deep waters, how placidly did he buoy us up! In the flaming furnace, how graciously did he deliver us. Old fruits, indeed! We have many of them, for his mercies have been more than the hairs of our head. Old sins we must regret, but then we have had repentances which he has given us, by which we have wept our way to the cross, and learned the merit of his blood. We have fruits, this Morning, both new and old; but here is the point—they are all laid up for Jesus. Truly, those are the best and most acceptable services in which Jesus is the solitary aim of the soul, and his glory, without any admixture whatever, the end of all our efforts. Let our many fruits be laid up only for our Beloved; let us display them when he is with us, and not hold them up before the gaze of men. Jesus, we will turn the key in our garden door, and none shall enter to rob thee of one good fruit from the soil which thou hast watered with thy bloody sweat. Our all shall be thine, thine only, O Jesus, our Beloved!

          Evening - October 1

     “He will give grace and glory.” --- Psalm 84:11.

     Bounteous is Jehovah in his nature; to give is his delight. His gifts are beyond measure precious, and are as freely given as the light of the sun. He gives grace to his elect because he wills it, to his redeemed because of his covenant, to the called because of his promise, to believers because they seek it, to sinners because they need it. He gives grace abundantly, seasonably, constantly, readily, sovereignly; doubly enhancing the value of the boon by the manner of its bestowal. Grace in all its forms he freely renders to his people: comforting, preserving, sanctifying, directing, instructing, assisting grace, he generously pours into their souls without ceasing, and he always will do so, whatever may occur. Sickness may befall, but the Lord will give grace; poverty may happen to us, but grace will surely be afforded; death must come but grace will light a candle at the darkest hour. Reader, how blessed it is as years roll round, and the leaves begin again to fall, to enjoy such an unfading promise as this, “The Lord will give grace.”

     The little conjunction “and” in this verse is a diamond rivet binding the present with the future: grace and glory always go together. God has married them, and none can divorce them. The Lord will never deny a soul glory to whom he has freely given to live upon his grace; indeed, glory is nothing more than grace in its Sabbath dress, grace in full bloom, grace like autumn fruit, mellow and perfected. How soon we may have glory none can tell! It may be before this month of October has run out we shall see the Holy City; but be the interval longer or shorter, we shall be glorified ere long. Glory, the glory of heaven, the glory of eternity, the glory of Jesus, the glory of the Father, the Lord will surely give to his chosen. Oh, rare promise of a faithful God!

     Two golden links of one celestial chain:
     Who owneth grace shall surely glory gain.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     October 1

          LORD, SPEAK TO ME

     Frances R. Havergal, 1836–1879

     We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

     As Christ’s personal ambassadors, we should be people of double resolve: To hear what God has to say to us and then to share that message with others.

     Use me, God, in Thy great harvest field,
     Which stretcheth far and wide like a wide sea;
     The gatherers are so few; I fear the precious yield
     Will suffer loss. Oh, find a place for me!
     --- Christina G. Rossetti

     Effective service must always begin with prayer—asking God to use us to accomplish His eternal purposes in the lives of others. But we must not dictate to our Lord as to how and when we should be used. We are simply to be available whenever He directs in a particular situation. Then our representation for Him is simply to speak His truth boldly but always in love. Imploring lost people to be reconciled to God is far different from merely engaging them in theological arguments. We must always remember that the real need of people is to hear about the historical Christ as a personal Savior and Lord and to be guided to a living and vital relationship with Him.

     Frances Ridley Havergal, the author of this text, has often been called the “consecration poet” because of her deep commitment to Christ. This text first appeared in 1872 in leaflet form with the title “A Worker’s Prayer,” accompanied by the scripture verse: “For none of us lives to himself and none dies to himself” (Romans 14:17). These words have since been widely used in leading others to a deeper consecration of their lives to God:

     Lord, speak to me that I may speak in living echoes of Thy tone; as Thou hast sought, so let me seek Thy erring children lost and lone.
     O lead me, Lord, that I may lead the wand’ring and the wav’ring feet; O feed me, Lord, that I may feed the hung’ ring ones with manna sweet.
     O teach me, Lord, that I may teach the precious things Thou dost impart; and wing my words that they may reach the hidden depths of many a heart.
     O fill me with Thy fullness, Lord, until my very heart o’er-flow in kindling tho’t and glowing word, Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.
     O use me, Lord, use even me, just as Thou wilt, and when, and where, until Thy blessed face I see —Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.

     For Today: Psalm 119:9–16; Luke 17:21; John 13:15; Acts 1:8; John 2:17

     Ask God to engineer the circumstances that will allow you to represent Him effectively to some needy person. Use this musical prayer ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock


     II. . Reasons to prove God’s essential presence. Reason I. Because he is infinite. As he is infinite, he is everywhere; as he is simple, his whole essence is everywhere: for, in regard of his infiniteness, he hath no bounds; in regard of his simplicity, he hath no parts and, therefore, those that deny God’s omnipresence, though they pretend to own him infinite, must really conceive him finite.

     1. God is infinite in his perfections. None can set bounds to terminate the greatness and excellency of God (Psalm 145:3): “His greatness is unsearchable,” Sept. οὐχ ἔστι πέρας, there is no end, no limitation. What hath no end is infinite; his power is infinite (Job 5:9): “which doth great things and unsearchable;” — no end of those things he is able to do. His wisdom infinite (Psalm 147:5); he understands all things past, present, and to come; what is already made, what is possible to be made. His duration infinite (Job 36:26): “The number of his years cannot be searched out” ἀπέραντος. To make a finite thing of nothing is an argument of an infinite virtue. Infinite power can only extract something out of the barren womb of nothing; but all things were drawn forth by the word of God, the heavens, and all the host of them; the sun, moon, stars, the rich embellishments of the world, appeared in being “at the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6). The author, therefore, must be infinite; and since nothing is the cause of God, or of any perfection in him, — since he derives not his being, or the least spark of his glorious nature, from anything without him, — he cannot be limited in any part of his nature by anything without him; and, indeed, the infiniteness of his power and his other perfections is asserted by the prophet, when he tells us that “the nations are as a drop of a bucket, or the dust of the balance, and less than nothing and vanity” (Isa. 40:15, 17), they are all so in regard of his power, wisdom, &c. Conceive what a little thing a grain of dust or sand is to all the dust that may be made by the rubbish of a house: what a little thing the heap of the rubbish of a house is to the vast heap of the rubbish of a whole city, such an one as London; how little that, also, would be to the dust of a whole empire; how inconsiderable that, also, to the dust of one quarter of the world, Europe or Asia; how much less that, still, to the dust of the whole world! The whole world is composed of an unconceivable number of atoms, and the sea of an unconceivablo number of drops; now what a little grain of dust is in comparison to the dust of the whole world — a drop of water from the sea, to all the drops remaining in the sea — that is the whole world to God. Conceive it still less, a mere nothing, yet is it all less than this in comparison of God; there can be nothing more magnificently expressive of the infiniteness of God to a human conception, than this expression of God himself in the prophet. In the perfection of a creature, something still may be thought greater to be added to it; but God containing all perfections in himself formally, if they be mere perfections, and eminently, if they be but perfections in the creature, mixed with imperfection, nothing can be thought greater, and therefore every one of them is infinite.

     2. If his perfections be infinite, his essence must be so. How God can have infinite perfections, and a finite essence, is unconceivable by a human or angelical understanding; an infinite power, an infinite wisdom, an infinite duration, must needs speak an infinite essence; since the infiniteness of his attributes is grounded upon the infiniteness of his essence: to own infinite perfections in a finite subject is contradictory. The manner of acting by his power, and knowing his wisdom, cannot exceed the manner of being by his essence. His perfections flow from his essence, and the principle must be one the same rank with what flows from it; and, if we conceive his essence to be the cause of his perfections, it is utterly impossible that an infinite effect should arise from a finite cause: but, indeed, his perfections are his essence; for though we conceive the essence of God as the subject, and the attributes of God as faculties and qualities in that subject, according to our weak model, who cannot conceive of an infinite God without some manner of likeness to ourselves — who find understanding, and will, and power in us distinct from our substance; yet truly and really there is no distinction between his essence and attributes; one is inseparable from the other. His power and wisdom are his essence; and therefore to maintain God infinite in the one, and finite in the other, is to make a monstrous god, and have an unreasonable notion of the Deity; for there would be the greatest disproportion in his nature, since there is no greater disproportion can possibly be between one thing and another than there is between finite and infinite. God must not only then be compounded, but have parts of the greatest distance from one another in nature; but God, being the most simple being without the least composition, both must be equally infinite: if, then, his essence be not infinite, his power and wisdom cannot be infinite, which is both against scripture and reason. Again, how should his essence be finite, and his perfections be infinite, since nothing out of himself gave them either the one or the other? Again, either the essence can be infinite, or it cannot; if it cannot, there must be some cause of that impossibility; that can be nothing without him, because nothing without him can be as powerful as himself, much less too powerful for him; nothing within him can be an enemy to his highest perfection; since he is necessarily what he is, he must be necessarily the most perfect being, and therefore necessarily infinite, since to be something infinitely is a greater perfection than to be something finitely: if he can be infinite he is infinite, otherwise he could be greater than he is, and so more blessed and more perfect than he is, which is impossible: for being the most perfect Being, to whom nothing can be added, he must needs be infinite.

     3. If, therefore, God have an infinite essence, he hath an infinite presence. An infinite essence cannot be contained in a finite place, as those things which are finite have a bounded space wherein they are; so that which is infinite hath an unbounded space; for, as fimteness   (must be a miss print)  speaks limitedness, so infiniteness speaks unboundedness; and if we grant to God an infinite duration, there is no difficulty in acknowledging an infinite presence: indeed, the infiniteness of God is a property belonging to him in regard of time and place; he is bounded by no place, and limited to no time. Again, infinite essence may as well be everywhere, as infinite power reaches everything; it may as well be present with every being, as infinite power in its working may be present with nothing to bring it into being. Where God works by his power, he is present in his essence; because his power and his essence cannot be separated; and therefore his power, wisdom, goodness, cannot be anywhere where his essence is not: his essence cannot be severed from his power, nor his power from his essence; for the power of God is nothing but God acting, and the wisdom of God nothing but God knowing. As the power of God is always, so is his essence — as the power of God is everywhere, so is his essence: whatsoever God is, he is alway, and everywhere. To confine him to a place, is to measure his essence; as to confine his actions, is to limit his power; his essence being no less infinite than his power and his wisdom, can be no more bounded than his power and wisdom; but they are not separable from his essence, yea, they are his essence. If God did not fill the whole world, he would be determined to some place, and excluded from others; and so his substance would have bounds and limits, and then something might be conceived greater than God; for we may conceive that a creature may be made by God of so vast a greatness as to fill the whole world, for the power of God is able to make a body that should take up the whole space between heaven and earth, and reach to every corner of it. But nothing can be conceived by any creature greater than God; he exceeds all things, and is exceeded by none. God, therefore, cannot be included in heaven, nor included in the earth; cannot be contained in either of them; for, if we should imagine them vaster than they are, yet still they would be finite; and if his essence were contained in them, it could be no more infinite than the world which contains it, as water is not of a larger compass than the vessel which contains it. If the essence of God were limited, either in the heavens or earth, it must needs be finite, as the heaven and earth are; but there is no proportion between finite and infinite; God, therefore, cannot be contained in them. If there were an infinite body, that must be everywhere; certainly, then, an infinite Spirit must be everywhere; unless we will account him finite, we can render no reason why he should not be in one creature as well as in another. If he be in heaven, which is his creature, why can he not be in the earth, which is as well his creature as the heavens?

     Reason II. Because of the continual operation of God in the world. This was one reason which made the heathen believe that there was an infinite Spirit in the vast body of the world, acting in every thing, and producing those admirable motions which we see everywhere in nature: that cause which acts in the most perfect manner, is also in the most perfect manner present with its effects. God preserves all, and therefore is in all; the apostle thought it a good induction (Acts 17:27), “He is not far from us, for in him we live.” For being as much as because, shows, that from his operation he concluded his real presence with all: it is not, His virtue is not far from every one of us, but He, his substance, himself; for, none that acknowledge a God will deny the absence of the virtue of God from any part of the world. He works in everything, everything lives and works in him; therefore he is present with all: or rather, if things live, they are in God, who gives them life. If things live, God is in them, and gives them life; if things move, God is in them, and gives them motion; if things have any being, God is in them, and gives them being; if God withdraws himself; they presently lose their being, and therefore some have compared the creature to the impression of a seal upon the water, that cannot be preserved but by the presence of the seal. As his presence was actual with what he created, so his presence is actual with what he preserves, since creation and preservation do so little differ; if God creates things by his essential presence, by the same he supports them; if his substance cannot be disjoined from his preserving power, his power and wisdom cannot be separated from his essence; where there are the marks of the one, there is the presence of the other; for it is by his essence that he is powerful and wise; no man can distinguish the one from the other in a simple being; God doth not preserve and act things by a virtue diffused from him.

     It may be demanded whether that virtue be distinct from God; if it be not, it is then the essence of God; if it be distinct it is a creature, and then it may be asked, how that virtue which preserves other things, is preserved itself; it must be ultimately resolved into the essence of God, or else there must be a running in infinitum: or else, is that virtue of God a substance, or not? Is it endued with understanding, or not? If it hath understanding, how doth it differ from God? If it wants understanding, can any imagine that the support of the world, the guidance of all creatures, the wonders of nature, can be wrought, preserved, managed by a virtue that hath nothing of understanding in it? If it be not a substance, it can much less be able to produce such excellent operations as the preserving all the kinds of things in the world, and ordering them to perform such excellent ends; this virtue is, therefore, God himself — the infinite power and wisdom of God; and therefore, wheresoever the effects of these are seen in the world, God is essentially present: some creatures, indeed, act at a distance by a virtue diffused. But such a manner of acting comes from a limitedness of nature, that such a nature cannot be everywhere present and extend its substance to all parts. To act by a virtue, speaks the subject finite, and it is a part of indigence: kings act in their kindoms by ministers and messengers, because they cannot act otherwise; but God being infinitely perfect, works all things in all immediately (1 Cor. 12:6). Illumination, sanctification, grace, &c., are the immediate works of God in the heart, and irnmediatc   (??)  agents are present with what they do: it is an argument of the greater perfection of a being, to know things immediately, which are done in several places, than to know them at the second hand by instruments; it is no less a perfection to be everywhere, rather than to be tied to one place of action, and to act in other places lay instruments, for want of a power to act immediately itself. God, indeed, acts by means and second causes in his providential dispensations in the world, but this is not out of any defect of power to work all immediately himself;  but he thereby accommodates his way of acting to the nature of the creature,  and the order of things which he hath settled in the world. And when he works by means, he acts with those means, in those means, sustains their faculties and virtues in them, concurs with them by his power; so that God’s acting by means doth rather strengthen his essential presence than weaken it, since there is a necessary dependence of the creatures upon the Creator in their being and acting; and what they are, they are by the power of God; what they act, they act in the power of God, concurring with them; they have their motion in him as well as their being; and where the power of God is, his essence is, because they are inseparable; and so this omnipresence ariseth from the simplicit of the nature of God; the more vast anything is, the less confined. All that will acknowledge God so great, as to be able to work all things by his will, without an essential presence, cannot imagine him upon the same reason, so little as to be contained in, and bounded by any place.

     Reason III. Because of his supreme perfection. No perfection is wanting to God; but an unbounded essence is a perfection; a limited one is an imperfection. Though it be a perfection in a man to be wise, yet it is an imperfection that his wisdom cannot rule all the things that concern him; though it be a perfection to be present in a place where his affairs lie, yet is it an imperfection that he cannot be present everywhere in the midst of all his concerns; if any man could be so, it would be universally owned as a prime perfection in him above others: is that which would be a perfection in man to be denied to God? as that which hath life is more perfect than that which hath not life; and that which hath sense is more perfect than that which hath only life as the plants have; and what hath reason, is more perfect than that which hath only life and sense, as the beasts have; so what is everywhere, is more perfect than that which is bounded in some narrow confines: if a power of motion be more excellent than to be bed-rid, and swiftness in a creature be a more excellent endowment than to be slow and snail-like, then to be everywhere without motion, is inconceivably a greater excellency than to be everywhere successively by motion. God sets forth his readiness to help his people and punish his enemies, or his omnipresence, by swiftness, or “flying upon the wings of the wind” (Psalm 18:10): the wind is in every part of the air, where it blows; it cannot be said that it is in this or that point of the air where you feel it, so as to exclude it from another part of the air where you are not; it seems to possess all at once. If the Divine essence had any bounds of place, it would be imperfect, as well as if it had bounds of time; where anything hath limitation, it hath some defect in being; and therefore if God were confined or concluded, he would be as good as nothing in regard of infiniteness. Whence should this restraint arise? there is no power above him to restrain him to a certain space; if so, then he would not be God, but that power which restrained him would be God: not from his own nature, for the being everywhere implies no contradiction to his nature; if his own nature determined him to a certain place, then if he removed from that place, he would act against his nature; to conceive any such thing of God is highly absurd. It cannot be thought God should voluntarily impose any such restraint or confinement upon himself; this would be to deny himself a perfection he might have; if God have not this perfection, it is either because it is inconsistent with his nature; or, because he cannot have it; or, because he will not. The former cannot be; for if he hath impressed upon air and light a resemblance of his excellency, to diffuse themselves and fill so vast a space, is such an excellency inconsistent with the Creator more than the creature? whatsoever perfection the creature hath, is eminently in God. “Understand, O ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will you be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?” (Psalm 94:8, 9.) By the same reason he that hath given such a power to those creatures, air and light, shall not he be much more filling all spaces of the world? It is so clear a rule, that the Psalmist fixes a folly and brutishness upon those that deny it; it is not therefore inconsistent with his nature, it were not then a perfection but an imperfection; but whatsoever is an excellency in creatures, cannot in a way of eminency be an imperfection in God; if it be then a perfection, and God want it, it is because he cannot have it; where, then, is his power? How can he be then the fountain of his own Being? If he will not, where is his love to his own nature and glory? since no creature would deny that to itself which it can have, and is an excellency to it; God, therefore, hath not only a power or fitness to be everywhere, but he is actually everywhere.

     Reason IV. Because of his immutability. If God did not fill all the spaces of heaven and earth, but only possess one, yet it must be acknowledged that God hath a power to move himself to another. It were absurd to fix God in a part of the heavens, like a star in an orb, without a power of motion to another place. If he be therefore essentially in heaven, may he not be upon the earth if he please, and transfer his substance from one place to another? to say he cannot, is to deny him a perfection which he hath bestowed upon his creatures; the angels, his messengers, are sometimes in heaven, sometimes on the earth; the eagles, meaner creatures, are sometimes in the air out of sight, sometimes upon the earth. If he doth move, therefore, and recede from one place and settle in another, doth he not declare himself mutable by changing places? — by being where he was not before, and in not being where he was before? He would not fill heaven and earth at once, but successively; no man can be said to fill a room, that moves from one part of a room to another; if therefore any in their imaginations stake God to the heavens, they render him less than his creatures; if they allow him a power of motion from one place to another, they conceive him changeable; and in either of them they own him no greater than a finite and limited Being; limited to heaven, if they fix him there; limited to that space to which they imagine him to move.

     Reason V. Because of his omnipotency. The Almightiness of God is a notion settled in the minds of all, — that God can do whatsoever he pleases, everything that is not against the purity of his nature, and doth not imply a contradiction in itself; he can therefore create millions of worlds greater than this; and millions of heavens greater than this heaven he hath already created; if so, he is then in inconceivable spaces beyond this world, for his essence is not less narrower than his power; and his power is not to be thought of a further extent than his essence; he cannot be excluded therefore from those vast spaces where his power may fix those worlds if he please; if so, it is no wonder that he should fill this world: and there is no reason to exclude God from the narrow space of this world, that is not contained in infinite spaces beyond the world. God is wheresoever he hath a power to act; but he hath a power to act everywhere in the world, everywhere out of the world; he is therefore everywhere in the world, everywhere out of the world. Before this world was made, he had a power to make it in the space where now it stands; was he not then unlimitedly where the world now is, before the world received a being by his powerful word?

     Why should he not then be in every part of the world now? Can it be thought that God who was immense before, should, after he had created the world, contract himself to the limits of one of his creatures, and tie himself to a particular place of his own creation, and be less after his creation than he was before? This might also be prosecuted by an argument from his eternity. What is eternal in duration, is immense in essence; the same reason which renders him eternal, renders him immense; that which proves him to be always, will prove him to be everywhere.

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