Hosea 6:1–7:16; Acts 2:42–3:26; Job 15:21–35

Most of the Western world operates in the spirit of individualism. Christianity does not, though we often attempt to adapt it and make it more comfortable. It’s much easier to think about “God’s role in my life” than to reflect on “my role in God’s plan” to help others and share the gospel.

When we attempt to shape our faith to fit our needs, we’re bound to run into Scripture that makes us squirm. Some people perform interpretive backflips to wriggle out of passages such as Acts 2:42–47. Verse 44 says, “And all who believed were in the same place, and had everything in common.” A fear of socialism serves as a convenient excuse to sidestep this verse, but it doesn’t speak to socialism. It speaks to voluntarily joining a movement of people who care more about the betterment of the group than they do about their individual gain.

The truth is that God’s Word should make us uncomfortable because we are the ones who need to conform. None of us wants to accept Acts 2:44 unless the Spirit has worked within us. Acting out our faith means we must be willing to donate what we have to help others: time, material goods, money—whatever God calls us to give. Self-sacrifice is not easy for anyone, but it becomes easier when the Spirit prompts our hearts to see the needs of others as more important than our wants.

Most people in the Western world choose the sin of selfishness over selfless service to others. Do we need to buy a coffee every morning, or could we make a cup at home? Do we need to live in a larger house, or could we downsize? Nearly all of us can find ways to give more by living with less. And we might find the motive we need when the Spirit speaks to us through the discomfort of Scripture.

How can you give what you have to help others? What sacrifice can you make today, this week, or this month? Who do you know who’s in need?

John D. Barry[1]

 

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

 

Intro

Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 45 through 48. Our lesson is from Ezekiel 48:35, “{The city shall be} 18,000 {cubits} round about; and the name of the city from {that} day {shall be,} ‘The LORD is there.’ ” (NASU)

Lesson

Today’s text is Ezekiel’s last written words. It is a future promise and word of encouragement. At the time of the biblical writing, it brought solace and comfort to a people who found themselves without hope due to their rebellion against the Lord. They were in exile. Let’s look at three characteristics of the new city.

First, there will be a new day for the city. Jerusalem, the holy city, had fallen to the Babylonians. There were three waves of attack and exile. Daniel and the most qualified Jewish leaders were taken first to Babylon. Later, Ezekiel and others were forced to leave their homeland. The final destruction was seen by Jeremiah.

However, the words penned by Ezekiel were words of hope. Yet, a correlation of the new city as written by Ezekiel can be drawn with Revelation 20 through 22. There will be a new heaven and earth. There is also a new city. No matter how dark everything appeared, Ezekiel closes his book with anticipation of God’s future involvement and restoration of Jerusalem.

Next, there will be a new name for the city. In biblical times, a name had to do with the character and identity of a person, place or thing. The new city will be a perfect city because of God’s character. In the new Jerusalem there will no longer will be pain, hurt or tears. It will be free from the curse of sin and the devastation and havoc imposed upon the created order. This is due to the fact that God will be there.

Last, there will be a new presence of God in the city. One of the warnings and judgment in the book of Ezekiel is the fact that the presence of God left the Temple. The religious establishment had abandoned God and His ways. Yet, they thought the Lord and His presence would never depart from the Temple. The people did not understand the importance of obedience and relationship with the Living God.

God had covenanted with His people. Although they were punished, the Lord would fulfill His part of the bargain. The new city as seen in Revelation is the future realization of today’s verse. There will come a day when the people of God will be in total communion with the Lord. God’s covenant will come to full fruition.

In conclusion, there will be a new day for the city. There will be a new name for the city. And there will be a new presence of God in the city. This is our hope. Let’s celebrate it!

End

It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Daniel 1 through 4. Let’s not forget the words of the psalmist, “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Until tomorrow and may God bless you in abundance as you study the Word of God.[1]

 

[1] Venditti, L., & Venditti, N. (2012). Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

Nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters.

Lord God, to fear You is to hate evil. I abhor what is evil. I will abstain from every form of evil. I will look carefully lest I fall short of Your grace; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, You, my Lord, will not hear.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Therefore I will purge out the old leaven, that I may be a new lump, since I truly am unleavened. For indeed Christ, my Passover, was sacrificed for me. Therefore let me keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Let me examine myself, and so let me eat of that bread and drink of that cup.

May I, and everyone who names the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. Such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. In Him there is no sin.

Remove, Holy God, the leaven of sin from my life. May I flee from evil.

Exodus 13:7; Proverbs 8:13; Romans 12:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Hebrews 12:15; Psalm 66:18; 1 Corinthians 5:6–8; 1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Timothy 2:19; Hebrews 7:26; 1 John 3:5[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 266). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Luke 21:28

Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.

In 1949, the magazine Popular Science predicted, “Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” In 1977, Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, said, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Bill Gates said in 1981, “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

Making predictions is risky business—unless you are God! According to John Wesley White, the coming again of Christ and the end of the age occupies some 1,845 scriptural verses, and each one offers sure and certain hope for the Christian. Just consider these promises: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). “Behold, I am coming quickly!” (Revelation 22:7).

Vance Havner said, “We are not just looking for something to happen, we are looking for Someone to come! And when these things begin to come to pass, we are not to drop our heads in discouragement or shake our heads in despair, but rather lift up our heads in delight.”[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 258). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

This week we see the dangers of legalism and modernism still among us.

SCRIPTURE

Matthew 16:5-7

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

What was Jesus thinking about as He and the disciples made their way across the lake again? It is perfectly clear from the story. He was still pondering the unbelief and hostility of the religious leaders. They should have believed on Him but they would not. Moreover, they were doing what they could to keep other people from believing. We know Jesus was thinking along these lines, because he suddenly spoke up with a warning for the disciples. “Be careful,” Jesus told them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (v.6). Jesus was warning them how dangerous the legalism of the Pharisees and the modernism of the Sadducees was.

What were the disciples thinking about as they crossed the lake with Jesus? The answer to that question is obvious from the story too. They were thinking about food. The problem was that they had forgotten to bring along the necessary bread. Mark says that they had only one loaf (Mark 8:14). So when Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (v.6), all they could think of was lunch. Their thinking must have gone like this: “Yeast! Yeast is used to make bread! We don’t have any bread! We forgot to bring bread!” They figured it out: “Jesus must be upset with us because we forgot to bring enough food.”

In Mark’s account we are only told that Jesus sighed at the unbelief of the Pharisees and Sadducees. But I think Jesus must have sighed even more deeply here as he realized the level on which the twelve disciples were still thinking. With all that had happened, how could they still be so dull as to miss what he was teaching?

As for bread itself, why should they be troubling their heads about that? Wasn’t He able to take care of them with or without bread? “Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?” (vv.9-10). If Jesus had been able to feed these two great groups of people so that they were not only fed but had baskets of food leftover, wouldn’t He be able to see that this small group of twelve had what they needed to be fed and kept healthy? Why couldn’t they trust Him and just leave it all in His hands?

Yet even that was not the worst failure on the disciples’ part. They had been thinking about food and had failed to trust Jesus for that, but what was worse was their failure to understand what He was saying about the religious teachers. He wasn’t talking about bread when He said, “be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Couldn’t they see that? He was talking about the Pharisees’ doctrine. Matthew says that when He told them He was not talking about bread they finally understood “that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (v.12).

We might think, since the disciples finally understood that Jesus was warning them about the Pharisees’ teaching, that what Jesus was warning them about would be clear. But if we are to judge from discussion in the various commentaries on Matthew, the specific matter He was speaking about is not so obvious. What was the specific nature of this wrong teaching?

D. A. Carson approaches this question from the context of the gospel, which is probably the best way to start, and he sees the problem as “an attitude of unbelief toward divine revelation that could not perceive Jesus to be the Messiah (vv.1-4) but that tried to control and tame the Messiah they claimed to await.” He says that is why the next section of the chapter (vv.13-20) is so important, because there “Peter makes the confession that Jesus is the Messiah, not on the basis of manipulative signs, but by revelation from the Father.”1

Craig S. Keener, another contemporary writer, thinks the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees was cynicism, adding that “the disciples’ passive unbelief (v.8) suggests that the threat of Pharisaic leaven is closer to them than they would have guessed.”2

R. T. France’s view is similar: “It was the insidious effect of the attitude revealed in the request for a sign that Jesus warned his disciples against.”3

Finally, in a parallel passage in the third gospel, Luke calls the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ error hypocrisy (Luke 12:56).

1 D.A.Carson, “Matthew” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol 8, Matthew, Mark, Luke (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), p.362

2 Craig S. Keener, Matthew (Downers Grove, Ill., and Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1997), pp.268,269.

3R.T. France, The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1985), p.251.

STUDY QUESTIONS

About what did Jesus warn his disciples?
Summarize the failure of the disciples in this chapter.
How do the various commentators interpret Jesus’ warning to his disciples?
When have you failed to realize a lesson the Lord was trying to teach you?

James Montgomery Boice

John 3:1-15

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel yand yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

LESSON

In A Guide to the Study of the Christian Religion, a late professor in the University of Chicago wrote this about the need for new birth: “One may say that not supernatural regeneration but natural growth, not divine sanctification but human education, not supernatural grace but natural morality, not the divine expiation of the cross, but the human heroism-or accident?-of the cross … not Christ the Lord, but the man Jesus who was a child of His time; not God and His providence, but evolution and its process without an absolute goal-that all this, and such as this, is the new turn in the affairs of religion at the tick of the clock.”

Now with this in mind, listen to the Lord Jesus Christ, “If God were your Father, ye would love Me.” The man who talks about the fatherhood of God and then speaks of Jesus as being a child of His time shows clearly that he himself comes under the stigma of the Lord, when He says, “Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my Word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do: he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:43-44).

We read in His Word that we are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet. 1:23). If we are to have the proper understanding of all that God means we must hold in our minds that the new birth is given to us as an analogy with physical birth. We are familiar with the biological processes by which we exist in the world today. We know precisely that we are alive physically as the result of the union of two life seeds which union caused the beginning of the growth of our bodies. God takes this wonderful mystery of life and parallels it very closely in His story of regeneration. You have received your body from your father and your mother; you have inherited characteristics that are the marks of that union.

STUDY QUESTION

Is Christ the Lord over all things? If so, are there particular areas of life that Christ would not maintain sovereignty over? Explain.
If salvation is a gift of God, is it possible for humanity to then control or sustain their salvation?

Donald Grey Barnhouse

. . . the church is the bride of Christ. Jesus was a complete man. He had all the nature of a man, but He never married. He could have, but He never did. He never married any woman though He was a true and complete man. He never married a daughter of a woman that He might marry His whole church, the bride. A true local church is the bride of Christ in recapitualtion, in miniature. Everything that is in the whole church of Christ should be recapitulated in the local church. The church, part of it in heaven and part of it on earth, is the bride of Christ. Our Lord Jesus washed His bride, regenerated her and prepared her. He is coming back to take her–the whole church–as His bride. But any local church is the whole church in recapitulation, just as a local election recapitulates a national one. The same liberty is expressed. The same candidates run. They talk about each other; they plead their own worth and put up bulletins and do the same thing on a small scale that they do on the federal level. That may be a poor illustration, but the whole bride of Christ is recapitulated. Any local church is what the whole church is, just in miniature Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:25-29). This figure drawn from husbands and wives is applied directly without apology to Jesus Christ and His church. Just as a young man would not marry a dirty bride, so Jesus Christ will not marry a church that has stains or wrinkles or blemishes. His desire is for a glorious church, and He wants to love that church as a man loves his own bride.

Verse
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other ble
Ephesians 5:25-27

Thought
What sacrificial love has Christ demonstrated for His Church! And we are His Church. He feeds us and cares for us. Even our small and weak local group of believers are part of His Church!

Prayer
Only You, O Christ, can make Your Church holy and blameless! Thank You for Your redeeming love so deep and wide.

A. W. Tozer

That God is good is taught or implied on every page of the Bible and must be received as an article of faith as impregnable as the throne of God. It is a foundation stone for all sound thought about God and is necessary to moral sanity. To allow that God could be other than good is to deny the validity of all thought and end in the negation of every moral judgment. If God is not good, then there can be no distinction between kindness and cruelty, and heaven can be hell and hell, heaven.

The goodness of God is the drive behind all the blessings He daily bestows upon us. God created us because He felt good in His heart, and He redeemed us for the same reason.

Julian of Norwich, who lived 600 years ago, saw clearly that the ground of all blessedness is the goodness of God. Chapter six of her incredibly beautiful and perceptive little classic, Revelations of Divine Love, begins, “This showing was made to learn our souls to cleave wisely to the goodness of God.” Then she lists some of the mighty deeds God has wrought in our behalf, and after each one she adds “of His goodness.” She saw that all our religious activities and every means of grace, however right and useful they may be, are nothing until we understand that the unmerited, spontaneous goodness of God is back of all and underneath all His acts.

Verse
You are forgiving and good, O Lord, / abounding in love to all who call to you.
Psalm 86:5

Thought
If God is not good, then there can be no distinction between kindness and cruelty, and heaven can be hell and hell, heaven.

Prayer
Your goodness is beneath all Your acts. Thank You, Lord, for your extravagant inclination toward us.

A. W. Tozer

 

My presence shall go with thee

Exod. 33:14

We should never leave our prayer closets in the morning without having concentrated our thoughts deeply and intensely on the fact of the actual presence of God there with us, encompassing us, and filling the room as literally as it fills Heaven itself. It may not lead to any distinct results at first, but, as we make repeated efforts to realize the presence of God, it will become increasingly real to us. And, as the habit grows upon us, when alone in a room, or when treading the sward of some natural woodland temple, or when pacing the stony street—in the silence of night, or amid the teeming crowds of daylight—we shall often find ourselves whispering the words, “Thou art near; thou art here, O Lord.”

  1. B. Meyer[1]

 

[1] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

 

… nevertheless he would not drink thereof but poured it out unto the Lord. 2 Samuel 23:16.

What has been like water from the well of Bethlehem to you recently—love, friendship, spiritual blessing? Then at the peril of your soul, you take it to satisfy yourself. If you do, you cannot pour it out before the Lord. You can never sanctify to God that with which you long to satisfy yourself. If you satisfy yourself with a blessing from God, it will corrupt you; you must sacrifice it, pour it out, do with it what common sense says is an absurd waste.

How am I to pour out unto the Lord natural love or spiritual blessing? In one way only—in the determination of my mind. There are certain acts of other people which one could never accept if one did not know God, because it is not within human power to repay them. But immediately I say—‘This is too great and worthy for me, it is not meant for a human being at all, I must pour it out unto the Lord’; then these things pour out in rivers of living water all around. Until I do pour these things out before the Lord, they endanger those I love as well as myself because they will turn to lust. We can be lustful in things which are not sordid and vile. Love has to get to its transfiguration point of being poured out unto the Lord.

If you have become bitter and sour, it is because when God gave you a blessing you clutched it for yourself; whereas if you had poured it out unto the Lord, you would have been the sweetest person out of heaven. If you are always taking blessings to yourself and never learn to pour out anything unto the Lord, other people do not get their horizon enlarged through you.[1]

 

[1] Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

Morning, September 3

 

“Thou whom my soul loveth.”

— Song of Solomon 1:7

 

It is well to be able, without any “if” or “but,” to say of the Lord Jesus—“Thou whom my soul loveth.” Many can only say of Jesus that they hope they love him; they trust they love him; but only a poor and shallow experience will be content to stay here. No one ought to give any rest to his spirit till he feels quite sure about a matter of such vital importance. We ought not to be satisfied with a superficial hope that Jesus loves us, and with a bare trust that we love him. The old saints did not generally speak with “buts,” and “ifs,” and “hopes,” and “trusts,” but they spoke positively and plainly. “I know whom I have believed,” saith Paul. “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” saith Job. Get positive knowledge of your love of Jesus, and be not satisfied till you can speak of your interest in him as a reality, which you have made sure by having received the witness of the Holy Spirit, and his seal upon your soul by faith.

 

True love to Christ is in every case the Holy Spirit’s work, and must be wrought in the heart by him. He is the efficient cause of it; but the logical reason why we love Jesus lies in himself. Why do we love Jesus? Because he first loved us. Why do we love Jesus? Because he “gave himself for us.” We have life through his death; we have peace through his blood. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor. Why do we love Jesus? Because of the excellency of his person. We are filled with a sense of his beauty! an admiration of his charms! a consciousness of his infinite perfection! His greatness, goodness, and loveliness, in one resplendent ray, combine to enchant the soul till it is so ravished that it exclaims, “Yea, he is altogether lovely.” Blessed love this—a love which binds the heart with chains more soft than silk, and yet more firm than adamant!

 

Evening, September 3

 

“The Lord trieth the righteous.”

— Psalm 11:5

 

All events are under the control of Providence; consequently all the trials of our outward life are traceable at once to the great First Cause. Out of the golden gate of God’s ordinance the armies of trial march forth in array, clad in their iron armour, and armed with weapons of war. All providences are doors to trial. Even our mercies, like roses, have their thorns. Men may be drowned in seas of prosperity as well as in rivers of affliction. Our mountains are not too high, and our valleys are not too low for temptations: trials lurk on all roads. Everywhere, above and beneath, we are beset and surrounded with dangers. Yet no shower falls unpermitted from the threatening cloud; every drop has its order ere it hastens to the earth. The trials which come from God are sent to prove and strengthen our graces, and so at once to illustrate the power of divine grace, to test the genuineness of our virtues, and to add to their energy. Our Lord in his infinite wisdom and superabundant love, sets so high a value upon his people’s faith that he will not screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened. You would never have possessed the precious faith which now supports you if the trial of your faith had not been like unto fire. You are a tree that never would have rooted so well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro, and made you take firm hold upon the precious truths of the covenant grace. Worldly ease is a great foe to faith; it loosens the joints of holy valour, and snaps the sinews of sacred courage. The balloon never rises until the cords are cut; affliction doth this sharp service for believing souls. While the wheat sleeps comfortably in the husk it is useless to man, it must be threshed out of its resting place before its value can be known. Thus it is well that Jehovah trieth the righteous, for it causeth them to grow rich towards God. [1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, Charles H. (2006). Morning and evening: Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

DYING in faith has distinct reference to the past. They believed the promises which had gone before, and were assured that their sins were blotted out through the mercy of God. Dying in faith has to do with the present. These saints were confident of their acceptance with God, they enjoyed the beams of His love, and rested in His faithfulness. Dying in faith looks into the future. They fell asleep, affirming that the Messiah would surely come. Thy course, through grace, is one of faith, and sight seldom cheers thee: this has also been the pathway of the brightest and the best.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 250). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

Our plan is to go to the Adirondacks on the 17th. Robert and the rest will go on and get the camp ready. This is our plan. But do not in the least depend on us for we never know what we will do beforehand.

—To Sarah, The Cedars, June 30, 1878

Yesterday there was a steady rain all day long, and the mosquitoes, apparently from the whole universe, were driven into our tent to feast on me!! Smoke from a “smudge” would drive them away, but then smoke hurt my eyes so dreadfully that I could only endure it a certain length of time. Last night there was an awful storm. I expected every minute that the tent would blow over and that we would all be driven out into the pathless forest, homeless exiles and outcasts. But it was grand too, and since we did get through safely, I am not sorry for the experience.

So much for outward. The inward has been crowded into a comer in this intensely physical life. Perhaps it is as well for the ground to lie fallow for a while. But I find myself wondering how farmers and people who live outdoor lives can be particularly spiritual. Mystics they certainly cannot be. But I question after all whether so much mystical concern is as pleasing to the Lord as a more natural childlike life that takes no more care for its spiritual growth than the lily does.

The only necessary points in such a life would be entire surrender and perfect trust, and these can be reached without much introversion, if there is only simplicity enough. What a fundamental thing consecration is though. How impossible it is to go on in peace a single moment when there is the slightest bit reserve in it. And how blessed it is that it is like that! I am unspeakably thankful that our Lord is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and that he does desire and demand truth in the inward parts.

I think my longing to be pure and good down to the very bottom, is greater now than even my desire after any kind of spiritual manifestations, and I am sure of a pure heart being the will of the Lord, even if manifestations should not be. What a grand salvation it is that proposes to make us the salvation it is that proposes to make us friends of God and like Him. It seems to me that we would not shrink from any discipline which may be necessary to accomplish it, if we but kept in view the glorious end!

—To Anna, Birch Point Camp, Long Lake, Hamilton County, N.Y., July 27, 1878[1]

 

[1] Smith, H. W., & Dieter, M. E. (1997). The Christian’s secret of a holy life: the unpublished personal writings of Hannah Whitall Smith. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

 

John Newton, 1725–1807

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. (Psalm 48:1, 2, 3 KJV)

Of the many hymn texts by the noted English clergyman, John Newton, this one is generally considered to be one of his finest and most joyous. In the Old Testament, the city of Zion was the place where God dwelt among His people. It was a haven of refuge, a treasured place. In our New Testament age, Zion refers to the church, a community of God’s people, a living and dynamic organism. Newton’s hymn refers to God’s strong protection of His people, His promise to supply their needs, and His presence to lead His own by the cloud and fire as He did the Israelites of old.

With all its shortcomings and faults, the local church is still God’s means of meeting the needs of mankind. As Christians, we are to promote the church, supporting it with enthusiasm and finding our spiritual strength and fellowship in it. Then as members of Christ’s universal church, we are commanded to be His worthy representatives to the entire world. We must be actively involved in ministering the “streams of living waters” which “never fail from age to age.”

John Newton, the convicted slave trader and sea captain, never stopped praising God for His “sure repose”— “whose Word cannot be broken”—who formed us “for His own abode.”

Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God; He whose word cannot be broken formed thee for His own abode: On the Rock of Ages founded, what can shake thy sure repose? With salvation’s walls surrounded, thou mayst smile at all thy foes.

See, the streams of living waters, springing from eternal love, well supply thy sons and daughters and all fear of want remove: Who can faint while such a river ever flows their thirst to assuage? Grace which, like the Lord, the Giver, never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hov’ring, see the cloud and fire appear for a glory and a cov’ring, showing that the Lord is near! Glorious things of Thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God; He whose word cannot be broken formed thee for His own abode.

For Today: Psalm 87:3; Isaiah 33:20, 21; Matthew 16:18; Romans 12:5

Be thankful for your local church and what it means in your life. Ask for God’s special blessing on your pastor, the board members, and your fellow church members. Allow this hymn to help—[1]

 

[1] Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (p. 266). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

Day 3

Adoration

I will praise You with uprightness of heart

As I learn Your righteous judgments. (Psalm 119:7)

I know that the Lord is great,

And that our Lord is above all gods.

Whatever the Lord pleases He does,

In the heavens and on the earth,

In the seas and all their depths. (Psalm 135:5–6)

Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.

Confession

If I say that I have fellowship with Christ and yet walk in the darkness, I lie and do not practice the truth. But if I walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son purifies me from all sin. (1 John 1:6–7)

Ask the Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sin. Acknowledge these to the Lord and thank Him for His forgiveness.

Renewal

May I be a doer of the word and not merely a hearer who deceives himself. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror, and after looking at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22–25)

In obedience to the truth may I purify my soul for a sincere love of the brethren, and love others fervently from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22)

Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.

Petition

May I not say when I am tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own lust. Then, after lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13–15)

Growth in Wisdom

Developing an eternal perspective

Renewing my mind with truth

Greater skill in each area of life

My activities for this day

Special concerns

Intercession

Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for others. (1 Samuel 12:23)

Family

My immediate family

My relatives

Spiritual concerns

Emotional and physical concerns

Other concerns

Affirmation

It is for my good that You returned to the Father, because You have sent the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to me. (John 16:7)

Jesus told His disciples, “The Spirit will glorify Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. Therefore I said that He will take from what is Mine and make it known to you.” (John 16:14–15)

Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.

Thanksgiving

I trust in Your loyal love;

My heart rejoices in Your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,

For He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5–6)

Blessed be the Lord,

For He has heard the voice of my prayers.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.

My heart greatly rejoices,

And I will give thanks to Him in song. (Psalm 28:6–7)

Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.

Closing Prayer

You are worthy, our Lord and God,

To receive glory and honor and power,

For You created all things,

And by Your will they were created and have their being. (Revelation 4:11)

Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them, will sing:

“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

Be blessing and honor and glory and power

For ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)[1]

 

[1] Boa, K. (1993). Handbook to prayer: praying scripture back to God. Atlanta: Trinity House.

Originally posted on Wretched with Todd Friel:

Episode 1446

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Mainstream Media Top Headlines

BLOOMBERG

President Obama touches down in Estonia tonight to deliver reassurance to Baltic nations and a direct warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin that NATO stands by its military commitment to alliance security.

Regular Russian troops are replacing insurgent forces, with about 1,600 soldiers advancing into the region, according to the government in Kiev. Russian troops and rebels number 10,000 to 15,000. Government troops killed 50 rebels in past 24 hours, while 15 servicemen died.

President Vladimir Putin faces possible further curbs on debt sales and access to technology as European Union regulators review the arsenal of measures at their disposal to sanction Russia.

Manufacturing expanded in August at the fastest pace in three years as orders grew by the most in a decade, showing U.S. factories will help power the economy into the third quarter.

Fast-food workers in 150 U.S. cities plan to protest this week in what could be the largest strike since the demonstrations began in late 2012.

After gold’s rally in the first half of the year beat gains for commodities, equities and Treasuries, bullion is back to being out of favor with investors.

Los Angeles would boost its minimum wage to $13.25 an hour by 2017, almost twice the current federal regulation, under a proposal by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Monkeys infected with Ebola survived, after being treated with an experimental drug from Mapp Biopharmaceutical, in a study that suggests the drug may be effective even after severe symptoms are present.

AP Top Stories

Oil company Halliburton said it would pay a $1.1 billion settlement over its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil rig blowout that led to the United States’ worst-ever oil spill.

Cuban ex-president Fidel Castro lashed out at the United States and Europe, accusing them of war-mongering and comparing the NATO military alliance’s representatives to the Nazi SS.

Al-Qaida-linked Syrian rebels holding 45 Fijian peacekeepers hostage have issued a set of demands for their release, including the extremist group’s removal from a U.N. terrorist list and compensation for the killing of three of its fighters in a shootout with international troops.

Japanese researchers said they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

Thirty-two teens escaped from a Nashville youth detention center by crawling under a weak spot in a fence late Monday, and 10 of them were still on the run Tuesday

Russia has “effectively severed its partnership” with Europe and wants to establish a new order, German President Joachim Gauck said.

With growing unrest in the Middle East and President Obama’s sinking popularity, Republicans fear Benghazi media “circus” could hurt their 2014 electoral chances.

The current bull market is entering rarefied air. The S&P 500 crossed 2000 for the first time in its history last week and closed Friday at 2003.37, the 32nd record it has hit this year.

BBC

The White House said securing the release of three American citizens detained in North Korea is a “top priority”, after they appealed for help.

President Obama has said he will continue to press Congress to raise the federal minimum wage as the US rebounds from recession.

Police in Ferguson, Missouri, have begun using body cameras, three weeks after a white officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager.

Congress in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila legalized same-sex marriage and adoption by gay couples, despite opposition by conservatives.

A massive ash cloud is rising from the Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador as it shows increased activity with a series of explosions on Monday.

Spain returned to Colombia hundreds of indigenous artefacts that were seized from drug gangs in 2003, but later smuggled out of the country.

Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram seized the key north-eastern town of Bama after fighting with government forces.

Fighters from a militant Islamic group in Afghanistan, allied to the Taliban, told the BBC they were considering joining forces with Islamic State.

Japan is battling its first outbreak of dengue fever in almost 70 years, with at least 22 people confirmed as being infected.

Amnesty International says it has proof Islamic State militants have launched a campaign of ethnic cleansing against minorities in northern Iraq.

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry said it has arrested 88 people suspected of plotting attacks inside and outside the country.

WND

Controversy surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks is poised to return with a “vengeance” this month, threatening political headaches for President Obama and Hillary Clinton, warns MSNBC.

The federal government is still seeking answers as to why the majority of lesbians are obese and U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill, which now totals $2.87 million.

A newly released research paper from the West Point counterterrorism center cites U.S. weapons being sent to Syrian rebels that now may be in the hands of ISIS.


Our Time is Short. . .


End Times Are Near: ISIS Plans to Kill Millions in Europe and U.S. Through Bubonic Plague and Other Diseases

“Authorities in both Europe and the United States are to be extra vigilant as members of the ISIS terror group could already be Terrorism Ragingin their respective countries, preparing to unleash terrifying atrocities in the next two months at least.” …authorities nonetheless have raised its terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe” to warn citizens that a terrorist attack is “highly likely.” Read more


Who Is ISIS Really? – Michael Youssef

Below is a special video I want you to watch. For those of you who have seen news reports of the persecution and political turmoil taking place in Iraq, this is an explanation of who ISIS is.

Last week I joined my son Joshua, executive vice president of Leading The Way, in the studio to put together a special video addressing the many questions we were receiving about what’s happening in Iraq. I hope it will help you better understand what is going on in the Middle East and what we as Christians can do.

View Short Video or Find Link to Longer Video


Howse & DeYoung On World Events | Worldview Weekend

Topic: Hear the audio of President Obama saying he has no plan to deal with ISIS and then hear the audio of Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK, the very next day, detailing his plan to deal with ISIS. Topic: ISIS Lap Top Found That Has …Bio Terrorist Threat Detailed. Topic: Henry Kissinger writes an article on using the assembly of a New World Order. Topic: Israel – Hamas Ceasefire follows pattern set by Mohammed hundreds of years ago. Topic: Why we know the Marxist and the Muslims will unite in a huge war against their shared enemies. Topic: Iran has promised to arm Hamas and terrorist in Judea and Samaria. Topic: The world watches as the Islamic state kills hundreds and continues to spread across the Middle East. Topic: Islamic Radicals from the European Union and the United States are becoming more and more a threat to their homeland. Topic: We take your calls. listen now before this program rolls into the Situation Room for members only. Click here now:

http://www.worldviewweekend.com/radio/audio/brannon-howse-aired-august-29-2014


5 things that are germier than a toilet seat

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/08/31/5-things-that-are-germier-than-toilet-seat/

Here’s a disgusting fact: Fecal matter is everywhere. You’re probably fastidious about washing your hands after using the bathroom, but what about after using your own cell phone? Your toothbrush? No? Well, E. coli could be stewing on both those things and other items that you get your paws on every day. Here’s 10 to watch out for.


Celebrities Slammed for Not Being Politically Correct in Hollywood

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2014/08/30/Celebrities-Slammed-For-Not-Being-Politically-Correct-in-Hollywood

Even this past week, Robin Williams was accused of being ‘racist’ after Billy Crystal paid tribute to the late comedian at the Emmys. Crystal streamed a video of the comic making a hijab with a scarf and saying “Welcome to Iran… help me.” …


These Stunning Photos Show You How a Baby Fits in the Womb

http://www.lifenews.com/2014/09/01/these-stunning-photos-show-you-how-a-baby-fits-in-the-womb/


ABC and NBC Ignore Possible Obstruction of Justice in Growing VA Scandal

http://www.mrc.org/biasalerts/abc-and-nbc-ignore-possible-obstruction-justice-growing-va-scandal


Fox News – and CNN, ESPN, CBS & NBC – Sponsor and Recruit at Biased ‘Gay Journalists’ (NLGJA) Convention—Peter LaBarbera

http://americansfortruth.com/2014/08/29/fox-news-cnn-espn-sponsor-recruit-at-biased-gay-journalists-nlgja-convention/

As it has year after year, Fox News Channel served as a major sponsor of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association providing a $10,000 grant for its 2014 annual convention, which recently concluded here. The conservative-leaning network also recruited at the homosexual journalists event.


Parents: Watch For These Red Flags at School

http://barbwire.com/2014/09/01/parents-watch-red-flags-school

While your children frolicked at the lake, visited Grandma and sang songs at summer camp, the leaders of America’s education system prepared more essential “LGBT” lessons to infuse into the hearts of Chloe, Emma and James. Most will be packed with insidious, Christ-less lies that present great risk to every child’s medical, social and spiritual future….


Godlessness, safety nail polish and ‘rape culture’—Gina Miller

http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/miller/140828

By now you may have heard about the new nail polish, called Undercover Colors, developed by four young scientists at North Carolina State University. It was designed to be used by women to detect whether or not certain “date rape” drugs are in their drinks. The girl simply swirls her polished fingernail in the drink, and if the color of the polish changes, then it means someone has slipped her a mickey. …


Labor Day brings focus to economy, declining union membership

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/holiday-returns-focus-to-impact-organized-labor-on-economy-declining-union/


Britain’s Cameron asks for tough anti-terrorism laws to defeat ‘scourge of extremism’

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/britain-cameron-asks-for-tough-anti-terrorism-laws-prevent-attacks-by-islamic/


Soros Clones: 5 Liberal Mega-Donors Nearly as Dangerous as George Soros

http://www.mrc.org/special-reports/soros-clones-5-liberal-mega-donors-nearly-dangerous-george-soros


ISIS-Supporting Cleric Leaves CNN Speechless: ‘There’s No Such Thing As A Radical Form Of Islam’

http://conservativevideos.com/isis-supporting-cleric-leaves-cnn-speechless-theres-thing-radical-form-islam/


Border security: Islamist terror attack on U.S. from Mexico imminent

http://www.examiner.com/article/border-security-islamist-terror-attack-on-u-s-from-mexico-imminent


Emergency Alert from Prophet Cindy Jacobs

http://www.spiritoferror.org/2014/06/emergency-alert-from-the-prophet-cindy-jacobs/4915

The respected NAR prophet Cindy Jacobs sent an emergency prayer alert to her followers, on Thursday, warning that a major terrorist attack–on the scale of 9/11–is being planned against the United States.
There are many problems with her pronouncement. <a href=”http://www.spiritoferror.org/2014/06/emergency-alert-from-the-prophet-cindy-jacobs/4915&#8243;


Call Sinners to Respond to the Gospel—Jeffrey R. Kirkland

http://defendingcontending.com/2014/08/31/call-sinners-to-respond-to-the-gospel/

Someone once said that Christians should learn to plead with sinners to embrace Christ and escape hell. A child of God could faithfully give the gospel, speak of God and His character, man and His desperate need, Christ and His sufficient atonement, repentance and faith in clear terms, but one element that evangelists seem to omit is the urgent call for sinners to respond to the gospel! …


‘All Because She Wouldn’t Convert’: Monstrous New Details of ISIS Barbarism From Iraqi Survivors

http://www.ijreview.com/2014/08/169527-wouldnt-convert-monstrous-new-details-isis-barbarism-iraqi-survivors/


The True Origins of the Prosperity Gospel—Anton Bosch

http://apprising.org/2014/08/30/true-origins-of-the-prosperity-gospel-aka-word-faith-theology/

The prosperity gospel has to be one of the grandest deceptions of all time. A Time poll conducted in the USA in 2006, produced the following statistics:
“17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31% – a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America – agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money”


Victoria Osteen Says to Do Things for Self—Not for God

Mrs. Osteen’s words may sound wonderful to a culture raised in the belief that life is all about self, but they are directly opposed to the Bible. Before looking at some specific passages, let’s see if there are some hints of truth in what she said, after all, effective lies often have some degree of truth.

Does God want us to be happy? In a sense He does, but that happiness will often look very different than what Mrs. Osteen and her husband have taught for years. Life is not about having Your Best Life Now (the title of one of Joel Osteen’s books) since our best life will be when we are with the Lord in glory. True happiness is found when we serve the Lord wholeheartedly, which is essentially the opposite of living for ourselves. Mrs. Osteen wants you to Love Your Life (her book title), but God wants us to love Him.

http://midwestapologetics.org/blog/?p=1308


Victoria Osteen, the glory of God and Reformed Worship

This next installment of “What our Gathered Worship Should Look Like” has been helped by the internet storm caused by Victoria Osteen (wife of Joel Osteen of “Your Best Life Now” and prosperity gospel fame) because of comments she made in a recent service at Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. In exhorting the audience to participate, she laid out a case for why they ought to be motivated to do so. In sum, she said, affirmatively: “You’re not doing it for God, you are doing it for yourself, really.”

Now, I cannot improve upon the rejoinders to this that have already been made (the “Bill Cosby” response is, perhaps, my favorite), but I want to prompt your reflection upon a serious question occasioned by this sad example of what’s on sale out there in the world of “Christian” programming and what goes on in “churches” in the name of Christianity. Read more


CONFESSION: Humbly Profess your Sorrow and Shame for Sin

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We must humbly profess our sorrow and shame for sin, and humbly engage ourselves in the strength of divine grace, that we will be better and do better for the future.

Lord, we repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, Matthew 3:2(ESV) to which you have exalted your Son, Christ Jesus, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:31(ESV)

We have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now our eyes see you; therefore we despise ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes; Job 42:5-6(ESV) therefore will we be like doves of the valleys, each one moaning over his iniquities. Ezekiel 7:16(ESV)

O that our heads were waters, and our eyes fountains of tears, that we might weep day and night for our transgressions, Jeremiah 9:1(ESV) and might in such a manner sow in those tears as that at last we may reap in shouts of joy; may now go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, and may in due time come home with shouts of joy, bringing in our sheaves with us. Psalm 126:5-6(ESV)

Our iniquities have gone over our heads; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for us; Psalm 38:4(ESV) but weary and heavy laden under this burden, we come to Christ, who has promised that in him we shall find rest for our souls. Matthew 11:28(ESV)

O knowing the affliction of our own hearts, 1 Kings 8:38(ESV) may we look on him whom we have pierced, and may we mourn and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10(ESV) That we may grieve after a godly sort, with that grief which produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret; 2 Corinthians 7:10(ESV) and that we may remember and be confounded, and never open our mouths again because of our shame, when you have atoned for us for all that we have done. Ezekiel 16:63(ESV)

And, O that we may bear fruit in keeping with repentance! Matthew 3:8(ESV) and may never again turn back to folly; Psalm 85:8(ESV) for what have we to do anymore with idols? Hosea 14:8(ESV) For sin will have no dominion over us, since we are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14(ESV)

We have gone astray like lost sheep; seek your servants, for we do not forget your commandments. Psalm 119:176(ESV)

Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer

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Originally posted on The Isaiah 53:5 Project:

No matter who you are, God can use you.

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Ever feel like you are not worthy of being called by God?

There are many reasons why God shouldn’t have called you but, don’t worry. You’re in good company.

-Moses stuttered
-David’s armor didn’t fit
-John Mark was rejected by Paul
-Timothy had ulcers
-Hosea’s wife was a prostitute
-Amos’ only training was in the school of fig tree pruning
-Jacob was a liar
-David had an affair
-Solomon was too rich
-Jesus was too poor
-Abraham was too old
-David was too young
-Peter was afraid of death
-Lazarus was dead
-John was self-righteous
-Naomi was a widow
-Paul was a murderer, so was Moses
-Jonah ran from God
-Miriam was a gossip
-Gideon and Thomas both doubted
-Jeremiah was a bullfrog (kidding), he was depressed and suicidal
-Elijah was burned out
-John the Baptist was a loudmouth
-Martha was…

View original 231 more words

Originally posted on The Isaiah 53:5 Project:

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The Chaos of the American Christian Home

In more than 35 years of ministry, Kim I have had the opportunity to counsel with many a husband and wife about their home, marriage, and children. It is always sad to see homes in chaos like so many homes today in the church. The family attends church, but their lives are filled with chaos, drama, sin, and failure. No wonder we have so much failure today in the lives of the second generation of Christian homes. Generally, I find the chaos to come from six areas. I am listing them in no particular order:

1. Financial issues
2. Moral issues
3. Relationship issues-friends, extended family etc.
4. Children issues
5. Abuse issues
a. Alcohol-drugs
b. Bum cyndrome-Don’t want a job can’t keep a job.
c. Physical abuse
6. Unsaved/carnal mates
7. Social media (Internet issues)
8. Anger issues

All of the above…

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Originally posted on hipandthigh:

maherIs Christianity Egocentric?

We return once again to our critique of Chaz Bufe and his 20 reasons to abandon Christianity.

The fourth reason he claims we must abandon Christianity is that it is extremely egocentric. Only the first two paragraphs are relevant for our discussion here, so I will not cite the point in its entirety:

4. Christianity is extremely egocentric. The deep egocentrism of Christianity is intimately tied to its reliance on fear. In addition to the fears of the devil and hell, Christianity plays on another of humankind’s most basic fears: death, the dissolution of the individual ego. Perhaps Christianity’s strongest appeal is its promise of eternal life. While there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim, most people are so terrified of death that they cling to this treacly promise insisting, like frightened children, that it must be true. Nietzsche put the matter well:…

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In Genesis 4:13–14, shortly after he killed his brother Abel, “Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’ ” Whom exactly was Cain afraid of? The only people the book of Genesis had mentioned to this point are Adam and Eve (Cain’s parents) and Abel (who was now dead). Who would possibly be a threat to Cain?

It is important to recognize that Cain and Abel were both full-grown adults at the time that Cain killed Abel. Both Cain and Abel were farmers, who tended to their own lands and flocks (Genesis 4:2–4). The Bible does not tell us how old Cain and Abel were, but they very likely could have been in their 30’s or 40’s. The Bible does not specifically mention Adam and Eve having any children between Abel and Seth (Genesis 4:25). However, it is highly unlikely that the two most perfect human beings in the history of the world, Adam and Eve, would not have any children over several decades. Adam and Eve had many children after Seth (Genesis 5:4), so why would they not also have had other children between Abel and Seth? The Bible does not say that Seth was Adam and Eve’s first child, or even first son, after Abel was killed. Rather, it states that Seth was born as a “replacement” for Abel. Genesis chapter 5 traces the genealogy of Seth. Prior to his death, Abel was likely the “chosen” son that would eventually produce the Messiah (Genesis 3:15). It is in this sense that Seth “replaced” Abel.

So, whom was Cain afraid of? Cain was afraid of his own brothers, sisters, nephews, and nieces, who were already born and would be capable of seeking revenge. The fact that Cain had a wife (Genesis 4:17) is a further evidence that Adam and Eve had other children after Cain and Abel, but before Seth.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

Glossolalia, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “ecstatic utterances,” is the uttering of unintelligible, language-like sounds while in a state of ecstasy. Glossolalia is sometimes confused with xenoglossia, which is the biblical “gift of tongues.” However, whereas glossolalia is babbling in a nonexistent language, xenoglossia is the ability to speak fluently a language the speaker has never learned.

Additionally, whereas xenoglossia is not an innate or natural ability, studies have shown that glossolalia is a learned behavior. Research conducted by the Lutheran Medical Center demonstrates that glossolalia is readily learned by following simple instructions. Correspondingly, it was found that students could exhibit “speaking in tongues” in the absence of any indications of trance-like stupor or behaviors. Another test conducted with sixty students showed that after listening to a one-minute sample of glossolalia, 20 percent were able to imitate it precisely. After some training, 70 percent succeeded.

In just about every part of the world, glossolalia can be observed. Pagan religions all over the world are obsessed with tongues. These include the Shamans in the Sudan, the Shango cult of the West Coast of Africa, the Zor cult of Ethiopia, the Voodoo cult in Haiti, and the Aborigines of South America and Australia. Murmuring or speaking gibberish that is construed to be deep mystical insight by holy men is an ancient practice.

There are basically two aspects to glossolalia. First is talking or murmuring in language-like sounds. Practically everyone is able to do this; even children before they ever learn to speak can mimic real language, though unintelligibly. There is nothing extraordinary about this. The other aspect of glossolalia is ecstasy or the demonstration of trance-like elation. There is nothing unusual about this either, although it is more difficult to do intentionally than to merely utter language-like sounds.

There are some Christians, especially within the Pentecostal movement, who believe there is a supernatural explanation for glossolalia similar to that described in the New Testament. They believe that the chief purpose of the gift of speaking in tongues is to manifest the Holy Spirit being poured out upon them just as on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), which was prophesied by Joel (Acts 2:17).

Among those Christian churches who do espouse the practice of glossolalia to one degree or another, there is no uniform agreement as to its workings. For example, some are adamant that it is indeed a gift of the Holy Spirit, while others minimize its importance, saying Paul taught that the gift of “speaking in tongues” wasn’t nearly as important as the other gifts of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 13). Also, there are those wishing to avoid dividing the church on such issues by not speaking of it at all or dismissing it as a simple psychological experience. Then there are those who regard glossolalia as a deception of Satan himself.

Exotic languages are heard and understood throughout the world, but existing languages are not heard or understood when spoken as “ecstatic utterances” or “tongues.” What we do hear is a profusion of hype, claims, confusion, and noise. We simply cannot declare, as at the time of the first church, that “each of us hears [understands] them in his own native language” (Acts 2:8 NIV).

Simply put, the practice of glossolalia is not the biblical gift of tongues. Paul made it clear that the chief purpose of the gift of speaking in tongues was to be a sign for those who did not believe and to spread the good news, the gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:19, 22).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

The story of the nameless Samaritan woman at the well, recorded only in the Gospel of John, is a revealing one, full of many truths and powerful lessons for us today. The woman at the well follows on the heels of Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and prominent member of the Jewish Sanhedrin (John 3:1–21). In John 4:4–42 we read about Jesus’ conversation with a lone Samaritan woman who had come to get water from a well (known as Jacob’s well) located about a half mile from the city of Sychar in Samaria.

This was an extraordinary woman not so much because she was a Samaritan, a race of people that the Jews utterly despised as having no claim on their God, but because she was an outcast and looked down upon by her own people. This is evidenced by the fact that she came alone to draw water from the community well when during biblical times drawing water and chatting at the well was the social highpoint of a woman’s day. However, this woman was ostracized and marked as immoral, an unmarried woman living openly with the fifth in a series of men.

In spite of the similarities in the two meetings between Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, there are differences in the way Jesus unveiled grace to them. While Nicodemus needed to see himself as a sinner in order to understand grace, the Samaritan woman, who knew she was a sinner, needed to see herself as a person of worth and value. And this provides us with one of the most powerful lessons in all of Scripture.

This story teaches us that God finds us worthy of His love in spite of our bankrupt lives. God values us enough to actively seek us, to welcome us to intimacy, and to rejoice in our worship. As a result of Jesus’ conversation, only a person like the Samaritan woman, an outcast from her own people, could understand what this means. To be wanted, to be cared for when no one, not even herself, could see anything of value in her—this is grace indeed.

But there are many other valuable truths we glean from this story. We learn that:

1) Only through Jesus can we obtain and receive eternal life: “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ ” (John 4:13–14; cf. John 14:6).

2) Jesus’ ministering to those outcasts of the Jewish society (the Samaritans), reveals that all people are valuable to God and that Jesus desires that we demonstrate love to everyone … including even our enemies (John 4:7–9; Matthew 5:44).

3) Jesus is the Messiah (John 4:25–26; 1:41; Matthew 27:22; Luke 2:11).

4) Those who worship God, worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23–24; Psalm 145:18).

5) Our testimony about Jesus is the most powerful tool we have to lead others to believe in Jesus: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” ’ (John 4:39–42).

Additionally, we learn that Jesus’ dialogue with the woman at the well presents us with three absolute truths about salvation:

1) Salvation comes only to those who recognize their desperate need for the spiritual life they do not have. Living water can be obtained only by those who recognize that they are spiritually thirsty.

2) Salvation comes only to those who confess and repent of their sin and desire forgiveness. Before this immoral woman could embrace the Savior, she had to concede the full burden of her sins.

3) Salvation comes only to those who take hold of Jesus as their Messiah. For the absolute truth is that salvation is found in no one else (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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