Daily Archives: March 15, 2020

Anxiety, Coronavirus, and the Promises of God — Christian Research Network

Knowing very well that the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is on everyone’s mind, I thought I’d share a short devotion encouraging us to trust in God’s faithfulness and promises. In the face of danger, we need to be prudent and wise, but also need to be careful our heart is not held in bondage to fear. It’s not always an easy balance to maintain, but meditating on the promises of God brings inner peace in the face of external pressures.

The promises of God are like concrete pylons driven deep into the ocean floor….

When waves of anxiety push us around or threaten to sink us, we may tie the rope of our faith to the immov­able character of God, which his promises reveal. “Fear not,” God says, and then he makes a promise.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”  Isaiah 43:1–2   

The prophet Isaiah was given a tough assignment—to declare the displeasure that God felt toward his chosen people and to predict the judgment that they would receive. But, as it so often happens with God, mingled with this painful news are comfort­ing promises of hope and restoration. Though these promises were made to Abraham’s physical seed, they can also be applied to his spiritual seed—the “sons of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7)—that is, every Christian. You can fasten the rope of your faith to God’s assurances.  View article →

via Anxiety, Coronavirus, and the Promises of God — Christian Research Network

The Intersection of the State and Coronavirus — CultureWatch

The Coronavirus is changing the way the state interacts with the people – both good and bad:

As numerous governments around the world are now taking various steps to help curb the spread of Coronavirus, there have been all sorts of concerns raised, depending on your perspective on things. Some who may think the earth is doomed may be demanding far more state action and involvement. They claim governments are not doing enough.

Others who are more sanguine about the virus and how deadly it might be are concerned that governments are involved in overkill here. They claim they are overreacting, restricting too much individual liberty, and unduly increasing the size and scope of the state. So who is right?

I have already penned a piece on the general historical truth that as crises emerge, there is a very real tendency for states to expand in power while individual freedoms are restricted or eliminated. In it I said: “The state is ever willing to seize control of things, but is very loathe to give up control. Thus a public health crisis is just the sort of thing that power-hungry politicians will latch onto in order to grab more control and power. And that means much less liberty and freedom for ordinary citizens.”

I also said this: “Of course in times of genuine crisis and emergency there is a place for the state to step in and act in a responsible and appropriate manner. But the trick is to discern what is a real and major crisis, what is a mild crisis, and what is just a manmade or fake crisis.” billmuehlenberg.com/2020/03/12/crises-liberty-and-the-state/

Let me look at three broad areas in which the intersection of the virus and the state are creating new situations: one, cases of expanding statism; two, a few cases where the government is loosening restrictions; and three, cases where folks are seeking government bailouts.

One: growing statism. To see what a very real threat this is, simply consider a number of things that various states have done since I wrote that earlier article. I have been trying to follow how certain overseas jurisdictions have been responding to this, and how there appears to be some pretty heavy-handed government clampdowns.

In Denmark for example a new coronavirus law “gives health authorities powers to force testing, treatment and quarantine with the backing of the police. The far-reaching new law will remain in force until March 2021, when it will expire under a sunset clause.” http://www.thelocal.dk/20200313/denmark-passes-far-reaching-emergency-coronavirus-law

Wow, an entire year of emergency powers! Consider what has just occurred in the UK: “Local elections and the London mayoral election have been postponed for a year to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. The government made the decision to push back the 7 May elections after the Electoral Commission said the health crisis would have an impact on campaigning and voting.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/13/local-london-mayoral-elections-postponed-year-coronavirus-uk

Now isn’t that very convenient for London Mayor Sadiq Khan? And another mayor, Bill de Blasio of New York City, has just called for the “nationalization of crucial factories and industries” to help fight the Coronavirus! http://www.teaparty.org/socialism-de-blasio-calls-for-nationalization-of-factories-industries-to-combat-coronavirus-432049/

What has been happening in Italy has been quite alarming. Consider this:

Doctors in Italy are rationing resources in their intensive care units amid the coronavirus outbreak.  Medical officials are urging health care workers not to treat elderly patients or patients with certain comorbidities, regardless of whether they have the virus. The Italian College of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care published utilitarian guidelines stating that doctors and nurses should deny treatment for people who have too low a number of expected “life-years” left. http://www.texasrighttolife.com/italy-icus-urged-to-stop-treating-elderly/

California has also been making some harsh decisions: “Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday called for 5.3 million senior citizens and others at risk to stay home in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The call for home isolation also extended to people with chronic conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus.” http://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-15/california-calls-on-5-3-million-senior-citizens-to-stay-home-because-of-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know

And other American states are also getting in on the act with what some would consider to be rather draconian actions: “Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Sunday afternoon that the state governments will be issuing orders closing all bars and restaurants. Ohio’s order becomes effective Sunday evening; Illinois’ begins Monday evening. The orders will remain in effect indefinitely.” disrn.com/news/ohio-illinois-order-all-restaurants-and-bars-to-close-statewide

Hmm, statism in action. Again, that some government action is needed is not in dispute. The question is, are such steps a case of government overreach and overkill, or are these simply prudent and needed measures? Are these indeed helpful measures that we should applaud, or should we be worried about Big Brother in action?

Two: loosening of restrictions. There can be rare situations where crises of various sorts, including public health crises, can actually result in some moves in the other direction, for example with certain restrictive laws being repealed or suspended. I just read about one such case in the US:

All along America’s highways, trucks hauling vital relief supplies are cutting through red tape, thanks to President Donald Trump. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Friday announced that a 1938 law regulating the hours of service for truck drivers was being waived on a national basis to battle the coronavirus.

The agency said this was first time the rule had ever been waived throughout the country. “I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. I will always put the well-being of America first,” Trump said, according to a White House media pool report.

The rule currently forbids truck drivers from driving more than 11 hours during a 14-hour work period. After that, drivers are required by law to have 10 hours of down time. The waiver, issued by Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, exempts truckers hauling medicine and other supplies necessary to battle the outbreak of the virus, FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen said. http://www.westernjournal.com/trump-suspends-1938-road-law-gives-truckers-green-light-move-emergency-supplies/

Another example (good or bad, depending on your views on fiscal policy) involves American interest rates

In a bold, emergency action to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve on Sunday announced it would cut its target interest rate near zero. The swifter-than-expected rate cut is designed to prevent the kind of credit crunch and financial market disruptions that occurred the last time the Fed had to cut rates all the way to the bottom, during the global financial crisis just over a decade ago. edition.cnn.com/2020/03/15/economy/federal-reserve/index.html

Three: state bailouts. Then we have the matter of how much governments should step in and bail out or subsidise various struggling businesses and activities. Plenty of major sporting events for example are being hit hard with this, and games are being cancelled, or allowed to go ahead in empty stadiums. So should the tax-payer help these groups out? Consider one such plea for funds:

NRL pleas for government assistance to save rugby league and its clubs amid the coronavirus pandemic have fallen on deaf ears. In addition to pushing for special consideration to test players for coronavirus, the NRL said it faces a “catastrophic” demise if it’s forced to suspend the competition. On Sunday the NRL confirmed it would forge ahead with the competition in round two in the interest of keeping the game alive financially despite the growing pandemic which has forced the shut down of other major sports….

On Monday the hopes of government aid were shut down by prime minister Scott Morrison, who scrapped plans to attend a Cronulla Sharks game on Saturday. “The NRL is not high on the list at the moment,” Morrison told 2GB. “(Compared to) addressing the health issues, hospitals, making sure we’ve got health workforces in place, aged care facilities, small businesses, making sure they’ve got cash-flow support, and in particular casuals.” 7news.com.au/sport/rugby-league/rugby-leagues-plea-for-cash-falls-on-deaf-ears-as-scott-morrison-responds-c-747146

Australian politician Mark Latham has just put out a communication on all this: “HELP THE VULNERABLE, NOT THE PRIVILEGED”. He writes:

It would be bizarre for governments to subsidise or bail-out elite sporting codes as a response to the CoronaVirus impact, given that the players are millionaires and some clubs are owned by major corporations. Priority must be given to funding frontline health services, looking after the elderly in particular.

Corporate sponsors run sporting codes these days, let them sort it out. Let them pay the money, not the taxpayer. The NRL, for instance, is asking for a $200-500 million bail-out from the Federal Government and compliant sports reporters think this is a fair dinkum use of public money in the middle for a public health emergency. The elderly are dying in our hospitals, it’s time to look after the health budget and our health workers and patients, not woke sporting codes and their elite, wealthy administrators.

So these are just three areas in which Coronavirus is making some very real changes to the way we live – certainly in terms of government action – or inaction. The state of necessity will be involved here. How, where and why it gets involved is what we need to keep an eye on. We must remain vigilant here.

via The Intersection of the State and Coronavirus — CultureWatch

The Postmodern Progressive Cornucopia of False Doctrine — The Aquila Report

Although this is a very quick overview of Postmodernism, it’s not hard to see how it starts to fall apart under thoughtful investigation. It’s important to understand that the best Postmodernists are very clever wordsmiths who can sound quite profound as they deconstruct commonly held ideas-and even the meaning of words themselves.

 

“Postmodernism” is a fairly recent (from the past 30-50 years) philosophical movement, that comes after the period of “Modernism,” which took place roughly over the past 200-300 years. In order to understand Post (“comes after”) Modernism, we first need to understand Modernism. Modernism was a period marked by an optimistic hope in the ability of mankind to solve all of its problems through science, technology, unrestricted free trade and a social order that had been “released” from pre-modern/Medieval ideas about God, Church authority, government and human nature. Modernism is a movement that comes as a result of the “Age of Enlightenment.”

Here is a very informative video from professor Ryan Reeves about the enlightenment. Here’s another; and here’s one more that’s specifically about Voltaire and the Radical Enlightenment.

Here are some characteristics of the pre-modern/Medieval period:

  • Kings, Queens and Kingdoms who derive their authority from God and the Church.

  • Church as primary institution in society; Church authority unquestioned.

  • Supernatural explanations for pretty much everything.

  • Distinct classes in the social order with little upward mobility possible for the lower class.

  • Very slow change in technology, discovery and education.

  • Feudal economy is based on agriculture and has very little potential for lower-class economic advancement. People are stuck where they are, and they’re never getting out.

Now here are some things that came as a result of the Enlightenment/Modern way of thinking:

  • Large advancements in science, discovery and education, which includes a growing skepticism of the supernatural.

  • Reason (our ability to think) becomes more important than revelation (the Bible).

  • Political power comes through democratic elections and is spread out in the form of a parliament or congress; mankind asserts that it has certain “inalienable rights,” regardless of what any Monarch used to say.

  • Church power is reduced to the sphere of “personal religious beliefs” and has less political authority as it becomes more diverse, especially after the Protestant Reformation splintered into so many denominations.

  • Individuals have more freedom and, potentially, more opportunities for advancement-especially as the Industrial Age expands.

  • There is, generally, an optimistic outlook on the future, based on all of the advancements in society; this leads to less emphasis on mankind’s need to depend upon God. The Modern era is the “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” era.

However, the Modern era became a great disappointment to a number of people as the 20th Century saw unprecedented bloodshed in many wars-most especially World Wars I and II. According to some people, even the most free countries on earth still had substantial struggles with poverty, inequality, corruption and injustice as the century came to a close. Although much progress had been made in the United States and other free countries, there were some philosophers, sociologists, theologians and others who believed the Modern era must be rejected and a new era should begin: the era of “Postmodernism.” The Wikipedia page is helpful to explain Postmodernism in more detail.

Postmodernism is a big topic with a large array of opinions, but here is a broad sweeping summary of its key ideas:

  • The Enlightenment did not go far enough when it largely rejected Christian/Biblical truth claims in favor of pure human reason.

  • Enlightenment ideas about rationality, spirituality, liberty, progress and tolerance can be rejected so that entirely new concepts can be discovered.

  • Modernism failed to deliver on its promise of a better world, so any modern concept can be rejected. Modernism’s faith in reason, science and technology was misplaced, and so a rejection of any Modern concept-even reason itself-is acceptable.

  • All universal truth statements must be rejected in favor of subjective beliefs. This eventually ends up producing the incoherent idea: “It is absolutely true that nothing is absolutely true.”

  • Skepticism, irreverence, irrationalism and deconstruction are to be valued over older concepts of rationality, logic, reason, and objective reality.

Read More

via The Postmodern Progressive Cornucopia of False Doctrine — The Aquila Report

How Should We Pray? — BLOG – Beautiful Christian Life

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning Beautiful Christian Life LLC may get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through its links, at no cost to you.

It is encouraging to know that we are not the first of Jesus’ disciples to ask this question. It is even more encouraging to know that the Lord himself has given us a straightforward answer to this question. We will look specifically at the elements of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 in a moment. Before we do, we need to say a word about how to understand Jesus’ instruction on prayer in this text.

Most importantly, Jesus does not intend us to slavishly follow the exact form of these words; nor does he intend to teach us that we must pray this way every time we pray. Rather, we are being taught to include these vital elements in our prayers and to use these elements to order the priorities of our prayers. I take the Lord’s Prayer as instruction to inform our private, set-aside times for prayer, not as a set of rules to be strictly followed every time we breathe out a plea to God.

I believe that Jesus does not intend us to follow the form of these words or pray exactly like this every time we pray for the following four reasons:

  1. Jesus warns us against using rote and thoughtless repetition in Matthew 6:7: “‘And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.’”

  2. It is most likely that the gospels provide us with two separate occasions when Jesus spoke to his disciples on how to pray (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). The slight differences in these two teachings indicate that the exact form of the words is not the issue, but the meaning and priority behind them.

  3. Scripture is replete with examples of prayer, and not all of them follow the exact words or even the structure of the Lord’s Prayer. There are many times when we will pray spontaneously and without much planning or prolonged thought, and God commands this kind of prayer. “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will answer you and you will honor me” (Ps. 50:15). David prayed this way: “Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!” (Ps. 31:2).

  4. Paul often describes his prayers in his letters, and they don’t appear to follow the exact form or structure of the Lord’s Prayer (see Eph. 1:16-23; Phil. 1:9-11).

The point of Jesus’ teaching here is to help us order our times of set-aside, “closet” prayer (see Matt. 6:6) in a way that values the right priorities.

Help from the Lord’s Prayer

In order to mold our hearts into and frame our prayers according to God’s will, it will be helpful to look at each statement in Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Notice that Jesus’ design in this prayer is to rivet our attention on God and his desires before we start talking to God about ourselves and our desires:

“Our Father”: We first come to God as our Father who loves us and who has made us his child through Jesus Christ. He is no longer our judge (Rom. 5:1). He now invites us to fellowship with him, enjoy him, and to ask freely from his infinite abundance (Heb. 4:14-16).

“In heaven”: But our familial warmth is balanced by our recognition that God is holy, transcendent, infinite, and sovereign. He is our Father, yes, but he is also the God of the universe. But this reality shouldn’t produce reluctance; it should promote reverence.

“Hallowed be your name”: What does it mean when we ask God to make his name “hallowed?” We are simply asking God to do what he set out to do by creating the universe: make his name great. As it turns out, this prayer is not only God-centered, it has a direct effect on our joy.

“Your kingdom come”: Similarly, if the saints’ greatest joy is to see God’s name revered and loved throughout the world, it is our joy to see God’s kingdom consummated here on earth. This prayer looks forward, ultimately, to God’s kingdom to be established in a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1).

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”: Pray that God’s will would be increasingly fulfilled on earth, the same way that it is in heaven, where there is perfect fulfillment of his will or desire. This kind of prayer may often cause grief and joy: grief because God’s Word is so easily cast aside by the world (Ps. 119:136); joy because we know there is coming a day when God’s will shall be the sinless pursuit of all people created in his image and recreated in Christ (Rev. 21:3).

“Give us this day our daily bread”: Jesus also teaches us to recognize our dependence on God for our daily physical provision. In our current state of unparalleled abundance in America, we may find it difficult to acknowledge our utter dependence upon God for our daily needs. Nevertheless, Jesus teaches us to ask God—with authenticity—to daily supply us with our necessities. Despite our present abundance, I believe it is still possible to grasp some notion of our dependence upon God.

Think of it for a moment. In order to sustain your ability to earn a living, God must keep ten thousand variables in place: the greater economy, your present employer’s financial solvency, international markets, your skill and personal capacity to fulfill your role at work, and your personal health (which involves another massive set of variables). All these are pieces of an incomprehensible puzzle that must fit just so in order for you to earn your living. Pray for your daily bread.

“And forgive us our debts”: While it is true that we have been judicially forgiven of our sins, it is also the case that in our relationship with God, we must regularly confess the sins we commit against our Father and receive his forgiveness in Christ. When we do, we are promised that we find spiritual cleansing and renewal from our heavenly Father (1 John 1:9).

“As we also have forgiven our debtors”: It is vital to our prayer lives that we do not store up bitterness toward others. Why? Because, when we allow unrighteous anger to pulse unchecked throughout hearts, God will not hear our prayers. Christ is calling us to come to God in prayer with a good conscience (Heb. 10:22).

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”: Finally, we must recognize our dependence on God for spiritual deliverance and pray that God would keep us from temptation. We are weak and needy and liable to fall into sin. If God would remove his protection, we would fall into a thousand sins and snares.

How to Pray for Other Believers

Praying for God’s name to be hallowed among the nations, for his will to be done on earth, and for his kingdom to come will include praying specifically for the spiritual growth of Christians and the salvation of unbelievers. Paul is a wonderful example of both.

Paul’s prayers were saturated in Christ-centered concern for other Christians. He prayed that believers would clearly behold the glory of spiritual realities with the eyes of their hearts (Eph. 1:18-21). He prayed that believers would experience deep, heart-changing fellowship with God (Eph. 3:14-21). He prayed that Christians would grow in their love for one another (Phil. 1:9), have a sure grasp of God’s will (Phil. 1:10; Col. 1:9), possess spiritual wisdom and strength (Col. 1:9, 11), be rich in good works (2 Thess. 2:11), and be consistent in bearing fruit (Phil. 1:11; Col. 1:10). He wanted other believers to grow in their knowledge of God and please the Lord in every area of their lives (Col. 1:10).

Paul also prayed diligently for the salvation of unbelievers. Given the deep anguish that Paul felt for his unbelieving kinfolk, we can be sure that Paul prayed diligently for them and for all the lost. Listen to these words from the apostle:

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh….Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (Rom 9:1-3; 10:1)

Paul’s prayers, then, become an excellent example to us as to how we should pray for our other brothers and sisters in Christ as well as the unbelieving world.

More Instruction on Prayer

But Scripture has more to say about prayer. Given space limitations, I will only list other texts that speak directly to our responsibility to pray.

  • Matthew 5:44 – Pray for your enemies and those who persecute you.

  • Matthew 9:38 – Pray for the Lord to send laborers into the harvest.

  • Matthew 24:20 – Pray for perseverance during the Tribulation.

  • Matthew 26:41 – Pray to be protected from temptation.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing (Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2).

  • Philippians 4:6-7 – Pray in response to anxiety.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:25 – Pray for your spiritual leaders (see also 2 Thess. 3:1-2; Heb. 13:18; 1 Cor. 1:11).

  • 1 Timothy 2:1ff – Pray for your national leaders.

  • 1 Timothy 4:1-5 – Offer prayers of thanksgiving for marriage and food.

  • James 5:13 – Pray when you’re suffering.

  • James 5:14 – Pray for God to heal others when they are suffering.

In all of these endeavors to pray, Jesus encourages us to never give up praying. He spoke parables that were intended specifically to steel our perseverance in prayer (Luke 18:1ff). Elsewhere, we are told to “keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking” (Matt. 7:7; Luke 11:9).

Importantly, Jesus tells us often that we are to pray “in faith.” When we pray in faith we believe that God hears us in Christ (John 14:13); and he loves to answer prayer that is in accordance with his will (Matt. 7:11; Mark 11:24).

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Derek J. Brown is Academic Dean at The Cornerstone Seminary in Vallejo, California, and associate pastor at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley where he oversees the college and young adult ministry, online presence, and publishing ministry, GBF Press. Derek blogs at fromthestudy.com.

This article is adapted from “Spiritual Disciplines, Part 6: What Should We Be Praying About?” at fromthestudy.com.

via How Should We Pray? — BLOG – Beautiful Christian Life

Did The Federal Reserve Just Purposely Try To Crash The Stock Market? — The Economic Collapse

Unless the Federal Reserve is purposely attempting to spread panic on Wall Street, the decisions that the Fed just made don’t make any sense at all.  Back on March 3rd, the Federal Reserve announced an unscheduled emergency interest rate cut for the very first time since 2008.  Wall Street immediately interpreted that as a “panic move” and the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the session down 785 points.  So Fed officials had to know what was going to happen once they announced an even bigger unscheduled emergency interest rate cut on Sunday.  Predictably, stock futures hit “limit down” very rapidly, and now investors are bracing for a week of tremendous carnage.

But this didn’t have to happen.  Yes, we witnessed three of the worst trading days in U.S. stock market history last week, but on Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1,985 points.  It was an absolutely epic rally, and if the Fed had not caused so much panic there may have been a good chance that the rally could have continued into next week.

In other words, U.S. stocks just had one of their best days ever, and there didn’t appear to be a need for any “emergency intervention” by the Fed.

If the Federal Reserve had just waited a couple of days until their normally monthly meeting, and if the Fed had just cut rates a quarter point, that would have likely been greeted by the markets with warm enthusiasm.

But instead, Fed officials decided to load up their bazooka and go for broke on Sunday.  In addition to using up all of their “interest rate ammunition” in one epic volley, the Fed also officially restarted quantitative easing

The Federal Reserve, saying “the coronavirus outbreak has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the United States,” cut interest rates to essentially zero on Sunday and launched a massive $700 billion quantitative easing program to shelter the economy from the effects of the virus.

The new fed funds rate, used as a benchmark both for short-term lending for financial institutions and as a peg to many consume rates, will now be targeted at 0%-0.25% down from a target range of 1% to 1.25%.

These moves have “panic” written all over them, and investors immediately responded accordingly

Stock market futures hit “limit down” levels of 5% lower, a move made by the CME futures exchange to reduce panic in markets. No prices can trade below that threshold, only at higher prices than that down 5% limit.

Dow Jones Industrial average futures were off by more than 1,000 points, triggering the limit down level. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were also at their downside limits.

As I mentioned above, Fed officials saw what happened immediately after their March 3rd emergency rate cut, and so this sort of response by the markets should have been foreseeable.

As Wolf Richter has noted, these latest moves by the Fed were “the opposite of being confidence inspiring”…

The whole Sunday afternoon maneuver, on top of the mega shock-and-awe maneuvers Thursday and Friday reek of sheer and outright panic – and they’re the opposite of being confidence inspiring. That stock futures plunged after the Fed had effectively put its biggest tools to work shows how obvious this panic is.

So then why did the Fed pull the trigger if this was going to be the result?

It would seem that there are two obvious conclusions.  Either Fed officials are completely and utterly incompetent, or they were purposely trying to crash the stock market.

And now that the Federal Reserve is completely out of interest rate ammunition to fight any future economic downturn, the only weapon they have left is “helicopter money”.

As economic activity comes to a grinding standstill due to fear of the coronavirus, it appears to be inevitable that we will see tremendous inflation as the Fed floods the system with money.

In other words, there is going to be a whole lot more money chasing a lot fewer goods and services in the months to come.

Meanwhile, we are already starting to see a run on U.S. banks.  On Thursday, so many people were taking money out of a Bank of America branch in midtown Manhattan that it actually ran out of cash

As the stock market was having its worst day in 30 years on Thursday, customers at a Bank of America branch in Midtown Manhattan, the financial heart of New York, were lining up to take cash out of their accounts — sometimes tens of thousands of dollars at a time.

So many people sought huge sums that the bank branch, at 52nd Street and Park Avenue, temporarily ran out of $100 bills to fulfill large withdrawals, according to three people familiar with the branch’s operations. The shortage hit after a rash of requests for as much as $50,000, said two people who witnessed the rush.

And according to Zero Hedge, wealthy individuals in the Hamptons are doing the same thing…

As the ultra rich Snake Plisken out of the soon-to-be quarantined Manhattan – where at least one bank has are already run out of $100 bills – to fortify themselves against the viral zombie peasant hordes in their impregnable castles in the Hamptons, one thing they’re looking to hoard is cash, which has caused some substantial pressure on financial institutions in the area, according to Bloomberg. At least one New Yorker had his $30,000 cash withdrawal request denied at a Chase bank after being told the limit was $10,000. Meanwhile, bank employees said they were waiting on a “shipment of cash” to fulfill other requests that have been made exceeding the $10,000 amount.

Other branches in the area were unable to help in fulfilling the request, with the East Hampton branch reportedly telling the Southampton branch that it had “two massive withdrawal orders” of its own that it was trying to deal with.

Hopefully we won’t see similar scenes all over the country in the weeks ahead.

But without a doubt, panic continues to spread all over the globe.  The following examples come from CNN

A woman at an Australian supermarket allegedly pulls a knife on a man in a confrontation over toilet paper. A Singaporean student of Chinese ethnicity is beaten up on the streets of London and left with a fractured face. Protesters on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion welcome cruise passengers by hurling abuse and rocks at them.

The coronavirus risks bringing out the worst in humanity.

Yes, this virus is definitely bringing out the worst in humanity.

Here in the United States, two “panic shoppers” became so enraged with one another that they began hitting each other with broken wine bottles

A brawl erupted in a Georgia Sam’s Club packed with shoppers during which two feuding men slashed each other with broken wine bottles.

A second incident in a Costco in Brooklyn saw an employee pleading with two women to calm down after a screaming match began when carts collided in the mobbed store.

This is why it was so important to get prepared in advance.

For years I have been mocked for telling my readers to “get prepared”, but now those that did are going to be very thankful for the things that they have stored up.

If you are not prepared, you can go brave the giant crowds storming the stores if you wish, but at this point the big stores are going to be one of the very best places in the entire country to catch the virus.

I don’t know about you, but I am not eager to experience the “blinding pain” that survivors of COVID-19 have told us about.  So I would highly recommend avoiding big stores and other major public gathering places as much as possible.

We need to accept that life has changed for the foreseeable future.  According to Newt Gingrich, it is time for us to adopt a wartime mindset…

We should be planning for a worst-case pandemic and using the kind of intensity of implementation which served us so well in World War II. Getting enough ventilators, masks, intensive care units, treatment medications and aggressive community-wide testing are the minimum steps to saving lives and stopping the pandemic.

The Pence-led Coronavirus Task Force has begun to pull things together, but it should have a planning group that creates a worst-case projection and then devises the steps necessary to smother the pandemic and minimize its impact.

And this is also a time for prayer.  In fact, President Trump designated Sunday as a “National Day of Prayer”

President Donald Trump on Saturday declared Sunday, March 15, a “National Day of Prayer for All Americans Affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic and for our National Response Efforts.”

“I urge Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers for all those affected, including people who have suffered harm or lost loved ones,” Trump said in his statement announcing the day of prayer.

Let us all hope that this pandemic passes as quickly as possible.

But the CDC just issued new guidelines that recommend that gatherings of 50 people or more not be held for the next eight weeks.

Of course most decision makers in this country will follow those guidelines, and so that means that our lives will not be getting back to normal for at least the next two months.

And it could be a whole lot longer than that.

via Did The Federal Reserve Just Purposely Try To Crash The Stock Market? — The Economic Collapse

March 15th The D. L. Moody Year Book

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.—John 3:14, 15.

I HEARD of a woman once that thought there was no promise in the Bible for her; she thought the promises were for others, not for her. There are a good many of these people in the world. They think it is too good to be true that they can be saved for nothing. This woman one day got a letter, and when she opened it she found it was not for her at all; it was meant for another woman that had the same name; and she had her eyes opened to the fact that if she should find some promise in the Bible directed to her name, she would not know whether it meant her or some one else that bore her name. But you know the word “whosoever” includes each and every one in the wide world![1]

 

[1] Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (pp. 55–56). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

March—15 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

A man in Christ.—2 Cor. 12:2.

My soul! thy last evening’s meditation was sweet (was it not?) in contemplating thy Jesus, as glorious in his own person and as glorified in his people. Wilt thou add to that subject, for it is part of the same, for thy present thoughts, what is suggested in this motto, “A man in Christ?” Dost thou fully enter into the pleasing apprehension of what the phrase implies? Now, who shall fully describe it; or who is competent fully to conceive the whole extent of it? “A man in Christ” must imply every thing connected with a oneness, an union, a part of himself; yea, “a life hid with Christ in God.” A man in Christ is as much a part in Christ’s mystical body, as the head, or hand, or foot, is a part of that body to which those members belong. Hence (which is indeed a sweet part of the subject) every one who is “a man in Christ” is to all intents and purposes interested in all that belongs to Christ, as the Christ of God. Hence also it must as undeniably follow, that every member of Christ’s body, the least as well as the greatest, the humblest as well as the highest, becomes a part in him, equally united to him, and participates in what belongs to him. The life of Christ here, as the life of glory hereafter, both derived from Christ, and enjoyed wholly from an union with Christ, are equally enjoyed; just as the smallest leaf or branch, united to a tree, becomes a part of that tree as much as the loftiest branches. Dost thou enter, my soul, into an apprehension of these outlines of the subject? Art thou “a man in Christ,” by regeneration, adoption, justification, and grace? Oh! then, turn over the transporting thought, with holy and unceasing delight, in thy constant meditation. Calculate, if thou art able, the blessed inheritance to which thou art begotten by it, of grace here and glory to all eternity. “A man in Christ,” as accepted in Christ, justified in Christ, sanctified in Christ, and most assuredly will be glorified in Christ. Oh! who can think of these things, and, through the Holy Ghost conscious of an interest in these things, can suffer the exercises of a dying world to bring affliction into the soul? What a life of dignity is “a man in Christ” brought into! He is brought nigh unto God, through the blood of the cross. What a state of security is “a man in Christ” placed in! “Because I live (saith Jesus) ye shall live also.” And what an endless prospect of glory hath “a man in Christ” opening before him when Christ hath said, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold the glory which thou hast given me!” O the unspeakable blessedness of “a man in Christ!”[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, p. 80). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

March 15, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Response to Grace

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1:17)

Having begun the passage with thanksgiving, Paul now closes it with a doxology. Eternal literally means “of the ages.” It refers to the two ages in Jewish thought, the present age, and the age to come. God had no beginning and will have no end. He exists outside of time, though He acts in it. He is immortal, imperishable, and incorruptible. He will never know death, decay, or loss of strength. Because God is invisible, He can be known only by His self-revelation. That He is the only God is a fundamental truth of Scripture (cf. Deut. 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6; 45:5–6, 21–22; 46:9; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; 1 Tim. 2:5). He alone is worthy of all honor and glory forever and ever. The doxology closes with the emphatic Amen, meaning “let it be said.”

In contrast to the false gospel of the errorists, Paul emphasizes the true gospel and his participation in it by God’s grace. That grace is available to the worst sinner who comes to the Lord Jesus Christ in humble faith and repentance.[1]


17 Paul concludes this section with a brief prayer or doxology, consisting of the following elements: (1) specification of the recipient (“to the King eternal [King of the ages] … the only God”); (2) ascription of praiseworthy attributes (“be honor and glory”); and (3) a solemn affirmation of the truth of the statement (“for ever and ever. Amen”; cf. Rev 1:6; 4:11; 5:12–13; 7:12). The doxology has a liturgical ring to it and may reflect Diaspora synagogue worship (cf. Tob 13:7, 11).

God’s eternal kingship is commonly acknowledged in the OT (esp. Jer 10:10; cf. Pss 10:16; 74:12). The term “immortal” is a Jewish import from Greek philosophy (Wis 12:1; Philo). “Invisible” casts God as incapable of being depicted in visual images (Ex 20:4–5; Col 1:15; Heb 11:27; cf. Jn 1:18; 5:37; 6:46; 1 Jn 4:20). Note that both characteristics, “immortal” and “invisible,” as well as “only,” resurface in the doxology at the end of the letter (6:15–16).

“Only God” (see Jude 25; cf. Jn 5:44) reflects the monotheism characteristic of both Judaism and Christianity (cf. Dt 6:4; Ro 3:29–30; 16:27; 1 Co 8:4–5; Gal 3:20; Eph 4:5–6). This contrasts sharply with the polytheism of the Greco-Roman world. With Paul, one may legitimately marvel that the transcendent, glorious God has in Christ Jesus come into the world to save sinners.[2]


17  It is not exaggerating to say that Paul regarded his ministry as the fulfillment of God’s promises to save the nations. It was for this reason that he was shown mercy, converted and entrusted with the gospel. And the closing statement of v. 16 depicts both the power and success already evident in his gospel. It is for this reason that the section closes with a doxology in praise to God. Not only does the shift of focus to God establish a balance with the heavily christocentric testimony just concluded, but it also reveals Paul’s deeply theological presuppositions about salvation in Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:19; Romans 9–11). The need Paul felt to emphasize the humanity of Christ in the salvation plan does not diminish his belief in God as the author of salvation (2:3–4; 4:10).

Paul’s reflection on God’s power and grace in salvation and on his own place within this redemptive plan often welled up in thanksgiving and praise expressed in the form of a doxology (esp. Rom 11:36; 16:27; Gal 1:5; Eph 3:20–21; cf. Phil 4:20). The device goes back to Hellenistic Judaism (Tob 13:7, 11), where, as here, the writer, or speaker in a communal setting, expresses high praise in a way that induces all to join in.

Paul strings together four descriptions of God. “The King eternal” is a traditional Jewish appellation of God that is limited in Paul to doxological expressions in this letter (6:15). Human rulers were also called “king” (2:2; 2 Cor 11:32), so the addition of the adjectival expression, “eternal,” seeks the appropriate distinction between human and divine power. Whether this intends a further explicit challenge to the claims of the Emperor is harder to determine; but trumping such counter-claims of pagan rulers had become a common part of Hellenistic Jewish liturgical expression and was probably also a common function of the early church’s doxological expression.68 This is to say, some degree of polemics is an inevitable part of the dialogue with the pagan world that the church sustained through its proclamation and expressions of worship (cf. 1 Cor 1:26–29).

The next three terms owe their place within Jewish doxological expressions to the Jewish-pagan dialogue. “Immortal,” borrowed from Greek categories by late Jewish writers, in the NT describes God directly only here and in Rom 1:23, where it is clearly shown to be a quality proper to God alone. The “invisibility” of God (Col 1:15; Heb 11:27) is more widely affirmed in the NT in various constructions. As a quality of God it emerged especially in the polemic of Hellenistic Judaism against the materialistic views of gods in pagan idolatry. Equally, the phrase “the only God” (6:16; cf. 2:5) represents a fundamental affirmation of belief that goes back to the Shema of Deut 6:4 (“Hear, O Israel … the Lord is one”) and became standard theology in the early church. The original affirmation contested pagan polytheism, which in Deuteronomy was symbolized in Egyptian idolatry, and was later developed and used widely in the running debate with paganism.73 In a purely worship setting, the epithet would draw attention to the supremacy of God.

The expression of praise in the doxology comes in the dual phrase “honor and glory” that has become standard in the NT.75 Greek culture had elevated the importance of these elements of good reputation to the highest degree, with the ruler being the epitome of one worthy of such an acclamation. “Honor” is a public acknowledgement of worth. “Glory,” in this context, refers similarly to the recognition of honor that is owed to a deserving person of high repute.77 In the set combination, the terms function together to elevate the esteem that is rightly owed to God. Accentuating the immensity of honor even more is the prepositional phrase “for ever and ever”79 that forms the standard conclusion to doxologies. Neither the plural form (lit. “for the ages of the ages”) nor the repetition in this longer form reflect precise measurements of time. Rather, the Hebrew idiom functions to stretch the praise of the doxology beyond all limits to eternity.81 In the concluding “amen” (6:16; 2 Tim 4:18) the invitation is given to Timothy and the church to join in the acknowledgement.

It is here that we too enter this story Paul told around Christ and himself. His apostleship and experience of mercy are the fruits of the work of the Messiah who lived as a human, and this fact must remain central to an understanding of the gospel. Paul’s own experience is drawn on to assure Timothy of Christ’s human relevance. Whatever else Christology so shaped might mean, it certainly requires that gospel ministry be carried out in the present sinful world and expects that salvation will have its effect in changing this world from within. The overall profile of the false teaching includes a tendency towards elitism or self-absorption that must have posed a threat to the mission as Paul understood it. But built into the gospel message, rooted as it is in the OT promises to call in the whole world, is the centrifugal thrust that reaches beyond the church. We today are invited to view the Pauline “pattern” and to replicate it. Our own experiences of conversion and calling contain promises for those around us who do not yet know Christ’s mercy. Yet they will only come to know it if the gospel is communicated meaningfully to them—if we resist our own tendencies to become absorbed in what we already have, instead of reaching out with what others need to have.[3]


Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

1 Timothy 1:17

To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:17)

Demetrius was right to be worried. The Ephesian silversmith made shrines for the goddess Artemis, and what kept him up at night—worrying about his job security—was the rapid growth of Christianity in his city.

Up until a missionary named Paul arrived, the silver trade in Ephesus had been rather lucrative. The worship of Artemis “brought no little business to the craftsmen” (Acts 19:24). But Christianity meant the end of idolatry, and this posed a threat to their livelihood. So Demetrius called the silversmiths together and said:

Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship. (Acts 19:25–27)

The silversmiths wanted to defend the honor and majesty of their queen. More importantly, they wanted to keep their jobs. So “when they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ So the city was filled with the confusion” (Acts 19:28–29). A massive protest was held in the giant theater of Ephesus. For two straight hours, as many as twenty thousand people shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:34).

Eventually the city clerk was able to quiet the crowd. He said: “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky?” (Acts 19:35). Yes, the whole world did know this, for the temple of Artemis was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was 425 feet long and 220 feet broad, with 127 columns of white marble, each 60 feet high. It took two centuries to build it. Edwin Yamauchi calls it “the largest structure in the Hellenistic world and the first of such monumental proportions to be built entirely of marble.” Inside stood the ancient and enormous statue of Artemis herself.

The goddess seemed immortal, but Demetrius was right to be worried. The coming of Christ meant the end of Artemis. She has now been tossed on the scrap heap of history. With the exception of a few scattered columns on a plain near ancient Ephesus, the last fragments of her temple—a handful of coins and a few broken columns—are now on display in the basement of the British Museum in London.

A Hymn of Triumph

The death of Artemis has turned Paul’s doxology into a hymn of triumph: “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17). Paul addressed these words to Timothy in Ephesus, the guardian city of Artemis. The contrast between God and the goddess could not be more absolute. God is a King; Artemis was a queen. He is immortal; she proved to be mortal. He is invisible; she was a statue. He is unique; she was mass-produced. While he will be honored and glorified forever, her praise and worship have ceased.

Christians have long sung this verse as a hymn of praise to God and triumph over every false god. It forms the basis for the opening stanza of the well-known hymn by Walter Chalmers Smith:

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,

In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,

Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,

Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Paul may have sung nearly the same words to a different tune, for his doxology sounds like part of a Christian hymn. Since the language is Jewish, it may have been a song which was carried over from the synagogue into the early church.

But why does Paul sing the doxology here? The apostle has just given his Christian testimony. He has testified how God rescued him from a life of violence and blasphemy and gave him the grace, faith, and love which are in Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:13–14). He has confessed that Christ Jesus came to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). And he has explained how the mercy of God was shown to him, the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:16).

It is easy for a personal testimony to become self-centered, however, so Paul ends his spiritual autobiography by glorifying God. Having explained the one true gospel, he worships the one true God. According to Calvin, the apostle thereby “admonishes us all by his example, that we should never think of the grace shown in God’s calling without being lost in wondering admiration. This sublime praise of God’s grace swallows up all the memory of his former life. How great and deep is the glory of God!” To put this another way, there comes a time to leave off praising God for what he has done in your life and simply to praise him for who he is in himself.

Now unto the King Eternal

Who is this God we praise? Why should we praise him, and for how long?

The Scripture begins with God’s kingship: “To the King of ages.” God is praised first for his sovereign rule over the universe. Here the title of “King” is given to God the Father rather than to God the Son. Some scholars have found this puzzling because the New Testament usually identifies Jesus Christ as King. And so he is. Jesus entered Jerusalem in royal pomp before ushering in the kingdom of God. He is “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Rev. 17:14). But Paul also knew the Old Testament passages where God the Father is identified as King: “The Lord is king forever and ever” (Ps. 10:16); “The Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King” (Jer. 10:10); and so forth.

It is appropriate to speak about both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Christ. The Father and the Son exercise a co-regency: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). The Father and the Son reign together. There is no rivalry between them. The joint-kingship of the Father and the Son makes it natural for Paul to go from praising Christ to praising God as King. John Chrysostom preached that “the Father is most glorified, when the Son hath done great things. For the glory of the Son is referred again to Him.” The work of the Son is to glorify the Father. Glory to the Son is glory to the Father.

Here Paul especially emphasizes the duration of God’s reign. God is the “King of the ages.” This title is found nowhere else in Scripture, although it appears in ancient Jewish literature. It refers, not so much to God himself, but to his rule. God’s kingship is everlasting. His reign will never come to an end.

God is the King of ages past. He ruled over the deeps when they were formless and void. He governed the galaxies when they were brought into being. He was King over the dinosaurs when they walked the earth. He was God and King to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to Moses and all the prophets. He was the King of all the kings of Israel.

God is also the King of the present age, which commenced with the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God is sovereign over the church in this gospel age. He rules over the worldwide expansion of his kingdom, right up to the present moment.

God is King of both this age and the age to come. He will rule over every subsequent era of human history, however long it may last. In short, “God is the supreme king who governs all the ages from the creation of the world, including the age of the Messiah himself, until the end of time.” Then, at the second coming of Jesus Christ, he will be enthroned over the new heavens and the new earth. He will rule forever and forever. God was the King, he is the King, and he will be the King forever.

What other king can make the same claim? Every earthly monarchy is temporary. Kings are born, they ascend to the throne, they rule, and then they die. Even the greatest of royal dynasties must come to an end. It happened to the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Caesars of Rome, and the emperors of China. It will happen to every president, premier, and prime minister who is presently in power. But God is the King of the ages. There will never be an interregnum in the kingship of almighty God. He is the once and future King. He ruled in the past, he rules in the present, and he will rule forever.

This raises the most practical of all spiritual questions: Will you let God be King? Will you submit to his rule in your own life and heart?

One popular Christian bumper sticker reads: “GOD IS MY CO-PILOT.” This is the kind of relationship many Christians want to maintain with God. They want to stay in the captain’s chair. They are willing to turn over the controls only when there is an emergency. But anyone who relegates God to co-pilot is headed for turbulence! It is much safer to leave the cockpit altogether and go find a seat somewhere in coach class. God is the King, not a co-pilot.

So will you let God rule your life? Will you let him govern your moral behavior? Will you let him control your work situation? Your family? Your finances? Your conduct and your crises are best left in God’s hands. This is what it means to be a servant of the King. A true king does not take orders; he gives them. If God is the King eternal, he needs to be trusted and obeyed.

The King Immortal

God is also immortal. In Paul’s doxology, eternity refers to God’s kingship, whereas immortality refers to God himself, to his being and essence. The word “immortal” (aphthartos) is perhaps better translated as incorruptible. It means that God, unlike the milk in the refrigerator, does not have a use-by date. He is imperishable. He cannot decay.

This makes God different from everything else in his world. The natural world is changeable, corruptible. Pine trees enter the forest and drive out the aspens. Rivers alter their courses. Mountains erode. Entire galaxies collide and stars collapse into black holes. If the scientists are right, the cosmos itself is in gradual decline. This is explained by the scientific principle known as entropy. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, entropy is a “measure of the disorganization or degradation of the universe.” Things are slowing down, cooling off, and returning to a formless void. Thermodynamic theory teaches entropy is always on the rise. In other words, the entire universe is running down.

Our bodies are also running down. Scientists are still trying to figure out a way to immortalize humanity, but the human body is corruptible. Human beings grow old and die. Only one thing can stop the aging process, and that is death itself. The older people get, the more wrinkles they get, the more aches and pains, and the less hair. The aging process goes on inside the body all the time. Cells replicate themselves again and again throughout a person’s lifetime. But eventually, chromosomes shorten beyond the point of repair. It is a little bit like having a shoelace that keeps breaking. Eventually, the lace gets so short that the shoe cannot be tied. In the same way, the ends of a chromosome gradually deteriorate until finally the entire cell shuts down.

Corruption is a fact of daily human existence. Appliances stop working. Clothing gets torn and stained. Automobiles break down. Shops and factories close. The demographics change, the population shifts, and cities go into decline. Indeed, entire civilizations are corruptible, which is one of the main lessons of the twentieth century. In the aftermath of the First World War, William Butler Yeats wrote a famous poem about the corruptibility of humanity. It is entitled “The Second Coming”:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Things fall apart. Persons, families, towns, cities, nations, empires, civilizations—they all fall down. But not God. God is not eroding. He is not cooling off or winding down. He is not growing old and wrinkled. His chromosomes are not getting shorter. He is not falling apart. Unlike everything else he has made, God is immortal. Not only will he live forever, but every one of his divine attributes will remain undiminished throughout all eternity. God does not become less powerful, less loving, less just, or less holy with the passage of time. He is every bit as powerful, loving, just, and holy as he has ever been, and always will be.

God’s incorruptibility is beautifully represented in the artwork of Mako Fujimura, a Christian artist who lives and works in New York City. Fujimura gives honor to his ethnic heritage by using traditional Japanese mineral pigments, each of which has symbolic significance. In Fujimura’s paintings, God is represented by gold. Wherever gold appears, it is a symbol of things eternal. Humanity, by contrast, is represented by silver. Partly this shows the value of human beings. But it also shows the corruption of humanity because silver will tarnish and blacken with age. As the years pass, the paintings will become visual testimonies of the incorruptibility of God. Mortal silver will darken, while the gold of immortality continues to shine.

The best place to see God’s immortality is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. King David made this prediction about the Messiah: “You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption” (Ps. 16:10). This was a prophecy about Jesus of Nazareth. He died, and was buried, but he did not perish in the grave. He was raised on the third day in an incorruptible body.

By raising Jesus from the dead, God gave immortality to mortals. Jesus Christ was the first to be raised with an everlasting body, but only the first. Part of his work is to give his people immortal, incorruptible bodies. As the Scripture says, “What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.… For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:42, 53). Because God himself is immortal, he can guarantee eternal life to mortal flesh (see 1 Tim. 1:16).

The King Invisible

The eternal, immortal God cannot be seen. God is invisible. This fact comes up again in chapter 6, where we read that God is the immortal King “who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16).

What about Moses? Didn’t he see God? No, not in his divine essence:

Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” (Ex. 33:18–23)

Elisha saw the chariots and horsemen of Israel (2 Kings 2:11–12), but not the God of Israel. Isaiah “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Isa. 6:1), but he must have seen a theophany of the pre-incarnate Christ, as the apostle John confirms (see John 1:2–4), because the Scripture is emphatic: no one has ever seen God—meaning God the Father—nor can anyone see God. The most that anyone has ever seen is the glorious light within which God himself remains hidden—the outward refulgence of his inner majesty.

The invisibility of God is sometimes considered a disadvantage. The skeptic says, “If God is so real, why can’t I see him? If only he would come down from heaven and reveal himself to me, then I would believe in him. So where is he?” The answer is that God is invisible. This is one of the first things little people learn in the Children’s Catechism (Q & A 11): “Can you see God?” “No, I cannot see God, but he always sees me.” By his very nature, God is invisible. We can no more see God than we can see gravity.

That God is invisible does not mean that he is unknowable, however. Also like gravity, there is abundant evidence for his existence. He has revealed something of himself in everything he has made: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). We can see the things that God has created, and when we see them, our thoughts and desires are lifted from the seen to the unseen. The visible creation draws us to praise the invisible God.

For some, the invisibility of God may come as something of a disappointment. Human beings have a natural curiosity. We want to uncover what is hidden and gaze upon what is unseen. But we cannot lift the curtain on God. Invisibility is of the essence of his deity.

Therefore, God is to be praised for his invisibility. This may be one of God’s most underrated attributes. Which is more worthy of worship, a visible God or an invisible God? The fact that God cannot be seen shows that there are aspects of his divine being which are not subject to our scrutiny. God is without limits and without boundaries. He cannot be probed and dissected. We must accept that there are some divine mysteries which the human mind cannot penetrate. There are some things about God—like his invisibility—which are so great and so far beyond our comprehension that they are known only to God. Otherwise, God would not be God.

There is one thing we can see, however, and that is God’s incarnate Son. God has made himself visible in Jesus Christ, who is both human and divine. Jesus Christ is God in the form of a human being; therefore, in Christ the unseen God can be seen by human eyes. This is what Scripture means when it says that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).

God knows that his invisibility makes him inaccessible, so he made himself visible in and through Jesus Christ. The apostle John knew that when he saw God the Son he was looking at God the Father: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.… No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:14, 18). To see Jesus in all his majesty is to see the glory of God. As Calvin preached, “God can be known by no other means, but by beholding him in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The hope of every Christian is to see Jesus face to face, and in seeing Jesus, to see the image of the invisible God. King David desperately longed to gaze upon the beautiful face of the Messiah. He wrote, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Ps. 27:4). The beauty of the Lord—this is what Moses was asking to see when God showed him his goodness (Ex. 33:18).

Job wanted to see the same thing. Even after he had lost everything else, he never let go of the hope that he would meet his Savior face to face: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25–27). Job could hardly contain himself. By faith, the resurrection was as certain to him as death, and the prospect of seeing the invisible God filled him with inexpressible joy.

The Puritans often wrote about studying divinity in the face of Jesus Christ. Many old New England gravestones depict a simple human face with lidless eyes staring wide open. The artwork was to show that the Christian was ready to behold the risen Christ on the day of resurrection. As the Puritan poet Edward Taylor once prayed, “Oh! Glorious Body! Pull my eye lids open: Make my quick Eye, Lord, thy brisk Glory greet.”

The desire of all these saints will be satisfied: “We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). In the beautiful face of Jesus Christ, the invisible God will be made visible. If you know God through faith in Jesus Christ, then one day you will get to see this for yourself. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” Jesus promised, “for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

The Only King

God is not only immortal and invisible, but he is also incomparable. The last divine attribute Paul mentions is God’s uniqueness. He is “the only God” (the King James Version famously calls him “the only wise God,” but the word for wisdom is not found in the best and oldest manuscripts). God has no rivals. There is no other being in the universe who shares his attributes. He alone is King of the ages. Although God has given us eternal life, he alone is immortal in his very nature. And he alone is invisible.

The fact that the eternal, immortal, invisible God is also “the only God” (1 Tim. 1:17) opens up the mystery of the Trinity. It is sometimes pointed out, especially by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, that the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible. On this basis, they proceed to argue that there is only one person in the Godhead, not three.

The truth is that the doctrine of the Trinity finds abundant support throughout the New Testament. Paul’s first letter to Timothy is one among many places where the doctrine must be true for a Bible passage to make sense. Here we have two members of the Trinity clearly presented: God the Son, who came to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), and God the Father, who is immortal and invisible (1 Tim. 1:17). Yet we also have a strong statement of monotheism: there is only one God. What other explanation is there for this, except that the one and only God exists in more than one person?

Since the early days of the church, Christians have made this confession. As Augustine wrote in his famous treatise On the Trinity:

The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father hath begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity.

The Athanasian Creed stated the same doctrine rather more simply: “The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.” This definition of the Trinity represents what all Christians, everywhere, have always believed about the triune being of God.

Admittedly, the doctrine of the Trinity is easier to state than it is to explain, as every Christian parent has learned. Immanuel Kant, the philosopher of the German Enlightenment, complained that “the doctrine of the Trinity, taken literally, has no practical relevance at all, even if we think we understand it; and it is even more clearly irrelevant if we realize that it transcends all our concepts.” Yet the truth is that the doctrine of the Trinity has a great deal of relevance. It is relevant for our salvation, where each person of the Trinity plays a part in redemption: the Father administrates redemption, the Son accomplished redemption, and the Spirit applies redemption. It is in the name of this Triune God that Christians are baptized. But even apart from the plan of salvation, knowing that the one and only God exists in three persons is relevant to our worship, which makes it relevant enough! This is how God has told us to address him: as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Even if we never unravel all the mysteries of the Trinity, we can praise God for the mystery.

Many of the most profound Christian hymns simply praise God for his triune being. There is an echo of the Trinity in the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The thrice-holy God is the thrice-personal God: “God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.” God’s triune name also comes at the beginning of the Gloria Patri: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.” It comes at the end of the doxology: “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” It comes, too, in the glorious final stanza of a Latin hymn from the seventh century: “Laud and honor to the Father, laud and honor to the Son, laud and honor to the Spirit, ever Three and ever One, One in might, and One in glory, while unending ages run.” God can receive no higher praise than to be addressed and adored as one God in three Persons, both in our private and in our public worship.

True Christian worship is always trinitarian worship. To worship God as Trinity is to enter into the joy expressed by the great fourth-century theologian Gregory of Nazianzus:

I cannot think of the One without immediately being surrounded by the radiance of the Three; nor can I discern the Three without at once being carried back to the One.… When I think of any One of the Three I think of him as a whole, and my vision is filled, and the greater part of what I conceive escapes me. I cannot grasp the greatness of that One so as to attribute a greater greatness to the others. When I contemplate the Three together, I see but one luminary, and cannot divide or measure out the undivided light.

Honor and Glory, Forever and Ever, Amen

All that is left to do is to praise God, giving him “honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Tim. 1:17). The apostle Paul is not simply listing God’s attributes; he is praising God for them. He is giving honor and glory to God for his kingship, his eternity, his immortality, his invisibility, and his uniqueness.

To give “honor” is to give God his due. It is to show him the respect and reverence his kingship deserves (to give him his worth, which is what worship truly means: “worth-ship”). “Glory” refers to the radiant and luminous manifestation of God’s majestic being. To give God the glory is simply to testify that he is glorious. The English word “doxology” is derived from the Greek word for “glory” (doxa). Our praise cannot add anything to God’s glory because he is completely glorious in himself. But we can at least acknowledge God’s splendor and majesty for what it is.

We do this with our songs and praises. We also do it with our lives. Chrysostom suggested that “honor and glory are not mere words; and since He has honored us not by words only, but by what He has done for us, so let us honor Him by works and deeds.” And let us do so forever. If God is the King of the ages, then he deserves to be praised for all eternity. The destiny of every child of God is to be wrapped up in the adoration of God throughout the endless ages.

To this we can only say, “Amen,” as Paul does. “Amen” is not an afterthought; it is a word of agreement and affirmation. It means “truly,” “so let it be,” or “may this be the case.” When Christians say “Amen” at the end of a hymn or a prayer, they are making that hymn or prayer their own. In effect, they are saying, “Yes, Lord, I give you from my heart all the praise I have just uttered with my lips.”

The “Amen” at the end of Paul’s doxology invites a personal response. When Timothy first read this letter aloud to the church at Ephesus, he undoubtedly paused when he came to the end of this verse, so that all the people could say “Amen.”

Down through the centuries many other Christians have added their own “Amen” to Paul’s doxology. In his “Personal Narrative,” Jonathan Edwards records his life-changing experience of reading 1 Timothy 1:17 as a young man: “The first instance that I remember of that sort of inward, sweet delight in God and divine things that I have lived much in since, was on reading the words ‘Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever’ (1 Tim. 1:17).” America’s greatest theologian went on to describe the impression these words made on his soul:

As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before. Never any words of Scripture seemed to me as these words did. I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven, and be as it were swallowed up in him for ever! I kept saying, and as it were singing over these words of Scripture to myself; and went to pray to God that I might enjoy him, and prayed in a manner quite different from what I used to do; with a new sort of affection.… An inward, sweet sense of these things, at times, came into my heart; and my soul was led away in pleasant views and contemplations of them. And my mind was greatly engaged to spend my time in reading and meditating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency of his person, and the lovely way of salvation by free grace in him.

Paul’s words will make a similar impression on all those who believe in the God they praise: “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.” Everyone who believes this doxology will want to add his or her own personal expression of affirmation, and in doing so to make a personal confession of faith in the one true God of the Bible: “Amen!”[4]


1:17 / What began as thanksgiving and then moved on to testimony of God’s abundant grace now concludes with doxology. How else? Reflecting on God’s grace often does that to Paul (e.g., Gal. 1:5; Eph. 3:21; Phil. 4:20). A similar doxology appears at 6:15–16. What marks off these two from earlier doxologies is their emphasis on God’s “otherness” and eternity. Both have a decidedly liturgical ring to them, being deeply rooted in Hellenistic Jewish piety. They probably reflect doxologies from the Diaspora synagogue, where Paul had his own roots as well as where he began his missionary endeavors.

The King eternal (lit., “the King of the ages”) picks up the theme of eternal life in verse 16. God is eternal in that he rules in/over all the ages. God is likewise the immortal (lit., “incorruptible,” a term from Hellenistic Judaism), invisible (a recurrent ot motif; cf. Rom. 1:20; Col. 1:15), and only (the primary ot motif) God. Therefore all honor and glory (cf. Rev. 4:9, 11; 5:12, 13; 7:12) are due him for ever and ever. The amen pronounced in the synagogues in assent to doxologies and benedictions had already passed into Christian worship (see esp. 1 Cor. 14:16) and often concludes the nt doxologies as well (e.g., Gal. 1:5; Rom. 16:27).

With this doxology, Paul brings the digression to a sudden conclusion. He has indeed come a considerable distance from the opening charge to Timothy to remain in Ephesus to oppose the false teachers (vv. 3–4). But as we have seen, none of this is without purpose. Lingering just behind every word are the erring elders and their “diseased” teaching (1:11), with its emphasis on Law and speculations, which stands over against the pure gospel of grace that produces faith and love. Now it is time for him to return to the matter at hand.[5]


17.

“And from my smitten heart with tears,

Two wonders I confess:

The wonders of his glorious love

And my own worthlessness.”

(Elizabeth C. Clephane)

The contemplation of these “two wonders” which Paul has been discussing leads naturally to a doxology, which is all the more exuberant because in the present case the attention is riveted on Christ’s incomprehensible longsuffering exhibited not only to one sinner but to an entire procession of sinners whom Christ came to save: Paul “the foremost” and those who followed him. Through Christ, accordingly, God displays his glorious attributes in every age, for he is “the King of the ages.” This accounts for the form in which this doxology is cast: So to the King of the ages, the imperishable, invisible, only God (be) honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.

Man proposes; God disposes. Man—for instance Paul before his conversion—may try to destroy the church; God will establish it. And for that purpose he will use the very man who tried to destroy it! Hence, though man is a mere creature of time, God is the King of the ages, over-ruling evil for good; directing to its predetermined goal whatever happens throughout each era of the world’s history. His “dominion endures throughout all generations” (Ps. 145:13).

This implies that he is the eternal God, and as such “imperishable” (the best reading). His arms never become tired (Deut. 32:27). He never grows weary (Is. 40:28). Decay and death are not applicable to him (Ps. 103:15–17). He never changes (Mal. 3:6). On the contrary, he is the inexhaustible reservoir of strength, ever new, for his people (Is. 40:29–31). For the doctrine of God’s imperishability see also Rom. 1:23; and cf. the synonym immortality (see on 1 Tim. 6:16).

When one thinks of God as the imperishable, the mind inevitably turns to those objects that are perishable, for example, grass, the flowers of the field (Ps. 103:15–17), man’s body, birds, quadrupeds, creeping creatures (Rom. 1:23). These are all visible. God, being imperishable, is also invisible, “whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). It is only in his Image (Col. 1:15, 16) that man “sees Him who is invisible,” and then only by faith (Heb. 11:27), and in a finite manner. Never shall we be able to “find out the Almighty unto perfection” (Job 11:7, 8). Paul surely was not able to comprehend the grace of God which had been shown to him. Here all reasoning stops. There is room only for doxologies!

Such a God, finally, is the “only” God; not merely in the coldly abstract sense that numerically there is but one God, but in the warm, scriptural sense, namely, that this one God is “unique, incomparable, glorious, lovable” (Deut. 6:4, 5; Is. 40:12–31; Rom. 16:27; 1 Cor. 8:4, 5).

Out of the wellsprings of Paul’s spontaneity issues the exclamation—it is a veritable outburst coming from a heart that has experienced what it means to have such a God as one’s own God—that “for the ages of (the) ages,” that is, “forever and ever,” honor and glory (praise and adoration) be rendered to the God who in his being and attributes is so wonderful. The doxology ends with the word of solemn assent and emphatic confirmation, “Amen” (see N.T.C. on John 1:51).[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 33–34). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 1 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 507). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (pp. 151–154). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Ryken, P. G. (2007). 1 Timothy. (R. D. Phillips, D. M. Doriani, & P. G. Ryken, Eds.) (pp. 30–43). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[5] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 54–55). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 83–84). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

March 15 Streams in the Desert

Fear not, thou worm Jacob … I will make thee a threshing instrument with teeth.” (Isa. 41:14, 15.)

COULD any two things be in greater contrast than a worm and an instrument with teeth? The worm is delicate, bruised by a stone, crushed beneath the passing wheel; an instrument with teeth can break and not be broken; it can grave its mark upon the rock. And the mighty God can convert the one into the other. He can take a man or a nation, who has all the impotence of the worm, and by the invigoration of His own Spirit, He can endow with strength by which a noble mark is left upon the history of the time.

And so the “worm” may take heart. The mighty God can make us stronger than our circumstances. He can bend them all to our good. In God’s strength we can make them all pay tribute to our souls. We can even take hold of a black disappointment, break it open, and extract some jewel of grace. When God gives us wills like iron, we can drive through difficulties as the iron share cuts through the toughest soil. “I will make thee,” and shall He not do it?—Dr. Jowett.

Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken, in building their kingdoms; but God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory.—J. R. Miller.

“Follow Me, and I will make you” …

Make you speak My words with power,

Make you channels of My mercy,

Make you helpful every hour.

“Follow Me, and I will make you” …

Make you what you cannot be—

Make you loving, trustful, godly,

Make you even like to Me.

L. S. P.[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (p. 84). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

March 15 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

March 15.—Morning. [Or May 27.]
“Thy word have I hid in my heart.”

WE will now read a part of Psalm 119, that longest of the Psalms, which Luther professed to prize so highly that he would not take the whole world in exchange for one leaf of it. Bishop Cowper called it “a Holy Alphabet.” Philip Henry recommended his children to take a verse of it every morning “and meditate upon it, and so go over the Psalm twice in a year, and that will bring you to be in love with all the rest of Scripture.” May such an excellent result follow our reading.

Psalm 119:1–16

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.

Men defile themselves with sin: the only clean walking is in the path of obedience. Such holy walkers enjoy a blessedness which neither wealth nor rank could bestow upon them. This Psalm, like the Sermon on the Mount, begins with benedictions. Our holy religion teems with blessings.

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. (Where the whole heart loves the testimonies of God, the whole life will be sanctified, and no habit of evil will be tolerated. Yet even those who keep his testimonies, have still need to seek him more and more. They are perfect in intention, but absolute perfection they have not attained.)

Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! (What a mercy when God’s precept and our prayer tally so well. These two verses show us that what God would have his people to be, they also desire to be. He works in them to will, and then they will do his will.)

Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

True obedience does not pick and choose, but delights in all the statutes of the Lord. If we begin to set aside one of the precepts, where shall we stop? The only way by which a man can fearlessly defend his profession against all accusers, is by rendering a sincere obedience to all the commands of God. What need there is of grace for all this.

I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. (God’s worship should be the product of all our learning. Prayer is the helper of study, but praise should be the object and result of it.)

I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. (The resolve is good, but it needs the prayer to accompany it. The last sentence should be on our lips every day. What a calamity it would be to-be deserted of the Lord!)

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (This verse contains a weighty question and a satisfactory answer: let all young people lay both of them to heart. Grace in the heart is the young man’s best life insurance.)

10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

Those who are most fervent in religion are the most afraid of failing in it. Their anxiety is wise. However good our intentions may be, we cannot preserve ourselves from sin. The most ardent seeker will soon become a wanton wanderer unless the grace of God prevent.

11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (The best thing in the best place, for the best of purposes. Can all in this family say what David here declares.)

12 Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes. (He gives God glory, and asks God to give him grace. Prayers and praises make a sweet mixture.)

13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. (Those who can speak should speak. Eloquent tongues should never be idle.)

14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. (In the last verse he says that he had edified others, and in this he rejoices that he had entertained himself.)

15, 16 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. (What the heart delights in, the memory retains. A warm heart forgets not the Lord’s word. Is our heart warm?)

Charged we are, with earnest care,

To observe thy precepts. Lord;

O that all my actions were

Ruled and guided by thy word!

Then shall I from shame be freed,

Joy and peace my heart shall fill,

When I mark with reverent heed,

Every dictate of thy will.

March 15.—Evening. [Or May 28.]
“Christ Jesus is made unto us wisdom.”

Proverbs 26:1–16

AS snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

It is out of place, and does mischief. If then we would be honoured, we must pray against being foolish or wicked.

As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.

It flies about harmlessly and does nobody any hurt, except the man who uttered it. If we are evil spoken of for doing our duty, we need not mind, it will not harm us any more than the flying of a swallow over our head.

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back. (Follies bring us smarts. If we would be happy, God must make us wise: but if we will be foolish, the rod must be our portion.)

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. (The two texts are for two different occasions and persons. One will be best at one time, and one at another. Some men it is best to ridicule that they may see their folly and amend, but others would only be provoked by our speech, and therefore it is better to remain silent. Wisdom will direct us which course to pursue.)

He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.

Nothing but loss comes from trusting vain persons.

The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools. (He shows his folly when he endeavours to talk wisely, just as the cripple displays his deformity when he tries to dance. His speech is not consistent, and his discourse limps like a cripple in walking. May true religion make all of us wise.)

As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool. (He puts a a worthless person into a place where he can do great damage, and where he is not likely long to remain. Every sinner is like a stone in a sling, and his soul will be slung out by the hand of God, far off from his present rest and comfort.)

As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

They had better let it alone—they only hurt themselves, like drunken men playing with thorn bushes. Foolish persons are sure to expose themselves if they attempt a parable, if there be any point in it they run it into themselves before long. Out of their own mouths are they condemned.

10 The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.

But what terrible rewards he gives them. Lord, save us from such.

11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. (Sin is ingrained in human nature, and if you draw a man aside from it for a time, yet he naturally flies back to it. The dog must be changed into a lamb, and then he will not return to his former delight; and if fools be born again from above, they will love sin no longer.)

12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him. (The fool may learn, but the conceited man will not. There is more hope of a sinful Publican than of a self-righteous Pharisee.)

13 The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets. (He invents bugbears to excuse his idleness. Any falsehood will serve as an apology for his laziness. How doubly wicked this is; but a lazy person is capable of anything.)

14 As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.

15 The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.

16 The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

He does nothing, but considers himself a great genius. Being always half asleep he dreams that he is wise, but it is only a dream. Above all things, let us avoid conceited idleness. Let us labour with all our might, and ever cultivate a humble spirit.

We for whom God the Son came down,

And laboured for our good,

How careless to secure the crown

He purchased with his blood.

Lord, shall we lie so sluggish still

And never act our parts?

Come Holy Dove with sacred fire,

Inflame our frozen hearts.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 150–151). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.