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Showing posts from January 11, 2016

John the Baptist’s Birth Announced

John the Baptist’s Birth Announced

In this section Luke recorded how God after four hundred years once again visited Israel and raised up a prophet who would prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. Although the Qumran community believed that God was active and revealed himself through their movement and that their Teacher of Righteousness was a prophet, for the majority of Israel the prophets had fallen asleep (2 Bar 85:1–3; 1 Macc 4:46; 9:27;14:41) and the Holy Spirit had ceased in Israel (Tosefta Soṭa 13:3). As a result most people tended to look back to the period of the law and the prophets when God was active among his people or forward to the time of the messianic age when God would once again be active and fulfill his covenant promises. Thus God’s visit to Zechariah marks for Luke the breaking in of the messianic age, i.e., the beginning of the things that God has fulfilled among his people.

Stein, Robert H. Luke. Vol. 24. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publis…

The Contest of the Three Guardsmen

The Contest of the Three Guardsmen
‎One interesting story which appears for the first time in the apocryphal Book of Esdras is that of the contest among the three young guardsmen at the Persian court. This introduces Zerubbabel the Jewish prince of the house of David, who led his compatriots back to Jerusalem. It is a peculiarly oriental tale. Three youths, traditionally three Jews, were guarding King Darius while he slept. They agreed to write each a wise saying on the subject of “strength,” and then to ask the king to decide which had written best. ‎Naturally each of the contestants had an eye to the tastes of their selected judge. The first, knowing Darius as a reckless carouser, wrote, “Wine is the strongest.” This text he upheld before king and court. The second wrote, “The king is strongest.” But the third, who was Zerubbabel, wrote, “Women are strongest: But above all things truth beareth away the victory.” In his argument, he pictured even the mighty Darius as yielding to his…


Tamar ‎ We know the names of many of David’s sons but of only one of his daughters, the fair Tamar. Women were reckoned of less account than men in those stern days of warfare. Tamar’s name is only preserved for us because of the grim tragedy among men which her beauty caused. The domestic sorrows of David did not end with the death of Bathsheba’s child. It was through his children that he was made to suffer during all his remaining years. He displayed toward them a fond and feeble tenderness which marks the one strain of weakness in his otherwise sturdy character. Under a firmer father, his sons might have been better men. ‎Apparently these youths were allowed to grow up in idleness about the court at Jerusalem; and thus Amnon, the eldest, having no other occupation, decided that he was in love with his half-sister, Tamar. Such a passion was accounted a grievous crime under the laws of Israel, even as it is to-day; and Amnon dared say nothing to the maiden. Also he had fear of her b…

The Ammonites Barrowed

The Ammonites Barrowed
‎Those were wild and terrible days in which David lived. To his own times he seemed mild and merciful; but to modern hearts some deeds of his reign seem of unthinkable severity. While his triumph over the Syrians made him the chief ruler of the region, there must have been many walled cities which refused him submission. Chief among these was Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites, whose king had so insulted Israel’s ambassadors. David seems to have resolved to make a terrible example of Ammon. He sent Joab to lay close siege to Rabbah; and when the time had come for the final assault, the monarch himself joined his army and was present at the taking of the city. The Ammonites who were captured were put to death with savage brutality by David’s express command. ‎Commentators on the Bible have argued about this passage, which occurs both in Samuel and in Chronicles. Some students think or hope the meaning is that the prisoners were put to work with saws and harrow…

The Tongue as a Revealer of Maturity or Immaturity

The Tongue as a Revealer of Maturity or Immaturity
James 3:1–12

Since the teacher’s work is performed primarily through the use of his tongue, control of this instrument is of utmost importance. The greater the privilege in terms of knowledge and education, the greater the accountability for the use of that information (Luke 12:48).

The tongue is a symbol for the overall discipline and maturity of the whole person (3:2). The images of bridle, rudder, fire, untamed animal, poison, fountain, and fig tree all illustrate the cause and effect relationship between maturity and words. James has clearly shown the relationship between inner lust and outward expression (1:14–15). The images applied to the tongue illustrate the outward effects of inner lusts (cf. 4:2–4). The questions of 3:11–12 uncover the real issue: external behavior in sharp contrast with claims to purity and righteousness before God.

Hughes, Robert B., and J. Carl Laney. Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Ty…

Tomb of Caius Cestius

Tomb of Caius Cestius
‎The only sepulchral pyramid in Rome is situated close to the Porto di San Paolo (St. Paul’s Gate), and is well known to English-speaking travelers as being near the old Protestant cemetery, of which Shelley wrote: “The cemetery is an open spot among the ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.” The heart of Shelley is buried in the new Protestant cemetery near by. Here lies Keats, with the flowers he loved growing over him, and his own inscription, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water,” above him. The pyramid-tomb rises above the quiet place, adding to the atmosphere of repose. “The tomb of Cestius” says Rogers, “that old majestic pile, * * * has stood there till the language spoken round about it has changed, and the shepherd born at its foot can read the inscription no longer.” Caius Cestius was a Roman prætor and tribune of the people who died about 3…



ALOES [ălˊōz] (Heb. ˒ahālîm; Gk. alóē). A general name for the aromatic wood of various plants. Only John 19:39 refers to the true aloe (Aloe succotrina Lam.), a succulent plant which secretes a bitter fluid used as a purgative and in embalming. Most biblical applications of the term indicate the eaglewood (Aquilaria agallocha Roxb.) or sandalwood (Santalum album L.), both trees native to India and Malaya but exported to Egypt in ancient times. At Cant. 4:11 the aloe is said to have been growing in the garden at En-gedi. The eaglewood and sandalwood were valued as sources for incense and perfume (Ps. 45:8; Prov. 7:17). “Aloes” at Num. 24:6 probably indicates an oak or terebinth (KJV“trees of lign aloes”).
Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible dictionary 1987 : 41. Print.

Thoughts for the Quiet Hour

January 11

  Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations
  James 1:2
We cannot be losers by trusting God, for He is honored by faith, and most honored when faith discerns His love and truth behind a thick cloud of His ways and providence. Happy those who are thus tried! Let us only be clear of unbelief and a guilty conscience. We shall hide ourselves in the rock and pavilion of the Lord, sheltered beneath the wings of everlasting love till all calamities be overpast.


Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1997. Print.

Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan

January 11: The Kingdom of Heaven is Like …
Genesis 19:30–21:21; Matthew 13:44–14:36;Ecclesiastes 4:8–16

Few in the world have sold everything to pursue an idea. Yet Jesus claims those who discover the kingdom of heaven are willing to do so. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, that a man found and concealed, and in his joy he goes and sells everything that he has and buys that field”(Matt 13:44). It seems that hardly any of us are equally willing to give up everything for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.
The realization that Jesus has brought the kingdom of heaven to earth presents us with a choice. Will we decide that His kingdom is worth more than all things, or will we devalue it by equating it with worldly treasures?
There are many types of currency, not just money: reputation, occupational status, and social media popularity are just a few. But the kingdom is much more than material or monetary ideas. It’s about giving our gifts, thoughts, and wealth. It’s…

Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year

January 11th
What my obedience to God costs other people

They laid hold upon one Simon, … and on him they laid the cross Luke 23:26.

If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it is a delight, but it costs those who do not love Him a good deal. If we obey God it will mean that other people’s plans are upset, and they will gibe us with it—‘You call this Christianity?’ We can prevent the suffering; but if we are going to obey God, we must not prevent it, we must let the cost be paid.

Our human pride entrenches itself on this point, and we say—‘I will never accept anything from anyone.’ We shall have to, or disobey God. We have no right to expect to be in any other relation than our Lord Himself was in (see Luke 8:2–3 ).

Stagnation in spiritual life comes when we say we will bear the whole thing ourselves. We cannot. We are so involved in the universal …

Spurgeon, Charles H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings

Morning, January 11      Go To Evening Reading
   “These have no root.”           — Luke 8:13
My soul, examine thyself this morning by the light of this text. Thou hast received the word with joy; thy feelings have been stirred and a lively impression has been made; but, remember, that to receive the word in the ear is one thing, and to receive Jesus into thy very soul is quite another; superficial feeling is often joined to inward hardness of heart, and a lively impression of the word is not always a lasting one. In the parable, the seed in one case fell upon ground having a rocky bottom, covered over with a thin layer of earth; when the seed began to take root, its downward growth was hindered by the hard stone and therefore it spent its strength in pushing its green shoot aloft as high as it could, but having no inward moisture derived from root nourishment, it withered away. Is this my case? Have I been making a fair show in the flesh without having a corresponding inner life? Goo…