Journey of Belief

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.

Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.
Luke 24:13–35 ESV

Zünd Gang nach Emmaus, Gemälde von Robert Zünd: Public Domain.
Die Jünger von Emmäus, Bernhard Rode: Cropped, Public Domain.
ESV: English Standard Version.

Original content: Copyright ©2014–2016 Iwana Carpenter

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Race of Hope

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together…
John 20:1–4a

Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre
James Gurney posted The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection by the Swiss artist Eugène Burnand on his Facebook page two years ago, along with these enlargements of the faces of Peter and John. He pointed out the complexity of emotions that Burnand caught on each man. You can literally see their thoughts chasing across their faces—the anxiety and hope against hope on John’s face, and the hope against hope tempered with sorrow and regret on Peter’s face. In disbelieving shock, they run. Not knowing what they will find, they run. In hope against hope they run. They run.

John's Face

Peter's Face

and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed.
John 20:4b–8

Eugène Burnand, The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection. Click on the painting for an enlarged view.

*The NASB Explanation of General Format has this explanation of their use of an asterisk in translation:
ASTERISKS are used to mark verbs that are historical presents in the Greek which have been translated with an English past tense in order to conform to modern usage. The translators recognized that in some contexts the present tense seems more unexpected and unjustified to the English reader than a past tense would have been. But Greek authors frequently used the present tense for the sake of heightened vividness, thereby transporting their readers in imagination to the actual scene at the time of occurrence. However, the translators felt that it would be wiser to change these historical presents to English past tenses.

Original content: Copyright ©2014–2016 Iwana Carpenter

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Dawn of Joy

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…
1 Corinthians 15:3–4

Into the devastation of our world came the God-man Jesus Christ. A man who outrageously declared He was God and performed miracles to authenticate His claims. A man who confronted those who lived in self-righteous piety, and spoke with compassion and forgiveness to those who knew they were dead from the ravages of sin. A man who was nailed to the cross because of the debt of record of our sins that stood against us. A man who took upon Himself our punishment and the just wrath of God we deserved for our rebellion, dying in our place.

Christians know that our belief is in Jesus Christ, who is truly God and truly man. He was born into this world, He died, and He rose again. Because of Him we know what it is to be brand-new, forgiven, and clean. Because of Him we know that death will not hold us, for through Him the hold death had on us because of our sin is forever gone.

In the glimmering dawn of the first Easter, the women who came to minister to a dead man found instead an empty tomb.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead ….”
Matthew 28:5–7a

Empty Tomb by Leo Richardson

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?

The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55–57
…who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord…
Romans 1:4

He is risen!

He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter!

Empty Tomb by Leo Richardson. Artist perspective at the link.
Original content: Copyright ©2011–2016 Iwana Carpenter

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An Unexpected Hiatus

I haven’t been able to do my usual Easter post because in early March I fell and broke both my arms. I’m now recovering from surgery in a rehab nursing/facility.

I’m writing this using the mic on my phone. If you’d like to see some of my Easter post from last year you can go back to the last week in March and the first week in April of 2015. I’m going to try to repeat some of them tomorrow on Easter Sunday.

Providentially, my surgeon thinks I will regain full range of motion in my arms. I’m very grateful to God for his sustaining help during the past few weeks. I would appreciate your prayers for my ongoing healing, and God’s grace during this three steps forward, two steps back, journey of good days and bad days.

Thank you! May you have a blessed and very happy Easter!

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Read the Bible in 2016

Visualizing the Bible® Chris Harrison
Click the image to enlarge

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Psalm 119:105

This beautiful image gives you a visual overview of the Bible: the number of books in the Bible, the length of each book and the thousands of cross reference connections between the books. I want to encourage you to read through the Bible this coming year.

In 1981 Geoffrey Thomas wrote a pamphlet, Reading the Bible. It’s small is size, but great in its help and wisdom.

Life is exceedingly complex: the prevailing climate in present-day Society is hostile to the Christian faith. Marx, Darwin and Freud have all contributed to the dominant philosophy of unbelief that prevails in the Western World. The mass media repeatedly attack the faith of the Bible. The breakdown of the family, promiscuity, divorce, abortion— . . . Answers to our complex contemporary questions are found in the Bible and our task is to equip ourselves with the knowledge of the Word so that all needed insight and strength will be ours. Laziness is our great temptation. Reliance on knowledge gained in the past is a great danger. We must be growing Christians. Our convictions, our conduct and our devotion must be rooted in the Word of God. ‘For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.’ [Romans 15.4].

Thomas explains the benefit of reading the entire Bible:

The chief aim of studying the Scriptures is not the amount read or even the reading itself. The aim is to know God….

In whatever ways we adapt the suggested plan to our own particular needs we must aim at reading two or three chapters at a sitting, or a whole book or epistle. There are many precious things we shall never see unless we read the Word of God in large chunks. We would never read fifteen lines of any other piece of literature and then set it aside, believing that we had thus satisfied the author’s original intentions. To see the whole massive movement of biblical thought, the Scriptures need to be read frequently and from Genesis to Revelation. The Christian must be content with nothing less. He will not understand the individual verses unless he has the framework of knowledge which a larger acquaintance with Scripture provides. The more he reads the more comprehensible the Bible becomes.

There are numerous plans online for reading the Bible through in a year. Some begin in Genesis and go straight through, others arrange the Bible in chronological order of events, and there are those that mix readings from different sections of the Bible.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a Scottish minister of the early 1800s, organized what is today considered a classic reading plan: you read through the New Testament and Psalms twice in a year and through the other books of the Old Testament once. Ben Edgington has numerous helpful links. Here is M’Cheyne’s calendar plan for reading through the Bible in a year and includes part of his original explanation. It’s divided into family and secret readings for personal devotions, but use them as is best for you.

Each day Grace to You posts the Bible readings from The MacArthur Daily Bible. Passages are given to read from the Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and New Testament along with some brief comments by John MacArthur.

Michael Coley has developed a plan that divides Bible readings into Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels—one for each day of the week. He has listed the chapters on a one-page pdf document you can print and carry in your Bible, and he also offers various formats for reading online and by email. In 2011 I posted my own thoughts and reflections on what I read using Michael Coley’s plan. Links to those posts can be found in the heading as pages under the main Bible page.

The Blue Letter Bible site offers several different plans from which to choose. Professor Grant Horner has designed a unique plan in which he has divided the books of the Bible into ten lists and one chapter from each list is read every day.

If you’re not familiar with the Bible, then you might want to use the MacArthur or M’Cheyne reading plan. Both plans have daily RSS feeds available. They are in the sidebar and will change automatically each day. I have set the M’Cheyne plan to change at midnight, US Central time zone (GMT-6), but Grace to You is in the US Pacific time zone (GMT-8). Click on the M’Cheyne listings to go to the reading at Bible Gateway. Click on The MacArthur Daily Bible for the readings at Grace to You. You can still use Bible Gateway, but you’ll have to pull up the readings for yourself.

Choose your translation with care—there are some politically correct translations out today that change the words in the original languages, while some paraphrases obliterate the text and meaning. The New American Standard Bible is a translation I have used for years.

Whichever plan you use, I recommend reading Geoffrey Thomas’ Reading the Bible is online here at Tony Capoccia’s Bible Bulletin Board. I think the complete text is there except for a quote from J. C. Ryle, and Thomas’ table outlining a plan for reading through the Bible in a year. Don Carson’s Preface and Introduction (19 page PDF) to For the Love of God is also very helpful. Keep them both close at hand to encourage you.

After M’Cheyne designed his reading plan, he wrote:

MY DEAR FLOCK,—The approach of another year stirs up with me new desires for your salvation, and for the growth of you who are saved….What the coming year is to bring forth, who can tell? There is plainly a weight lying on the spirits of all good men, and a looking for some strange work of judgment coming upon this land. There is need now to ask that solemn question: “If in the land of peace, where thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

Those believers will stand firmest who have no dependence on self or upon creatures, but upon Jehovah our Righteousness. We must be driven more to our Bibles, and to the mercy-seat, if we are to stand in the evil day. Then we shall be able to say, like David, “The proud have had me greatly in derision, yet have I not declined from Thy law.” “Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart standeth in awe of Thy word.”

May the Lord be with you and bless you in 2016, granting you greater love and knowledge of Him through the reading of His Word, for “the people who know their God will display strength and take action.

Visualizing the Bible® Chris Harrison. Used by permission. Click the image to enlarge it to 900 x 540 pixels. This image was named one of the best science images of 2008 in National Geographic News.
“The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc – the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.”
If you’d like to see the image in an even more stunning view at 2000 x 1200 pixels go to the Bible page in the heading and click on the second image at the bottom of that page. For an even larger image go to History Shots. It is truly incredible.
The quote from M’Cheyne is via and can be read in its context beginning on p. 618 of Andrew Bonar’s Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Edinburgh/London : Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1892) available on

Original content: Copyright ©2012–2016 Iwana Carpenter

Posted in Bible, Christian Life, Read the Bible in 2013 | Leave a comment

“The Kingdoms Of Our Lord & Of His Christ”

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
Revelation 11:15 KJV

Handel Messiah by James Gurney

The words of the “Hallelujah” chorus in Handel’s Messiah are from Revelation 19:6, 16; and 11:15. Revelation reverberates with the power and majesty of God. It gives assurance to believers in Jesus Christ that God will keep His own children through suffering, persecution and death. Nations will know the wrath of His righteous judgment. Christians will realize our hope of glory.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 3:16–18

Be encouraged and with your love encourage other believers. Continue to trust God with your days, and as Paul enjoined us:

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
Colossians 3:1–4

On this last day of the year, take the time to read Luke 17:20–18:8, in which Jesus teaches about His second coming. I. H. Marshall writes:

Jesus’ warning against looking for signs seems at first to be out of harmony with His own words in 21:5–36….But premonitory signs were a recognized part of apocalyptic teaching, and Jesus had to warn people against trusting to them for security. At the same time, He had to prepare His followers for the troubles that lay ahead of them, lest they should lose faith (cf. 18:8).1

In other words we are not to confuse being aware and knowledgeable of signs of His return with trusting in those signs. We are to be faithful in our obedience and continue to trust in God until Jesus returns—not just until we think the signs are incontrovertible. Jesus tells this parable in 18:1–8 .

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’”

And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:1–8

Marshall has these comments:

Although we think of this parable as being about prayer, it really forms the closing part of the teaching about the future given in 17:20–37….The point is that even if God gives the appearance of unwillingness to answer, like the unjust judge, yet He will certainly answer prayer without the need for importunity. He will vindicate His elect speedily (‘soon enough’ NEB) or perhaps ‘suddenly and unexpectedly’. The vital question is not whether He will respond to importunity but whether there will be faithful men, who have persisted in prayer, when the Son of man comes. Luke rightly characterized the parable as one to encourage men to continue in prayer without losing heart before the end comes.2

We must take care not to transfer the reluctance of the unjust judge to God. Luke tells us  exactly why Jesus told the parable—at all times we ought to pray and not to lose heart! Whatever events may occur in our lives during this coming year, at all times we ought to pray and not to lose heart! One day the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever. Until that day, at all times we ought to pray and not to lose heart!

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Handel Messiah sketch by James Gurney using a water-soluble graphite pencil: posted originally in Handel’s Messiah at Gurney Journey. Mr. Gurney is the creator of Dinotopia. Used in 2012 for the first time by permission.
1, 2I. H. Marshall, “Luke,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 914, 914–915.
Messiah: Libretto: Old and New Testament Passages selected by Charles Jennens
Oratorio: George Frideric Handel
Antony Walker conducting Cantillation and the Orchestra of the Antipodes.

Copyright ©2012–2015 Iwana Carpenter

Posted in Adversity, Christian Life, Christmas, Church, Comfort, Courage, Encouragement, Evil, Faith, God, Grace, Hope, Jesus Christ, Joy, Judgment, Justice, Love, Music, Peace, Perilous Times, Personal Distress, Prayer, Suffering, Truth | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“Coventry Carol”

Coventry Carol  is a song that was unfamiliar to me until I read a novel by Helen MacInnes in which she used it at a critical moment in her story. I have yet to hear it sung in a church or in concert here in the United States. The carol is both lullaby and lament, sung by the women of Bethlehem to their children who were slain by the decree of an enraged Herod. It was written in the sixteenth century for The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors in Coventry; a pageant that told the story of the birth of Jesus, beginning with the Annunciation and ending with the killing of the little boys of Bethlehem.1

Now when they [the magi] had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”

So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

“Out of Egypt I called my Son.”

Das Massaker der Unschuldigen François-Joseph NavezThen when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she refused to be comforted,
Because they were no more.”
Matthew 2:13-18

This is a lovely and poignant rendition of Coventry Carol by Valeria Mignaco and Alfonso Marin.

Lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, Thou little tiny Child.
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young, to slay.

Then woe is me, poor Child, for Thee,
And ever mourn and say;
For Thy parting, nor say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

John MacArthur, preaching on Matthew 2:16-23, said:

…Those little babies, they didn’t know it but those precious little babies in Bethlehem at that time were the first casualties in the warfare waged between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdoms of His Christ, they were the first casualties. But ultimately the victory would be won, the babies surely, if I read my Bible right, the minute they died went instantly into the presence of God, who gathers the little ones in His arms and says, “Forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom.” And the mothers, they could stop weeping because this very One who was now exiled in Egypt would come back to offer them a salvation that could unite them with their own babies….

Matthew paints a masterpiece of a picture. Micah, he said the King would come to Bethlehem, and to Bethlehem He came. Hosea, the King would come through Egypt, through Egypt He came. Jeremiah, there would be weeping like Rachel in Ramah of old in the picture of Jeremiah, and there was as the mothers wept over the babies, beside the tomb of Rachel in the Ramah of Bethlehem. And the prophets of old said His name would be Nazarene, and He would be from Nazareth, and so it was. And at each point, He fulfills a prophecy that solidifies His right to reign. And so says Matthew, this is the King, by genealogy, by birth, by worship, by the jealousy of hatred, and by the fulfillment of prophecy this man was born a King, for this cause came He into the world.2

In the Anglican ecclesiastical calendar December 28th is The Innocents’ Day on which the little ones slaughtered in Bethlehem are remembered.
Das Massaker der Unschuldigen by François-Joseph Navez
1Coventry Carol:  The Hymns and Carols of Christmas.
Video by Lutevoice: Valeria Mignaco & Alfonso Marin, soprano-lute duo.
2John MacArthur, “The King Fulfills Prophecy, Part 2.”
This article originally appeared here at Grace to You

Copyright ©2012–2015 Iwana Carpenter

Posted in Adversity, Christmas, Evil, Jesus Christ, Music, Perilous Times, Personal Distress, Suffering | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment