August 23 

Titus 3:9-15 (ESV)

9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Final Instructions and Greetings

12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all.

August 23 

Luke 20:1-8 (ESV)

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

20:1 One day, as Jesus [1] was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up 2 and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3 He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” 5 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

August 23 

Proverbs 16:17-33 (ESV)

17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 Whoever gives thought to the word [1] will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.
23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death. [2]
26 A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
27 A worthless man plots evil,
and his speech [3] is like a scorching fire.
28 A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
29 A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.
30 Whoever winks his eyes plans [4] dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.

August 23 

Esther 5-6 (ESV)

Esther Prepares a Banquet

5:1 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” 4 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” 5 Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. 6 And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 7 Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: 8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.”

Haman Plans to Hang Mordecai

9 And Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and his wife Zeresh. 11 And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. 12 Then Haman said, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. 13 Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” 14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows [1] fifty cubits [2] high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast.” This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.

The King Honors Mordecai

6:1 On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 3 And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” 4 And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows [3] that he had prepared for him. 5 And the king’s young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” 6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” 7 And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown [4] is set. 9 And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”

12 Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. 13 And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”

Esther Reveals Haman’s Plot

14 While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.

“The kindness and love of God our Saviour.”—Titus 3:4

C.H. Spurgeon, in Morning and Evening:

HOW sweet it is to behold the Saviour communing with His own beloved people! There can be nothing more delightful than, by the Divine Spirit, to be led into this fertile field of delight. Let the mind for an instant consider the history of the Redeemer’s love, and a thousand enchanting acts of affection will suggest themselves, all of which have had for their design the weaving of the heart into Christ,and the intertwisting of the thoughts and emotions of the renewed soul with the mind of Jesus. When we meditate upon this amazing love, and behold the all-glorious Kinsman of the Church endowing her with all His ancient wealth, our souls may well faint for joy.

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” —Esther 4:15-16

Matthew Henry comments

“When we have sought God in this matter, I will go unto the king to intercede for my people. I know it is not according to the king’s law, but it is according to God’s law; and therefore, whatever comes of it, I will venture, and not count my life dear to me, so that I may serve God and his church, and, if I perish, I perish. I cannot lose my life in a better cause. Better do my duty and die for my people than shrink from my duty and die with them.”

John Piper, in a sermon, “O,That You Knew the Terms of Peace!” (Luke 19:41-44)

I want you to imagine a scene with me. There is a young doctor who has a wife and three small children. He volunteers to take a dangerous six-month mission assignment to a place where there is an epidemic of a rare disease and a good deal of hostility from the local people toward outsiders. He takes the assignment because nobody else with his special training was willing to go.

reunionThe months pass slowly, and the kids really miss their daddy. The wife does a valiant job of holding things together and trying to be mom and dad. Then the day of his return approaches, and the whole family is full of excitement. Mom has butterflies in her tummy, and the kids race around the house shouting, “Daddy’s coming home! Daddy’s coming home!” At three o’clock in the afternoon a taxi pulls into the driveway. The kids charge out the front door followed by mom with her heart beating so hard she can feel it. The back door of the cab opens, and out steps dad, a good bit thinner than before and bearded to conceal his hollow cheeks, but with a big smile across his weary face. He kneels down on the grass and is smothered with six clinging arms and legs. “Hooray for daddy! Daddy’s home!” Each one gets his special hug and kiss while mom waits. Finally he pulls himself loose and they embrace: “Welcome home.” “It’s good to be back.”

Now I want you to look into this young doctor’s eyes, because there is a message there. And if you can see it and feel it, you will know something of what Jesus felt as he rode into Jerusalem to shouts of welcome and acclamation. What you can see in the doctor’s eyes is something he knows that his family doesn’t know: he caught the disease he went to heal and has one week to live….

….Picture him [Jesus] riding toward Jerusalem, the rebel city. A multitude praises him: “Hosanna, blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” He knows the praise is shallow. In a few days it will vanish away. But does he rebuke them? No. He defends them against the criticism of the Pharisees: “‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ . . . ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.'” He knew his days were numbered. Like that young doctor, his case was terminal. But there was not a trace of self-pity in him. Isn’t that the kind of king you want for your ruler and defender? O that today you would take his terms of peace! I beseech you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God!

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Haddon Robbinson:

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. Our lives are subject to detours and corrections that we never expected or imagined.

Abraham and Sarah could testify to that. They were planning for retirement when life “happened” to them. God adjusted their agenda. He told Abraham, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). So this old couple packed up the tent and headed out to only God knew where.

When Alexander the Great had completed his conquest of Persia, he headed east. Author Halford Luccock said the general “marched off his maps.”

That happened to Sarah and Abraham. God gave them marching orders without a map. They needed only enough faith to begin the journey, and they headed out to unknown territories and unimagined adventures. God never told them He would turn them “every which way but loose” before fulfilling His promise of a son who would become a great nation.

Make your plans. But write them on paper, not in concrete. God and life have a way of intruding and leading you on a journey that you might not have anticipated in your wildest dreams.—Haddon W. Robinson (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
—Stanphill
© 1950 Singspiration Music, Inc.

August 22

Titus 3:1-8 (ESV)

Be Ready for Every Good Work

3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

August 22 

Luke 19:39-48 (ESV)

39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.