25 July 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The last Tuesday in July.  Lord willing, a week hence will be August.
Scheduled to leave the house VERY soon.  Today is yet another doctor appointment for Dear Wife.  This will be with a gastroenterologist.  It looks like she's suffering from gastritis or something like it.  They'd been running tests to make sure she doesn't have a duodenal ulcer, which would not be a good thing.  And perhaps, perhaps, they can come up with a good solution to her bouts of what appears to be ulcerative colitis, with all that implies. It's tough having to live on immodium, to always be concerned about the "what if ...?" issues, and all of that.  It's been part of her life for some years now.  Not the worst thing in the world, but in conjunction with everything else, the constant pain and all of it, it steals much, most, of the joy of living.  And that is what troubles me most.  Were it not for some of the family connections she gained in our move here, I don't think she wanted live live like this any more, and I probably can't blame her.   There are a lot of other people in our world who have a similar outlook on things.

We should never let circumstances steal our joy, but reality, Life, can wear you down.

Yesterday was a tough day for some old friends of mine.  It was just a year ago yesterday that their daughter passed on.  I'd known her parents longer than they'd known each other.  She was in her early 30's and had been battling a chronic genetic disease for many years, and the end was expected but still hard.  I can't imagine the pain.  There are people all around us going through some very hard circumstances, or who recently have.  Be kind.  It costs nothing.

And we shall pray our way to and from the doctor.  The old chariot is still acting up.  After we get back, I still have to go across the state line and --hopefully -- pick up the "orphan drug" whose delivery to the pharmacy was promised for today.  And I need to drop some stuff off at the cable TV office, as we cancelled that service more than a week ago.

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 The Old Testament reading today is Psalms 44, 45, and 46
All of these are important, surely.  Look at 44 for example.  David is recounting how the message of what the Lord had done for His people was being passed along within the families, and by the fathers at that.  Remember that most people couldn't read, and there were no "family Bibles" around.  The memory had to be, and was, passed along as part of their heritage.  Even to a young shepherd boy like David.  I have to admit that his father did a better job of passing that along than I did.  These days, we all too often palm that off on the Sunday School, the Youth Pastor, the "pros" in the church.  Yes, we will -- sometimes -- give our kids their own Bible when they're old enough to read it: my parents did and so did we.  But few emphasize that reading and settle for ensuring that they take it along to church on Sunday.  The rest of the time, it's on the shelf.  As are ours, all too often.  Jesse, David's father, like others, took his responsibility seriously.
And Psalm 46 is a personal favorite of mine.  Be a good one to memorize in fact.  And the basis for some good music as well, it's been set to music and I've been involved in singing it. 

Psalm 44
1 We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old. 2 How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. 3 For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them. 4 Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob. 5 Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us. 6 For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. 7 But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us. 8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah. 9 But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies. 10 Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves. 11 Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen. 12 Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price. 13 Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us. 14 Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people. 15 My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, 16 For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger. 17 All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant. 18 Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way; 19 Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death. 20 If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; 21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. 22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. 23 Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever. 24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth. 26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.

Psalm 45
1 My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. 2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. 3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. 4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. 5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee. 6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. 7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. 9 Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. 10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; 11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. 12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour. 13 The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. 14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. 15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace. 16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth. 17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. 6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.



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Our New Testament reading today is chapter 25 in the Acts of the Apostles.  Paul has been in prison now, a Roman prison, note, for some two years.  Providing the unimaginable opportunity to present the Gospel message to quite a spectrum of people, some of whom were converted.  And, as you can imagine, this is leading to Paul being sent to Rome, to appear before Caesar.  A very long way from Jerusalem or Caesarea or his original home in Tarsus. The long term results of that missionary journey, paid for by the Romans by the way, are still with us.  Not bad!
 
Acts 25
1 Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, 3 And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him. 4 But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. 5 Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him. 6 And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought. 7 And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. 8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all. 9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? 10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. 11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go. 13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. 14 And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul's cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix: 15 About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. 16 To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. 17 Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth. 18 Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: 19 But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20 And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. 21 But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar. 22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him. 23 And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth. 24 And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. 26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. 27 For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

24 July 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Monday, 24 July 2017

And now the "regular" week begins.  And this is the next-to-last Monday in July, so we are counting down the few days of the months with short names.  I know that it shouldn't bother me, but it does.  I look at the calendar and realize that in 16 weeks or so, it will be winter. 😝 Brrrrr!!! I  hate even the thought of it.  It's not like I never went through it before.  The other day, people were reminding me of an earlier time, the horrid winter, blizzards, bitter cold, and horrendous snowfall seen in this area way back in 1978, and asking who remembered it.  I did and do.  I was working an unusual job that had me on the local roads all night long.  Friend had a side business plowing snow in parking lots and drives for apartment complexes, small businesses, and the private drives of those who owned some of those operations.  He had me driving the plow while he was off at his "regular" job, having been up all night himself.  Neither of us got much sleep that winter (did his marriage no particular good either), and the memories of that are anything but good.  I was 40 years younger then, than I am now.  I didn't like it then and certainly wouldn't like it any better now.  NOT looking forward to it.  Yes, we're in the middle of Summer, and still have a week of July and a month of August before us.  But I know what's coming.  Why can't it be May all year long?

I was down yesterday.  Not violently ill, but not well either.  Wife is also down.  She's suffering a UTI, and it's probably strep in actuality.  Doc wrote a prescription for an antibiotic suited for that,, and it is having some good effect, but she still feels awful so no real downtime for me.  So we pretty much stayed quiet.  I missed church services, something that very rarely happens, but no help for it.  Perhaps the week to come will be better.
Her niece next door had a baby about 4 weeks ago now, and is talking about going back to work soon.  Not this week, and probably not the week thereafter, but the week after that, almost certainly.  They need the money, which I can understand, so Wife will be called into service as the Designated Sitter.  Meaning I'll be helping out I guess.  The Great-Niece turns 5 in a few months, so I guess that this coming year, meaning not next month but the month after, she'll be in kindergarten.  Like me, she'll miss the age cut-off for some stuff, so she'll turn 6 while still in kindergarten.  So Wife will be taking care of not one, but two Little Ones.  Should be fun.

Now, tomorrow she has doctor appointment with the gastroenterologist in the city just west of us, about 16 miles each way or so, I guess.  And Wednesday, she has an appointment with the endocrinologist (when I tell people that she has a "complex condition" it's not an exaggeration), which is about 25 miles each way.  A whole lot of driving in an old car which has a problem somewhere in the cooling system.  Somewhere.  So we'll be praying the whole time back and forth and while at the doctor offices as well.  And, with luck (PLEASE, Lord!) the "orphan drug" that the pharmacy had to have shipped in, will be there tomorrow so I can pick it up and get her back on it.  She's out and has been out for about two weeks now, and it makes a great difference in her health.
Part of our life.
But we're not complaining.  When Wife was born, many of the drugs and treatments that keep her alive had not yet been developed or proliferated.  And even had they been, her family could not have afforded them.  I guess the Lord has a purpose for keeping us around.

The "song of the day" is suggested by one of our Old Testament texts, Psalm 42.
As The Deer is a personal favorite.

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Our Old Testament readings are Psalms 41, 42 and 43.  VERY fond of 42, and not just because of the tie to our "song of the day".

Psalm 41
1 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. 2 The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. 3 The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. 4 I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee. 5 Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish? 6 And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it. 7 All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt. 8 An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more. 9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. 10 But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them. 11 By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me. 12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever. 13 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.

Psalm 42
1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? 4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. 5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. 6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. 7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. 8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. 9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 43
1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. 2 For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. 4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God. 5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.



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Our reading in the New Testament is chapter 24 in the Acts of the Apostles.
Things are pretty tense and the Gospel message is stirring up a lot of controversy.  But the controversy is enabling the preaching of that Gospel message into places that could not have been imagined a short while before.

Acts 24
1 And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul. 2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, 3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. 4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. 5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: 6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law. 7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, 8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him. 9 And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so. 10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: 11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. 12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: 13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. 14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: 15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men. 17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. 18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult. 19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me. 20 Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, 21 Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day. 22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. 23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him. 24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. 26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. 27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.

23 July 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Sunday, 23 July 2017

A down day here.  I have a "bug" or something, feel lousy and no strength, could barely sleep at all last night and then only fitfully.  Stayed home, missed church services this morning which is not at all normal, especially on days, like today, that had some special event, a gospel singing group, planned.  But just couldn't do it.  It's rare, very, but it happens every so often.

Looking around at our world, it is all too easy to become discouraged, to believe that All Is Lost and there is no hope.  That's a false analysis of course, the Lord has often proven that nothing is beyond His reach.
And yet, when we see dire prophecy apparently playing out before us, to the applause of the self-proclaimed "elites", the temptation to the sin of despair, gets to be very strong.
I opened a link sent to me, and what I saw was the headline to a gushing "puff piece" out of the oh-so-liberal land of Wisconsin, entitled:

Wisconsin Company To Implant Microchips In Employees

Is anyone else thinking of chapter 17 in the Revelation, the references to the "Mark of the Beast"? Because I am. And then I saw, just the other day, an account from another site, where one of the major credit card companies is, in essence, bribing various retailers to begin refusing cash transactions so that use of debit or credit cards is the only way to do business.  See, for example, here (from 2016) or here, this week or  here.  Or here.
  Meaning, of course that one's "private" business might be tracked, and thus one's movements and interests as well.  Intrusive much?  And we hear, for example, that India is trying to do likewise on a national scale.
There are those who might call this progress.  I'm not one of them.  Especially as I reflect that it would take little more for the "progressives" to add that microchip requirement as a handy portable means of linking to that debit or credit card.  Think of the savings if the printing of currency or the minting of coins were abolished.  Why, counterfeiting would vanish, right?  And then, one might see that "undesired" purchases or transactions could be prevented.  No drug buys, right?  And no problems with "cash under the table" services, or little girls with unlicensed lemonade stands either.  How "progressive".
Oh, and it takes very little to enable 24/7/365 tracking of where you are.  With no more effort, it could be known who you were with.  With the tracking software on most smartphones in ubiquitous use today, such is already pretty standard (most people don't know that, but I do), and I for one don't like it much.  Oh, and on some phones, that's possible even if you have the location "services" turned off and even if the phone itself is turned off.  Now, if you remove the battery ......  but of course, that ability is becoming ever more unusual, isn't it?
Am I paranoid?  No.  I have reason to know about the ways in which some of these capabilities, including that implanted microchip, might be used and mis-used.  And, as we used to say in my engineering days, "just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should".  Here are examples.

Things may be about to get even worse.  I'm thinking that my Amish cousins, living in such a way as to avoid too-close entanglements with the "world" as they define it, might not be so far off.  For example, horses can make more horses.  Chevrolet hasn't managed that yet.  They generally avoid TV and telephones (generally, I said) and most other things of that sort.  Having seen what's on TV and the notions, the seeds, that are planted in the brains of watchers (ever react negatively to the blather about something "that everybody's talking about!" that is anti-God, stupid, nonsensical, and dumb?), they may well be better for it.  Who can deny the silliness and horrible distraction that text messaging, 24-hour contact availability, and non-stop sound,  that all of this technology has dumped on us?  How many of us know of others, or ourselves, who are downright upset if they don't have sounds all the time, who never ever experience silence?  How can we pretend we want to hear from God when His voice is drowned out by "music" and our attention is occupied by games or on-line porn or fashion trends (if you can tell the difference)?  Or football, or NASCAR races or the latest political scandals and wranglings?

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The readings in the Old Testament are Psalms 38, 39, and 40.  This is David, and he's not exaggerating when he speaks of those who seek his life, and he is very thankful for what the Lord had been and was then doing on his behalf, and prayed that it would continue.
Those who have been in awful situations, situations that only the Lord could rescue us and has, have an attitude towards the Lord that only they can have.

Psalm 38
1 O lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. 4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. 10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. 11 My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off. 12 They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. 13 But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. 14 Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. 15 For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. 16 For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me. 17 For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. 18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. 19 But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied. 20 They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is. 21 Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me. 22 Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

Psalm 39
1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. 2 I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. 3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, 4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am. 5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. 6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them. 7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish. 9 I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it. 10 Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. 11 When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah. 12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. 13 O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

Psalm 40
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. 3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. 5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. 6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. 9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. 10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. 11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. 12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. 14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. 15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. 16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. 17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.



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The New Testament reading is verses 12-35 in the 23rd chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.  As ever, the Gospel arouses controversy.  THAT hasn't changed. 

Acts 23:12-35
12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. 14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. 15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him. 16 And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. 18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. 19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? 20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly. 21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. 22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me. 23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; 24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. 25 And he wrote a letter after this manner: 26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. 27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. 28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: 29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. 30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell. 31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: 33 Who, when they came to Caesarea and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. 34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; 35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall.




22 July 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Saturday, 22 July 2017 slight update

Raining here now.  It started sometime in the night, after the point at which we could -- finally -- fall asleep after a long and tough couple of days.  So it seems to be destined to be a "stay indoors and read" sort of day.  Oh, and "drink coffee" at the same time, which I think we can organize.  Barely.
I need to "make" coffee creamer in a few minutes.  We save money by not buying liquid creamer at all.  We get the dry powdered non-dairy stuff, BIG jugs from Wally Mart or Sams Club, mix with hot water in a 1 part dry to 2 parts water, and voila!  liquid creamer.  Works, cheap too.

After all the running around yesterday, Wife came home and took her "weekly" Humira.  The scare quotes are because, due to the tooth and jaw infections, taking drugs that suppress the immune system are a very poor idea, so she's been foregoing the matter for well over a month, and it makes a very great difference.  So, as of yesterday afternoon, she's back on it again.  Of course, today is the "day after" so she won't be up to much until, probably, late tomorrow afternoon.  But it's a desired step forward, and we'll be grateful for it.  And are.

I haven't yet troubled to go through all the news, local  or otherwise.  It gets tiresome eventually.  Friday nights, at least around here, are the time for drunken misbehavior, with the predictable results, and  probably last night's results, including the body counts, are in keeping with that.  Been going on for as long as I can remember, surely.  And we saw similar, sometimes worse, patterns of conduct in several of our homes during our many years living elsewhere in the country.  Specifics vary, somewhat, but the overall paths are pretty similar.  Worse, sometimes, in periods of economic upheaval:  those who claim the inability to pay the rent or buy food, still seem able to buy beer, whiskey, marijuana, etc. or to go out "clubbing" looking for a "meaningful overnight relationship".  Need I interpret that last?  No?
When we give up the prospect of real joy, and substitute a pattern of seeking happiness, even momentary happiness, a lot of things can happen, and often do.  Not always, of course: there's probably nothing wrong with watching your nephew's kid get a hit in the Little League outing or in enjoying a good burger or watching your favorite team score the touchdown.  It that sort of thing becomes the focus of our whole lives, then trouble is probably not far away.  If our attitude depends purely on our circumstances, it's easy to become discouraged and to seek to alter those circumstances, or our perceptions of them at least, in whatever way seem to be most convenient at the moment.  I've done it, I'm prone to it in fact.  Probably, based upon police reports and other information, am not alone in that.

     (added):  after I originally posted this, I was reminded of a country song from "several" years ago.  No, not with a Christian theme, but one that somewhat fits.  Remember "Looking for love in all the wrong places"?  It's linked here if you need the reminder.   There are a whole lot of people around us in a similar mind-set.  With generally bad results.

Joy is not to be found in our immediate circumstances.  We're cheating ourselves, and those around us too, when we look only there in the circumstances that may, and often do, change abruptly.  Joy, true joy, eternal joy, is to be found only in our walk with the Lord.  Anything else is simply counterfeit.  Yes, we feel joy when we also walk with Him in concert with others, like our wives and children and other believers near and far.

We see some of that in our readings today, both in the Old and New Testaments.
In Psalms 36 and 37, we see David in trouble, yet looking to the Lord.
In Acts 23:1-11, we see Paul, surrounded by those who really really did not like him and despised his message, nevertheless confident and determined, walking in the joy of the Lord.

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Psalm 36
1 The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. 2 For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. 3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. 4 He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil. 5 Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. 6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast. 7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. 8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. 9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. 10 O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart. 11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me. 12 There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.


Psalm 37
1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. 10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. 12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. 13 The LORD shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming. 14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. 15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. 16 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. 17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous. 18 The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. 19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. 20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. 21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth. 22 For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. 23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. 25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. 26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed. 27 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore. 28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. 29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever. 30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. 31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. 32 The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. 33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged. 34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. 35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. 36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. 37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. 38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off. 39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble. 40 And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.




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Acts 23:1-11
1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. 3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? 5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. 6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. 7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. 9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. 10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. 11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.