14 July 2007

Today's Reading July 14

A bit late today, the last two days were rather high stress and very long. Today was little better though it did not involve 450 miles of driving through some highly variable state highways in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. I've gotten spoiled by the Interstates, and there are places you can't fly to. So, a long drive, a layover in a Super-8 motel with lumpy mattresses and a surly night clerk, no breakfast, a tense interview meeting, no lunch, and another 450 mile drive. And an on-line appointment shortly after 7:00am that just ended. So, my apologies.
Today's Old Testament portion: Psalms 13, 14, 15, and 16.
There is a practice that I can recommend, because I have done - and sometimes do - myself. That is to pray the Psalms. These are good examples of ones to pray when you are in distress of any kind (the natural state I think).

Chapter 13
1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
6 I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

When you're in trouble and in fear, praise God.
the New Testament portion is Acts chapter 18.
the missionary efforts are bearing fruit and the converts are preaching to others who are converted, who preach to others and .... when we say that the message is powerful, it's not an exaggeration.

Reading for July 13

This is a ''make-up'' posting - I was traveling yesterday and, while the sign in front of the Super-8 motel advertised 'High Speed Internet'', in practice that was a single desk in the lobby occupied by a drunk and overlooked by a semi-sleeping Hindu desk clerk. So I missed a day.

The morning reading from the 13th is again in the Psalms, chapters 10, 11, and 12. These are almost Job-like in tone and theme - the wicked flourish and the righteous are harried and assaulted, and will the Lord deal with the situation?
This is a theme throughout Scripture, it is as old as mankind. It will probably be a theme until the Lord comes again. This is the result of a fallen world. Until He remakes it in toto, what will happen is that He transforms the believers - that's us - into new creatures, and we should be affecting that world as His representatives.
The evening reading from the 13th continues in the Acts, chapter 17, verses 16 through 34. Paul is preaching in Athens using as a springboard their altar to ''the Unknown God''. He never seems to miss an opportunity to proclaim Christ. And, bear in mind he walked a very long way for the opportunity to do so. No limo's for him.

26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

12 July 2007

Today's Reading July 12

Good morning. This space MAY be vacant tomorrow: I am leaving on a brief overnight trip later on today and may not have access in the morning.
This morning's Old Testament reading is again in the Psalms, chapters 7, 8, and 9
I love the Psalms, I love to sing unto the Lord. Perhaps ''make a joyful noise'' describes it well enough, but it's good to know that the effort follows a long tradition of pouring out your soul to the Lord. The psalmist ''done good''.
Some of our ''praise and worship'' songs come straight from the Psalms here. For examaple:

Chapter 8
1 O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
Matt 21:16
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Heb 2:6
5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Heb 2:7
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
Heb 2:7,8 1 Cor 15:27 Eph 1:22
7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

We sang it a few years ago in a version called ''The Majesty and Glory of Your Name'', and it is wonderful.

This evening's New Testament reading is from the Acts, chapter 17, verses 1 through 15.
The missionary journey continues, now into Thessalonica. Just a few men, filled with the spirit, and you could tell they'd been there.
6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
I like that phrase. ''turned the world upside down''.
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

When the Good News is proclaimed, the world changes.

11 July 2007

Today's Reading June 11

Good morning.
Before we get started, a personal appeal. The next week or so will be a very high stress time for me. The company that moved me a third of the way across the company entered into a period of restructuring less than a year later, and I have been unemployed for two months now. I have a telephone interview on Thursday morning, then on Thursday will make a 450-mile drive to interview Friday with another company, then on Wednesday morning will fly to yet another interview with yet another. This is for obvious reasons a very high stress time. We have in the last 15 years moved across state lines 4 times and are looking at a 5th such. And my story is not unique, I know of people who have had to move every 15-18 months for 8 or 10 years as their employers move to China and Mexico. So pray for us - this is very hard on the family.
This morning we continue in the Psalms, chapters 4, 5, and 6.
I love the Psalms, many people do.

Chapter 6
1 O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
6 I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.
9 The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.
10 Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

I know that the Lord has heard my cries. There have been times, many, in my life that I doubt that any one person saw my distress, or cared to look, or would have cared one bit had it been seen. But the Lord knew, and cared, and carried me through. He does that, you know.
Acts, chapter 16, verses 16 through 40
Paul and Silas are beaten and cast into prison. But that's not the end of the story.

25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

The jailer asked the right question. And Paul and Silas gave the right answer.
Our faith is not terribly complicated.

10 July 2007

Today's Reading July 10

This morning we take up the Psalms. We'll be here awhile.
This morning we look at Psalms 1, 2, and 3.
It is hard for me to pick out favorites. So many of these have great personal meaning for me. A few years ago, I was greatly privileged to sing with a church choral group in eastern Tennessee a song based on Psalm 3, ''Thou, O Lord''. It has been recorded at least once and it is wonderful, and it ministered to to me in a very difficult time.

Chapter 3
1 Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
2 Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
3 But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
4 I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
5 I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.

6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
7 Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
Believe me, there is help for me - and you - in God. Been there. Am there now, too.

Acts chapter 16, verses 1 through 15.
The missionary journey, guided and directed by the Holy Spirit, comes to Macedonia.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

09 July 2007

Today's Reading July 09

This morning we finish the book of Job, chapters 40, 41, and 42.
After all of Job's disaster, after days of speculation upon the nature of God, the nature of man, the questions of ''why do bad things happen to good people?'', God shows up.

40: 1 Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,
2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

42: 1 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
3 Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
4 Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
7 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

10 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Acts 15 22 through 41

4 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.

08 July 2007

Today's Reading July 08

Job, chapters 38 and 39
Now we hear from God.
That packs a whole lot into a few words, doesn't it? Ever been in a terrible, terrible situation and what you needed, more than anything else, was the Presence of God? I have. Big time. I never heard Him speaking to me out of a whirlwind, but I can frankly say that in a couple times of great need, He has made his presence known. And he does so here. He doesn't really answer any of Job's questions, but He does let it me known that He has been there all along. That, my friends, is worth a great deal - we sometimes feel as if we have been abandoned, that God doesn't know. But He does.

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
His ways are not our ways. Easy to say, not so easy to live with.

this evening's portion, Acts, chapter 15, verses 1 through 21
More of the development of the Church. I'll be teaching a lesson loosely based on this, in just a few hours. We have quite a heritage, actually.
7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
Amos 9:11
17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
Amos 9:12