28 July 2007

Today's Reading July 28

A lovely morning.
This morning we turn our attention to Psalms 53, 54, and 55. More personal experience, more cries of the heart.

Chapter 53
1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
Rom 3:10 Psa 14:1
2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
Rom 3:11 Psa 14:2
3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Rom 3:12 Psa 14:3
4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.
5 There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.
6 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

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Our evening reading from the New Testament completes chapter 27 of the Acts, verses 26 through 44. The ship carrying the prisoner Paul to Rome meets a storm and begins the process of sinking. Yet Paul does not lose hope, and even in his status as prisoner assumes a leadership role in the midst of it all, encourages the other members of the 276 persons aboard, and inspires even the centurion. The result? The ship breaks up, yes. But
41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.
42 And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:
44 And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

27 July 2007

Today's Reading July 27

Sorry for the delay again, it really has not been a great day.
Today, from the Old Testament, Psalms 50, 51, and 52. Psalm 51 is sometimes termed a Psalm of repentance. Perhaps that is why it's an old favorite of mine, I've had som many occasions to find it appropriate. David wrote it after being called out for his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. Who among us is without sin? Not I. Nor David, and from his heart came

Chapter 51
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Rom 3:4
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Sound familiar? Resonate in your life like it does in mine?

From the New Testament, Acts chapter 27, verses 1 through 25. Paul is on his way to Rome, under arrest, heading for his eventual death. And by ship at that, something most Jews did not like to do - the Sea of Galilee was bad enough, the Mediterranean was much more forbidding. But he went, a two ship journey, rather like us when we have to take two or more planes to get to our destination. And the second ship promptly got into trouble, foundered, sank.
Yet even in this, in the midst of the storm, God shows up. And Paul, speaking to the terrified crew and passengers says,
21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.
23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

and so it was.

26 July 2007

Re all the traveling

My ''love affair'' with Alabama drivers is continuing. I realize that we will always have those who regard the speed limit signs as being a benchmark of opportunity. But yesterday morning I was passed by a convoy of three vehicles, all WELL in excess of the posted limit, and ALL bearing tags identifying them as the property of the state of Alabama. Civil 'servants' driving at illegal speeds, in other words. Last night I very nearly got rear-ended on I-65 by an aggressive high-speed tailgater, also driving a car with state government tags. I guess the laws are only binding on regular citizens. Clearly, neither common courtesy or adherence to the law or safe driving practices are requirements for state jobs. I'd be surprised, but I've seen the same in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Michigan, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Today's Reading July 26

This has been a week. Monday morning I set off on the 400-odd mile drive to the other side of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I'd never been there before. Had a good meeting Monday morning, nice people, nice operation. Then I got back in the car and drove back another 400 miles.
Yesterday morning I got back in the car and drove 200 or so miles to the area of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Never been there before either, I kept looking for Lynnard Skynnard signs but must have missed them. Anyway, a good meeting with some really neat people, but it was heading towards 6pm when I left and it's a l-o-n-g drive home. After traveling to Dallas and Houston last week, far northwest Tennessee the week before, and a threatened trip to northeast Kentucky Real Soon Now, it's getting wearying. And the stress of the situation is doing My Beloved no particular good.
When I write that God's Presence, and the words of the Bible have been a great comfort to us in times of great trial, it's not an exaggeration. We have certainly been through it.
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The morning's passage from the Old Testament turns now to Psalms 47, 48, and 49. These are Psalms written down by persons other than David, there are actually quite a number of them. Singing praises to the Lord, proclaiming His greatness, relating what He has done for us, are things that ALL of us can do, and should. I'm not as eloquent as David, but that's OK.
These have always seemed to me to be more aimed at public worship than accounts of private struggle. Your mileage may vary.
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The evening's passage, Acts chapter 26, contains one of the saddest phrases in Scripture, one that has led to many sermons and prayers. Paul is using the occasion of being called to account by the Roman officials, and, having a captive audience, proclaims the Gospel. And the response,

28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian
. There is a hymn in some of the hymnbooks to this day - Almost Persuaded. What a sad statement!

25 July 2007

Today's Reading July 25

Just before dawn here. A dark night, a bright morning to come.
This morning we take up three more Psalms, identified as 44, 45, and 46
More cries to God, some of which we see again in the New Testament, such as from Psalm 44,

22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rom 8:36

One of my particular favorites comes from Psalm 46,
Chapter 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.

When we have troubles, and we will, it is comforting to realize that the people of God have been in dire straits before. And He took care of them.
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This evening we turn to Acts chapter 25. More of the interplay between the religious authorities and several Roman officials, trying to figure out what charges to lay against Paul other than the fact that some people didn't like him.

24 July 2007

Today's Reading July 24

Sorry for the delay - I was traveling again, and it appears that the LaQuinta Inn on South Acadian in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has neither WiFi or a hi-speed direct Internet connection. So, having had a job interview that ran from 0900 until 1155, and then 6-1/2 hours of driving, I have come home, kissed my beloved, fed two cats, and sat down to the desk. Makes for a long long long day. Oh, and I spent an hour on the cell phone with a recruiter on the way home, might as well use that windshield time for something. At least we were done before my very near miss with some lout. I like Alabama. I don't always love Alabama drivers - this guy decided to squeeze between me and the car that just passed me, then he wanted to pull me over and get into a fistfight over it. I saw exactly ZERO Alabama state troopers on either leg of the trip and a person, who, like myself, pays even a tiny bit of attention to the speed limit is evidently an offense against the operator of the vehicle bearing Alabama registration 59J10H. He had to be doing well over 90mph when he pulled that squeeze play. I don' object to fast driving, if safe. But I-65 ain't Talladega, and most of us have neither the vehicle nor the skill set to be driving as if it were. But I guess it's not a priority here.
Tomorrow I go on another interview trip but it's ''only'' 3 hours each way and I don't have to leave out early.
Anyway ...
We continue today in the Psalms, 41, 42, and 43. As I've said before, these have some variety to them. Some are cries from the hear, intensely personal and written while something was going on. Some are more formal, intended I think for a worship service. This is of the first kind, but we'll be into the second kind soon.

Chapter 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.

Our New Testament reading is from Acts 24. Paul is hauled before the Roman ruler to answer to charges relating to disturbances in Jerusalem. And so, he proclaims the Gospel to them as well. Start of a pattern here.
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.

23 July 2007

Today's Reading July 23

Good morning.
This morning we take up Psalms 38, 39, and 40.
David, and the other psalmists as well, essentially wrote these out of his own experiences. When he spoke of his enemies, he knew whereof he spoke. When he spoke of the blessings, love, mercies, and forgiveness of the Lord, he had some experience with that as well. Many of us have.
You will probably find some things here that resonate in your own life. I have.
For me personally,

Chapter 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.

He is worthy to be praised.
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This eventing we turn to the Acts chapter 23, verses 12 through 35.
The matter continues to play out. These schemers, hoping to murder Paul, are setting in motion the events that will take Paul to Rome, exactly where the Lord wants him, and the Roman government ends up paying the fare! Meanwhile, the plots and schemes of the plotters are frustrated. I wonder if they learned anything from the experience.

22 July 2007

Today's Reading July 22

Good morning. Off to church in a short while.
This morning we take up Psalms 36 and 37. Many of these Psalms were written by David, not in times of peace and plenty, but in times of struggle and trouble, sometimes when he was in hiding and running for his life. Yet he had the ability, the faith, to see beyond the circumstances of the moment, something we also have to do. And to do that requires faith in the Lord. Usually that faith has some basis in experience - I know the Lord can do this because I know what He has done for me and for others. It's a growing in the Lord. Hence, from 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.
39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
Hang on, it's just getting started. God has not forgotten you and what is happening is not hidden from Him. Trust Him.

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This evening we turn to verses 1 through 11 of Acts chapter 23. This continues the early stages of the path that will take Paul to Rome. Indeed, while imprisoned (an inconvenient fact the 'name it and claim it' [also known as the blab it and grab it] crowd dislikes to mention), the Lord tells him he must now go to Rome. But before that, Paul appears before the Jewish Council and states part of his case.
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.
Which is certainly wise.