11 August 2007

Politics August 11

I have just added a field on the right side of the page to illustrate some Republican candidates.
For the benefit of those who sometimes catch my comments on places like Lucianne.com, I tend to support the Republicans. But not always, and not blindly, and less so now than at one time. I voted for George Bush in the general elections in 2000 and 2004. But I did not vote for him in the 2000 primary and I did not vote for him in the 2004 primary either. He is a better man than either of his general election candidates, but that is a very low hurdle to surpass. And the experience has not been a good one.
In 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004 we hoped we were returning to a time when the federal government would resume its proper, limited role in the life of the Republic. We hoped for a reduction in the number of unconstitutional departments, a return to a true federalist view of government, a lessening of Jacobinism, a recognition that there are some things that government at any level just is not empowered to do, and that there is a difference between the society and the State.
That has not happened. Instead, we've gotten more and more government, more and more intrusion, more and more taxes, more and more officialdom, and less freedom and wisdom. We have departments, Education being a prime example that are not only unconstitutional, they have demonstrably made things far worse. Literacy is now at a lower level than it was 100 years ago, is far more intrusive, and costs far more. The response was to add a No Child Left Behind Act whose true purpose is twofold: to provide yet more jobs for idiot educrats and to ensure that No Child Gets Ahead Either. We now pay for a Department of Energy that produces no energy, and an EPA that seems determined to roll back what we do have. We have bureaucracy that far exceeds anything that King George III ever imagined, and more is threatened.
This is not progress as I measure it.
The Republicans have a large wing determined to put a pro-abortion, pro-sodomy, anti-gun, pro-illegal-aliens, Statist candidate named Giuliani up against the likely Democrat nominee, Hillary Clinton. By my standards, that's a contest between Tweedledum and Tweedledumber. I won't play.
I have not given my support to any candidate. I will use my feeble powers to root for the best of the lot, but I will not ever again fall for a ''lesser of two evils'' vote: the lesser of two evils is still evil.
Your mileage may vary. That's why we have elections. By the way, if a worthwhile Democrat starts to run, I may put that name up too. But I haven't seen one in 40 years, and I'm not holding my breath.

Today's Reading August 11

Continuing in the Psalms (I did say we'd be here a while, right?) we next look into Psalms 90, 91, and 92. These are a bit of a change. One commentator (at least) refers to Psalms 90 - 106 as ''Psalms of the Earth'', They ''...remind us of our wanderings and the Lord's leading in the midst of this journey on earth''. (from Chuck Swindoll's commentary in The Living Insights Study Bible)
Psalm 90 is marked as a prayer of Moses. I think it's held up well over time.

1 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
3 Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.
4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

Psalm 92 is marked as 'for the Sabbath day
2 To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,
3 Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.
4 For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.
5 O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.

very very good.
But Psalm 91 is one that I have highlighted in my Bibles, it has been a great comfort to me in times of trouble. It might be that for you as well.
Chapter 91
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
Mt 4:6
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Mt 4:6
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

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This evening we return the book of Romans chapter 11, verses 1 through 21. This section deals with the Remnant of Israel. It starts with an important point, one that too many evangelicals answer wrongly.
1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying,
3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
1 Kings 19:10, 14
4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
1 Kings 19:18
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

10 August 2007

Today's Reading August 10

Happy Friday.
This morning we look at Psalms 88 and 89.
Psalm 88 is noted in one of my Bibles as being a psalm of the sons of Korah.
When we are in trouble and distress, we cry out to the Lord. Why not? Where else could we, should we go? When we need help and comfort, should we not go to the One can is both willing and able? thus

Chapter 88
1 O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;
3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
Now, note something here. He hasn't cried to the Lord just once and 'POOF' it's all better now. Sometimes we wish that would be the case, and sometimes it is, but the Lord of the Universe is just that, and not a waiter in a restaurant.

Psalm 89 is noted as ''a contemplation of Ethan the Ezrahite''.
This is a praise Psalm, a good one. A pastor of ours once told us that a good thing to do is to pray Scripture, and a good place to start is in the Psalms. This one would be a good one to use. See how it starts out,
1 I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
2 For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.
3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,
4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.
5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.

and it ends with
52 Blessed be the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen.

that would, by the way, be a good way to end all of our prayers. 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy Name' is quite all right.

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Romans chapter 10.
This is, like all of Romans, just chock-full of Good Stuff.
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Deut 30:14
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Isa 28:16
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Joel 2:32
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Isa 52:7
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
Isa 53:1
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Do you believe that? I do.

09 August 2007

Today's Reading August 09

This morning we continue with Psalms 85, 86, and 87

Chapter 86
1 Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.
3 Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.
4 Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.
6 Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.
7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.

This evening we turn to Romans chapter 9. Paul is speaking here primarily of the Jews, his own people, as if he could persuade them all. This is a passage that builds on the previous sections, by itself it loses some of the context, some of the richness of the proposition. There is a lot here, a lot that I don't understand fully, and a lot that makes me uncomfortable. There is here some of the inklings of the doctrine sometimes called ''Limited Atonement'', the theory that Jesus did not die for all, but only for those foredestined, sometimes called double predestination. I don't know the answer, and this is a section that all of us need to chew over more.

08 August 2007

Air conditioning or prayer?

Sometimes you come across something that makes you ashamed. Happens to me a lot. Don't know what that means. At any rate, over at the 4HisGlory website, there's a fine article entitled Air Conditioned Churches or Perseverance of the Saints?
and the author recounts hearing two urgent prayers at the seminary he attends. One asked the Lord for air conditioning so that things won't be so uncomfortable at church Sunday. The other prayer lifted up the remaining living Korean missionaries, the ones that the Islamic heathens have not yet murdered. Which matter is more important to us?
Which one is more important to me? How many churches around the world will even think of these brave missionaries this Sunday, or even on a Wednesday evening?

Today's Reading August 08

Continuing in the Psalms this morning, we now turn to Psalms 82, 83, and 84. 82 and 83 are psalms of Asaph, while 84 is listed as a psalm of the sons of Korah. One of the great things to be around is someone who knows the Lord, and makes it plain. You see that in all three of these.

Chapter 84
1 How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
3 Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.
4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.
5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.
6 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.
7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.
8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.
9 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
How strongly do we long for the Lord, as spoken in vs. 2? I know that you could make a good sermon out of that verse, and not exhaust the subject.
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And now we continue in chapter 8 of Romans, verses 19 through 39. When we started into Romans, I said some things about how important this book is. Upon re-examination, that was an understatement. Please do not miss any of this.
But where do we start? How about
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Some of us have hung on to that one in times of trouble. Or perhaps
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Which is comforting to remember when the whole world seems to be in battle array against us. But I also love these
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Psa 44:22
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

By the way, it is no accident this intersection between the Psalmists and the words of Paul.

07 August 2007

Picture of nephew's stroller

OK, this is a bit weird, I'll admit. We got an e-mail last night from my wife's sister's son. He sent a picture of the new baby in a rather unusual baby carriage. Only in America I guess. I've never seen one quite like it.
If you take from this that our nephew is somewhat overly fond of the whole 'Monster Truck' thing, you would be correct.

Today's Reading August 07

This morning we take up Psalms 79, 80, and 81
These are, like a number of others in this section, psalms of Asaph, not of David.
Psalm 79 is known as an ''imprecatory Psalm'', which is theologian-speak for ''dear Lord, destroy our enemies''. In the Mennonite churches of my youth, these were not much spoken of, they have decided that absolute non-violence is the only Biblical attitude to have and largely ignore Bible passages to the contrary. This is one of them. This passage is felt to correspond to the Babylonian conquering of Israel and Judah and the Captivity there. The psalmist is entreating the Lord to remember His people, to redeem them, to strike down those who mocked Him and His name.

apter 79
1 O god, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.
2 The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.
3 Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.
4 We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.
5 How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.
7 For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.
8 O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake.
10 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed.
11 Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;
12 And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.

Psalm 81 seems to be a liturgical work, a celebration of the harvest, which was one of the annual Jewish festivals, as it still is today.
Chapter 81
1 Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.
2 Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
3 Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.

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This evening we look at Romans chapter 8, verses 1 through 18
Oh my! this is good!
Chapter 8
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

It just gets better and better.

06 August 2007

Today's Reading August 06

Happy Monday to all. Just after 0600 here
Today's Old Testament reading takes up Psalms 78
This was composed by Asaph, and his Psalms are liturgical in style. This one is a remembrance, a record of some of the things that the Lord had done for his people. It is good to do this, to keep the recollection fresh. There is a saying that ,''men need more often to be reminded than to be taught''. We too soon forget our blessings, we need to rehearse them. Asaph's psalm here provides some outline for this.

1 Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
Mt 13:35
3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:
6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:

This evening we turn to the letter to the Romans chapter 7
Paul is speaking about the Law and its effects, its relationship to the sin that it reveals, to the sin nature even within him, and ends with these words,
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Who among us does not know this conflict, a conflict with only one hope.

05 August 2007

Today's Reading August 05

Good morning. around 07:30 here. No rain -- we are still in a severe drought here.

This morning we get into Psalms 75, 76, and 77. More of the desperate cries of one who needs the Lord. All of us do, but sometimes we forget that, until circumstances remind us.

Chapter 77
1 I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.
3 I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.
4 Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.
6 I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.
7 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?
8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?
9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.
10 And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
11 I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.
13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?
14 Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.
15 Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.

This evening we turn to chapter 6 of the Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Romans is a very significant book in Christianity, you don't have to go very far to see that. Romans 6 builds throughout, but concludes with a memorable phrase,
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Do you believe that? I do. That, my friends, is Good News. That is the Gospel.