Been a good day. Up at 05:20 from a cat "washing" my nose and exposed hand. Very difficult to hit a snooze alarm on that. So, up I got and put down a small can of cat food to be split amongst three cats. Not really much of a meal, really, and they get most of their sustenance from dry food. But it has become a morning ritual that Yours Truly has been saddled with for several years. Lay back down for a bit, then got up and let niece's dog out on his lead for the day. Food and water in adequate amount, and back inside. At which point, into the shower. Wife awoke midway through, joined me for coffee and donuts and yogurt. Into shower for her, then the Big Issue of repairs to nail polish, dress, and off to church services.
Big Do for Memorial Day. The cemetery adjacent to the church house has a very large number of graves decorated with a flag and brass plaque, courtesy of the local VFW. Quite a crowd.
And this is a weekend for family memories and get-togethers. Niece and nephew and their families are en route now back from a joint vacation in East Tennessee, not far from where we used to live. We'll have a cookout and such tomorrow, Lord willing. Sister-in-law and husband will be present. And in morning, Dear Wife and I will start the smoker we just bought, and place therein the ribs and brisket purchased yesterday. Dear wife made up a marinade and rub for same, and they're doing their thing in the fridge right now. A few hours after loading up the smoker, we're heading off to pick up wife's aunt. Loretta is the very last of that generation, in the direct line anyway, and her cancer is back and aggressive. We're going to take her to cemetery near her place, where Wife's dad and much of family are buried. Have some small flags to decorate with. Then off another 20-some miles to another cemetery in another county, where some of the ancestors of an earlier time are buried, Wife has not been there in more than 25 years, and Aunt probably in nearly as long. One of those things you just do.
Then back home at which time the meat should be done. And Aunt will get to spend some time with family, perhaps for last time.
Am hoping to be able to get down to see my family's plots. The main ones, my mom and dad, uncles and paternal grandparents, are two counties due south of here, in the plots adjacent to the church house in which I grew up. Tried calling church Friday early, not answer and no call returned. Plots for my maternal grandparents and uncle and aunt are across the state line and about an hour from here. I haven't been there in nearly 40 years. I know how to get there, but have no idea, really, where the graves are. I called that church early Friday. No answer, call went to a voice mail/answering machine system identifying "Pastor Cheryl". I left message. The machine gave a cell phone number and a home number for Pastor Cheryl. Called both. No answer. Left messages. As of Sunday evening, no call returned. Hmmm.
But we did have something nice. My sister and her husband are on staff at a Christian college in Virginia. Got to see them over Christmas. They were in town yesterday, and we met them, and my middle brother, near here. A wonderful get-together. Have missed this more than anyone ever knew: I've never made an issue of it. So nice to see them. Brother let me know that he and youngest brother had been out to cemetery and all looks good. Except that, nearly three years after the fact, the headstone on the plot for mom and dad still has not been updated for dad's date of passing. Not sure what has to be done on that.
All in all, a good few days.
And the message this morning was on the subject of prayer. It is. in my belief, one of the most critical issues, and weaknesses, in the American church in general. There are exceptions. Not many. One of those matters that truly need to be emphasized
The Old Testament reading for the day is chapters 14, 15, and 16 of 1st Chronicles. There's a section here of the words of David. Remember that in addition to being a king and a warrior, and a shepherd, David was also a psalmist. Many, most of the Psalms were given through David. We don't always see much of that while as king. But sometimes we do. Like here.
Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and timber of cedars, with masons and carpenters, to build him an house.
And David perceived that the LORD had confirmed him king over Israel, for his kingdom was lifted up on high, because of his people Israel.
And David took more wives at Jerusalem: and David begat more sons and daughters.
Now these are the names of his children which he had in Jerusalem; Shammua, and Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon,
And Ibhar, and Elishua, and Elpalet,
And Nogah, and Nepheg, and Japhia,
And Elishama, and Beeliada, and Eliphalet.
And when the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David. And David heard of it, and went out against them.
And the Philistines came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
And David inquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? And wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand.
So they came up to Baalperazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters: therefore they called the name of that place Baalperazim.
And when they had left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire.
And the Philistines yet again spread themselves abroad in the valley.
Therefore David inquired again of God; and God said unto him, Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.
And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines.
David therefore did as God commanded him: and they smote the host of the Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer.
And the fame of David went out into all lands; and the LORD brought the fear of him upon all nations.
And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent.
Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever.
And David gathered all Israel together to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD unto his place, which he had prepared for it.
And David assembled the children of Aaron, and the Levites:
Of the sons of Kohath; Uriel the chief, and his brethren an hundred and twenty:
Of the sons of Merari; Asaiah the chief, and his brethren two hundred and twenty:
Of the sons of Gershom; Joel the chief and his brethren an hundred and thirty:
Of the sons of Elizaphan; Shemaiah the chief, and his brethren two hundred:
Of the sons of Hebron; Eliel the chief, and his brethren fourscore:
Of the sons of Uzziel; Amminadab the chief, and his brethren an hundred and twelve.
And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, and Joel, Shemaiah, and Eliel, and Amminadab,
And said unto them, Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it.
For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.
So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel.
And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD.
And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.
So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel; and of his brethren, Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of the sons of Merari their brethren, Ethan the son of Kushaiah;
And with them their brethren of the second degree, Zechariah, Ben, and Jaaziel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Unni, Eliab, and Benaiah, and Maaseiah, and Mattithiah, and Elipheleh, and Mikneiah, and Obededom, and Jeiel, the porters.
So the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were appointed to sound with cymbals of brass;
And Zechariah, and Aziel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Unni, and Eliab, and Maaseiah, and Benaiah, with psalteries on Alamoth;
And Mattithiah, and Elipheleh, and Mikneiah, and Obededom, and Jeiel, and Azaziah, with harps on the Sheminith to excel.
And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skillful.
And Berechiah and Elkanah were doorkeepers for the ark.
And Shebaniah, and Jehoshaphat, and Nethaneel, and Amasai, and Zechariah, and Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, did blow with the trumpets before the ark of God: and Obededom and Jehiah were doorkeepers for the ark.
So David, and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the house of Obededom with joy.
And it came to pass, when God helped the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams.
And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen.
Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps.
And it came to pass, as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the city of David, that Michal, the daughter of Saul looking out at a window saw king David dancing and playing: and she despised him in her heart.
So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God.
And when David had made an end of offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD.
And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine.
And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, and to record, and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel:
Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, Jeiel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Mattithiah, and Eliab, and Benaiah, and Obededom: and Jeiel with psalteries and with harps; but Asaph made a sound with cymbals;
Benaiah also and Jahaziel the priests with trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God.
Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.
Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
Remember his marvelous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;
Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac;
And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,
Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance;
When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it.
And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people;
He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes,
Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; show forth from day to day his salvation.
Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvelous works among all nations.
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
Glory and honor are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.
Give unto the LORD, ye kindred of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth.
Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein.
Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the LORD.
So he left there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD Asaph and his brethren, to minister before the ark continually, as every day's work required:
And Obededom with their brethren, threescore and eight; Obededom also the son of Jeduthun and Hosah to be porters:
And Zadok the priest, and his brethren the priests, before the tabernacle of the LORD in the high place that was at Gibeon,
To offer burnt offerings unto the LORD upon the altar of the burnt offering continually morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the law of the LORD, which he commanded Israel;
And with them Heman and Jeduthun, and the rest that were chosen, who were expressed by name, to give thanks to the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever;
And with them Heman and Jeduthun with trumpets and cymbals for those that should make a sound, and with musical instruments of God. And the sons of Jeduthun were porters.
And all the people departed every man to his house: and David returned to bless his house.
The New Testament reading is verses 24-41 of John chapter 9. Ever hear the phrase, "no good deed goes unpunished"? Jesus has healed a blind man. And people are angry about it.
Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?
He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?
Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.
We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.
The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.
Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.