Winding down the month. Be April soon. Not that it has much effect on the weather here. This is the second Sunday in Spring. I woke to a nice warm 12 degrees this morning, and at that had slept in an extra half hour. Not exactly what most of us would think of as spring-like weather. I am happy to report that it is currently all of 44 degrees here, and the snow of the other day has vanished. Don't think I'm going to go outside barefoot and in shorts. Not yet.
Dear Wife was pretty miserable yesterday and this morning, and was asleep in bed when I headed out for church services. And that was a big unusual as well, though OK. Pastor had some big-time dental work a couple days ago, and the stitches and such are interfering with his ability to talk, and therefore to preach and teach. So one of the deacons, his son in fact, took over both roles, and did fine. On top of that, the musician, who is that deacon's wife, was sick in bed. So we sang acapella, which is no biggie to me: the church I grew up in NEVER had instruments, ever, unless you count the pitch pipe that the song leader employed to get us on the right key. We didn't have a pitch pipe this morning, so we kind of "made a joyful noise".
I only got about 90 minutes of sleep last night, yowling and fighting cats had a lot to do with that. Not real happy with cats right now, and am looking forward to warmer weather so that the two offenders can become "outside cats". Can't wait.
Today's reading in the Old Testament concludes the book of Joshua, chapters 23 and 24. We have in the last three months covered quite a lot of territory. The Creation. The Fall. The Flood, The Tower of Babel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 400 years as slaves in Egypt. The Exodus. The Covenant and the 10 Commandments. 40 years in the wilderness. The death of Moses.. Crossing the Jordan and the beginning of the occupation of the Promised Land. And now, the death of Joshua. Quite a lot.
But hang on, there's still the Rest of the Story, as Paul Harvey had as his signature line.
And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.
And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age:
And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God is he that hath fought for you.
Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward.
And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.
Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;
That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:
But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.
For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.
One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.
Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.
Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:
Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.
And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.
Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.
When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.
And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.
And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.
And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.
And you went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.
And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
And I have given you a land for which ye did not labor, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.
And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.
And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.
And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.
So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.
And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.
And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.
And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.
And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.
The New Testament reading is verses 27-49 in the 6th chapter of the Gospel of Luke.
More of the Beatitudes. Yes, Jesus does have a right to tell us how to live. And these are commandments, not suggestions. Ones that I for one simply can not follow in my own power. Fortunately, He gives us the power. It's still hard, very, and I fall short quite often.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.