06 January 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Friday, 06 January 2017

Happy Friday to all.  I woke to a "toasty" +2 degrees this morning, the 05:05 "dance of the "starving kitties".  Never  could get back to sleep, something about bare feet on a cold floor and the body's reactions to all of that.  Now, yes, there have been times, too many times, in my life when 05:00 was a normal "get up" time to go to work.  (Not counting the several times that this was when I was just getting home FROM work).  That's no longer the case. But while I don't have to rise that early, I don't want to fall into the temptation to stay in bed  until 10:00 or so, it creates some bad habits.

So I lay in bed, read the passages below, spent some time praying over them, traded some text messages and e-mails, responded to a few things on "social media".  Then my  phone got hijacked, again.  I'm afraid of ransomware, and the like, and studiously avoid known phishing sites and such.  But the next 48 hours or so will tell.  This phone is one I got back in 2013 when I was still working.  With our deal (as one-time cell phone dealers), I could get a newer one essentially for free , but have liked this one.  We shall see.

Hot water in the bathroom sink had been frozen, finally got it flowing again.  Hope the drain isn't frozen as well, that happens sometimes.  I see that the schools are closed in our most recent out-of state home as there were predictions of more than an inch of snow there.  That was in central Alabama.  Ditto for our home previous to that, in eastern Tennessee, Anderson County.  Ditto for one home previous to THAT, in western Arkansas, Sebastian County  Ditto for the one previous to THAT, in eastern Tennessee, Blount County.  One wonders how they would have take to what we had last night and what is out there right now, here.  Oh well.

Wife seems to be a teeny bit better.  A bit.  Not in quite as much pain as the last few days, and perhaps a slightly lower fever.

News is full of four drug O.D. deaths in a neigboring city over the holiday weekend.  One victim was over 60, another over 50.  I was encountering drug addicts, junkies if you prefer, more than 40 years ago in that same city.  Had hoped we would never see that again.  But we do.  It's not a pretty thing, trust me on that.  I have found dead human bodies before.  Not an enjoyable experience or memory.  None were of those close to me, I can't imagine what it feels like to find your dad or brother dead on the floor with a needle in his arm.  No, drug use is NOT a "victimless crime".


The reading in the Old Testament today is chapters 15, 16. and 17 of the Genesis.  This is the Lord and Abram.  This is where Abram, "exalted father", is renamed Abraham, "father of a multitude".  And Sarai, meaning "princess" is renamed Sarah, implying "THE Princess".
Pretty fancy names for old folks with no kids.  "Father"??

There is something in most of us that wants to leave a mark on the world that will outlast us.  For these people, often nomads, a fixed marker was outside of their scope.  The mark, the legacy, would be their children.  IF, of course, they had any.  The lack of children at this point in their lives, had to have weighed on Abram and Sarai, both.  A mark, it might be thought, of Divine displeasure.
We often try to make marks even today.  Remember the motivation for the Tower of Babel?  To leave a mark.  I see buildings in cities and towns with names on the fascia.  So-and-so's Science Building at the University.  The so-and-so Family Center at a church site.  The so-and-so Boulevard.  And so forth.  I've been in churches with little brass plates on the ends of some of the pews, a sign of the person or family whose donations paid for that pew.  The Nobel Prize, named for Mr. Nobel.  The Pulitzer prize, same thing.  Need more examples?  Sometimes these things are done after the passing of the individual named, sometimes, particularly street names, are done as a reward to the real estate developer.  Not a whole lot removed from the dog who urinates at the corners of "his" yard, leaving a "no trespassing" notice that other dogs will detect.
What kind of a legacy do we leave?  After all, none of us will live in this body forever.  Any of us could pass within the next 24 hours.  I had a neighbor die recently, just a day after we'd talked.  Gone now.  His legacy is a big garage he'd just built to house his racing cars, something that his wife of less than six weeks' duration, probably has zero interest in.  Some legacy!  Oh, and several ex-wives and at least one child who'd not seen him in years and at least one grand-child who never met him.  Legacy.
Who rates our legacy?  The map maker for the town?  The trustees of the church or college or library?  Short-term, if so.  For those unfamiliar, I recommend meditation upon a bit of poetry recalling Ozymandias.
Jesus, who should be our model, left no physical monuments, nor children of His body.  His immediate disciples mostly died in bad ways, mostly without progeny or wealth.   Their legacy, and His too, was obedience to the Father.  The Lord took that obedience, and used it to change the world.
Abraham also was obedient, and it changed the world too.  He was the father of the Jews, which would include Jesus and  those disciples.  With quite a bit of opposition, too.  That hasn't changed.
To Abraham, that promise of the land his descendants would hold, seemed vast beyond belief.  Yet, as the Scripture records, "he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.".
That grant of land, which promise is still good, extended from the Nile River to the Euphrates River.  Quite a bit of land!  As in, a good bit of what is now Egypt, over to Iraq and parts of Turkey.  So much for the "west Bank" wails!
Now, there is nothing necessarily wrong with naming stuff after those whose efforts made those things possible.  Necessarily.  Yes, it can become an idol of sorts (see the descendants of Gideon for example).  But our real legacy, our real legacy, is a living one.  The lives we have touched, by God's grace.  All of us have touched some.  Sometimes for good, sometimes not.  And sometimes we don't even realize it.  But the Lord knows, and sometimes those we've touched know as well, and perhaps we will learn of it in Glory.  Or before the White Throne.
The promises that the Lord made to Abraham and Sarah came to pass.  When Isaac (meaning "he will laugh") was born, Sarah was 90 years old!  Abraham was 100, as we will see in a few days.  WELL beyond the point at which we would think people capable of having children.  But if the Lord could create the world, and light, and gravity, with a word, nothing is beyond His reach.  We do well to remember that.  When all seems lost and dark and hopeless, when we are tempted to despair and lose hope, He is still there.  I know.

Genesis 15
1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2 And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. 7 And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. 8 And he said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? 9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. 10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. 11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. 13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. 17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaim, 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Genesis 16
1 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. 4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. 5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee. 6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face. 7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. 9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. 10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. 12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. 13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? 14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. 15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. 16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

Genesis 17
1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. 15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. 22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. 23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. 24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. 27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.


The New Testament passage is verses 27-48 in the 5th chapter in the Gospel of Matthew.  More of the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus teaching, we do well to remember that.  Anyone think we can carry out His commands -- for they are that, commands, not trite suggestions -- in our own power?  I can't.

 Matthew 5:27-48
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. 33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. 38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

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