26 January 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Thursday, 26 January 2017

The last Thursday in January has arrived.  We are above the freezing point.  Not by much, but we'll take it.  Wife is heading across the back yard to go "watch" the Great-Niece while mom (niece) is at work.  They both seem to enjoy it, greatly.
This will probably be going on for a few more months yet.  Niece is expecting another child, a boy, some time in June.  Last time, from what I understand, she was off work for at least a month before the birth, and a few months afterwards.  We made the move up here when the Little One was about 9 months old, and Niece had already gone back to work, part time anyway.  I imagine a similar thing is being planned.  So Wife and the Niece will be colluding until the birth, and for some period thereafter, and then we'll see.  Great niece has one more year before going off to kindergarten, so I suppose that the plan is for us to be the designated "watchers" for the next five years.  We shall see.

Dear Wife was been miserable about all day yesterday.  So I was sent off to the Big Box store to fill in some of the items we didn't get last week.
One of those things was some wood putty.  The screws that fasten, or at least fastened (past tense), the door hinge to the jamb of the door going into laundry room, pulled free.  They'd backed out a little bit, I'd re-set them yesterday, but last night they fell completely out.  I bought some wood putty and some slightly longer screws, hoping that will do the trick well enough.  If it doesn't I'll have to try to move the hinge.  No fun, the batteries on the power tools are shot and doing this with muscle power alone is not my idea of a good time.  But we shall attempt it.  Never a dull moment ......

She finished her course of the heavy antibiotics Tuesday.  We're giving a few days to let her system "settle" before going back on the Humira.  It depresses the immune system, which may not be a good thing when you are battling systemic infections.  But that same immune system has gone wild in her system, and will attack her if nothing else appears.  So it's a very tricky balancing act.  Autoimmune diseases are no fun, and remind us how delicately balanced our systems are.

And it reminds us to take nothing for granted.  Every moment, every breath, every heartbeat, every meal, everything that we think of as "normal", can vanish in a moment.  The things that we take for granted, others are praying for.  My walk outside, down the steps, out to the mail box, a lot of people simply can't do.  My kidneys function, people on dialysis would love to have that.  I can see.  I can breathe without help.  And the Lord reached down and touched me.  Living where we do, and where we have, we encounter those who didn't grow  up singing "Jesus Loves Me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so".  I know a woman that Wife's family took in as a  young teen:  it was the only way her mother could keep her father from raping her, which he had been doing.  I know too many who grew up without a father in the home.  Or who were raised by grandparents because parents were dead, or in prison, or unfit.  I've encountered drug addicted teenage prostitutes who can't imagine another life.  Whose first sexual experience was with mom's "squeeze" of the week.  I know a woman whose family came here from Viet Nam after the Americans were pulling out, leaving everything they'd ever known behind, because the alternative was to be slaughtered by the victorious socialists.
Sorrow and pain and misery are not hard to find, they're hard to ignore in fact. Yet sometimes we avert our eyes, focusing on our TV sets, smartphones, shopping, fads, our "stuff".  ALL of which can vanish in a moment.  Been there.
What is important is what circumstances can't change.  Too many of us can't, or don't, see beyond the moment's circumstances.  Me too.

Sometimes, things look impossible.  Been there too.  A story as old as mankind.  Ask Moses.  Or Aaron.  Or Noah.  Or Abraham or Sarah.  Or Lazarus.  Without those terrible circumstances, we would not know their names.


The Old Testament reading here is chapters 11 and 12 of the Exodus.  This ends with the Passover, and the departure of the people from Egypt, after 430 years!  Yes, the Lord doesn't work to our schedule.  He hears, truly, but sometimes we ( including me) want what we wanted and right now.  He had reasons for the delay, part of which may have been the growth of the people to the numbers they now had.
And it is no accident that the Passover and Easter come at the same time.  In the coming year, Passover week will begin on the evening of April 10, and conclude at sundown April 18.  Easter is on April 16.

Exodus 11
1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether. 2 Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbor, and every woman of her neighbor, jewels of silver and jewels of gold. 3 And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people. 4 And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: 5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. 6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. 7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. 8 And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger. 9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt. 10 And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.

Exodus 12
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD's passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. 15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. 16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. 17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. 19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. 20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. 21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. 24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. 31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. 33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. 34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. 35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36 And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians. 37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. 40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. 43 And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44 But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. 50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 51 And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.


Our New Testament reading is verses 21-35 from the 18th chapter in the Gospel of Matthew.
This deals with a tough matter.  Forgiveness.  The spirit and attitude of forgiveness that is expect of Christians, those who, after all, have been forgiven much.  But it is a character trait that is, alas, all too rare, even within the church.  Or within families, for that matter.  Most of us have had to witness this, and more than a few of us -- me included -- have been guilty.  Some of us still are.
The Lord has had to forgive quite a lot in my case. If we are called to take on His character, to be in truth, "little Christs", then we need to think and act accordingly.  Not possible in human power, only by the indwelling of the Spirit can we hope to succeed.
Now, the question of "who is my brother", gets to be an issue here.

Matthew 18:21-35
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

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