25 January 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Wednesday, 25 January 2017

One seeks to find things to be thankful for

  • it's not much, but our weather lately, meaning the last week or so, has been "warm" for this area at this time of year.  Meaning we've been above the freezing point for most of the last week, and won't see that mark again for a few days.  Or so we are told. We shall see.  I'd be happy with 75° right now, and never ever EVER go below it.  Your mileage may vary.  In any event, I am grateful for the respite from snow and bitter cold.
  • A quick look at the calendar says that we have less than a week of January left.  February is not my favorite time of the year, but it means that we'll have only about seven more weeks before the Vernal Equinox, the beginning of "official" Spring.  That's something.
  • I've mentioned that we have cats.  Well, actually, Dear Wife does, though one of them has decided he's mine.  Whatever.  So, we have to feed them, take care of "sanitation issues", etc.  "We" in this case translates to Yours Truly.  One of them at least has a "sensitive stomach", so the real cheap dry cat food makes him vomit.  Which, of course, Yours Truly has to clean up.  We'd been buying a higher-end, meaning no corn content, at the Wally Mart, sold under the trade name of Evolve.  Worked.  So, of course, Wally Mart quit carrying it, at all, even on the Ship-to-Store app.  We found another source, only to find that it was now making him vomit.  And further investigation revealed that they'd about doubled the price. Wally Mart started carrying that version on the ship-to-store, at a price THREE TIMES what it had been.  Not an option on our very limited resources.  Dear Wife went on line and found a source that would ship us a product that seemed close to what we'd been getting, at a similar price too.  Good people, operating as Chewy.com, and we've been very pleased. But the first shipment arrived with the 20+ pound bag damaged in the shipping box and having spilled a good bit of the product.  We notified them, sent photos.  They sent a same-sized bag, free, to make up for it.  So we essentially had two big bags of dry cat food for the price of one.  This was in October.  We therefore had enough that we don't need to buy more until late February.  See what I mean?  What could have been a series of issues has led to a relationship with a good supplier, and enough of the product to last months.  
  • As mentioned previously, Monday morning we were about 18 miles south of here so that Dear Wife could undergo a pretty thorough bone scan, checking the bones for status resulting from her osteoporosis.  We expected a wait of several weeks before hearing results.  Well, we got some hint of the results today.  They're ordering up an infusion of a drug called "Reclast", trade name for Zoledronic acid.  In a hurry.  Now, that may not sound like a blessing, and I guess it's not, not really.  But here is what is a blessing:  the cost to us.  The quoted price for this medicine is around $2800.  Which we simply can't afford, it's much more than our total monthly income.  And under our previous insurance, the co-pay would have been on the order of $380, which we could not afford either.   But under our new plan, just in effect as of the first of the year, that co-pay drops to $28!!   Which we can afford.  Not by much, particularly with the out-of-pocket payments we just made last week, but we'll manage.  Now, of course, given a choice, we'd have a miraculous healing of all of her ailments.  That would be nice, but doesn't seem to be in the offing.  God is making a way, when there seems to be no way.  Good song like that, by the way.  And, in that vein, the singer, Janet Paschal, was recovering from breast cancer when this was recorded.  She had reason to believe this.  So do we.  And she makes reference to the situation we'll see in the Exodus, with Moses and the people, caught in an impossible situation, between the sea and Pharaoh's army.  Yes, God will make a way.  We've been learning that, bit by bit.  If you listen to the song, listen to all of it.  Oh, and several of the other singers there were in the middle of a flood of troubles too.  As all of us are, have been, or will be.  This is our testimony too.
  •  Lots more besides.  The roof over my head, the bed we slept in, the clean clothes to put on, a functioning bathroom, food to eat.  And the Lord's presence.  There was a time in my life when I had NONE of these.  None.  He's been good to me.  He didn't have to do that, but He did, and He has.  Thankful doesn't begin to cover it.
  • But even if He didn't, our focus needs to be on Him and His love.  Not on the circumstances of the moment.  I'm not good at that, usually.  Getting a little bit better, perhaps.  Not there yet, not by any means.  There will always be yucky circumstances.  Things that aggravate us, perhaps, or things that really are bad, things like sickness, pain, the loss of companionship or friendships, hunger, cold, all of that.  The "stone in your shoe" matters.  The "what idiot set these traffic signals so badly!" ones, the ones that a thousand years from now, or a hundred, or one, probably won't matter.  But He will still be there.  That's worth a lot, and sometimes we take our eyes off of Him.  Faith has a lot to do with where our focus really is.
 If everything holds as planned, we'll head out shortly and hit the grocery store.  Stock up on a few things.  Wife's Disability check hit yesterday.  Paid some overdue bills.  Probably going to spend the rest of it today, things like store brand pancake mix and such.  A little bit of coffee as well.  I'm not a coffee snob, but caffeine is good for me.  And Dear Wife is equally addicted, though she IS a "coffee snob", her term not mine.


The Old Testament reading today continues in the Exodus, chapters  9 and 10.
Moses is still passing the Lord's message along to Pharaoh, "Let My people go!".  And Pharaoh, unaccustomed as he was, to obeying anything other than his own wishes, refused, subjecting the people of Egypt to all sorts of terrible results.  Several of which revealed the emptiness of that culture's faith in their false gods.  And it wasn't over yet.

Exodus 9
1 Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain. 4 And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children's of Israel. 5 And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land. 6 And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go. 8 And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. 10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians. 12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses. 13 And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. 16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 18 Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now. 19 Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 20 He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 21 And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field. 22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28 Entreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer. 29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD's. 30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the LORD God. 31 And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled. 32 But the wheat and the rye were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the LORD: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth. 34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.

Exodus 10
1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might show these my signs before him: 2 And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD. 3 And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me. 4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast: 5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field: 6 And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh. 7 And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed? 8 And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go? 9 And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD. 10 And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you. 11 Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence. 12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left. 13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 And the locust went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. 15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt. 16 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you. 17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and entreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only. 18 And he went out from Pharaoh, and entreated the LORD. 19 And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. 20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go. 21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. 24 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. 25 And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God. 26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither. 27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. 28 And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die. 29 And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.


The New Testament reading is verses 1-20 from the 18th chapter in the Gospel of Matthew.
This reading contains some material that the "name it and claim it" preachers, some of the ones you see on TV, use and generally mis-use.  Getting a group together and uttering prayers in Jesus' name requesting, or demanding, some thing or action or whatever is somewhat based on this.  It's not quite that way.  I recently read an account of a lawyer who does a fair amount of "legal aid" type stuff, being a court-appointed attorney for indigent clients up on various charges.  He related an account of some defendants, women in fact, who got together in a circle, and prayed loudly that the Lord would protect them and prevent their arrest, before they went out to commit robberies and burglaries.  Somehow, I don't think the Lord was honored in that, and probably not amused either.  Neither do the sometimes heartfelt prayers that your favorite team would win the Big Game.  Need more examples?  Do such things really honor Him?  Don't think so.  Now, I admit, that I do firmly believe in the reality of verse 20.

Matthew 18:1-20
1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,  
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 
6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 
7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!  
8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.  
9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.  
10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 
11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.  
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 
13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.  
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. 
15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. 
18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

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