17 February 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Friday, 17 February 2017

yesterday, snow and a "high" of around 28°.  Today, a high of 40° and a low of 38°!,  59 tomorrow.  The 10-day forecast doesn't have even the lows being below freezing point.  VERY unusual for this area at this time of year.  Not that I mind.  But the All-Wise Never Wrong weathercasters and "climate scientists" confidently predicted an unusually cold, bitter, long, nasty winter.  Have they EVER been right??

Two songs for the day, both good any time, and both came to me yesterday as I was thinking / meditating on some things
God Leads His Dear Children Along  which is a great song and also true
Lead Me Lord, I Will Follow     which is our vow, not always kept unfortunately.
(by the way, clicking on those highlighted links will take you to a new tab that plays those songs).
Both go along with where my mind is today and for the last few days, and probably longer.  Following where the Lord is leading, even if we don't see the whole picture.  That takes trust, among other things, and faith that He knows better than we do.  But it also reminds me of the saying, "don't ask the Lord to direct  your path if you're not willing to move your feet".  Is anyone else as guilty on that as I am?  Especially for those whose trust has, in the past, been violated by those we  had thought we could trust, it's particularly hard.
As some know, we -- wife and family and I -- have had to move around a good bit, more than we might have liked.  I can remember several times, when we had some choices and options confronting us, and on occasion the wolf at the door, a prayer that I uttered in pain and desperation, "LORD!  Show me!  Show me what YOU want!  I don't see Your will so You will have to make it so clear that I can't mistake it!  Please!!".  Meaning every syllable.  Sometimes, we made that change, and things did not turn out the way we hoped that they would.  But out of that apparent failure, came other things, good things, that could have been attained in no other way!!  One of those arranged for our older daughter to meet her husband, as unlikely a match as you can imagine.  Another move arranged for our younger daughter to meet her husband, someone she'd only known while playing online video games that they were both involved in (and that older daughter's husband was also).  One put had me being THE adult Bible teacher in a small church that was in turmoil, a role I held for six, nearly seven years.  It taught me to earnestly seek the Lord's guidance as I presented the lesson, and helped the members understand what it meant to them and their own lives.  At the same time, that era also put both of us in contact with persons in many parts of the world and all through much of the United States, persons we could never have met otherwise.  Some of whom we still interact with.  Much else.
Had we stayed in the town we'd lived in most of our lives including the first two years of our marriage, none of that would have happened.  Yes, there was a price for that.  There always is.  But worth it.  It let us grow. It forced us to grow.
About 23 years ago, while living in East Tennessee, I attended a men's conference with some of the men in our church as well as from other churches in the area.  One of the speakers had started out as just a kid from the hillbilly parts of the area around Sevier County, and still had the speech patterns.  But he had, in an utterly improbable series of events, ended up carrying the Gospel all around central and south America, and elsewhere also.  I never forgot what he told us:  "If  you put your hand in God's hand, He'll put your feet in places you never could have imagined".  He had some experience behind that statement.
As history is measured, in a very short time, all of us will be gone, and a distant memory if even that.  But, as we were told,

 "only one life will soon be past, 
only what's done for Christ will last".  
That, and only that: the other things on which we place such emphasis don't really matter in the long run.  Yes, we'll always have to deal with the "stone in your shoe" and those other day to day things. 

Our objective really should be to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the presence of the Lord".  Should be. Our actions often don't support the notion that such is our real objective. Instead, we, and definitely I include myself, find our attention and focus on those short term day to day things, and the things that gain approval from those around us.  Rather than those things that He has called us to emphasize and to do.  So we honor the world, rather than Him.  Not good.

Yes, it's on my heart especially hard these days.  Presages something, I do believe.


The assigned reading for today in the Old Testament is chapters 24 and 25 of Leviticus.
This gets us into some things that show some contrast between their world, and ours.

Leviticus 24
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. 3 Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations. 4 He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually. 5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake. 6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD. 7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. 9 And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute. 10 And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp; 11 And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) 12 And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be showed them. 13 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. 16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. 17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. 18 And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast. 19 And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbor; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; 20 Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. 21 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. 22 Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God. 23 And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.

Leviticus 25
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. 3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; 4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. 5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. 6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee. 7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat. 8 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. 9 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. 10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. 11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. 12 For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. 13 In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession. 14 And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbor, or buyest ought of thy neighbor's hand, ye shall not oppress one another: 15 According to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbor, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee: 16 According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee. 17 Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God. 18 Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. 19 And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. 20 And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: 21 Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. 22 And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store. 23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. 24 And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. 25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. 26 And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; 27 Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession. 28 But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubilee: and in the jubilee it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession. 29 And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it. 30 And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it throughout his generations: it shall not go out in the jubilee. 31 But the houses of the villages which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubilee. 32 Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time. 33 And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubilee: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel. 34 But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession. 35 And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. 36 Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. 37 Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. 38 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. 39 And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: 40 But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee. 41 And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. 42 For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen. 43 Thou shalt not rule over him with rigor; but shalt fear thy God. 44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigor. 47 And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger's family: 48 After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: 49 Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself. 50 And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him. 51 If there be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give again the price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for. 52 And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubilee, then he shall count with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption. 53 And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigor over him in thy sight. 54 And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in the year of jubilee, both he, and his children with him. 55 For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.


Our portion in the New Testament today is verses 23-45 in chapter 1 of the Gospel of Mark.
This is a big change in emphasis from what we saw in Matthew and will see in Luke.  No shepherds, no Magi, none of that.  Mark gets right to what he, and probably his target audience, would be focused on.

Mark 1:23-45
23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. 26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. 28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee. 29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. 32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33 And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. 35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. 36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. 37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. 38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. 39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. 40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. 42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. 43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; 44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.

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