26 March 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Sunday, 26 March 2017

Entering into the last Sunday in the month of March.  Lord willing, a week from now we will be well established into April.  As I've often said, I prefer the months whose names are short.  April, May, June sound MUCH better to me than December, January, or Februrary, etc.  "March" is somewhat "iffy", the name is short but the weather isn't nice, we had snow on the ground a week ago.  I hate that stuff and always did.  So we're heading in the right direction I believe.

We survived the Birthday Gala of the Season yesterday.  The 10-year-old Great Nephew is well and truly launched.  We went, hung around a bit -- long enough to see the presents being opened and recorded.  Left early.  Wife came home and we got horizontal on the recliners for a while, recovering.  Honor was served, I guess.  His sister, great-niece #2 has something of the sort on schedule for the summer months.  Hope that we survive that one as well.


I struggled all night long with the "Song of the Day" question.

So, two versions of one, the 2nd version being the story behind the song.  I STRONGLY urge listening to that story.  Our faith demands not the "easy beliefism" that Dietrich Bohnoeffer, among others, rightly condemned.   It demands a real transformation, a commitment, that thing that our culture hates and fears.
I Have Decided To Follow Jesus
I Have Decided   with story

and, in an odd way that only makes sense to a person with a weird way of looking at the world, had a country song in mind.  Amarillo By Morning.   Odd, yes?  Sure, odd tie-in.  Admitted.  But in an odd way, I've "been there".  I've been, personally, out there, with NOTHING but the clothes on my back, in an unfamiliar area, bent on a course that is uncertain.  Sometimes, the demands of our faith are like that.  Not the "safe space" that the "snowflakes" demand, but walking away from it all, heading into uncertain territory.  I hope we have a higher motive than that of the likely character in the song, but if a rodeo competitor would do this, why can't a Christian?


Our Old Testament passage today is chapters 16, 17, and 18 of Joshua.
I was walking around meditating on this during the Gala.  (yes, I'm a notorious multi-tasker).  And both before and after the event we attended..
Most of our readings, certainly those in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua, deal with some real day-to-day struggles of God's people.  War, slavery, an uncertain daily life in a very hostile terrain, and mostly surrounded by nasty people who wished them ill.  All the stuff of life.
The wars, for example.  This was all close-quarter hand-to-hand combat against trained and motivated foes in lands they were invading.  This gets very personal, very fast.
I found myself wondering why the Lord didn't simply, using His  power, transmit them in a flash from Egypt to the Promised Land, a land already cleared of hostile forces, a land with all the necessities of life already in place, a land that they would neither have to fight for, nor tame.
Why?  He could, after all.  He invented light and gravity, after all.  This immediate transfer would have been well within His powers, and He knew it.  But He didn't.  Why?
It's not an unreasonable question.  Most of us, certainly including me, have wondered why the Lord didn't just miraculously remove the tumor, heal the damaged relationships, fill the bank account, make things Right as we measure them.  And, yes, sometimes He does things that only He can do.  We are grateful I hope.  But other times no.
And, sometimes, He sets us to work on the matter.
As he did here in these issues.  They only answer I can come up with is that the struggles, journeys, hardships,  and all the rest of it, changed them as well as their circumstances.  I am reminded of a quote attributed to Thomas Paine, "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods;".  Those struggles that we still go through affect us.  Relying upon the Lord, with our own whole-hearted commitment, changes us.  Among other things, it teaches us that we can and must rely upon Him, but that we may have a part to play as well.  Not in salvation of course, that is a work of the Lord.  But going from bondage, whether slavery in Egypt or drug addiction or any of a number of other things, requires our involvement and effort as well.  The Exodus changed the character of the children of Israel.  It affects our world to this very day.  An easy blink of an eye would not have done that.

Joshua 16
1 And the lot of the children of Joseph fell from Jordan by Jericho, unto the water of Jericho on the east, to the wilderness that goeth up from Jericho throughout mount Bethel, 2 And goeth out from Bethel to Luz, and passeth along unto the borders of Archi to Ataroth, 3 And goeth down westward to the coast of Japhleti, unto the coast of Bethhoron the nether, and to Gezer; and the goings out thereof are at the sea. 4 So the children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance. 5 And the border of the children of Ephraim according to their families was thus: even the border of their inheritance on the east side was Atarothaddar, unto Bethhoron the upper; 6 And the border went out toward the sea to Michmethah on the north side; and the border went about eastward unto Taanathshiloh, and passed by it on the east to Janohah; 7 And it went down from Janohah to Ataroth, and to Naarath, and came to Jericho, and went out at Jordan. 8 The border went out from Tappuah westward unto the river Kanah; and the goings out thereof were at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Ephraim by their families. 9 And the separate cities for the children of Ephraim were among the inheritance of the children of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages. 10 And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute.

Joshua 17
1 There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan. 2 There was also a lot for the rest of the children of Manasseh by their families; for the children of Abiezer, and for the children of Helek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher, and for the children of Shemida: these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph by their families. 3 But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but daughters: and these are the names of his daughters, Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 4 And they came near before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua the son of Nun, and before the princes, saying, The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren. Therefore according to the commandment of the LORD he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father. 5 And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan; 6 Because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance among his sons: and the rest of Manasseh's sons had the land of Gilead. 7 And the coast of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah, that lieth before Shechem; and the border went along on the right hand unto the inhabitants of Entappuah. 8 Now Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim; 9 And the coast descended unto the river Kanah, southward of the river: these cities of Ephraim are among the cities of Manasseh: the coast of Manasseh also was on the north side of the river, and the outgoings of it were at the sea: 10 Southward it was Ephraim's, and northward it was Manasseh's, and the sea is his border; and they met together in Asher on the north, and in Issachar on the east. 11 And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Bethshean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries. 12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. 13 Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, but did not utterly drive them out. 14 And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto? 15 And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee. 16 And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel. 17 And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only: 18 But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.

Joshua 18
1 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them. 2 And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance. 3 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you? 4 Give out from among you three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me. 5 And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north. 6 Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God. 7 But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance: and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them. 8 And the men arose, and went away: and Joshua charged them that went to describe the land, saying, Go and walk through the land, and describe it, and come again to me, that I may here cast lots for you before the LORD in Shiloh. 9 And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh. 10 And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD: and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions. 11 And the lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to their families: and the coast of their lot came forth between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph. 12 And their border on the north side was from Jordan; and the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north side, and went up through the mountains westward; and the goings out thereof were at the wilderness of Bethaven. 13 And the border went over from thence toward Luz, to the side of Luz, which is Bethel, southward; and the border descended to Atarothadar, near the hill that lieth on the south side of the nether Bethhoron. 14 And the border was drawn thence, and compassed the corner of the sea southward, from the hill that lieth before Bethhoron southward; and the goings out thereof were at Kirjathbaal, which is Kirjathjearim, a city of the children of Judah: this was the west quarter. 15 And the south quarter was from the end of Kirjathjearim, and the border went out on the west, and went out to the well of waters of Nephtoah: 16 And the border came down to the end of the mountain that lieth before the valley of the son of Hinnom, and which is in the valley of the giants on the north, and descended to the valley of Hinnom, to the side of Jebusi on the south, and descended to Enrogel, 17 And was drawn from the north, and went forth to Enshemesh, and went forth toward Geliloth, which is over against the going up of Adummim, and descended to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben, 18 And passed along toward the side over against Arabah northward, and went down unto Arabah: 19 And the border passed along to the side of Bethhoglah northward: and the outgoings of the border were at the north bay of the salt sea at the south end of Jordan: this was the south coast. 20 And Jordan was the border of it on the east side. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, by the coasts thereof round about, according to their families. 21 Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Bethhoglah, and the valley of Keziz, 22 And Betharabah, and Zemaraim, and Bethel, 23 And Avim, and Pharah, and Ophrah, 24 And Chepharhaammonai, and Ophni, and Gaba; twelve cities with their villages: 25 Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth, 26 And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah, 27 And Rekem, and Irpeel, and Taralah, 28 And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.


Our reading from the New Testament is verses 1-16 from chapter 5 in the Gospel of Luke.

Jesus is both teaching and working wonders.  And here we see Him encountering Peter, James, and John.  (Remember the little song?  ).  He was not only addressing crowds, He was also ministering the individual needs of individuals with their own specific needs, ones not necessarily common to the community at large.  I admit to wishing that I knew what became of this man after being healed of leprosy.  Certainly his life was changed.  An encounter with Jesus will do that.  Still happens, too.
But also, pay attention to the last verse.  Jesus found it necessary to go off by Himself to pray.  We should follow that example, consistently.

Luke 5:1-16
1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him. 12 And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 13 And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. 14 And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 15 But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

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