15 March 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Hmmm.  Looking outside, one might almost think it was winter in NE Ohio.  Oh, wait.  It is.  That would account for the snow and blowing wind and bitter cold temperatures.  Right.  Another of those days that make a person think that Global Warming would be a good idea.  If it was true, which it isn't.    True, I mean.  Wish it was.  Snow and cold.  I understand that the "sophisticated" areas of the NorthEast were getting hammered yesterday and last night.  I should probably feel sorry for them, but that's where a lot of the "warmists" hang out, so I hope they enjoy the experience.

Retirement check hit the bank, so we're off today, hopefully, in a mission to replenish the food supply.  We have food left, so we weren't at death's door, but I need to order refills for the BP meds that I take, and we need things like flour and cornmeal and such.  Some of those "staples" were getting low.  Not out, but low enough to refill.  And the gas tank is on the wrong side of 1/2 and nearing 1/4.  So we'll need to address that.  Oh, and pay the water bill, gas bill, electric bill, etc.

As I've said before, some of these songs that I link to have a lot of meaning for me, sometimes they also put my mind along certain paths.  I was listening to the old hymn, "Trust and Obey" the last few days.  Good song, good teaching, good reminder of what we should be pursuing.
That's not easy, not at all.  It goes against everything that the world teaches.  Seeking the best for the "ME", that's what everyone, including all too many famous "church leaders" teach, and sell books and videos about, is in line with that, and it falls on receptive ears.  Yielding everything to a God who we can't see with our human eyes, in order to further a Heavenly purpose, just doesn't seem right.  Not if we're constantly bombarded with the "he who dies with the most toys wins" messages.

Do we really trust Him?  Enough to hear, and to obey, even if it doesn't make sense by the standards of the world?  Even if it may feel as if He doesn't hear our cries, doesn't care about the storms we encounter?  As if our prayers are banging against a closed door?  Imagine Mary and the apostles on that dark, dark Saturday between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.  All that they had believed and trusted in, seemed far-off and strange.  Imagine Steven being stoned to death.  Imagine Moses facing the sea, with Pharaoh's army closing fast.  Imagine Daniel, about to meet the lions.  Peter in the prison, awaiting an uncertain fate.  Paul being beaten with rods, once again.  David facing the giant.  And many others.  Yet, somehow, they held on, no matter what.
We had just yesterday another case of a missionary in Nigeria, captured by the Moslems.  For his faith.  More Christians in Egypt, Syria, India, and elsewhere, being captured and slaughtered for their faith.  Faithful to the end.
They all of them knew how to trust and obey.
They make me feel small and unworthy.  And I am.
Yet the Lord knows my name, and, for reasons known only to Him, continues to walk with me.  The very least that I can do is to walk with Him, learn His way and His will, and covenant to obey.  That requires trust, something that the world takes away but that He makes possible.  "Increase our faith" is a very worthwhile prayer.

So, today, the songs of the day are
Trust and Obey
Which is a lovely acapella congregational sing

I Will Trust In Thee    or here     which is not acapella, but it is a personal favorite, having been part of music ministries in several states that presented it.  It has deep personal meaning for me.
"Before the earth and heavens formed
Before You made the sea,
You knew my name, and claimed my life.
Lord, I will trust in Thee"
Why should we fear to proclaim it?


Our morning reading and meditation today is chapters 26 and 27 of Deuteronomy
Some of these things Moses is warning against sound pretty awful, the sort of thing that we're tempted to say, "Yuck.  Nobody would do that !"  Guess what?  People did.  Some still do.  Take the prohibition against sexual relations with one's sister or half-sister.  Sounds nasty, right?  At that time, at least, the required wife of Pharaoh was his sister.  Required.  Imagine what happens genetically after a few generations of that?    Many of the things Moses was conveying the Lord's commands regarding, were common in the cultures of the region.  Some still are.

Deuteronomy 26
1 And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein; 2 That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there. 3 And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us. 4 And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God. 5 And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: 6 And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: 7 And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labor, and our oppression: 8 And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: 9 And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. 10 And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: 11 And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you. 12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; 13 Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them. 14 I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me. 15 Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey. 16 This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. 17 Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: 18 And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; 19 And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.

Deuteronomy 27
1 And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day. 2 And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: 3 And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee. 4 Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster. 5 And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. 6 Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God: 7 And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God. 8 And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly. 9 And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the LORD thy God. 10 Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day. 11 And Moses charged the people the same day, saying, 12 These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: 13 And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. 14 And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice, 15 Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen. 16 Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen. 17 Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen. 18 Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen. 19 Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen. 20 Cursed be he that lieth with his father's wife; because he uncovereth his father's skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen. 21 Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen. 22 Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen. 23 Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen. 24 Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbor secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen. 25 Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen. 26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.


The reading from the New Testament today is hard reading.  Verses 1-26 of the 15th chapter in the Gospel of Mark.  The Crucifixion.

Mark 15:1-26
1 And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto them, Thou sayest it. 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. 4 And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. 5 But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled. 6 Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. 7 And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. 11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. 12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? 13 And they cried out again, Crucify him. 14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. 15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. 16 And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. 17 And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, 18 And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! 19 And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. 21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. 22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. 23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. 24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. 25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. 26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.


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