27 June 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Tuesday, 27 June 2017

End of June, almost.  A predicted "high" today of 68° and we have a light rain falling right now.  I had some outside work planned for today  (and yesterday as well) but circumstances, including weather, seem to be working against that determination.  And I wanted to take one of those long long walks that I enjoy and that are good for me.  But not in the rain.  No thanks.  Done that, yes, but was either 30 years younger or getting paid for it.  Neither applies here.
Wife had a relatively good night.  Until, beginning around 05:15, two cats embarked on an increasingly intrusive effort to rouse one or both of us to get their morning repast.  No matter that they had a 2/3 full bowl of dry cat food, they wanted that small scrap of wet food that officially starts their day, and often mine as well.  So I held off until nearly 06:00 and finally did the deed.  Went back hoping for a few more winks:  one of the very few benefits of retirement is that you normally don't have to answer to an alarm clock nor be somewhere at a particular time.  But the 4-legged alarms haven't fully grasped the changed situation, unfortunately.  I stretched out for a few minutes, but the hour, the movement, and the light coming through the curtains in the bedroom conspired to wake Wife, and she doesn't go back to sleep very well.  And she was hungry.  I very rarely get hungry, and don't wake ravenous.  She normally does, and the fact that she was this morning we regard as a very good sign that the new meds may be helping.  So she got up, which meant that I had to do so also.  And she summoned the energy to make some home made biscuits, so I had to get stuff down for her and all of that, so I skipped the shower and got dressed.
After we ate, I ran a few of the biscuits next door: the Great-Niece loves them and they like that we try to do these little things for them.
Came back, and we'd gotten the mail (quite early today), which included the new "sharps box" where the used Humira pens are supposed to go.  The arrangement is that they send us a "new" (or at least empty) box, we put the old, full one in the packaging and send it right back for disposition.  So we did that. And I walked the box, with the "BioHazard" label prominently displayed, down to the Post Office for shipment back.  Clerk saw the label, gulped, made sure everything was in order, and gave me a receipt which I will hang on to, just in case.

She wants me to go to the store later, one is having a "deal" on Greek yogurt, and with all the antibiotics she's taking, she needs to be restoring the "good" biota in her digestive tract.  The active culture yogurts do a good job of that, and she's almost always either calcium deficient, or seriously so, as a result of the combination of some of her meds and her underlying complex conditions.  The yogurt helps with that also, some anyway.
No, nothing around here is simple.  Lord willing, we'll be celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary later this summer.  God has been very good to us, no matter what bumps there are in the road.

Sing along with "In Times Like These"
 and this, "Near To The Heart of God"
and also, "Till the Storm Passes By"

oh, and "God On the Mountain".

that's where I am today


The Old Testament reading is chapters 10, 11, and 12 of Job.
The story of Job doesn't come to us all neatly packaged.  He suffered. For a LONG time: by some commentators, that suffering lasted some 120 years!  We don't really know why, and in fact he never did get a real answer.  He cried out to God, and tried to understand.  I know that there was a reason, but don't know what it was.
And we don't know all of it.  Job suffered, surely.  So did his children.  So did his servants.  Again, we don't know why.  What we do know, and have to hang on to, is that the Lord thought it worth it.  And that suffering and loss in this life does not necessarily mean eternal condemnation.  Indeed, we see more than a few cases around us where the wicked flourish, in this life, but the Hereafter is likely to be unpleasant, while there are those who suffer in the here and now, but whose mansion in Glory is waiting.  How strong is our trust in Him, no matter what?  It's a good if hard question.

Job 10
1 My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. 2 I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me. 3 Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? 4 Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth? 5 Are thy days as the days of man? are thy years as man's days, 6 That thou enquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin? 7 Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand. 8 Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. 9 Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? 10 Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? 11 Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. 12 Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit. 13 And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is with thee. 14 If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity. 15 If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction; 16 For it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again thou shewest thyself marvellous upon me. 17 Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me. 18 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! 19 I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. 20 Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, 21 Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; 22 A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.

Job 11
1 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, 2 Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified? 3 Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? 4 For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes. 5 But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee; 6 And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth. 7 Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? 8 It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? 9 The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea. 10 If he cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can hinder him? 11 For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider it? 12 For vain men would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt. 13 If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him; 14 If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. 15 For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear: 16 Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: 17 And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday: thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. 18 And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety. 19 Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee. 20 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.

Job 12
1 And Job answered and said, 2 No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you. 3 But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these? 4 I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn. 5 He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease. 6 The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly. 7 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: 8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. 9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this? 10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. 11 Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat? 12 With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. 13 With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding. 14 Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening. 15 Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth. 16 With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his. 17 He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools. 18 He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle. 19 He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty. 20 He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged. 21 He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty. 22 He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death. 23 He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again. 24 He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way. 25 They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.


Today's reading from the Old Testament is verses 1-25 from chapter 8 in the Acts of the Apostles.
Steven was put to death.  Yet that death led to some remarkable things.  Utterly unexpected and improbable ones, but the Lord often works like that.
We see the name Saul here.  He was, at the very least, complicit in the martyrdom of Steven, which he will not forget.  And we'll see him often, under a new name.
We see the breakout of persecution.  But we see that, rather than shut up and "go along" as some today might recommend, those suffering fled to all sorts of places, carrying the Gospel message with them, and thus spreading the Good News!  Wouldn't have happened without that persecution.  Yes, they broke out of the "Holy Huddle", and began, as was foretold, kicking down the gates of Hell.
I suspect that Steven would say it was worth it.
By the way, we also get a mention of what we call the sin of "simony".  The purchase of spiritual things by transfer of earthly goods or services.  It's still a crime in Britain, to this day, part of the connection of the Anglican Church to the British Crown.  But at one time, I used to get regular offers of an ordination certificate from some "church" for a "nominal fee".  I guess that it was so one could get the legal authorization to perform marriages (and to be paid for that service).  Some things haven't changed much.

Acts 8:1-25
1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.  
2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.  
3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.  
4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.  
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.  
6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.  
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 
8 And there was great joy in that city.  
9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:  
10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.  
11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.  
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.  
13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.  
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:  
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:  
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)  
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.  
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,  
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.  
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.  
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.  
23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.  
24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.  
25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

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