23 July 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Sunday, 23 July 2017

A down day here.  I have a "bug" or something, feel lousy and no strength, could barely sleep at all last night and then only fitfully.  Stayed home, missed church services this morning which is not at all normal, especially on days, like today, that had some special event, a gospel singing group, planned.  But just couldn't do it.  It's rare, very, but it happens every so often.

Looking around at our world, it is all too easy to become discouraged, to believe that All Is Lost and there is no hope.  That's a false analysis of course, the Lord has often proven that nothing is beyond His reach.
And yet, when we see dire prophecy apparently playing out before us, to the applause of the self-proclaimed "elites", the temptation to the sin of despair, gets to be very strong.
I opened a link sent to me, and what I saw was the headline to a gushing "puff piece" out of the oh-so-liberal land of Wisconsin, entitled:

Wisconsin Company To Implant Microchips In Employees

Is anyone else thinking of chapter 17 in the Revelation, the references to the "Mark of the Beast"? Because I am. And then I saw, just the other day, an account from another site, where one of the major credit card companies is, in essence, bribing various retailers to begin refusing cash transactions so that use of debit or credit cards is the only way to do business.  See, for example, here (from 2016) or here, this week or  here.  Or here.
  Meaning, of course that one's "private" business might be tracked, and thus one's movements and interests as well.  Intrusive much?  And we hear, for example, that India is trying to do likewise on a national scale.
There are those who might call this progress.  I'm not one of them.  Especially as I reflect that it would take little more for the "progressives" to add that microchip requirement as a handy portable means of linking to that debit or credit card.  Think of the savings if the printing of currency or the minting of coins were abolished.  Why, counterfeiting would vanish, right?  And then, one might see that "undesired" purchases or transactions could be prevented.  No drug buys, right?  And no problems with "cash under the table" services, or little girls with unlicensed lemonade stands either.  How "progressive".
Oh, and it takes very little to enable 24/7/365 tracking of where you are.  With no more effort, it could be known who you were with.  With the tracking software on most smartphones in ubiquitous use today, such is already pretty standard (most people don't know that, but I do), and I for one don't like it much.  Oh, and on some phones, that's possible even if you have the location "services" turned off and even if the phone itself is turned off.  Now, if you remove the battery ......  but of course, that ability is becoming ever more unusual, isn't it?
Am I paranoid?  No.  I have reason to know about the ways in which some of these capabilities, including that implanted microchip, might be used and mis-used.  And, as we used to say in my engineering days, "just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should".  Here are examples.

Things may be about to get even worse.  I'm thinking that my Amish cousins, living in such a way as to avoid too-close entanglements with the "world" as they define it, might not be so far off.  For example, horses can make more horses.  Chevrolet hasn't managed that yet.  They generally avoid TV and telephones (generally, I said) and most other things of that sort.  Having seen what's on TV and the notions, the seeds, that are planted in the brains of watchers (ever react negatively to the blather about something "that everybody's talking about!" that is anti-God, stupid, nonsensical, and dumb?), they may well be better for it.  Who can deny the silliness and horrible distraction that text messaging, 24-hour contact availability, and non-stop sound,  that all of this technology has dumped on us?  How many of us know of others, or ourselves, who are downright upset if they don't have sounds all the time, who never ever experience silence?  How can we pretend we want to hear from God when His voice is drowned out by "music" and our attention is occupied by games or on-line porn or fashion trends (if you can tell the difference)?  Or football, or NASCAR races or the latest political scandals and wranglings?


The readings in the Old Testament are Psalms 38, 39, and 40.  This is David, and he's not exaggerating when he speaks of those who seek his life, and he is very thankful for what the Lord had been and was then doing on his behalf, and prayed that it would continue.
Those who have been in awful situations, situations that only the Lord could rescue us and has, have an attitude towards the Lord that only they can have.

Psalm 38
1 O lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. 4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. 10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. 11 My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off. 12 They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. 13 But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. 14 Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. 15 For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. 16 For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me. 17 For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. 18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. 19 But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied. 20 They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is. 21 Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me. 22 Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

Psalm 39
1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. 2 I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. 3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, 4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am. 5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. 6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them. 7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish. 9 I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it. 10 Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. 11 When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah. 12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. 13 O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

Psalm 40
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. 3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. 5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. 6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. 9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. 10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. 11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. 12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. 14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. 15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. 16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. 17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.


The New Testament reading is verses 12-35 in the 23rd chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.  As ever, the Gospel arouses controversy.  THAT hasn't changed. 

Acts 23:12-35
12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. 14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. 15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him. 16 And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. 18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. 19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? 20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly. 21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. 22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me. 23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; 24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. 25 And he wrote a letter after this manner: 26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. 27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. 28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: 29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. 30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell. 31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: 33 Who, when they came to Caesarea and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. 34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; 35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall.

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