11 July 2017

Today's Readings and Stuff -- Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sometimes, I think it's all too easy to become discouraged at the state of our world.

  • school "resource officers" (that generally means cops on site to deal with threats from inside and outside) in the city of Akron, will now be equipped with "Narcan" to deal with potentially fatal overdoses from heroin, fentanyl, etc.  In schools!  Not "just" the high schools either, the middle schools as well.
  • but then, I recall that several years ago, our daughter was teaching English in another state.  HALF the girls in her 10th grade English class were pregnant!  And, no, this was not the "inner city", with all the racialist imaginings.
  • I have recently seen photos of "drag queens" in full regalia, reading to little kids in a public library in, I believe, Boston, as part of the city-wide celebration of "Gay Pride Week" (or month).  Part of efforts by, among other things, holdovers from Obama's bunch in the (unconstitutional to exist, by the way) federal department of education (and inoctrination).  And anyone who thinks and says that this may not be a good thing, is shouted down, sometimes with threats, credible ones, of death and serious physical harm, by those who claim to be speaking on behalf of "tolerance" and "inclusiveness".  At least as how they define these terms, which generally mean "agree loudly with us OR ELSE!".  And, again, some of those making those threats are associated with certain church-type organizations.
  • I see reports of congregations within the Presbyterian Church - USA to claim that the Lord and "allah" are one and the same, and to PRAY TO ALLAH!  In church!!  See here, for example.  And there are other examples, and they're not limited to the Presbyterians.  Now, I am quite openly NOT a big fan of John Calvin and calvinism (small -g) in general.  I do strongly suspect that he'd be mortified at this.  But Luther, who I am also not a huge fan of for numerous reasons, would probably be mortified at what is being done in the various shades of the Lutheran / reformed denominations.  As well as others.
AS long-time readers know, we recently concluded the annual march through the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, observing the degradation of the culture and people that the Moses, following the Lord's direction, brought out of bondage in Egypt, and into the Promised Land.  A fast and accelerating downward spiral that ended in new forms of bondage.
And it can happen again.  I fear that it will
I've already lived a good bit longer than I'd ever expected.  Anything that happens to me now is the Lord's will, may He be honored.  But part of our responsibility in this life is to do our utmost to leave things better than we found them.  I for one have failed in that, and that is a very bitter pill.


The Old Testament reading is Psalms 4, 5, and 6

Psalm 4
1 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. 2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah. 3 But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. 4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. 6 There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. 7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. 8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

Psalm 5
1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. 2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. 3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. 4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. 5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. 6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. 7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple. 8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face. 9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue. 10 Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee. 11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. 12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

Psalm 6
1 O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. 3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long? 4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake. 5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? 6 I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. 7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies. 8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping. 9 The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. 10 Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.


Our New Testament reading today continues in chapter 16 of the Acts of the Apostles with verses 16-40.  This, as was the case yesterday, is taking place in an area of Macedonia then called Philippi.  That town now longer exists, though it was once a significant place, dating back to the time that the kingdom and empire of Macedonia stretched over a wide area and at one time challenged the power of Rome.  Indeed, it is thought the empire of Macedon, in wars with Rome, led to the fall of the Roman Republic which led then to the Roman Empire, a much different structure.  There is, now, a small village near that ruins.  It is in Greece, not Turkey (although in an oft-disputed and oft-conquered region) and is transliterated into our alphabet as Filippoi.  The site on a map is here.
FAR from Jerusalem, FAR from Israel, FAR from the centers of Jewish culture and tradition.  But, even here, there were Jews and there had been assemblies of them.    But, since Rome had conquered  that part of the world (and much else besides), they'd brought their own cultures and  religions and traditions, which were superimposed on the Greek / Maceonian ones.  Quite a mix!  And then came Paul with the Gospel, and teachings that upset the whole arrangements, including the mercantile ones.  After all, it was "good business" to go along with the arrangement.  So they were beaten and thrown into prison, and it had to look pretty bad.  Until the Lord intervened in a miraculous way, and thus there were conversions that wouldn't have happened any other way.
I always wondered, "what happened next"?  Remember that there was no missionary society, no denominational support groups, no printed Bibles for everyone.  "Just" the Spirit.  And that was enough.

Acts 16:16-40
16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. 19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. 22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. 25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. 35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. 36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. 37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. 38 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. 39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. 40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

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