520.) Proverbs 15

April 29, 2011

Even monkeys know to “Speak no evil!” Proverbs 15 has long been a chapter I turn to, since so often when I get into trouble, it is because of something (unwise, unkind, unnecessary) that I said. Here are many recommendations for how to keep a guard on your mouth and in so doing, lead a life that honors God and doesn’t offend others.

Proverbs 15 (The Message)

God Doesn’t Miss a Thing

1 A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.

2 Knowledge flows like spring water from the wise;
fools are leaky faucets, dripping nonsense.

3 God doesn’t miss a thing—
he’s alert to good and evil alike.

Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see,
Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful, little eyes, what you see.

Oh, be careful, little ears, what you hear,
Oh, be careful, little ears, what you hear,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful, little ears, what you hear.

Oh, be careful, little hands what you do,
Oh, be careful, little hands what you do,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So, be careful, little hands what you do

Oh,  be careful, little feet, where you go,
Oh, be careful, little feet, where you go,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful, little feet, where you go.

Oh, be careful, little mouth, what you say,
Oh, be careful, little mouth, what you say,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful, little mouth, what you say.

_________________________

4 Kind words heal and help;
cutting words wound and maim.

5 Moral dropouts won’t listen to their elders;
welcoming correction is a mark of good sense.

“A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.”   (verse 5, NIV)


6 The lives of God-loyal people flourish;
a misspent life is soon bankrupt.

7 Perceptive words spread knowledge;
fools are hollow—there’s nothing to them.


8 God can’t stand pious poses,
but he delights in genuine prayers.

9 A life frittered away disgusts God;
he loves those who run straight for the finish line.

10 It’s a school of hard knocks for those who leave God’s path,
a dead-end street for those who hate God’s rules.

11 Even hell holds no secrets from God—
do you think he can’t read human hearts?

Life Ascends to the Heights

12 Know-it-alls don’t like being told what to do;
they avoid the company of wise men and women.

13 A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face;
a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

14 An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth;
fools feed on fast-food fads and fancies.

15 A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

16 A simple life in the Fear-of-God
is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches.

17 Better a bread crust shared in love
than a slab of prime rib served in hate.

“Better a meal of vegetables where there is love, than a fattened calf with hatred.”   (verse 17, NIV)

18 Hot tempers start fights;
a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.

19 The path of lazy people is overgrown with briers;
the diligent walk down a smooth road.

20 Intelligent children make their parents proud;
lazy students embarrass their parents.

21 The empty-headed treat life as a plaything;
the perceptive grasp its meaning and make a go of it.

22 Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail;
take good counsel and watch them succeed.

23 Congenial conversation—what a pleasure!
The right word at the right time—beautiful!


24 Life ascends to the heights for the thoughtful—
it’s a clean about-face from descent into hell.

25 God smashes the pretensions of the arrogant;
he stands with those who have no standing.

26 God can’t stand evil scheming,
but he puts words of grace and beauty on display.

27 A greedy and grasping person destroys community;
those who refuse to exploit live and let live.

28 Prayerful answers come from God-loyal people;
the wicked are sewers of abuse.

29 God keeps his distance from the wicked;
he closely attends to the prayers of God-loyal people.

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time– waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God– it changes me.” 
–C.S. Lewis (Shadowlands)

30 A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart,
and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle.

31 Listen to good advice if you want to live well,
an honored guest among wise men and women.

32 An undisciplined, self-willed life is puny;
an obedient, God-willed life is spacious.

33 Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living—
first you learn humility, then you experience glory.

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles H. Spurgeon

Humiliation of soul always brings a positive blessing with it. If we empty our hearts of self God will fill them with His love. He who desires close communion with Christ should remember the word of the Lord, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.” Stoop if you would climb to heaven. Do we not say of Jesus, “He descended that He might ascend”? So must you. You must grow downwards, that you may grow upwards; for the sweetest fellowship with heaven is to be had by humble souls, and by them alone. God will deny no blessing to a thoroughly humbled spirit. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” with all its riches and treasures. The whole exchequer of God shall be made over by deed of gift to the soul which is humble enough to be able to receive it without growing proud because of it.

_________________________

Music:

“That’s Why We Praise Him”  sung by Lisa Bevill.

_________________________

The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Images courtesy of:
three monkeys.     http://pressvision.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil-photo.jpg
little girl with big brown eyes.     http://cdn.elev8.com/files//2009/08/baby-with-big-brown-eyes-300×300.jpg
Don’t be a fool . . .     http://rfiles.thebowmans.us/Images/Scriptures/Proverbs/Proverbs15_5.jpg
The lips of the wise . . .    http://censaydesigns.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Proverbs_15-7.240210814_std.png
A cheerful heart . . .      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_k_0tVV1FpVU/S736bVejtvI/AAAAAAAAA_o/0pdJBb85gBU/s1600/proverbs-15-15.jpg
vegetables.     http://www.jacksonfarmersmarketgrill.com/vegetable-platter_1.jpg
A word fitly spoken . . .    http://media.photobucket.com/image/recent/drewsfamilytx/othersuchhappenings/proverbs25-11.jpg
humility.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-9S-IMzFDIuY/TatVTGDfB9I/AAAAAAAABEk/pDmJT3Ud9nM/s1600/Humility-BlanchardBySG.jpg

519.) Psalms 70 and 71

April 28, 2011

Psalm 70 (King James Version)

This psalm is nearly identical to the last five verses of Psalm 40; evidently David often needed God to come quickly with help!  Bible commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “Urgent trials should always awake fervent prayers.”

1MAKE HASTE, O GOD, TO DELIVER ME;
MAKE HASTE TO HELP ME, O LORD.

2Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul:
let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

3Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.

4Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee:
and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.

5But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God:
thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying.

_____

Psalm 71 (English Standard Version)

Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent

Few there are who live, alas,
And they are far from here,
Who know how young and dear I was
When I was young and dear.
–Rose O’Neill

1 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame!
2In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me, and save me!
3Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

“The years teach much which the days never knew.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
5For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
6Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”
–Douglas MacArthur

7I have been as a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.
8My mouth is filled with your praise,
and with your glory all the day.
9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
forsake me not when my strength is spent.


10For my enemies speak concerning me;
those who watch for my life consult together
11and say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue and seize him,
for there is none to deliver him.”

“It is autumn; not without
For within me is the cold.
Youth and Spring are all about;
It is I that have grown old.”
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

12O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
13May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
who seek my hurt.
14But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
15My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
16With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is one of my father’s favorite hymns:  “How Great Thou Art,”  sung here by Crystal Lewis.

_________________________

17O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.

“All my life I’ve been taught how to die, but no one ever taught me how to grow old.”
–Billy Graham (Newsweek, Aug. 14, 2006)

19Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
20You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
21You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.

“I’ve finally reached the age where my Wild Oats have turned into All-Bran!”
–Tom Wilson (Ziggy, Nov. 19, 1999)

22I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23My lips will shout for joy,
when I sing praises to you;
my soul also, which you have redeemed.
24And my tongue will talk of your righteous help
all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed
who sought to do me hurt.

Do not regret growing old.  It is a privilege denied to many.
–a favorite saying of my mother

_________________________

My father and his father-in-law, Galy Edvenson — Iowa, late 1940’s.

This post is dedicated to my father, Jasper Riskedahl, who turns 96 today.  If you were to have a conversation with him, he would tell you how good the Lord has been to him all his years, and how grateful he is that the Lord is merciful and faithful.  Thank you, Daddy, for proclaiming the might of the Lord to another generation, as Psalm 71 says, and for teaching me to love and serve God.

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
May all who seek thee . . .     http://www.mybutterflies.com/images/Custom%20bookmark%20images/may_all_who_seek.jpg
Though you have made me see . . .     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/wallpaper-psalm-71-20.jpg
Do not cast me away . . .    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/psalm71_92.jpg

518.) Psalm 69

April 27, 2011

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.”

Psalm 69 (English Standard Version)

Save Me, O God

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.

1Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
2I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.

DEEP WATER
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

“I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where floods overflow me”
(Psalm 69:2).

Save me, O God,
For my soul is being flooded
With foolishness.
My sins are not hidden from Thee.
I am sinking
With no place to stand;
I am in deep water.
Floods overflow me;
I wait for God to rescue me.
My throat is dry
From calling on Him.
I weep and chasten my soul,
Mocking my own weakness.
Hear me speedily, God,
And don’t hide your face.
I need a comforter:
Turn to me with tender mercy.
Deliver me out of this mire.
Let me not sink.
Save me from this deep water:
I am in real trouble—
Danger.
Don’t let the deep swallow me up.
Let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.
Make haste, O God,
Tarry not;
You are my help
And deliverer.

3 I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.

4 More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?

John 15:18-25 (New Living Translation)

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.  Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.  They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me.  They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.  Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.  If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father.  This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.'”

_________________________

5O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

6Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
O Lord GOD of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.
7For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that dishonor has covered my face.
8I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother’s sons.

John 7:1-5 (New Living Translation)

After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death.  But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters,  and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles!  You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!”  For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.

_________________________

9For zeal for your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
10When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting,
it became my reproach.
11When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
12I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
and the drunkards make songs about me.

13But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
14Deliver me
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
15Let not the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the pit close its mouth over me.

16Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17 Hide not your face from your servant;
for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
18Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
ransom me because of my enemies!

19You know my reproach,
and my shame and my dishonor;
my foes are all known to you.
20 Reproaches have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
and for comforters, but I found none.
21They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

John 19:28-30 (New Living Translation)

Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.”  A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips.  When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.

_________________________

22 Let their own table before them become a snare;
and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.
23 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see,
and make their loins tremble continually.
24Pour out your indignation upon them,
and let your burning anger overtake them.
25 May their camp be a desolation;
let no one dwell in their tents.


Acts 1:15-20 (New Living Translation)

During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them.  “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David.  Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”

(Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines.  The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”)

Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’

_________________________

26For they persecute him whom you have struck down,
and they recount the pain of those you have wounded.
27 Add to them punishment upon punishment;
may they have no acquittal from you.
28Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
let them not be enrolled among the righteous.

29But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, set me on high!

30I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

__________________________

Music:

“Rise Up and Praise Him.”  This should raise your energy level!

_________________________

31This will please the LORD more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.
32When the humble see it they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33For the LORD hears the needy
and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

34Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and everything that moves in them.
35For God will save Zion
and build up the cities of Judah,
and people shall dwell there and possess it;
36 the offspring of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

The lovers of His Name shall settle down therein is written of His people find their home in their own land.  We are lovers of His Name.  Let us settle down in peace as a bird settles down in its nest, not wanting any other nest, not wondering why the wind blows our tree so fiercely sometimes, or why the sky is sometimes dark and the rain fall heavily.  All that comes—by the time it touches us—is His holy providence, His beneficent care.  It will only cause to shine forth more clearly the truth of His words of strong consolation.

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
high water.     https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-GPuV7MUpAes/TXbipMmtUxI/AAAAAAAAATI/km4MJXBNhbM/s1600/PSALM+69A.jpg
hate tattoo.    http://www.creativeclass.com/creative_class/_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/hate.jpg
Jesus’ brothers and sisters.    http://www.goodnews.ie/famjesus.gif
I thirst.     http://wheat4paradise.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/i-thirst2.jpg?w=500&h=329
Judas betrays Christ with a kiss.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_G2nGSlQHDlI/SYxv06a4qUI/AAAAAAAAAu0/s1Bz0NPBdoU/s400/Judas+Kiss.jpg
robin on nest.    http://ibc.lynxeds.com/files/pictures/Robin_on_nest.jpg

517.) Psalm 68

April 26, 2011

Psalm 68   (NRSV)

Praise and Thanksgiving

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm. A Song.
1 Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
let those who hate him flee before him.

_________________________

Music:

A lively song that fits not only our psalm today but also our Easter attitude!  Paul Wilbur and “Let God Arise.”

_________________________

2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
as wax melts before the fire,
let the wicked perish before God.
3 But let the righteous be joyful;
let them exult before God;
let them be jubilant with joy.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Psalm 68:3 — But let the righteous be glad, let them rejoice before God, yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.

In Pilgrim’s Progress the Interpreter showed Christian the fire burning against the wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it to quench it.  But when he went to the “backside” of the wall, “he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of the which he did also continually cast, but secretly, into the fire.”

There are times in most lives when it is hard to see how the fire is kept burning.  We see him who casts the water.  We do not see the Man with the vessel of oil in His hand.  And yet He is there all the time.  This “wall” which prevents us seeing what truly is, teaches us to walk by faith and not by sight.

But in His tender love our Lord does give us proof of His presence behind the wall.  We cannot see Him, but we can hear Him speak.  As a mother’s voice can reassure her child in the dark, so indeed can His voice reassure us even though we cannot see Him.

“It may be my imagination.”  The whisper is as a drop of that water that is perpetually cast on the fire of faith and love.  Let a question answer it for us.  “Can imagination stay the heart?  It may uplift it for a moment, but can it steady it, hold it in peace?  Can it strengthen it?”  No, it cannot, so let us trust and not be afraid.  It was our Lord and not another who spoke to us.

Let us “be delighted with joy” then, as the Septuagint translates “exceedingly rejoice.”  Let us not waste one hour in fear, in dullness, in despondency, for He is never nearer than when we do not see Him but yet stay our hearts on Him.

_________________________

4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds—
his name is the Lord—
be exultant before him.

5 Father of orphans and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
6 God gives the desolate a home to live in;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious live in a parched land.

7 O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
Selah
8 the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain
at the presence of God, the God of Sinai,
at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

Mount Sinai (traditional site pictured above) was a significant place in Israelite history.  Here Moses first heard God’s call upon his life, to go to the Pharaoh for the release of the people of Israel.  Here a short time later the twelve tribes gathered and received the law of the Lord.  With thick clouds and loud thunder on Mount Sinai, God seemed to be present with them.

_________________________

9 Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;
10 your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

11 The Lord gives the command;
great is the company of those who bore the tidings:
12   ‘The kings of the armies, they flee, they flee!’
The women at home divide the spoil,
13   though they stay among the sheepfolds—
the wings of a dove covered with silver,
its pinions with green gold.
14 When the Almighty scattered kings there,
snow fell on Zalmon.

The dove represents Israel: 

Psalm 74:19-20 (NIV)

Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
   do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.
Have regard for your covenant,
   because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.

_________________________

15 O mighty mountain, mountain of Bashan;
O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
16 Why do you look with envy, O many-peaked mountain,
at the mount that God desired for his abode,
where the Lord will reside for ever?

17 With mighty chariotry, twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands,
the Lord came from Sinai into the holy place.
18 You ascended the high mount,
leading captives in your train
and receiving gifts from people,
even from those who rebel against the Lord God’s abiding there.

Ephesians 4:7-13 (NIV)

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.  This is why it says:

   “When he ascended on high,
   he took many captives
   and gave gifts to his people.”

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?  He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)  So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

_________________________

19 Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation.
Selah
20 Our God is a God of salvation,
and to God, the Lord, belongs escape from death.

21 But God will shatter the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crown of those who walk in their guilty ways.
22 The Lord said,
‘I will bring them back from Bashan,
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,
23 so that you may bathe your feet in blood,
so that the tongues of your dogs may have their share from the foe.’

24 Your solemn processions are seen, O God,
the processions of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
25 the singers in front, the musicians last,
between them girls playing tambourines:
26 ‘Bless God in the great congregation,
the Lord, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!’
27 There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead,
the princes of Judah in a body,
the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali.

28 Summon your might, O God;
show your strength, O God, as you have done for us before.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings bear gifts to you.

Matthew 2:9-11 (Contemporary English Version)

The wise men listened to what the king said and then left. And the star they had seen in the east went on ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. They were thrilled and excited to see the star.

When the men went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshiped him. They took out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and gave them to him.

_________________________

30 Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds,
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples.
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute;
scatter the peoples who delight in war.
31 Let bronze be brought from Egypt;
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God.

32 Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;
sing praises to the Lord,
Selah
33 O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
34 Ascribe power to God,
whose majesty is over Israel;
and whose power is in the skies.

_________________________

Science lesson:

Let’s spend a couple minutes looking at this sky the Lord has made!

I am not a scientist, so I cannot say this information is true or not.  But these discussions show that God created something utterly fantastic when he created our universe!

_________________________

35 Awesome is God in his sanctuary,
the God of Israel;
he gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed be God!

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
yellow flowers.    http://inlinethumb33.webshots.com/22816/2606943390051563516S600x600Q85.jpg
from Pilgrim’s Progress.    http://womenwithfaith.org/bunyan/PilgrimImages/013.The.Work.of.Grace.jpg
Mount Sinai.    http://www.st-katherine.net/images/pgsMusa01.jpg
dove.   http://www.faqs.org/photo-dict/photofiles/list/346/698dove.jpg
spiritual gifts.     http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XTaIBeo9s_M/TWFs08863uI/AAAAAAAABfA/Aw3jcyd3KFg/s400/spiritual_gifts.gif
three wise men presenting their gifts to the Christ Child.    http://blog.siena.org/uploaded_images/Magi-persian-nativity-790282.jpg

516.) Mark 16

April 25, 2011

“Women Arriving at the Tomb” by contemporary Chinese artist He Qi

Mark 16 (New Living Translation)

The Resurrection

1 Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. 5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, 6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!

There are several examples in the Bible of people being resuscitated before this, such as the widow’s son in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Lazarus (John 11:38-44). Each of these was resuscitated from death, but none of them were resurrected.  Each of them was raised in the same body they died in, and raised from the dead to eventually die again.  Resurrection isn’t just living again; it is living again in a new body, based on our old body, perfectly suited for life in eternity.  Jesus was not the first one brought back from the dead, but He was the first one resurrected.

–David Guzik

Look, this is where they laid his body. 7 Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”

Easter Creed

This is the good news which we received,

in which we stand, and by which we are saved;

that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,

that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day;

and that He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve,

and to so many faithful witnesses.

We believe He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

He is our Lord and our God. Amen.

_________________________

8 The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.

The most reliable early manuscripts conclude the Gospel of Mark  at verse 8.

–footnote from my New Living Bible

To end the gospel on such a resounding note of failure is very upsetting from a modern perspective.  After observing Jesus’ continual struggles to make his disciples understand his teachings and seeing their ultimate failure, readers want so much for someone in the story to prove faithful to Jesus.  It is devastating to watch those who have already demonstrated more faithfulness than the Twelve fail as well! 

But from an ancient perspective the very point of the Gospel of Mark may rest with this painful ending.  Ancient writing was intended to do things, to make people act of believe or change their behavior, not just to entertain them with a suitably concluded literary experience.  Certainly the Gospel of Mark was not written simply to entertain its audience, for a Gospel that argues so ardently about the imminent coming of the end of the world has no time for mere aesthetic pleasure.  The expectations raised and then crushed by the end of the Gospel are intended to move the hearers of the Gospel to action.  If the women do not carry the message, is there anyone else who can?  Is there anyone else who has heard Jesus’ preaching, seen his healings, watched his crucifixion and burial, and listened to the wondrous announcement of the resurrection? 

Well, yes!  The audience of the Gospel has heard all of this.  At the end and indeed by means of the end itself, the audience of the Gospel of Mark, both women and men, are challenged to become themselves faithful disciples, carrying the message to the world, doing what some of characters in the Gospel have not . . .

The ending of Mark intends to arouse the emotions of its hearers and readers into faithful disciples and followers, for very little time remains until this present evil world is wiped away and God’s fruitful kingdom is established.

–from “Mark” by Mary Ann Tolbert, in The Women’s Bible Commentary

_________________________

(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before.  I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)

REMEMBERING OUR REDEMPTION

What would you say if someone were to ask you to identify the single most important event in the New Testament?  Like most of us you would probably respond that it was the death and resurrection of Christ.  But what would you say if someone were to ask the same question about the Old Testament?  How could you pick from all the possibilities?  The creation?  The flood?  The covenant with Abraham?  Entering the Promised Land?  Building the temple?  Though we might find the question perplexing, the answer would seem obvious to most Jewish people.  Their miraculous delivery from Egypt is the event mentioned over and over in the Old Testament–almost every book refers to it.  It is the one event they mention in nearly every worship service.

Whenever God wanted to emphasize why his people should obey him, he reminded them of how he had rescued them and forged them into his own people.  “I am the God who brought you up out of Egypt,” he kept repeating . . .

Similarly, as followers of Christ, we can continually remind ourselves of how Jesus, the Passover Lamb has redeemed us from death.  We can forgive because we have been forgiven.  We can serve, because Christ humbled himself for us.  We can love, because we have experienced the extravagant love of God in our own lives.  We have a new life and a new hope, because Jesus fulfilled the ancient feast of Passover.

(pp. 109-110)

_________________________

[Shorter Ending of Mark]

Then they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions. Afterward Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Amen.

“Upon a life I did not live,
upon a death I did not die;
another’s life, another’s death,
I stake my whole eternity.”

– Horatius Bonar

_________________________

[Longer Ending of Mark]

9 After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. 11 But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her. 12 Afterward he appeared in a different form to two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem into the country. 13 They rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them.

14 Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.

Take with you the joy of Easter to the home, and make that home bright with more unselfish love, more hearty service; take it into your work, and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; take it to your heart, and let that heart rise anew on Easter wings to a higher, a gladder, a fuller life; take it to the dear grave-side and say there the two words “Jesus lives!” and find in them the secret of calm expectation, the hope of eternal reunion.

–John Ellerton

_________________________

15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

19 When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 20 And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.

_________________________

Music:

Keith Green and that joyfully wonderful “Easter Song.”

_________________________

Oh, I do hate to see Mark end!  I have so enjoyed going through his gospel and seeing again Jesus serving the people around him without reservation, even to dying for them!  Have you heard something new from Mark?  Has the Holy Spirit been whispering into your ear as you have been going through these gospel chapters?  Please share your thoughts with our DWELLING reading community!

We will be going through some Psalms and Proverbs the rest of this week.  And then — back to the Old Testament and 1 Chronicles!  Deep breath!

DWELLING with you,

Rebecca

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
He Qi.    http://www.heqigallery.com/prints/image/Women%20Arriving%20at%20the%20Tomb.jpg
Maree.    http://www.marnimaree.com/easterlilyMomMom.jpg
The End.    http://hadassahsabo.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/the-end-3.jpg
nail-scarred hands.    http://www.wordjourney.com/images/nail-scarred-hands.jpg
empty tomb.    http://www.urbanchristiannews.com/ucn/empty_tomb23456.jpg

515.) Mark 15:21-47

April 22, 2011

“Crucifix” by Gizella Domotor, 1925 (Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest)

Mark 15:21-47 (New Living Translation)

The Crucifixion

21 A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)

“Simon from Cyrene and Christ” by Titian, 1565 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)

Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve:
To give and not count the cost;
To fight and not heed the wounds;
To toil and not seek for rest;
To labor and not ask for reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–a prayer of Ignatius Loyola

_________________________

22 And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 23 They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it. 24 Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 A sign was fastened to the cross, announcing the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.”

Signs were placed on crosses as a warning to others with wrong-doing in mind.  Since Christ was never convicted of a “crime,” his sign simply pointed to the truth, that he was God’s Son, the King of the Jews.  John’s gospel tells us the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek.

And Jesus is not “King of the Jews” only:

Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV)

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

_________________________

27Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.29 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. 30 Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

31 The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.

The Death of Jesus

“Golgotha” by Jean-Leon Gerome, 1867 (Musee d”Orsay, Paris)

33 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” 35 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 36 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”

37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

40 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. 41 They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Indifference

–G. A. Studdert-Kennedy
(a British Anglican priest and a chaplain in World War 1)

When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do, ‘
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary.

_________________________

The Burial of Jesus

42 This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) 44 Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. 45 The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. 46 Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body was laid.

_________________________

Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward
by John Donne

(This poem moves me every time I read it, and I have read it every Good Friday for more than thirty years.)

Let man’s soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th’ intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul’s, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg’d and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God’s partner here, and furnish’d thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom’d us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They’re present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look’st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang’st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.

_________________________

Music:

“Sing to Jesus”  by Fernando Ortega.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Domotor.     http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/59735/crucifix1925
Titian.    http://cache2.artprintimages.com/p/LRG/14/1453/VJSR000Z/art-print/titian-tiziano-vecelli-christ-and-simon-the-cyrenian.jpg
sign on the cross.    http://bibleencyclopedia.com/picturesjpeg/Sign_above_cross_1216-259.jpg
Gerome.    http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=202&size=large
cross with nail.     http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pOveGG_p-Cw/S4vQSq688pI/AAAAAAAAAb8/A83xmoeC5Fg/s400/Cross-with-Nail.jpg
drawing of Christ on the cross.    http://www.supercoloring.com/wp-content/main/2009_01/good-friday-6-coloring-page.gif

514.) Mark 15:1-20

April 21, 2011

Mark 15:1-20 (New Living Translation)

Jesus’ Trial before Pilate

1 Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

Why did the Jewish leaders take Jesus to Pilate at all?  First, they did not have the legal right to execute their own criminals because Rome revoked that right in A.D. 7.  At the time, the Jews regarded this loss as a national disaster because to them it was the final proof that they no longer had the basic right of self-government–to punish their own criminals–and it demonstrated that they were totally under the boot of Rome.  There were times when the Jews disregarded this prohibition of the Romans and executed those they considered criminals, such as at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:57-60).  Why didn’t they take things into their own hands regarding Jesus?  Because they knew multitudes had a favorable opinion of Jesus and if Pilate executed Him, they could distance themselves from the political fallout.

–David Guzik

_________________________

2 Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Tiberius, the Roman emperor A.D. 14-37.

The Jewish religious leaders carefully selected that accusation against Jesus to present to the governor.  If they had said to Pilate that Jesus claimed to be God, Pilate would not have cared, since the Romans worshiped many and various gods and they were believed to appear in human form on occasion.  But calling Jesus a king of any kind was a political statement, and the Romans were strict about that:  there was no king but Caesar. 

_________________________

3 Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, 4 and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” 5 But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.

6 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. 7 One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising. 8 The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual.

9 “Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. 10 (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.) 11 But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. 12 Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”

13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

14 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

15 So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them.

_________________________

from Peculiar Treasures:  A Biblical Who’s Who
by Frederick Buechner

BARABBAS

Pilate told the people that they could choose to spare the life of either a murderer named Barabbas or Jesus of Nazareth, and they chose Barabbas.  Given the same choice, Jesus, of course, would have chosen to spare Barabbas too.

To understand the reason in each case would be to understand much of what the New Testament means by saying that Jesus is the Savior, and much of what it means too by saying that, by and large, people are in bad need of being saved.

_________________________

He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

16 The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. 18 Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

1 Peter 1:18-19 (NIV)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

_________________________

Music:

Fernando Ortega sings “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.”

Lord, let me never, never outlive my love for thee.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jesus with a crown of thorns.    http://www.stowpres.net/Portals/2/Jesus.Crown.of.Thorns.jpg
Tiberius.    http://www.crystalinks.com/tiberius.jpg
I am the way . . .   http://www.squidoo.com/John-14-6
Christ beaten (from the movie The Passion of Christ).    http://filipinoscribbles.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/passion_scourge.jpg