2455.) Proverbs 20

September 28, 2018

Proverbs 20 (NIV)

 1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

“A man who drinks too much on occasion is still the same man as he was sober. An alcoholic, a real alcoholic, is not the same man at all. You can’t predict anything about him for sure except that he will be someone you never met before.” 

–Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

“Alcohol ruined me financially and morally, broke my heart and the hearts of too many others. Even though it did this to me and it almost killed me and I haven’t touched a drop of it in seventeen years, sometimes I wonder if I could get away with drinking some now. I totally subscribe to the notion that alcoholism is a mental illness because thinking like that is clearly insane.” 

–Craig Ferguson, American On Purpose

“If you keep on drinking rum, the world will soon be quit of a very dirty scoundrel!” 

–Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

2 A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion;
those who anger him forfeit their lives.

3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.

4 Sluggards do not plow in season;
so at harvest time they look but find nothing.

5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.

6 Many claim to have unfailing love,
but a faithful person who can find?

_________________________

Music:

HERE  Evie Tornquist Karlsson (I remember her from the 70’s and 80’s) sings about the one true “Unfailing Love.”

Unfailing love flows from his heart and heals my soul,
In spite of who I am,he loves and makes me whole.
I almost can’t believe its true,
Unfailing love and yet I know
He gave his life to give to me unfailing love.

If the highest mountains turn to ashes,
If the mighty rivers should run dry
Should sun and moon grow dim,
I still will trust in him,
He’s watching from above,
I’m resting in his love.

Unfailing love flows from his heart and heals my soul,
In spite of who I am,he loves and makes me whole.
I almost can’t believe its true,
Unfailing love and yet I know
He gave his life to give to me unfailing love.

_________________________

7 The righteous lead blameless lives;
blessed are their children after them.

8 When a king sits on his throne to judge,
he winnows out all evil with his eyes.

9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure;
I am clean and without sin”?

1 John 1:8-9 (NLT)

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

Luke 18:9-14  (NIV)

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

10 Differing weights and differing measures—
the LORD detests them both.

11 Even small children are known by their actions,
so is their conduct really pure and upright?

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see—
the LORD has made them both.

O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see

O be careful little ears what you hear
O be careful little ears what you hear
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little ears what you hear

13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor;
stay awake and you will have food to spare.

14 “It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer—
then goes off and boasts about the purchase.

15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance,
but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

O be careful little mouth what you say
O be careful little mouth what you say
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little mouth what you say

16 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.

17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet,
but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.

18 Plans are established by seeking advice;
so if you wage war, obtain guidance.

A word to the wise ain’t necessary — it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.
–attributed to many

When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality.  It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no.  You’re going to get it anyway.
–Erma Bombeck

She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it).
–Lewis Carroll

Anybody who thinks talk is cheap should get some legal advice.
–Franklin P. Jones

19 A gossip betrays a confidence;
so avoid anyone who talks too much.

20 If someone curses their father or mother,
their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.

21 An inheritance claimed too soon
will not be blessed at the end.

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.

Revenge is Satan’s way of destroying both the innocent and the offender. Once vengeance becomes the motivation, the wounded party can suddenly be swept up in rage and hatred. This poison spreads to everything the vengeful person touches. On earth, we can see that we will never find perfect and complete justice, no matter the “goodness” of the judicial system in place at the time. But God will not only bring justice, he will deliver us: deliver us from the hands of the oppressor and deliver us from the poison of our own hatred.

–Phil Ware

23 The LORD detests differing weights,
and dishonest scales do not please him.

O be careful little hands what you do
O be careful little hands what you do
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little hands what you do

24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD.
How then can anyone understand their own way?

O be careful little feet where you go
O be careful little feet where you go
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little feet where you go

25 It is a trap to dedicate something rashly
and only later to consider one’s vows.

26 A wise king winnows out the wicked;
he drives the threshing wheel over them.

27 The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD
that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;
through love his throne is made secure.

29 The glory of young men is their strength,
gray hair the splendor of the old.

30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil,
and beatings purge the inmost being.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Proverbs 20:1.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/proverbs-20-1-free-bible-verse-desktop-wallpapers.jpg
Proverbs 20:12.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/prov-20-121.jpg
unfailing love.    https://godslightcc.com/2016/07/28/unfailing-love/
lips of knowledge.   http://www.flickr.com/photos/tina2000tx/5897749745
advice.   http://www.rachelmesterline.com/astepahead/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/727441_69697149.jpg
scales.   http://oneyearbibleimages.com/justice_scales.gif
Proverbs 20:24.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/proverbs20-24.jpg
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2454.) Psalm 38

September 27, 2018

“Psalm 38” — oil on canvas by Elena Hopsu, 2003 (born in Russia but now living and working in Helsinki, Finland)

Psalm 38 (NASB)

People unfamiliar with Scripture generally expect the Bible to be filled with upbeat aphorisms, spooned over with positive thinking, a sort of imbecilic simpleness disconnected from the rigors of true trouble; they don’t often expect Scripture to be filled with frank talk about deep personal distress over sickness and sin, and its impact on a person’s relationship with the LORD. Sure there’s some stuff in the Bible about Jesus’ suffering – people unfamiliar with Scripture remember hearing about that from when that Mel Gibson movie came out years ago – and there’s that stuff about Job – the guy who needed so much patience in his trouble – but that’s about it, right? Psalm 38 is no baby blister or minor cut in need of some Polysporin and a Band-Aid. Psalm 38 is deadly serious.

–Ted Giese

It is often only in desperation that we come to God.

–Michael Gunn (and all following in blue)

Psalm 38 shows us how 4 prayers and three complaints can be worked together to form a proper human response to pain and to God. There are too many people who either want to blame God and be bitter, or gloss over the elephant in the room (Human Pain) and try to put on a “Religious Front.” Neither method will help us with our pain, or move us toward God.

Prayer #1:

1O LORD, rebuke me not in Your wrath,
And chasten me not in Your burning anger.

Show me your mercy!

Complaint #1:

2For Your arrows have sunk deep into me,
And Your hand has pressed down on me.
3There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation;
There is no health in my bones because of my sin.
4For my iniquities are gone over my head;
As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.

 

5My wounds grow foul and fester
Because of my folly.
6I am bent over and greatly bowed down;
I go mourning all day long.
7For my loins are filled with burning,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.
8I am benumbed and badly crushed;
I groan because of the agitation of my heart.

No matter why the author is suffering, he is aware of his sin, since suffering and death is a judgment for sin, whether that judgment is direct or not. As C.S. Lewis writes, “Pain is a megaphone to a deaf world.” God’s discipline can be painful, but His intentions are always to turn you from disaster.

Prayer #2:

9Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.

We come to the Lord not so much to inform him of our needs, as to receive help and comfort.

Complaint #2:

10My heart throbs, my strength fails me;
And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me.
11My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague;
And my kinsmen stand afar off.
12Those who seek my life lay snares for me;
And those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction,
And they devise treachery all day long.

13But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
And I am like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14Yes, I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth are no arguments.

In addition to the physical pain, the psalmist admits to the pain of loneliness and rejection.

Prayer #3:

15For I hope in You, O LORD;
You will answer, O Lord my God.

2 Timothy 1:12 (NLT)

I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.

The psalmist knows that the only answer, the only help, is from the Lord. To flee from him is to abandon all hope of help.

Complaint #3:

16For I said, “May they not rejoice over me,
Who, when my foot slips, would magnify themselves against me.”

17For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.
18For I confess my iniquity;
I am full of anxiety because of my sin.
19But my enemies are vigorous and strong,
And many are those who hate me wrongfully.
20And those who repay evil for good,
They oppose me, because I follow what is good.

Add it all up and the writer confesses to a failing faith. He is overwhelmed by his troubles.

Prayer #4:

21Do not forsake me, O LORD;
O my God, do not be far from me!
22Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

And God has helped! He done exactly what he promised by the death of Jesus on the cross and the glory of his resurrection!

_________________________

Music:

This psalm shows the writer experiencing very trying times, calling out for healing, protection, and mercy. During some of the hardest times in my life, things have seemed so overwhelming that I cannot breathe; it is hard for me even to get air in and out. At such times, I have found the simple repetition of the phrases from this old song help me. “My life . . . my strength . . . my hope . . . is in you, Lord.”  And indeed, I have good reason find it so:   Job 12:10 says, “For the life of every human being is in his hand, and the breath of every human being.”  HERE  is “My Life Is in You.”

May God bless you today with healing, protection, mercy, strength, hope, and easy breathing.

_________________________

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Images courtesy of:
Hopsu.   http://www.elenahopsu.com/images/psalmi_38.jpg
sack of guilt.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/guilt.jpg
God is faithful.    https://whitmantoland.com/2017/05/09/god-is-faithful/

2453.) Psalm 21

September 26, 2018

Psalm 21 (ESV)

The King Rejoices in the LORD’s Strength

Jesus is God’s king, as Revelation 19:16  makes clear — KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. So this psalm can be read as about Jesus.

1O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices,
and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
2You have given him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
Selah

Verse 2 is talking about prayer. We remember how Jesus prayed. Up early and out away from the crowds, he spent long hours with the Father. At Gethsemane, knowing the time has come for him to be arrested and killed, he prays. Even on the cross, he cries out for forgiveness for those who are crucifying him, for salvation for one who is beside him.

Hebrews 5:7 (NIV)

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

3For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
length of days forever and ever.
5His glory is great through your salvation;
splendor and majesty you bestow on him.

6For you make him most blessed forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.

“Now may He that bore the crown of thorns bring us to his bliss.”

–from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a fourteenth century Arthurian romance

Hebrews 12:1-2  (NIV)

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

7For the king trusts in the LORD,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

8Your hand will find out all your enemies;
your right hand will find out those who hate you.
9You will make them as a blazing oven
when you appear.
The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
and fire will consume them.
10You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
and their offspring from among the children of man.
11Though they plan evil against you,
though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12For you will put them to flight;
you will aim at their faces with your bows.

13Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!
We will sing and praise your power.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “In your strength, the king will rejoice,” a musical presentation of Psalm 21. Composer Karl Kohlhase is a contempoary Christian musician and this song has a distinctly Hebraic flair.

And if you like organ music,  HERE  is a beautiful improvisation from Jacob van der Perk (born 1947) based on Psalm 21. Once when asked what the purpose of music is, he replied, “Music must be made to God’s honor. That is my goal. By the way, the whole Bible speaks like that. They praised God and that was accompanied by music.”

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 21:13 mountains.    http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps21-13v.jpg
Romans 12:12.   https://twitter.com/p4cm/status/419193311396524032
Psalm 21:6.   https://picturescriptures.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/p5100066.jpg
Psalm 21:13 bird.   https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Ps%2021.13

2452.) Acts 18:1-23

September 25, 2018

This NASA map clearly shows Corinth’s land bridge and double harbors.

Acts 18 (New Living Translation)

Paul Meets Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth

1 Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.

Corinth! A city known for travel and trade, for indulgences of every kind, for widespread immorality. It possessed two large harbors, so many commercial goods were unloaded here and shipped out to places throughout the Roman Empire. The Temple of Venus was located here, with a thousand temple prostitutes available there for the “worshipers.” A “Corinthian girl” was code for a prostitute. Et cetera. An ancient “Sin City.”

2 There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome (some scholars place the deportation at about AD 49). 3 Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.

Here we have a vivid light on the kind of life that Paul lived. He was a rabbi and according to Jewish practice every rabbi must have a trade. He must take no money for preaching and teaching and must make his own living. The Jew glorified work. “Love work,” they said. “He who does not teach his son a trade teaches him robbery.” Following a respectable trade meant that rabbis never became detached scholars and always knew what the life of the working-man was like.

–William Barclay

Even today, if a missionary has an outside job to support himself or herself on the mission field, it is called tentmaking.

4 Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. 5 And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia,

They came bringing good news to Paul from Thessalonica:

1 Thessalonians 3:6-10 (NLT)

But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith.  It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord.

How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence.  Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith.

Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.”

Paul rejects their rejection! How much better it would be for us if we followed Paul’s example in such cases, to turn our faces and go forward to the next thing God directs, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or angry at those who rejected us. My mother would call such behavior of bearing no grudges “keeping short accounts.” 

7 Then he left and went to the home of Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God and lived next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized.

9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! 10 For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” 11 So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God.

Like Paul, we can find our courage to go forward in the strengthening presence of the Lord.

_________________________

Music:

How often we, like Paul, need an encouraging word from the Lord!  Consider the words of this song addressed directly to YOU today!  HERE  is Don Moen’s “Be Strong and Take Courage.”

_________________________

12 But when Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment. 13 They accused Paul of “persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.”

14 But just as Paul started to make his defense, Gallio turned to Paul’s accusers and said, “Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case. 15 But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters.” 16 And he threw them out of the courtroom.

17 The crowd then grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there in the courtroom. But Gallio paid no attention.

By refusing to get involved in strictly religious matters, Gallio does right — and effectively gives legal protection to Christianity. This also speaks to the kind of life Paul had led, in that Gallio knew there was no wrong-doing to be found.

Paul Returns to Antioch of Syria

18 Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow.

The vow was probably the vow of a Nazirite (Numbers 6). Usually, the vow of a Nazirite was taken for a certain period of time, and when completed, the hair (which had been allowed to freely grow) was cut off and offered to the Lord at a special ceremony at the temple in Jerusalem.

Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him.

19 They stopped first at the port of Ephesus, where Paul left the others behind. While he was there, he went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews. 20 They asked him to stay longer, but he declined. 21 As he left, however, he said, “I will come back later, God willing.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 The next stop was at the port of Caesarea. From there he went up and visited the church at Jerusalem and then went back to Antioch.

23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went back through Galatia and Phrygia, visiting and strengthening all the believers.

And thus ends Paul’s second missionary journey.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
NASA map of Corinth.    http://www.ebibleteacher.com/imagehtml/images/800×600/Corinth%20Athens%20800.JPG
tentmakers.    http://nornirn.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/priscilla_aquila.gif
not my problem.   https://www.goodvibeuniversity.com/public/Its_Not_My_Problem.cfm

2451.) Acts 17:16-33

September 24, 2018

The Parthenon, on the Acropolis, was already over 400 years old when Paul arrived in Athens. This view is from the Areopagus hill.

Acts 17:16-33 (NLT)

13 But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble. 14 The believers acted at once, sending Paul on to the coast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. 15 Those escorting Paul went with him all the way to Athens; then they returned to Berea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to hurry and join him.

Paul Preaches in Athens

The Areopagus sermon refers to a sermon delivered by Apostle Paul in Athens, at the Areopagus, and recounted in Acts 17:16-34. The Areopagus sermon is the most dramatic and fullest reported speech of the missionary career of Saint Paul.

–Wikipedia

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city.

I have read that ancient writers say there were some 30,000 gods in Athens!

17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.

At the time of Paul’s visit to Athens, that city was no longer important as a political seat; Corinth was the commercial and political center of Greece under the Roman Caesars. But Athens was still the university center of the world. It was the heir of the great philosophers, the city of Pericles and Demosthenes, of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, and Euripides — these men who established patterns of thought that have affected human learning for centuries. Almost all philosophies follow, in some degree, the teachings of these men. But Athens was long past its zenith when Paul visited it. It was now four hundred years after the golden age of Greece, and, though Athens was still a center of art, beauty, culture, and knowledge, the city had lost all political importance.

–Ray Stedman

18 He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”

To over-simplify:  Epicureans, believing in chance and indifferent to the gods, lived for pleasure (“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die”), which was best produced by virtue which brought pleasure. Stoics, on the other hand, were pantheists who fostered an indifference to pain and pleasure (“Grin and bear it”), since each came from the gods. Both philosophies were popular in the Roman era. Today we might call them existentialists and fatalists.

19 Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. 20 “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” 21 (It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)

Wanting to hear and talk about the newest thing. Oh, how modern is that!

22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows:

“St. Paul Preaching in Athens,” by Raphael, 1515 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

“Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

Paul starts not with an overview of Hebrew history, as he often did in Jewish synagogues. Instead, he begins with God as Creator, distinct from His creation, and mindful of the people He had created. This is a very different philosophy from the Epicureans, who believed the gods had little to do with people, and from the Stoics, who saw gods in everything.

27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.

This altar is located on Palatine Hill, Rome, where once stood the palaces of the Caesars. It dates from about 100 B.C. and has the inscription, ´To the unknown God.´

First Paul uses “the unknown god” as a bridge to his audience. Then he takes a similarly sympathetic approach by quoting from Aratus, a Stoic poet:

Zeus fills the streets, the marts,
Zeus fills the seas, the shores, the rivers!
Everywhere our need is Zeus!
We also are his offspring!

30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

The sermon ends with God as the main actor:  God overlooks, commands, sets the day, judges the world, and provides proof through the resurrection.

–Mikeal C. Parsons 

32 When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.”

Greeks believed in the immortality of the soul. But they believed the body was material and inherently evil; the idea of a glorified, resurrected body made no sense to them.

33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Prayer

Our Father, we pray for our own age, our own generation, our own world. We know how men have pursued the emptiness of pagan philosophies in our day and how men are trying to satisfy the emptiness within with some lesser concept than you. They can never do so and are therefore rendered restless and unhappy, never finding what they are looking for. Others are resistant to this message, Lord, preening themselves in their intellectual pride, trying to find their own way by the power of reason. Father, we pray that everywhere this great message may have its effect as it did on Athens, and that our age, our darkened society will be set free from its bondage to materialism and made to be what you intended us to be:  warm, whole, balanced, happy, excited, and alive as Jesus Christ intends men and women to be today. We ask it in his name, Amen.

–Ray Stedman

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is an old Greek hymn! Evidence suggests that the Greek text of “Let All Mortal Flesh” may date back to the fourth century.

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Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Acropolis.    https://www.wefindyougo.com/best-tourist-places-in-greece/
Raphael.    http://www.abcgallery.com/R/raphael/raphael52.html
altar to an unknown god.     http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_hKPbvbwYcqE/SBOXaZB-2uI/AAAAAAAABTQ/ki

2450.) Proverbs 19

September 21, 2018

Proverbs 19 (NIV)

 1 Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse.

2 Desire without knowledge is not good—
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
yet their heart rages against the LORD.

“Fools will try to blame God when they ruin their lives . . . The fool is not willing to accept failure as his own. Of course, to blame God is also folly.”

–Allen P. Ross

4 Wealth attracts many friends,
but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.

5 A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will not go free.

6 Many curry favor with a ruler,
and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.

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Music:

Scripture tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).  So let us thank the Lord for all his good gifts to us!  HERE  is Don Moen and “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.”

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7 The poor are shunned by all their relatives—
how much more do their friends avoid them!
Though the poor pursue them with pleading,
they are nowhere to be found.

8 The one who gets wisdom loves life;
the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” 

–Isaac Asimov

“Angry people are not always wise.” 

–Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.

–Michel de Montaigne

9 A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will perish.

10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury—
how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!

11 A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

Once I was visiting with my friend RK and relating an incident which had caused friction and ill will between a mutual friend, “Jack,” and another person. Jack was quite hurt and discouraged by what had happened, and frankly, the other person was clearly at fault. RK said, “I know a way to prevent such things from ever happening.” I was astonished at his remark — what inside information did he have? 

Then RK said, “It is really quite simple. Choose NOT to be offended.”

Choose NOT to be offended. It has become a motto for me! When people say the wrong thing, whether unthinkingly or deliberately, I say to myself, “If they are unaware, oh well, it is not my problem. If they are trying to hurt me, I will sweetly deny them that satisfaction. I choose NOT to be offended.” And I let it go. If someone does something which makes my life more difficult and I find myself getting knotted up about it, I remind myself, “Life is full of ups and downs. Choose NOT to be offended and just get on with it.” And I stop the pity party.

1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” In my youth I thought it meant that my love covered other people’s sins, particularly the people I liked and could be generous and forgiving towards. Now I know it is God’s love that covers all our sins. Only with Christ’s forgiveness can I live at all! With that clearly in mind, then, I have found it easier and easier to take my friend’s advice and choose NOT to be offended.

12 A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion,
but his favor is like dew on the grass.

13 A foolish child is a father’s ruin,
and a quarrelsome wife is like
the constant dripping of a leaky roof.

‘Three things make a house intolerable: tak (the leaking through of rain), nak (a wife’s nagging) and bak (bugs).” 

–an Arab proverb, from Derek Kidner

14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
but a prudent wife is from the LORD.


15 Laziness brings on deep sleep,
and the shiftless go hungry.

16 Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life,
but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.

17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:17 (KJV)

He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

We are to give to the poor out of pity. Not to be seen and applauded, much less to get influence over them; but out of pure sympathy and compassion we must give them help. We must not expect to get anything back from the poor, not even gratitude; but we should regard what we have done as a loan to the Lord. He undertakes the obligation, and, if we look to him in the matter, we must not look to the second party. What an honor the Lord bestows upon us when he condescends to borrow of us! That merchant is greatly favored who has the Lord on his books. It would seem a pity to have such a name down for a paltry pittance; let us make it a heavy amount. The next needy man that comes this way, let us help him.

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.

“It is far better that the child should cry under healthy correction than that parents should later cry under the bitter fruit to themselves and their children of neglected discipline.”

–Charles Bridges

19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again.

“An ungovernable temper will repeatedly land its owner in fresh trouble.”

–Derek Kidner

20 Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

James 4:13-15  (NLT)

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”

22 What a person desires is unfailing love;
better to be poor than a liar.

23 The fear of the LORD leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

24 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
he will not even bring it back to his mouth!

Too lazy to eat!

25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.

26 Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother
is a child who brings shame and disgrace.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

It was once said that the brain stops learning at a certain age, but research has since shown the brain constantly shapes and changes throughout our lives, which means we can continue learning at any age. This is what is known as “brain plasticity.” Exercising our brain plasticity means we are participating in activities that involve the entire body that directly relates to learning.

28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.

29 Penalties are prepared for mockers,
and beatings for the backs of fools.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Proverbs 19:22.   https://dailyverses.net/2016/6/7
Difficult to offend.  http://spiritsassandspunk.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/007.jpg
Proverbs 19:14.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/proverbs-19_14.jpg
approved.   http://stevenshomler.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/approved.png
Baby asleep in high chair.    http://www.mnn.com/sites/default/files/BabySleepEat_main_0307.jpg
brain.   http://www.neurofeedbackstudio.com/2014/04/11/what-is-brain-plasticity/

2449.) 1 Thessalonians 5

September 20, 2018

1 Thessalonians 5 (ESV)

No man knows when God’s call will come for him and there are certain things that cannot be left until the last moment. It is too late to prepare for an examination when the examination paper is before you. It is too late to make the house secure when the storm has burst. When Queen Mary of Orange was dying, her chaplain wished to read to her. She answered, “I have not left this matter till this hour.” It was similar with an old Scotsman to whom someone offered comforting sayings near the end. The old man’s reply was, “Ah thatched ma hoose when the weather was warm.” If a call comes suddenly, it need not find us unprepared. The man who has lived all his life with Christ is never unprepared to enter his nearer presence.

–William Barclay

The Day of the Lord

In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 the apostle Paul is discussing the theological doctrine of eschatology, the doctrine of last things. This all centers around the phrase, “The day of the Lord,” found in verse 2. So we must have an understanding of the biblical meaning of the phrase, “the day of the Lord.” Here we get into deep and dearly held beliefs about the end times — churches have split over these things! — none of which I am going to address in this blog. All I will say to you, readers, is that I think “the day of the Lord” is a period of time in which many major events are going to take place — the second coming of Christ, for example, and the battle of Armageddon, the final defeat of Satan, the judgment at the great white throne, the establishing of a new heaven and new earth. Paul tells us to be alert, to be prepared, and to be comforted, for the Lord’s promise is sure!

1Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

Romans 14:8 (NIV)

If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

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Music:

From Gabriel Faure’s RequiemHERE  is “In Paradisum.”  Composed in 1888, and sung here by La Chapelle Royale under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.
May angels lead you into paradise; upon your arrival, may the martyrs receive you and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem. May the ranks of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, the poor man, may you have eternal rest.

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11Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Final Instructions and Benediction

12We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.  Be at peace among yourselves.

14And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

15See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This verse gives us three marks of a genuine Church.

(i) It is a happy Church. There is in it that atmosphere of joy which makes its members feel that they are bathed in sunshine. True Christianity is an exhilarating and not a depressing thing.

(ii) It is a praying Church. Maybe our Church’s prayers would be more effective if we remembered that “they pray best together who also pray alone.”

(iii) It is a thankful Church. There is always something for which to give thanks; even on the darkest day there are blessings to count. 

–William Barclay

19 Do not quench the Spirit.

Scripture also tells us not to resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:21),
   not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30),
      and not to insult the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 10:29).

20Do not despise prophecies, 21but test everything; hold fast what is good.

22Abstain from every form of evil.

23Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

25 Brothers, pray for us.

There is a place where thou canst touch the eyes
Of blinded men to instant, perfect sight;
There is a place where thou canst say, “Arise”
To dying captives, bound in chains of night;
There is a place where thou canst reach the store
Of hoarded gold and free it for the Lord;
There is a place–upon some distant shore–
Where thou canst send the worker and the Word.
Where is that secret place–dost thou ask, “Where?”
O soul, it is the secret place of prayer!

26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.

27I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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

Images courtesy of:
Like a thief in the night.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/likeathiefinthenight_t_nv.jpg
heavenly city.   https://www.zeteo316.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/HandNJ.jpg
be joyful always . . .   http://api.ning.com/files/LoXmgyY-lGyXpMbRKXbjEmF1bwfKafF1lWQtaxiUaMKG2vs2PLRIWBht3oz08ctp-L7XqRJvqNsTyZ1JpwVt91zR*UBlB70g/1Thessalonians5_18.jpg
pray.     http://alittlebitdifferent.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/pray.jpg