Monday, June 27, 2011

Wisdom 19

Last chapter of Wisdom!


But as to the wicked, even to the end there came upon them wrath without mercy. For he knew before also what they would do: For when they had given them leave to depart and had sent them away with great care, they repented and pursued after them. 

For whilst they were yet mourning, and lamenting at the graves of the dead, they took up another foolish device: and pursued them as fugitives whom they had pressed to be gone: For a necessity, of which they were worthy, brought them to this end: and they lost the remembrance of those things which had happened, that their punishment might fill up what was wanting to their torments: And that thy people might wonderfully pass through, but they might find a new death. For every creature, according to its kind was fashioned again as from the beginning, obeying thy commandments, that thy children might be kept without hurt. 

For a cloud overshadowed their camps and where water was before, dry land appeared, and in the Red Sea a way without hindrance, and out of the great deep a springing field: Through which all the nation passed which was protected with thy hand, seeing thy miracles and wonders. For they fed on their food like horses, and they skipped like lambs, praising thee, O Lord, who hadst delivered them. For they were yet mindful of those things which had been done in the time of their sojourning, how the ground brought forth flies instead of cattle, and how the river cast up a multitude of frogs instead of fishes. 

And at length they saw a new generation of birds, when being led by their appetite, they asked for delicate meats. For to satisfy their desire, the quail came up to them from the sea: and punishments came upon the sinners, not without foregoing signs by the force of thunders: for they suffered justly according to their own wickedness. For they exercised a more detestable inhospitality than any: others indeed received not strangers unknown to them, but these brought their guests into bondage that had deserved well of them. 

And not only so, but in another respect also they were worse: for the others against their will received the strangers. But these grievously afflicted them whom they had received with joy, and who lived under the same laws. But they were struck with blindness: as those others were at the doors of the just man, when they were covered with sudden darkness, and every one sought the passage of his own door. For while the elements are changed in themselves, as in an instrument the sound of the quality is changed, yet all keep their sound: which may clearly be perceived by the very sight. 

For the things of the land were turned into things of the water: and the things that before swam in the water passed upon the land. The fire had power in water above its own virtue, and the water forgot its quenching nature. On the other side, the flames wasted not the flesh of corruptible animals walking therein, neither did they melt that good food, which was apt to melt as ice. For in all things thou didst magnify thy people, O Lord, and didst honour them, and didst not despise them, but didst assist them at all times, and in every place.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wisdom 18

But thy saints had a very great light, and they heard their voice indeed, but did not see their shape. And because they also did not suffer the same things, they glorified thee: And they that before had been wronged, gave thanks, because they were not hurt now: and asked this gift, that there might be a difference. 

Therefore they received a burning pillar of fire for a guide of the way which they knew not, and thou gavest them a harmless sun of a good entertainment. The others indeed were worthy to be deprived of light, and imprisoned in darkness, who kept thy children shut up, by whom the pure light of the law was to be given to the world. 

Below it discusses how the Egyptians wanted to kill the male babies of the Israelites, and in response, they lost their own firstborn after ignoring all the other signs of disaster brought by God at their refusal of Moses.

And whereas they thought to kill the babes of the just: one child being cast forth, and saved to reprove them, thou tookest away a multitude of their children, and destroyedst them altogether in a mighty water. For that night was known before by our fathers, that assuredly knowing what oaths they had trusted to, they might be of better courage. So thy people received the salvation of the just, and destruction of the unjust. 

For as thou didst punish the adversaries so thou didst also encourage and glorify us. For the just children of good men were offering sacrifice secretly, and they unanimously ordered a law of justice: that the just should receive both good and evil alike, singing now the praises of the fathers. But on the other side there sounded an ill according cry of the enemies, and a lamentable mourning was heard for the children that were bewailed.

And the servant suffered the same punishment as the master, and a common man suffered in like manner as the king. So all alike had innumerable dead, with one kind of death. Neither were the living sufficient to bury them: for in one moment the noblest offspring of them was destroyed. For whereas they would not believe any thing before by reason of the enchantments, then first upon the destruction of the firstborn, they acknowledged the people to be of God. 

For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thy Almighty word leaped down from heaven from thy royal throne, as a fierce conqueror into the midst of the land of destruction, With a sharp sword carrying thy unfeigned commandment, and he stood and filled all things with death, and standing on the earth, reached even to heaven. Then suddenly visions of evil dreams troubled them, and fears unlooked for came upon them. And one thrown here, another there, half dead, shewed the cause of his death. 

For the visions that troubled them foreshewed these things, lest they should perish, and not know why they suffered these evils. But the just also were afterwards touched by an assault of death, and there was a disturbance of the multitude in the wilderness: but thy wrath did not long continue; For a blameless man made haste to pry for the people, bringing forth the shield of his ministry, prayer, and by incense making supplication, withstood the wrath, and put an end to the calamity, shewing that he was thy servant. 

And he overcame the disturbance, not by strength of body nor with force of arms, but with a word he subdued him that punished them, alleging the oath and covenant made with the fathers. For when they were now fallen down dead by heaps one upon another, he stood between and stayed the assault, and cut off the way to the living. 

For in the priestly robe which he wore, was the whole world: and in the four rows of the stones, the glory of the fathers was graven, and thy majesty was written upon the diadem of his head. And to these the destroyer gave place, and was afraid of them: for the proof only of wrath was enough.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wisdom 17

For thy judgments, O Lord, are great, and thy words cannot be expressed: therefore undisciplined souls have erred. For while the wicked thought to be able to have dominion over the holy nation, they themselves being fettered with the bonds of darkness, and a long night, shut up in their houses, lay there exiled from the eternal providence. And while they thought to lie hid in their obscure sins, they were scattered under a dark veil of forgetfullness, being horribly afraid, and troubled with exceeding great astonishment. 

For neither did the den that held them, keep them from fear: for noises coming down troubled them, and sad visions appearing to them, affrighted them. And no power of fire could give them light, neither could the bright flames of the stars enlighten that horrible night. But there appeared to them a sudden fire, very dreadful: and being struck with the fear of that face, which was not seen, they thought the things which they saw to be worse: And the delusions of their magic art were put down, and their boasting of wisdom was reproachfully rebuked. 

For they who promised to drive away fears and troubles from a sick soul, were sick themselves of a fear worthy to be laughed at. For though no terrible thing disturbed them: yet being scared with the passing by of beasts, and hissing of serpents, they died for fear and denying that they saw the air, which could by no means be avoided. For whereas wickedness is fearful, it beareth witness of its condemnation: for a troubled conscience always forecasteth grievous things. 

For fear is nothing else but a yielding up of the succours from thought. And while there is less expectation from within, the greater doth it count the ignorance of that cause which bringeth the torment. But they that during that night, in which nothing could be done, and which came upon them from the lowest and deepest hell, slept the same sleep, Were sometimes molested with the fear of monsters, sometimes fainted away, their soul failing them: for a sudden and unlooked for fear was come upon them. Moreover, if any of them had fallen down, he was kept shut up in prison without irons. 

For if any one were a husbandman, or a shepherd, or a labourer in the field, and was suddenly overtaken, he endured a necessity from which he could not fly. For they were all bound together with one chain of darkness. Whether it were a whistling wind, or the melodious voice of birds, among the spreading branches of trees, or a fall of water running down with violence, Or the mighty noise of stones tumbling down, or the running that could not be seen of beasts playing together, or the roaring voice

of wild beasts, or a rebounding echo from the highest mountains: these things made them to swoon for fear. For the whole world was enlightened, with a clear light, and none were hindered in their labours. But over them only was spread a heavy night, an image of that darkness which was to come upon them. But they were to themselves more grievous than the darkness.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wisdom 16

For these things, and by the like things to these, they were worthily punished, and were destroyed by a multitude of beasts. Instead of which punishment, dealiug well with thy people, thou gavest them their desire of delicious food, of a new taste, preparing for them quails for their meat: To the end, that they indeed desiring food, by means of those things that were shewn and sent among them, might loath even that which was necessary to satisfy their desire. 

But these, after suffering want for a short time, tasted a new meat. For it was requisite that inevitable destruction should come upon them that exercised tyranny: but to these it should only be shewn how their enemies were destroyed. For when the fierce rage of beasts came upon these, they were destroyed by the bitings of crooked serpents. But thy wrath endured not for ever, but they were troubled for a short time for their correction, having a sign of salvation, to put them in remembrance of the commandment of thy law. For he that turned to it, was not healed by that which he saw, but by thee, the Saviour of all. 

This part references the serpent Moses held up in the wilderness.  The people had to look at it to be saved from the venomous snakes troubling them.  
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."
(Joh 3:14-15)
And in this thou didst shew to our enemies, that thou art he who deliverest from all evil. For the bitings of locusts, and of flies, killed them, and there was found no remedy for their life: because they were worthy to be destroyed by such things. But not even the teeth of venomous serpents overcame thy children: for thy mercy came and healed them. For they were examined for the remembrance of thy words, and were quickly healed, lest falling into deep forgetfulness, they might not be able to use thy help. For it was neither herb, nor mollifying plaster, that healed them, but thy word, O Lord, which healeth all things. 

 For it is thou, O Lord, that hast power of life and death, and leadest down to the gates of death, and bringest back again: A man indeed killeth through malice, and when the spirit is gone forth, it shall not return, neither shall he call back the soul that is received: But it is impossible to escape thy hand: For the wicked that denied to know thee, were scourged by the strength of thy arm, being persecuted by strange waters, and hail, and rain, and consumed by fire. 

And which was wonderful, in water, which extinguisheth all things, the fire had more force: for the world fighteth for the just. For at one time the fire was mitigated, that the beasts which were sent against the wicked might not be burnt, but that they might see, and perceive that they were persecuted by the judgment of God. And at another time the fire, above its own power, burnt in the midst of water, to destroy the fruits of a wicked land. 

Below it talks about the manna in the wilderness, bread from heaven, the precursor to the Eucharist.

Instead of which things, thou didst feed thy people with the food of angels, and gavest them bread from heaven, prepared without labour; having in it all that is delicious, and the sweetness of every taste. For thy sustenance shewed thy sweetness to thy children, and serving every man's will, it was turned to what every man liked. But snow and ice endured the force of fire, and melted not: that they might know that the fire, burning in the hail, and flashing in the rain, destroyed the fruits of the enemies. 

But this same again, that the just might be nourished, did even forget its own strength. For the creature serving thee, the Creator, is made fierce against the unjust for their punishment: and abateth its strength for the benefit of them that trust in thee. Therefore even then it was transformed into all things, and was obedient to thy grace, that nourisheth all, according to the will of them that desired it of thee: That thy children, O Lord, whom thou lovedst, might know that it is not the growing of fruits that nourisheth men, but thy word preserveth them that believe in thee. 

For that which could not be destroyed by fire, being warmed with a little sunbeam, presently melted away: That it might be known to all, that we ought to prevent the sun to bless thee, and adore thee at the dawning of the light. For the hope of the unthankful shall melt away as the winter's ice, and shall run off as unprofitable water.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Proverbs 21

Pro 21:21  He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
Pro 21:22  A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.
Pro 21:23  Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. 

This fits in nicely with the verses from the other day about the danger of our tongues!

Pro 21:24  Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.
Pro 21:25  The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.
Pro 21:26  He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
Pro 21:27  The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
Pro 21:28  A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.
Pro 21:29  A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.
Pro 21:30  There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.
Pro 21:31  The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.

Do what we will to prepare, the results are in the hand of God.  This isn't advocating against preparation, but for the understanding that God is Lord of all things.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wisdom 15

But thou, our God, art gracious and true, patient, and ordering all things in mercy. For if we sin, we are thine, knowing thy greatness: and if we sin not, we know that we are counted with thee. For to know thee is perfect justice: and to know thy justice, and thy power, is the root of immortality. 

For the invention of mischievous men hath not deceived us, nor the shadow of a picture, a fruitless labour, a graven figure with divers colours, The sight whereof enticeth the fool to lust after it, and he loveth the lifeless figure of a dead image. The lovers of evil things deserve to have no better things to trust in, both they that make them, and they that love them, and they that worship them. 

The potter also tempering soft earth, with labour fashioneth every vessel for our service, and of the same clay he maketh both vessels that are for clean uses, and likewise such as serve to the contrary: but what is the use of these vessels, the potter is the judge. And of the same clay by a vain labour he maketh a god: he who a little before was made of earth himself, and a little after returneth to the same out of which he was taken, when his life, which was lent him, shall be called for again.

But his care is, not that he shall labour, nor that his life is short, but he striveth with the goldsmiths and silversmiths: and he endeavoureth to do like the workers in brass, and counteth it a glory to make vain things. For his heart is ashes, and his hope vain earth and his life more base than clay: Forasmuch as he knew not his maker, and him that inspired into him the soul that worketh, and that breathed into him a living spirit. 

Yea, and they have counted our life a pastime and the business of life to be gain, and that we must be getting every way, even out of evil. For that man knoweth that he offendeth above all others, who of earthly matter maketh brittle vessels, and graven gods. But all the enemies of thy people that hold them in subjection, are foolish, and unhappy, and proud beyond measure: For they have esteemed all the idols of the heathens for gods, which neither have the use of eyes to see, nor noses to draw breath, nor ears to hear, nor fingers of hands to handle, and as for their feet, they are slow to walk. 

For man made them: and he that borroweth his own breath, fashioned them. For no man can make a god like to himself. For being mortal himself, he formeth a dead thing with his wicked hands. For he is better than they whom he worshippeth, because he indeed hath lived, though he were mortal, but they never. Moreover, they worship also the vilest creatures: but things without sense, compared to these, are worse than they. Yea, neither by sight can any man see good of these beasts. But they have fled from the praise of God, and from his blessing.



Well, that certainly doesn't leave much doubt on the thoughts of people who choose idols over God.  What kind of idols do we have now?  Certainly few people worship statues of silver, clay, gold, or wood.  Perhaps we worship what we see in the mirror, or what we have in our dwellings, or the electronic goodness we now have to consume through all sorts of entertainment.  Many will pick their own intellect over the Good News!  We must make sure we prioritize correctly in our lives.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Proverbs 21

Pro 21:11  When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth
knowledge.
Pro 21:12  The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.
Pro 21:13  Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.






When we ignore the poor, we are ignoring the instructions of God.  All are made in God's image and likeness, including the poor.  God also has a special interest in them.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
(Mat 25:34-46)


Pro 21:14  A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.
Pro 21:15  It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.
Pro 21:16  The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
Pro 21:17  He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. 




If we only focus on our wants and our material gains and our comfort, we will not only be poor on earth but poor after.

Pro 21:18  The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.
Pro 21:19  It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
Pro 21:20  There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up. 




Now there's some bad news for me as a woman.  If I'm angry or contentious, it would be better for the people around me to live in the middle of nowhere!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The problem of our mouths

For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.


Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.


Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
(Jas 3:2-13)

Our tongues can be sharp weapons indeed, and lead us into all sorts of sin. We can hurt others, we can hurt ourselves, and we can fail to glorify God with the same lips that profess belief in God and His love. It is a wild beast that leads us astray if we do not exercise discipline over it.

Sir 22:27 O that a guard were set over my mouth, and a seal of prudence upon my lips, that it may keep me from falling, so that my tongue may not destroy me!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fear in Decision Making Part 3

God is love. God wants us to make our decisions based on love of God and love of neighbor - not on fear. The fear of the future should never prevent us from fulfilling the needs of the present. Fear of the future should not prevent us from doing our duty as soldiers in God's army. Don't forget that's what we are. And where would our military be if fear prevented our soldiers from moving forward? Fear cannot be the motivating factor behind our decisions.

When a man asks a woman to marry, she could think of all the horrible things that might befall her, him, or them in the future. She might ponder on how he might leave her in the future, or he might grow ill and require her constant are. She could think about how he might die an early death or she might find herself abused. She can waste a lot of time thinking about things completely out of control. She could worry herself sick over all these options, though I don’t think she normally does. Why not? She is in love. She is in love with her future husband and focused on their happy lives together.

When God asks us to do something, we can think of all the horrible things that might befall us or others. We can focus on the varied negative consequences or outcomes. We can waste a lot of time thinking about a lot of things completely out of our control. If we’re in love with God though, our focus should not be on those useless imaginations. Our focus should be on God and what God wants. God will provide for us and we must trust Him!

I am reminded that after freeing the Israelites from Egypt and getting them across the Red Sea, Moses attempted to lead the people into the Promised Land. He sent in spies to check out the land, and on their return was going to lead them in to take the land God had promised. God Himself had promised them this land of milk and honey. And what happened? They got scared. They decided the enemy was too strong for them and they refused to press ahead on God’s command. They worried about what might happen instead of what they were told would happen.

They then spent 40 years in the wilderness until all but two of them died. That generation fell in the wilderness, not peacefully enjoying the milk and honey God had designed for them.

People might say this is all fine and dandy thinking, but not very practical. It just doesn’t make that much sense, does it? I don’t know why not. If God can part the Red Sea, why can’t He have control over my life? If God will die on a cross so I can get into Heaven, don’t I at least owe it to Him to try?

This doesn’t mean we do intentionally and obvious stupid things just because we have no direct information from God telling us not too. This trust does not prevent wisdom. God did give us our brains for a reason – petting a mamma bear in the woods next to her cubs is not something to do. The outcome is known though. It isn’t like you’re wasting time worrying about the results. All I mean is that we can’t fail to do what we’re called to do out of fear of what might happen. What if what might happen is the promised land?

Wisdom 14

Again, another designing to sail, and beginning to make his voyage through the raging waves, calleth upon a piece of wood more frail than the wood that carrieth him. For this the desire of gain devised, and the workman built it by his skill. But thy providence, O Father, governeth it: for thou hast made a way even in the sea, and a most sure path among the waves, Shewing that thou art able to save out of all things, yea, though a man went to sea without art. But that the works of thy wisdom might not be idle: therefore men also trust their lives even to a little wood, and passing over the sea by ship, are saved. And from the beginning also, when the proud giants perished, the hope of the world fleeing to a vessel, which was governed by thy hand, left to the world seed of generation. For blessed is the wood, by which justice cometh 

Justice in that last sentence is translated as righteousness in the KJV (before, they used to publish the "extra" Catholic books in there too, but they were not considered canonical).  Blessed is the wood by which righteousness and justice comes.  We can look to the cross of Jesus on this one.

Below, it returns to idols.

But the idol that is made by hands, is cursed, as well it, as he that made it: he because he made it; and it because being frail it is called a god. But to God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike. For that which is made, together with him that made it, shall suffer torments. Therefore there shall be no respect had even to the idols of the Gentiles: because the creatures of God are turned to an abomination, and a temptation to the souls of men, and a snare to the feet of the unwise. For the beginning of fornication is the devising of idols: and the invention of them is the corruption of life. For neither were they from the beginning, neither shall they be for ever. For by the vanity of men they came into the world: and therefore they shall be found to come shortly to an end. 

For a father being afflicted with bitter grief, made to himself the image of his son, who was quickly taken away: and him who then had died as a man, he began now to worship as a god, and appointed him rites and sacrifices among his servants. Then, in process of time, wicked custom prevailing, this error was kept as a law, and statues were worshipped by the commandment of tyrants. And those whom men could not honour in presence, because they dwelt far off, they brought their resemblance from afar, and made an express image of the king, whom they had a mind to honour: that by this their diligence, they might honour as present, him that was absent. 

And to the worshipping of these, the singular diligence also of the artificer helped to set forward the ignorant. For he being willing to please him that employed him, laboured with all his art to make the resemblance in the best manner. And the multitude of men, carried away by the beauty of the work, took him now for a god, that little before was but honoured as a man. And this was the occasion of deceiving human life: for men serving either their affection, or their kings, gave the incommunicable name to stones and wood. 

And it was not enough for them to err about the knowledge of God, but whereas they lived in a great war of ignorance, they call so many and so great evils peace. For either they sacrifice their own children, or use hidden sacrifices, or keep watches full of madness, So that now they neither keep life, nor marriage undefiled, but one killeth another through envy, or grieveth him by adultery: And all things are mingled together, blood, murder, theft, and dissimulation, corruption and unfaithfulness, tumults and perjury, disquieting of the good, Forgetfulness of God, defiling of souls, changing of nature, disorder in marriage, and the irregularity of adultery and uncleanness. 

For the worship of abominable idols is the cause, and the beginning and end of all evil. For either they are mad when they are merry: or they prophesy lies, or they live unjustly, or easily forswear themselves. For whilst they trust in idols, which are without life, though they swear amiss, they look not to be hurt. But for both these things they shall be justly punished, because they have thought not well of God, giving heed to idols, and have sworn unjustly, in guile despising justice. For it is not the power of them, by whom they swear, but the just vengeance of sinners always punisheth the transgression of the unjust.
(Wis 14:1-31)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Poverbs 21

Pro 21:1  The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
Pro 21:2  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. 

Everything we think to do may appear to be right by our own logic, but God knows our hearts.  No amount of rationalization can justify us if our heart is wrong.
 

Pro 21:3  To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
Pro 21:4  An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.
Pro 21:5  The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.
Pro 21:6  The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.
Pro 21:7  The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.
Pro 21:8  The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.
Pro 21:9  It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.
Pro 21:10  The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes.

Fear in Decision Making Part 2

Of all the times fear is mentioned in the Bible, it is not commanded we fear in the way we so frequently do. God tells us to fear Him multiple times. God tells His servants to not fear various other people or situations, as He will take care of them and in many cases, fight for them. This isn't fighting for them like our earthly parents might have "fought" for us if we deserved something. No, this was the God who made the Universe going out to fight.

God puts the fear of man into animals and the fear of His people upon other, wicked nations. There are several commands to "fear not," in various circumstances. There are specific commands to not fear other gods.

The Psalms have much to say. From Psalm 23: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. From Psalm 27: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? and Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

From Psalm 46: Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; and from Psalm 56: In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. From Psalm 64: Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy and 118: The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

Jesus also speaks of fear, and here's my favorite one to remember:
Luk 12:4-5 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

On anxiety:
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
(Mat 6:31-34)

We are not to fear anything in this life as we are to fear God and serve God. God alone is our deliverer from all troubles. We are told not to be anxious, not to fear, etc. Our focus is on the eternal, and the eternal has a much greater impact on the troubles of today.

There is no reason whatsoever to assume that these commands would somehow not apply to our decisions. Our decisions are not to be made based on fear, but only on what God wants. God is not fear.


And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
(1Jn 4:16-21)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Books!

Here are two great books I've read in the last week:

Get Out of That Pit: Straight Talk about God's Deliverance
This book was a wonderful read.  While not all of the situations applied to me (fortunately), almost all of her stories clicked and reminded me of someone's story if not mine.   Beth Moore is absolutely hilarious when describing some things, and this book is no different.  Funny and serious all at the same time.  I will be reading it again, and recommend anything she writes for any woman.

Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line
This book, by Abby Johnson, is nothing short of amazing.  I cried and cried and cried at various points in her journey.  She tells how she really wanted to help women and that's how she ended up with Planned Parenthood.  That same love for women would put her on the other side of the fence eight years later.  I recommend this book to anyone considering the pro-life movement or remotely interested in that area.  It is incredibly compelling.



Fear in Decision Making Part 1

Ever since I read this blog post on Faith in Fear by Jennifer Fulwiler a few weeks ago, I've been thinking about fear in decision making. She references two other blog entries; one about a woman who had an abortion out of fear of what her unborn child's life might be like, and one who was sterilized to avoid the fears of pregnancy after her fourth child.
Sadly, I think that decision-making based on fear is increasingly common as secularization sweeps through Western society. Some of the key tenets of the secular worldview are that this world is all there is, suffering is the worst evil, and each person can and should be completely in charge of his or her own destiny. If all of those things are true, then it starts to make sense to imagine the worst case scenario of suffering, and manage your entire life around avoiding it. Without a solid belief in an eternal afterlife, the redemptive nature of suffering, and the sovereignty of a loving God, it is the rare person who can engage in hope-based decision making.
I am not facing the joyful possibility of pregnancy anytime soon, but the article made me think about how often decisions really are made out of fear. Fear of what might happen. Fear of what people might say. Fear of whatever. And that isn't right at all. Fear prevents us from doing what we ought to do out of love. God is not fear - God is love.

What if Jesus had made his decisions based on fear? Imagine for a moment if He was scared off by what the Jewish leaders might think. Or if He had decided Satan was too scary to deal with in the desert. What if Jesus decided the cross was too terrible to bear before His arrest and simply fled, never to be seen again? God’s decisions are not made in fear. There was no thought given to whom He might upset. He would have clearly preferred to have something different happen. Pain avoidance isn’t a sin. But He didn’t let those feelings sway his decision to follow His Father.

What if Mary had made her decision based on fear? There was a very, very, very high chance she would lose her upcoming marriage to Joseph and even a risk she'd be stoned to death or thrown out of the community. People would definitely not like her much anymore if they knew she was pregnant outside of marriage. I can't imagine it being a stress free live being the mother of the God of the Universe. Talk about pressure. There would be a lot of things to be afraid of! Fortunately, she said yes. She said yes to love and no to fear. And then, she tromped off to help her cousin in her pregnancy. Unmarried, pregnant, and with every social reason to hide at home, she treks off to serve.

The Bible is full of men and women who did not make decisions based on fear. It is also full of men and women who did. The end result for the two groups is very different. Those who allowed fear to knock them off the course of following God never fared well. Those who followed God may have faced the things they feared, but they were full of joy here and confident in what was to come. Are we making our decisions for this world and our perceived comfort and safety here? We will not be safe and we will not be comfortable – even if our fears save us from something terrible, we still must live with the pain of our fears. If we’re living for God, then this life can be a lot happier and we can look forward to much better after this short life is done.

Pentecost Sunday and Psalm 26

Today is Pentecost Sunday!  Readings are here, unless you go to the Saturday vigil mass, and then they are here.

Psalm 26
A Psalm of David. Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. 

For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked. 

I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth. 

Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes. 

But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me. My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD.

Above

We are to set our sights on eternity and not worry about our lot here in this life. The time we spend on this planet is inconsequential to the time we will spend after we die. Eternity is a very long time, even compared to our full life span.

Col 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

We must remain focused on the price, which is not our next paycheck or bonus; not our next car or house. We should please ourselves with God above worldly posessions.

This doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our possessions. God made creation and made it good. It is the misuse of creation and possessions or the poor prioritization of them over the eternal that is a problem.


1Ti 4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
1Ti 4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fast!

Fasting is a topic I was not overly fond of for quite some time.  It isn't very pleasant to think about and really isn't something you'd just think to do, you know?  "Gee, I think I'll stop doing x activity, or eating y food, or stop eating solids altogether for a period of hours, days, or weeks."  I was familiar with the fasting and abstinence required by my church, but didn't know why they did that or what good it would do for me.  I certainly never would have wanted to stop eating anything for any period of time.  I might get hungry!

My thoughts have changed and I can now see fasting as beneficial for spiritual as well as health related reasons.

What is fasting?  Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day (24 hours), or several daytime periods. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive, limiting particular foods or substance. The fast may also be intermittent in nature. Fasting practices may preclude sexual and other activities as well as food. (Wikipedia)

Fasting then can mean abstaining from something for some time.  For Lent, many people give up sweets or soda or coffee or the internet or some other activity or food for the 40 days.  On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we give up most food.  On all Fridays of Lent, we refrain from eating meat.  Those are all examples of fasts.  Other religions also practice fasting.  Many also practice voluntary fasting that has nothing to do with Lent.

The Bible has many examples of fasting.  These are just a few:

2Sa 1:12  And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.


Psa 35:13  But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. 


2Sa 12:16  David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.


Est 4:16  Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

Act 14:23  And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. 


Dan 9:3  And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: 



Neh 9:1-2  Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.


Mat 9:14  Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 


Luk 2:37  And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.


Act 9:8  And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.  And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 

Moses, Elijah, and of course Jesus fasted for extended periods of time.  Jesus spoke of fasting:

Mat 6:16-18  Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;  That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Note two things here - first, Jesus says when.  Not if, but when.  There is an assumption the followers of Jesus would be fasting.  Second, Jesus does not want us to fast for the recognition of men.  In other words, fasting is not a way to show how awesomely holy we are.

But why?  Why all this fasting to begin with?  If not to show how awesomely more holy than everyone else we are, what is the purpose?  With so many religious groups doing it, what is the effect?  For Christians, we need no other reason than Jesus thinks we'll be doing it, but that doesn't answer a lot of questions.  Fasting goes hand in hand with prayer in the Bible. Fasting humbles us before God.  Fasting brings us closer to God.  It also helps to discipline our flesh.  Jesus says (above) the Father will reward us for fasting.

There is no flow chart for the various reasons to fast or the spiritual benefits of fasting, but that doesn't stop us from other activities such as prayer.  Praying to God has all sorts of questions too, but we still do it.  Fasting can bring many benefits, in my experience, in excess of a simple prayer.  Fasting is very powerful with prayer.

Mat 17:14 -21 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.  And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.  Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Prayer was not enough in that instance.  It required fasting.

Paul also speaks of fasting, in reference to the marital bond:
1Co 7:4-5  The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.  Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

One does not need to embark on a 40 day water fast to fast more than just the season of Lent.  In fact, taking such a dramatic step initially would probably not go very well.  Some people abstain from meat on Fridays the whole year, or Wednesdays and Fridays.  Some people will not eat between breakfast and lunch for a time.  There is also juice fasting, which eliminates solid food but allows you to drink all the juice that you want.


The question arises if such activity is safe, and the answer is that yes, usually it is.  Contrary to popular opinion, skipping a meal or two will probably not kill you.  People with health conditions, are pregnant, nursing, etc will want to look into it more.  But otherwise, there are many purported health benefits to fasting of some kind.  Research suggests there are major health benefits to caloric restriction.  This doesn't really surprise me, as activities which bring us closer to God typically have good effect on our bodies.  People who regularly attend worship services live longer in fact.

Jesus' warning against fasting for public gain does not prevent you from discussing your fast plans with your doctor, just to be sure.  Nor does it restrict telling others with the right motivation - say, if you wanted to fast with someone.  Or you wanted to explain to your family why you were not going to be sharing meals with them.

I have found huge benefits to fasting with prayer.  If nothing else, it reminds my selfish flesh that it isn't in charge anymore - the spirit is.  It helps with self control, prayer, and general well being.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wisdom 13

But all men are vain, in whom there is not the knowledge of God: and who by these good things that are seen, could not understand him that is, neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the workman: But have imagined either the fire, or the wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the great water, or the sun and moon, to be the gods that rule the world. 


With whose beauty, if they, being delighted, took them to be gods: let them know how much the Lord of them is more beautiful than they: for the first author of beauty made all those things. Or if they admired their power, and their effects, let them understand by them, that he that made them, is mightier than they: For by the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby. 

But yet as to these they are less to be blamed. For they perhaps err, seeking God, and desirous to find him. For being conversant among his works, they search: and they are persuaded that the things are good which are seen. But then again they are not to be pardoned. For if they were able to know so much as to make a judgment of the world: how did they not more easily find out the Lord thereof? 

Above he discusses those who worship the things of nature, as if those things are God, while ignoring the fact those things had to come from somewhere.  Below, he discusses those who call man made idols God, assigning deity to items known to have come from human hands.

But unhappy are they, and their hope is among the dead, who have called gods the works of the hand of men, gold and silver, the inventions of art, and the resemblances of beasts, or an unprofitable stone the work of an ancient hand. Or if an artist, a carpenter, hath cut down a tree proper for his use in the wood, and skilfully taken off all the bark thereof, and with his art, diligently formeth a vessel profitable for the common uses of life, And useth the chips of his work to dress his meat: And taking what was left thereof, which is good for nothing, being a crooked piece of wood, and full of knots, carveth it diligently when he hath nothing else to do, and by the skill of his art fashioneth it, and maketh it like the image of a man: Or the resemblance of some beast, laying it over with vermilion, and painting it red, and covering every spot that is in it: And maketh a convenient dwelling place for it, and setting it in a wall, and fastening it with iron, Providing for it, lest it should fall, knowing that it is unable to help itself: for it is an image, and hath need of help. 

And then maketh prayer to it, enquiring concerning his substance, and his children, or his marriage. And he is not ashamed to speak to that which hath no life: And for health he maketh supplication to the weak, and for life prayeth to that which is dead, and for help calleth upon that which is unprofitable: And for a good journey he petitioneth him that cannot walk: and for getting, and for working, and for the event of all things he asketh him that is unable to do any thing.
(Wis 13:1-19)

Paul also speaks of this in Romans, how we know there is a God and yet we may choose to ignore Him. 
Rom 1:19  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
Rom 1:20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 


Psalm 19 discusses how God is made apparent through His works.
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
(Psa 19:1-5)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Truth

In the first few chapters of Genesis, we see the fall of mankind to sin and our very first sin (among others). After the initial disobedience to God, the next problem is not the murder of Abel. I find it striking the first issue after disobedience was discord between husband and wife. First, they go from being unashamed while naked to realizing their nakedness. Then Adam blames Eve and she blames the serpent. Marriage has been under attack since the beginning!

This article at First Things highlights that many Americans believe there are more homosexuals than there are blacks or Hispanics. Many believe there are more than there are Catholics. The truth? It is less than 3%. Lest we get distracted, more “common” sins like adultery and pre-marital fornication are also assaults on the truth and freedom of marriage. Our media happily leads us to conclude the things that should not be normal are normal and the things that are normal should not be. Normal, or even popular behavior, is only valid if it is valid to God, regardless of what our world and what our desires tell us. We can wish something to be true all we want, but no matter how hard we believe in a lie, it is still a lie.

We know from the Bible to expect this. God does not bless those who ignore him. God does not prevent us from going down the dark path of evil. We are free to wallow in their own sin unless and until they decide to believe in Jesus and reach for Him. We should not be surprised that this occurs.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.


For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.


Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.


For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.


And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
(Rom 1:18-32)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Proverbs 20

Pro 20:25 It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.
Pro 20:26 A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.
Pro 20:27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
Pro 20:28 Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.
Pro 20:29 The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.
Pro 20:30 The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.

The last verse is about how chastisement can heal evil. In my work as a volunteer leader, I see a lot of people unwilling to give their children consequences. They think I am mean if I do. In reality, consequences are far better as they get the attention of the person and drive home the point their behavior was or is not acceptable. They aren’t a bad thing at all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wisdom 12

For thy immortal spirit is in all things. Therefore thou dost correct little by little those who trespass, and dost remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin, that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in thee, O Lord.


Those who dwelt of old in thy holy land thou didst hate for their detestable practices, their works of sorcery and unholy rites, their merciless slaughter of children, and their sacrificial feasting on human flesh and blood. These initiates from the midst of a heathen cult, these parents who murder helpless lives, thou didst will to destroy by the hands of our fathers, that the land most precious of all to thee might receive a worthy colony of the servants of God.

The groups inhabiting the holy land were not just random tribes of people who were otherwise good. God did not send Israel to slaughter the innocent. The inhabitants of the land were evil. They sacrificed their children and did not obey God. They were detestable. In the next section, we see God still gives them the opportunity to repent of their evil.

But even these thou didst spare, since they were but men, and didst send wasps as forerunners of thy army, to destroy them little by little, though thou wast not unable to give the ungodly into the hands of the righteous in battle, or to destroy them at one blow by dread wild beasts or thy stern word. But judging them little by little thou gavest them a chance to repent, though thou wast not unaware that their origin was evil and their wickedness inborn, and that their way of thinking would never change. For they were an accursed race from the beginning, and it was not through fear of any one that thou didst leave them unpunished for their sins.


For who will say, "What hast thou done?" Or will resist thy judgment? Who will accuse thee for the destruction of nations which thou didst make? Or who will come before thee to plead as an advocate for unrighteous men? For neither is there any god besides thee, whose care is for all men, to whom thou shouldst prove that thou hast not judged unjustly; nor can any king or monarch confront thee about those whom thou hast punished. Thou art righteous and rulest all things righteously, deeming it alien to thy power to condemn him who does not deserve to be punished.

God punishes the wicked and saves the righteous, and none can usurp or question His authority. He is Lord of all. Evil is contrary to His holy power.

For thy strength is the source of righteousness, and thy sovereignty over all causes thee to spare all. For thou dost show thy strength when men doubt the completeness of thy power, and dost rebuke any insolence among those who know it. Thou who art sovereign in strength dost judge with mildness, and with great forbearance thou dost govern us; for thou hast power to act whenever thou dost choose. Through such works thou has taught thy people that the righteous man must be kind, and thou hast filled thy sons with good hope, because thou givest repentance for sins.


For if thou didst punish with such great care and indulgence the enemies of thy servants and those deserving of death, granting them time and opportunity to give up their wickedness, with what strictness thou hast judged thy sons, to whose fathers thou gavest oaths and covenants full of good promises! So while chastening us thou scourgest our enemies ten thousand times more, so that we may meditate upon thy goodness when we judge, and when we are judged we may expect mercy.


Therefore those who in folly of life lived unrighteously thou didst torment through their own abominations. For they went far astray on the paths of error, accepting as gods those animals which even their enemies despised; they were deceived like foolish babes. Therefore, as to thoughtless children, thou didst send thy judgment to mock them. But those who have not heeded the warning of light rebukes will experience the deserved judgment of God. For when in their suffering they became incensed at those creatures which they had thought to be gods, being punished by means of them, they saw and recognized as the true God him whom they had before refused to know. Therefore the utmost condemnation came upon them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Loving Enemies

I am admittedly no good at this. At best, I try to forget about them. At worst, I might wish them ill. Either is not in line with what is commanded. If we only love those who love us, then we are no different than those without God Loving those who love us is easy. Jesus gave us no easy button.

Mat 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Mat 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Mat 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
Mat 5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord & Psalm 25

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, or the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The Ascension is actually celebrated earlier, but can get moved to Sunday. Readings for either day are linked above.

Psalm 25
A Psalm of David. Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. 

Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. 

Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD. Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. 

For thy name's sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant. 

Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee. 

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Proverbs 20

Pro 20:19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
Pro 20:20 Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.
Pro 20:21 An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
Pro 20:22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.
Pro 20:23 Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.
Pro 20:24 Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?

19 tells us not to hang out with gossipers. Of course we know that anyway, but we still do it. How else would we get our gossip? And yet we’re probably surprised when he or she shares our secrets as well. It is good to remember that someone who can’t keep someone else’s secret can’t keep ours.

Verse 22 is against revenge. Vengeance is the Lord’s, not ours. We must do what is necessary to establish society but not go so far as to take revenge. We are to wait on God for that.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wisdom 11

Here we continue the book of Wisdom, picking up where Chapter 10 left off, discussing the departure of Israel from Egypt.

Wisdom prospered their works by the hand of a holy prophet. They journeyed through an uninhabited wilderness, and pitched their tents in untrodden places. They withstood their enemies and fought off their foes. When they thirsted they called upon thee, and water was given them out of flinty rock, and slaking of thirst from hard stone.


For through the very things by which their enemies were punished, they themselves received benefit in their need. Instead of the fountain of an ever-flowing river, stirred up and defiled with blood in rebuke for the decree to slay the infants, thou gavest them abundant water unexpectedly, showing by their thirst at that time how thou didst punish their enemies. For when they were tried, though they were being disciplined in mercy, they learned how the ungodly were tormented when judged in wrath.

I love this part and the next. By the things the Egyptians were punished, Israel gained rewards. The sins of Egypt dictated their punishments.

For thou didst test them as a father does in warning, but thou didst examine the ungodly as a stern king does in condemnation. Whether absent or present, they were equally distressed, for a twofold grief possessed them, and a groaning at the memory of what had occurred. For when they heard that through their own punishments the righteous had received benefit, they perceived it was the Lord's doing. For though they had mockingly rejected him who long before had been cast out and exposed, at the end of the events they marveled at him, for their thirst was not like that of the righteous.


In return for their foolish and wicked thoughts, which led them astray to worship irrational serpents and worthless animals, thou didst send upon them a multitude of irrational creatures to punish them, that they might learn that one is punished by the very things by which he sins. For thy all-powerful hand, which created the world out of formless matter, did not lack the means to send upon them a multitude of bears, or bold lions, or newly created unknown beasts full of rage, or such as breathe out fiery breath, or belch forth a thick pall of smoke, or flash terrible sparks from their eyes; not only could their damage exterminate men, but the mere sight of them could kill by fright.


Even apart from these, men could fall at a single breath when pursued by justice and scattered by the breath of thy power. But thou hast arranged all things by measure and number and weight. For it is always in thy power to show great strength, and who can withstand the might of thy arm?


Because the whole world before thee is like a speck that tips the scales, and like a drop of morning dew that falls upon the ground. But thou art merciful to all, for thou canst do all things, and thou dost overlook men's sins, that they may repent. For thou lovest all things that exist, and hast loathing for none of the things which thou hast made, for thou wouldst not have made anything if thou hadst hated it.


How would anything have endured if thou hadst not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by thee have been preserved? Thou sparest all things, for they are thine, O Lord who lovest the living.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Proverbs 20

Pro 20:13 Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Pro 20:14 It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.
Pro 20:15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
Pro 20:16 Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
Pro 20:17 Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.
Pro 20:18 Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.

Verse 14 is about what we do when we buy things. I did it this earlier this week. I found a tracking site that will tell me when the Kindle books on my Amazon wish list decrease in price. I signed them all up; it doesn’t matter how much they cost. So the book may be going for $1.99, but I don’t want to buy it until they knock $0.50 off of the cost. This has nothing to do with what is worth. Then I’ll probably brag about what a good deal I made. Of course the flip side to this is that it probably starts of priced more than it is worth.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wisdom 10

I forgot to specify in my last post from the book of Wisdom that was from Chapter 9. This is chapter 10, a continuation of that prayer, which extends to the end of the book.


She preserved him, that was first formed by God, the father of the world, when he was created alone, And she brought him out of his sin, and gave him power to govern all things. But when the unjust went away from her in his anger, he perished by the fury wherewith he murdered his brother.

This part recognizes Wisdom’s role in the creation of Adam, and the subsequent sin of Cain.


For whose cause, when water destroyed the earth, wisdom healed it again, directing the course of the just by contemptible wood. Moreover, when the nations had conspired together to consent to wickedness, she knew the just, and preserved him without blame to God, and kept him strong against the compassion for his son.

The water here refers to the flood, “directing the course of the just by contemptible wood,” the ark. The latter half references Abraham.


She delivered the just man, who fled from the wicked that were perishing, when the fire came down upon Pentapolis: Whose land, for a testimony of their wickedness, is desolate, and smoketh to this day, and the trees bear fruits that ripen not, and a standing pillar of salt is a monument of an incredulous soul. For regarding not wisdom, they did not only slip in this, that they were ignorant of good things; but they left also unto men a memorial of their folly, so that in the things in which they sinned, they could not so much as lie hid.

Here it discusses the account of Sodom and Gomorrah. The just man here was Lot who was fleeing from those who were perishing. The standing pillar of salt is his wife. The burning rubble was meant to serve as a reminder and warning against their sins.


But wisdom hath delivered from sorrow them that attend upon her. She conducted the just, when he fled from his brother's wrath, through the right ways, and shewed him the kingdom of God, and gave him the knowledge of the holy things, made him honourable in his labours, and accomplished his labours. In the deceit of them that overreached him, she stood by him, and made him honourable. She kept him safe from his enemies, and she defended him from seducers, and gave him a strong conflict, that he might overcome, and know that wisdom is mightier than all. She forsook not the just when he was sold, but delivered him from sinners: she went down with him into the pit. And in bands she left him not, till she brought him the sceptre of the kingdom, and power against those that oppressed him: and shewed them to be liars that had accused him, and gave him everlasting glory.

Here it discusses the case of Joseph, sent to Egypt wrongly by his brothers, but through God and God’s wisdom came to power.

She delivered the just people, and blameless seed, from the nations that oppressed them. She entered into the soul of the servant of God and stood against dreadful kings in wonders and signs. And she rendered to the just the wages of their labours, and conducted them in a wonderful way: and she was to them for a covert by day, and for the light of stars by night: And she brought them through the Red Sea, and carried them over through a great water. But their enemies she drowned in the sea, and from the depth of hell she brought them out. Therefore the just took the spoils of the wicked. And they sung to thy holy name, O Lord, and they praised with one accord thy victorious hand. For wisdom opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues of infants eloquent.

This of course references the work of God through Moses as his people were delivered from the hands of Egypt.