July 1, 2013 Bible Study — Sing His Praises In the Assembly of the Faithful

     I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.

That's not Magrat!
That’s not Magrat!

2 Kings 18:13-19:37

     Hezekiah was king of Judah when Assyria was at the peak of its power. Assyria invaded Judah. The king of Assyria sent an army led by his three chief officers to besiege Jerusalem. The Assyrian chief of staff summoned King Hezekiah to a meeting, but Hezekiah sent several court officials in his place. The Assyrians asked the officials what Hezekiah was relying on in his rebellion against Assyria. They told them that Egypt would not be able to help them. They then asked how Hezekiah thought he could rely on God, since he had torn down the shrines where the people had worshiped God and made them come to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. They offer to provide Hezekiah with 2,000 horses, if he can find the men to ride them into battle. Finally, they claim that they invaded Judah at God’s direction, that God had told them to attack and destroy Judah.
     Hezekiah’s court officials ask the Assyrian officials to speak in Aramaic (the language spoken by the educated elites of the Middle East at the time), since they understood it, rather than in Hebrew (the dialect of the kingdom of Judah), because they did not want the people to hear what was being said. The Assyrian officials then called out to the people on the city walls telling them not to let Hezekiah fool them into thinking that he could protect them from the Assyrian army. They told the people not to count on God to rescue them because He would be unable to do so. No other god had been able to save their people from the Assyrians and God would be likewise powerless to stop them. When the court officials returned to Hezekiah and reported the message of the Assyrians to him, he tore his clothes in despair and sent to the prophet Isaiah for guidance. Isaiah told Hezekiah not to worry. The king of Assyria would be called home to deal with troubles there and while he was there, he would be killed by the sword.
     Soon afterward, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, received word that the armies of Cush (which was located approximately where Ethiopia is today) were marching out to meet him. Before taking his army to meet this attack, Sennacherib sent a letter to Hezekiah saying that he would return and that when he returned, God would be unable to prevent him from destroying Jerusalem. Hezekiah took this letter to the Temple and laid it before the Lord. Hezekiah acknowledged that Assyria had conquered these other nations and destroyed their gods. He then declared that this time it was different because those gods were mere idols, while the God that he worshiped was the creator of the universe. Hezekiah begged God to show His power and rescue His people from the Assyrians.
     Isaiah sent a message to Hezekiah telling him that God had heard his prayer. God answered Sennacherib’s pride by telling him that all of his accomplishments were according to God’s plans. And now that Sennacherib had boasted against God, God would show His power by putting a hook in Sennacherib’s mouth and guiding him back the way he had come. Isaiah told Hezekiah that the Assyrians would not return to besiege Jerusalem, would not even launch the most basic attack against it. God would show His power and protect Jerusalem against this attack. That very night a large part of the Assyrian army died in the night. In the morning when he saw the number of men he had lost, Sennacherib broke camp and returned home. While he was in worshiping at the temple of his god in his capital, two of his sons killed him with their swords.
     The king of Assyria was the most powerful man of his day. He believed that he could go wherever he wanted and no one, not even God, could stand in his way. This passage reminds us that no matter how much power we may have, we can only accomplish those things which God has allowed. The other side of it is, no matter how powerful those standing against us may appear, when God stands in our defense we will not be defeated. Hezekiah did not proudly confront the king of Assyria, rather he humbly cried out to God. This should be our model when facing life’s difficulties.

A stranger in the yard
A stranger in the yard

Acts 21:1-17

     As Paul continued his journey to Jerusalem, he met with the believers in each city were he stopped. When he got to Caesarea, he stayed with Philip the Evangelist for several days. Agabus came down from Judea and prophesied that the Jews would bind Paul and turn him over to the Gentiles. The believers in Caesarea attempted to convince Paul that he should not go to Jerusalem. Paul responded that he was prepared not only to be bound, but to die in the service of Jesus. Paul then went on to Jerusalem where he was welcomed by the believers living there.
     When reading this passage I have always heard preachers focus on Paul’s willingness to suffer persecution in the name of the Lord. And we should certainly be willing to face such persecution. We should not allow the threat of persecution turn us from following the path that God has set us on. However, I cannot help but wonder. Perhaps the reason that God sent prophets to warn Paul what he would face when he got to Jerusalem was because God was trying to tell Paul to not go to Jerusalem. As I have been reading the book of Acts this year, I noticed something. Other believers repeatedly attempted to get Paul to be less confrontational in his interactions with unbelievers. Paul had a tendency to rub people the wrong way and the book of Acts does not praise him for that. I have never seen it this way before, but I believe that the Scripture is not praising Paul for his abrasiveness. Rather it seems to me that Scripture tells us that God used Paul despite his abrasiveness.

Magrat tries to befriend the stranger
Magrat tries to befriend the stranger

Psalm 149:1-9

     Today’s psalm is another one of praise. I have often felt called to talk about how we as Christians need to be out among the sinners of this world in order to witness to them. This psalm reminds us that we need to spend time telling the faithful as well what God has done for us.

Praise the Lord!

Sing to the Lord a new song.
Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.

Let us not forget to tell the faithful how God has worked in our lives, so that we can encourage them as well.

Magrat's guest not sure he wants to be friendly
Magrat’s guest not sure he wants to be friendly

Proverbs 18:8

     Listening to rumors and gossip make us feel like we are part of the “inner circle”, but we tend to take them into our basic understanding of people and events without ever examining their accuracy.

June 30, 2013 Bible Study

     I have been using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study for over a year. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I started writing this blog because the only way I can get myself to read the Bible everyday is to pretend that I am teaching someone about what it says to me. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.

Lilies in bloom
Lilies in bloom

2 Kings 17-18:12

     Today’s passage tells us that God had finally had enough of the sins of the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and sent Assyria to sweep them away into exile. Despite repeatedly sending them prophets telling them to turn away from their sinful ways, they continued to worship other gods. They went so far as to sacrifice their own sons and daughters to these other gods. “They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger.” This passage sounds like an indictment of most countries of the world today. In the countries that comprise Western Civilization, we sacrifice our children on the altar of convenience and abort them before they are born. In the Islamic countries they encourage their children to become suicidal jihadists and sacrifice them that way. There may be countries in the world today which are not sacrificing their children on the altars of the gods they worship, but I am not familiar with them.
     After the Assyrians took the Israelites captive, they settled other peoples in the land of Israel. However, lions preyed upon these new settlers. When word reached the King of Assyria about the depredation of the lions, he sent back a priest of the Lord to teach the new people in the land to worship the Lord. The new people in the land worshiped the Lord, but they also continued to offer sacrifices and worship the gods of their ancestors. They would not follow God’s command to worship only Him.
     Six years before the King of Assyria overthrew the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Hezekiah became king in Judah. We are told that he did right in the sight of the Lord. Hezekiah trusted in the Lord and we are told that there was no king like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after. Hezekiah destroyed all of the places in Judah where people worshiped idols. He removed the high places, destroyed the sacred pillars (which were part of Baal worship) and burned the Asherah poles. He even broke apart the bronze snake which Moses had made because the people were worshiping it in place of God. As a result of his dedication to serving the Lord, Hezekiah was successful in all that he did.
     In today’s passage we have a contrast between people who failed to obey the Lord and a man who led his people in strong dedication to follow the Lord. Those who worshiped the Lord and were faithful to Him were blessed, those who did not suffered. David is often viewed as the king of Israel whom we should most admire. I do not wish to diminish our view of David, but I believe that Hezekiah represents a model we should more closely follow. He led his people back to serving God and, unlike David, got rid of the high places where the people mixed worship of God with idolatry.

Lily bloom close-up
Lily bloom close-up

Acts 20:1-38

     When the uproar in Ephesus died down, Paul went to Macedonia and traveled through it and then down into Greece. He was preparing to travel by ship from Greece back to Syria when he learned that some Jews were plotting to kill him (or have him killed). So, instead of taking ship from Greece, Paul traveled back through Macedonia and took ship from Macedonia. He stopped in Troas, where he was joined by Luke and some others (or possibly the others sailed first and Paul traveled with Luke). From Troas, Paul sailed on to Miletus where he sent for the elders of the church in Ephesus to join him.
     Paul told the elders from Ephesus that they would not see him again as in every city prophets were telling him that he would face jail and suffering when he came to Jerusalem. He warned the elders to feed and guide the God’s flock. They were to be on guard against false teachers who would arise and attempt to gain a following with false teachings. They should remember Paul’s teaching and example. How he worked hard so as to have the means to meet his own needs and provide help to those in need.

Yellow rose in bloom
Yellow rose in bloom

Psalm 148:1-14

     Another psalm of praise. Some days these are hard to write anything about. Today is one of those days. I will encourage you to read the psalm and let its sentiment sweep over your soul. I will pull out this phrase for special focus:

Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
for he issued his command, and they came into being.

Even if you can think of no other reason to praise God, you should praise Him because He is the reason that you came into being. If you do not know why that should lead you to praise Him, remember that He did not create you on a whim. He created each and every one of us to accomplish a purpose. We may not know what that purpose is, but if we strive to be faithful to God, we will fulfill that purpose in a way which will bring us joy.

Yellow rose close-up
Yellow rose close-up

Proverbs 18:6-7

     Unlike yesterday, today’s proverb is clear to me. When I regularly find myself in quarrels it is time to examine what I say. The cause is usually because I am saying foolish things and asking for trouble by doing so. When we say and do foolish things, we will get caught out by our own words.

June 29, 2013 Bible Study –The Lord’s Delight Is In Those Who Fear Him

     I have been using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study for over a year. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I started writing this blog because the only way I can get myself to read the Bible everyday is to pretend that I am teaching someone about what it says to me. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.


2 Kings 15-16:20

     In today’s passage we have reference to three kings of Judah and six kings of Israel. We are told that each of the kings of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Four of the five kings of Israel whose reigns are detailed in today’s passage were killed by assassins who then took the throne (the reign of the sixth king is described in tomorrow’s passage).
     We are told that the first two kings of Judah did what was pleasing to God. However, neither of them removed the high places where the people offered sacrifices. The third king, Ahaz, son of the second and grandson of the first, did evil in the sight of the Lord, going so far as to sacrifice his son in the fire. He paid tribute to the king of Assyria in order to get him to attack Aram and Israel so that they would stop attacking Judah. In addition he went to the capital of Assyria and worshiped the gods of Assyria there. He then instructed the high priest of Judah to build a new altar modeled after the altar used in Assyria. It is not clear from the passage but it appears to me that Ahaz instituted worship of the Assyrian gods on this altar.


Acts 19:13-41

     The miracles performed by Paul so impressed the people of around Ephesus that some Jewish exorcists started using the name of Jesus in their exorcisms. When one group tried this, the man possessed by the evil spirit told them that it knew Jesus and knew Paul, but did not know them. The man with the evil spirit then attacked them and drove them from the house naked and bleeding. Word of this spread throughout the area. One of the biggest impacts was on believers who had continued in occult practices. In reaction to this, they brought their grimoires (books of spells and incantations) and burned them on a public bonfire. It is worth noting that these were not just books of information, but were rather “cookbooks” for practicing magic.
     Shortly after this a silversmith named Demetrius who manufactured and sold shrines to Artemus called a gathering of the people to whom he subcontracted some of the work. Demetrius then told them that Paul was preaching a message that would destroy their business and respect for their city. As he spoke to them he got them angrier and angrier until a riot started. The rioters gathered in the city amphitheater. Some of them grabbed Paul’s traveling companions and took them into the amphitheater with them. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the rest of the believers would not let him do so. There was a lot of confusion in the amphitheater and most of the people who were there did not know why. Some of the Jews in the crowd tried to put their representative forward to explain the situation, but when the crowd realized he was a Jew (and this not a worshiper of Artemus) they just shouted him down. Finally the mayor of the city was able to calm the crowd down enough to speak. He then convinced the crowd that any grievance could be settled in civil court and that if the rioting continued the Romans were likely to send in the Legions to sort things out.


Psalm 147:1-20

     The psalmist tells us that it is good and fitting to sing praises to God. I could not agree more. The psalmist goes on to tell us why it is fitting:

He heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.
He counts the stars
and calls them all by name.

The Lord supports the humble,
but he brings the wicked down into the dust.

Later he tells us:
He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse
or in human might.
No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him,
those who put their hope in his unfailing love.

I will praise the Lord and I will put all of my hopes in His unfailing love.


Proverbs 18:4-5

     I do not understand what the first proverb means. The second proverb however tells us that when the wicked are knowingly allowed to avoid punishment, the innocent suffer.

June 28, 2013 Bible Study — Baptism of the Holy Spirit

     I have been using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study for over a year. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I started writing this blog because the only way I can get myself to read the Bible everyday is to pretend that I am teaching someone about what it says to me. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.

Magrat on the grass
Magrat on the grass

2 Kings 13-14:29

     The passage tells us that the successive kings of Israel continued to do evil in God’s eyes. The people of Israel continued the sins of Jeroboam in their reigns and placed an Asherah pole in Samaria. However, God saw the suffering of the people of Israel and provided them rescue from their enemies for a time.
     Amaziah became king in Judah and executed the officials who had assassinated his father, Joash. However, he did not punish their families, for which he is commended. The passage tells us that he did what was pleasing in the sight of God, although not as pleasing as David. He followed after his father and continued to allow the sacrifices on the high places. He reconquered Edom. This led Amaziah to hubris and he made war against Israel. The king of Israel defeated him and sacked Jerusalem. At the end of his reign there was a conspiracy against him and he was assassinated. Amaziah’s sixteen year-old son Uzziah was placed on the throne.

Magrat's attention is focused
Magrat’s attention is focused

Acts 18:23-19:12

     Today’s passage in Acts contains two things that I find noteworthy. The first is the introduction of Apollos, a teacher of the Gospel who other references suggest was viewed as being in the same league as Paul for the spread of the Gospel. He was a learned man who preached with fervor and enthusiasm. We are told that he spoke boldly and accurately about Jesus, although he had no knowledge of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Which brings us to the second thing.
     After talking about Apollos and how he was more thoroughly taught about Jesus by Priscilla and Aquila, Luke goes back to Paul and tells us that Paul arrived in Ephesus Where he found believers who had never heard of the Holy Spirit. In fact, they were only familiar with John’s baptism (as Apollos had been before he met Priscilla and Aquila). When Paul learned that they were for the most part only familiar with the teachings of John the Baptist, he taught them how John had pointed to Christ and baptized them again in the name of Jesus. When Paul laid his hands on them they received the Holy Spirit.
     Which raises the question of what is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? And how do you know if you have received it? Here and elsewhere in Acts, Luke seems to mention speaking in other languages whenever he speaks of someone receiving the Holy Spirit. Yet, elsewhere Paul tells us that not everyone receives the gift of speaking in other languages. The other point I would like to make is that Luke’s accounts in Acts seem to all refer to people speaking in languages comprehensible (or at least recognizable) to those who witnessed the Holy Spirit coming upon them.

Magrat watches a bug
Magrat watches a bug

Psalm 146:1-10

     I love the opening to this psalm:

Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.

I attempt every day to make it my prayer. As I read this psalm, I became inspired to attempt to memorize it. It has so many lines that are worth meditating on.
Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
there is no help for you there.
When they breathe their last, they return to the earth,
and all their plans die with them.
It is only God who can save us. I will praise the Lord.

Daisies on the corner
Daisies on the corner

Proverbs 18:2-3

     The first of these proverbs gives us an important measure to use when we enter into debates with others, both of our own motivation and of the value in having the debate. Are we debating because we want to gain better understanding? Or, are we debating in order to show the other person how much wiser than them we are? If we are doing the latter, this proverb tells us we are not wise at all, but are rather fools.

June 27, 2013 Bible Study — I Will Praise the Lord

     I have been using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study for over a year. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I started writing this blog because the only way I can get myself to read the Bible everyday is to pretend that I am teaching someone about what it says to me. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.

Magrat by the lilies
Magrat by the lilies

2 Kings 10:32-12:21

     When Queen Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, learned that her son Ahaziah, the king of Judah, had been killed, she seized the throne and began killing the rest of the royal family. However, Ahaziah’s sister, Jehosheba, smuggled Ahaziah’s infant son out of the nursery and hid him in the Temple. His name was Joash and he remained hidden in the Temple for six years. When Joash was seven, Jehoiada the priest made him king and overthrew the reign of Athaliah. After killing Athaliah, Jehoiada led the people to destroy the temple of Baal in Jerusalem.
     We are told that Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord for as long as Jehoiada was alive to instruct him. However, Joash did not destroy the high places where people continued to offer sacrifices throughout his reign. The New Living Translation translates “high places” as “pagan shrines”. However, I think that allows us to miss an important lesson here. From my reading of the Old Testament, it appears to me that the high places were places where people sacrificed to God. However, the problem with this was that when they did that they started to forget what God really wanted from them and gradually drifted into being accepting of idolatry. We see the same thing today when people think that they don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. We need to spend time with people who are fellow Christians, at least some of whom the only reason we would ever spend time with them is because they are our fellow believers in Christ.
     Joash instituted a program to repair the Temple. Late in his reign he was forced to pay tribute to the king of Aram. Shortly after doing so, he was assassinated by two of his officers.

Magrat by the lilies close-up
Magrat by the lilies close-up

Acts 18:1-22

     Paul left Athens and went to Corinth, where he met Aquila and Aquila’s wife Priscilla. Paul stayed with them and worked with them because they were craftsmen in the same business that he was (tent making). Each Sabbath, Paul went to the synagogue and attempted to convince both Jews and Gentiles. Eventually, some of the Jews began to oppose Paul and answer his arguments with insults (apparently with the support of the opinion leaders of the synagogue). When this happened Paul shook the dust from his clothes and went next door to the home of a God-fearing Gentile to teach. The leader of the synagogue, along with his household became believers, as did a large number of other people, Jew and Gentile, in the city.
     Paul preached in Corinth for a year and a half before problems arose. When a new governor was appointed to the region, some of the Jews brought Paul before the new governor. They accused him of teaching people to worship God in ways that were contrary to Jewish law. The governor threw the case out saying that he was not going to judge a case that involved Jewish religious beliefs, not Roman law. The crowd then grabbed the leader of the synagogue (a different man from the one were told earlier had become a believer), named Sosthenes, and beat him in front of the governor, who did nothing to intervene. There are two things that are not clear to me from the passage. The first is, was Sosthenes also a believer, or was he perhaps among those who brought the case before the governor? The second is what group made up the crowd and why did they beat Sosthenes? Were they Jews who had brought the case, unhappy about the outcome? If so, did they beat Sosthenes because they thought he had done a poor job of making their case? Or, was it because he was a believer? Maybe the crowd was composed of people who were angry that the Jews had brought the case in the first place?

Magrat found the catnip
Magrat found the catnip

Psalm 145:1-21

     Another psalm of praise. A key line for me is this:

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.

There are some who read this to say that we should tell each successive generation about the great things which God has done in history, and I heartily agree. However, I think that this is really telling us that we should tell the next generation about the mighty acts which God has done in our lifetimes.
     This psalm reminds us of where to look to see the great things which God has done for us and around us.
The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
The eyes of all look to you in hope;
you give them their food as they need it.
When you open your hand,
you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

The psalmist adds to that another reason to praise and love the Lord.
The Lord is close to all who call on him,
yes, to all who call on him in truth.
He grants the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cries for help and rescues them.

I will recount to those around me the times when God has heard my cries for help and rescued me. And when I face troubles, I will remember that He has done so in the past and trust that He will do so again.

Magrat decides to stay by the catnip
Magrat decides to stay by the catnip

Proverbs 18:1

     Those who pursue selfish ends are unfriendly and those who are unfriendly tend to start quarrels with no good cause.

June 26, 2013 Bible Study — Joyful Are Those Whose God is the Lord

     I have been using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study for over a year. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I started writing this blog because the only way I can get myself to read the Bible everyday is to pretend that I am teaching someone about what it says to me. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.

Rose bush in front of house
Rose bush in front of house

2 Kings 9:14-10:31

     Having been anointed by the prophet sent by Elisha, Jehu led a chariot force to Jezreel, where King Joram had gone after being wounded in battle. King Ahaziah of Judah was visiting his wounded uncle, King Joram, at the time. When the messengers Joram sent out to determine Jehu’s intent joined with Jehu rather than return, KingJoram went out to meet him himself. His nephew, King Ahaziah joined him. When Jehu responded to Joram’s greeting by condemning Jezebel’s (Joram’s mother) idolatry, Joram realized that Jehu had come to kill him. When King Joram turned to flee, Jehu drew his bow and shot him, killing him immediately. King Ahaziah of Judah also fled and Jehu pursued him ordering his men to shoot Ahaziah as well. King Ahaziah was also shot but was able to continue to Megiddo before he died.
     When Jezebel heard that Jehu had killed her son, Joram, she put on her makeup and did her hair before sitting by a window. When Jehu entered the palace, she called down to him that he was a murderer. Jehu responded by asking if anyone in the room with her was on his side. When several of the eunuchs looked down to him, he told them to throw Jezebel out of the window. They did so and she died upon hitting the ground. Jehu consolidated his power by killing all Ahab’s family, fulfilling the prophecy Elijah had made concerning Ahab’s family.
     When Jehu was secure on the throne, he summoned the people of Samaria and told them that he would worship Baal even more fervently than Ahab had done. He then made preparations for a great festival of worship for Baal and sent word throughout Israel summoning all Baal worshipers to it. Jehu had special robes made for the worshipers of Baal and gave them out to them as they arrived. Once all of the Baal worshipers had gathered in the temple of Baal in Samaria, Jehu stationed 80 of his men outside of the temple with orders to let no one escape. Jehu then ordered his men to kill all of the Baal worshipers and destroyed the temple. Jehu destroyed every trace of Baal worship in Israel. But he did not destroy the golden calves which Jeroboam had built and continued the practice of worshiping them.

Lilies preparing to bloom
Lilies preparing to bloom

Acts 17:1-34

     Paul and Silas next went to Thessalonica. As usual, Paul started by going to the synagogue and teaching there first. He made the case for Jesus by expounding on how the prophets predicted that the Messiah would suffer, die and rise from the dead just as Jesus had done. Some of the Jews were convinced by his arguments, as were a large number of God fearing Greek men and prominent women. However, other Jews were angered by Paul’s teaching and rounded up some troublemakers and started a riot against Paul and Silas. They went to the home of Jason looking for them. When they failed to find Paul and Silas there they dragged Jason before the city officials and accused him of treason against Caesar. The city officials made Jason and some others post bond, then let them go.
     The believers sent Paul and Silas out of town to Berea that very night. They were welcomed in Berea where the people studied the Scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas were teaching was consistent with Scripture. As a result many of the Jews became believers as did many prominent Gentiles (men and women). However, when the Jews in Thessalonica who opposed Paul learned they were teaching in Berea some of them came and started stirring up trouble. The believers immediately sent Paul to Athens, while Silas and Timothy stayed behind. When they got to Athens, Paul sent for Silas and Timothy to join him there.
     While Paul was waiting for the others to arrive, he began to preach, both in the synagogue and in the public square. He was willing to engage any who wanted to discuss whether Jew, God-fearing Gentile or those who had no understanding of God. While Paul was doing this a group of Greek philosophers began debating with him. Some of them thought he was speaking nonsense, while others were interested. They invited him to speak to a group of the opinion leaders of the city.
     Paul explained how even a people with a multiplicity of gods like the Athenians knew there was something more than could be explained by their pagan idols. He told them that God had made the universe and mankind so as to direct us towards Himself. Throughout history people have striven to find God and have felt their way towards Him as if in darkness. But now God has revealed Himself in fullness through Jesus Christ, whom God raised from the dead. At this point, Paul lost most of the crowd, who were unwilling to accept the idea of resurrection of the dead. Some laughed in contempt, but some wanted to hear more and a few joined Paul and became believers.

Catnip next to the lilies
Catnip next to the lilies

Psalm 144

     The last few days have been psalms of despair, where the psalmist was suffering from problems and difficulties. However, today is an unmitigated psalm of praise. This is what life is like for those who love and serve the Lord. We go through periods where life is difficult and our trials seem without end. But if we continue to call on the Lord and serve Him through the difficult times, He will bring us through to times of joy. when we will sing with the psalmist:

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.

I will sing a new song to you, O God!
I will sing your praises with a ten-stringed harp.

We will conclude:
Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord.

Day lily
Day lily

Proverbs 17:27-28

     Those who are wise do not speak more than they need to and even those who are foolish will seem wise if they refrain from talking about things which they do not know.

June 25, 2013 Bible Study — Teach Me To Do Your Will

     I have been using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study for over a year. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I started writing this blog because the only way I can get myself to read the Bible everyday is to pretend that I am teaching someone about what it says to me. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.

Lavender, mint and hostas
Lavender, mint and hostas

2 Kings 8-9:13

     Elisha told the woman whose son he had raised from the dead to move out of Israel for a time because a famine was coming. She did as Elisha recommended. When the famine had ended, she moved back to Israel. When she returned to Israel, she went to the king of Israel to request her land back. She got there as the king was talking to Gehazi, Elisha’s servant. As Gehazi talked about the time Elisha had raised her son, she arrived at the court. Gehazi immediately pointed out that she was the mother of the boy whom Elisha had brought back to life. When she confirmed Gehazi’s story, the king ordered that her property be returned to her. This passage confirms that God will look after our interests if we make the effort to serve Him with our resources.
     The passage goes on to recount how Elisha told Hazael that he was going to kill Ben-hadad, king of Aram. It tells us that Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat married Ahab’s daughter and as a result did evil in the sight of God, as did his son, Ahaziah. And finishes by telling us how Elisha sent one of the young men from among the group of prophets to anoint Jehu as king of Israel. After being anointed, Jehu led a revolt of army officers against the existing king of Israel.

Mint patch
Mint patch

Acts 16:16-40

     One day while they were in Philippi, a slave girl who was used as a fortune-teller started following Paul and the rest of his party shouting that they were servants of the Most High God and that they had come to tell people how to be saved. This went on every day for several days until Paul became exasperated. Paul turned to the girl and commanded the demonic spirit which allowed her to tell fortunes to come out of her in the name of Jesus. It immediately departed. The slave girl’s owners, having lost a source of income, roused a mob against Paul and Silas. This led the arrested and beaten. They then threw them into prison.
     Paul and Silas were placed in the inner dungeon and their feet were placed in stocks. During the night Paul and Silas were singing and praying, while the other prisoners listened. There was a violent earthquake in the middle of the night which opened the prison doors and released the locks on the chains holding the prisoners. When the jailer came out of his house and saw that the prison doors were open, he thought the prisoners had escaped. As a result, he drew his sword and prepared to kill himself. Paul quickly called out to him that he should not harm himself as all of the prisoners were still there. The jailer brought Paul and Silas out of the prison and asked what he needed to do to be saved. Paul preached the Gospel to them and they believed. Even though it was the middle of the night, the jailer had Paul and Silas cared for and fed them a meal. Then he and his household were baptized.
     In the morning, the city officials sent word to have Paul and Silas released. At this point, Paul declares that he is a Roman citizen and demands that the city officials come themselves to release them. The city officials were alarmed to discover that they had had Roman citizens beaten and imprisoned without a trial. The city officials came to try to appease Paul and Silas and asked them to leave the city. Paul and Silas returned to Lydia’s house, where they met with the believers and encouraged them some more.
     There are several points that I wanted to highlight. The first is that, unlike the way many people would react, Paul was annoyed by the slave girl following them around proclaiming that they were servants of God. Paul refused to accept acclamation from a demon-possessed person. Another point is that when the jailer and his household expressed belief in Christ, Paul made sure they had a basic understanding of what that meant by teaching them immediately and then he and Silas baptized them. They did not wait to have them complete a class, just as in the other accounts in the New Testament, baptism immediately followed a profession of faith. The final thing that struck me in this passage was that Paul did not make an issue over being punished in violation of his rights until the city officials were trying to make him go away. I am not sure what that means for us today, but it is something that needs to be thought about.

Single sprig of mint
Single sprig of mint

Psalm 143:1-12

     The psalmist proclaims that he will turn to the Lord when depression strikes, that he will not allow deep depression to disrupt his faith in God. Even though he has suffered major setbacks, he still trusts on God to rescue him. He will call on God to show him the path he should follow. I will call on God to teach me to do His will, even when times are difficult and circumstances seem to be stacked against me. He is my God and I know that He will guide me on firm footing and that He will silence my enemies. I will forever be His servant.

Hostas prepare to bloom
Hostas prepare to bloom

Proverbs 17:26

     It is wrong to punish those who are innocent and even worse when honest officials are harshly penalized.

June 24, 2013 Bible Study — There Are More On Our Side Than On Theirs

     I have been using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study for over a year. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I started writing this blog because the only way I can get myself to read the Bible everyday is to pretend that I am teaching someone about what it says to me. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.

Laying out a list field
Laying out a list field

2 Kings 6-7:20

     The king of Aram was raiding Israel, but every time he sent a raiding force the Israelites were ready and waiting for them. As a result he asked his top officers to figure out who the traitor was who kept revealing his plans to the king of Israel. His officers told him that none of them were a traitor. Rather, God was revealing his plans to Elisha who then told the king of Israel, The king of Aram sent scouts to find where Elisha was. He received word that Elisha was in Dothan. So, he sent a large force to capture Elisha.
     When Elisha got up in the morning there were troops everywhere. His servant cried out in fear. Elisha told him not to worry because there were more on their side than against them. Elisha than prayed that God might open his servant’s eyes. The servant’s eyes were opened and he saw that the hills around Elisha were full of horses and chariots of fire. Elisha then called on God to blind the forces of the king of Aram. Elisha then went out and told the enemy forces that they had gone the wrong way and were at the wrong city. He told them that he would lead them to the man they were looking for. He then led the force from Aram in to the middle of Samaria, where they were surrounded by the army of Israel. At that point God opened their eyes and they realized they were surrounded. The king of Israel wanted to kill them, but Elisha convinced him to throw a feast for them and send them home.
     After this the king of Aram stopped raiding Israel. However, some time later, the king of Aram launched a full-scale invasion of Israel and placed Samaria under siege. The starvation in the city got so bad that some of the people resorted to cannibalism. When the king of Israel learned that people were resorting to cannibalism, he went to Elisha, intending to execute him. Elisha told him that by that time the following day, food would be ridiculously cheap. One of the king’s officers told Elisha that what he was predicting was not possible even if God supplied food directly from heaven. Elisha responded that the officer would see it, but would not get a chance to eat any of it.
     That night, just as the sun was setting, four men with leprosy who were sitting at the city gate. They decided that they had nothing to lose by going to the Arameans because if they stayed where they were, or went back into the city, they were going to starve to death. When they got to the edge of the Aramean camp, they discovered that it was empty. The Arameans had heard what they thought was the sound of a large army approaching. They concluded that the king of Israel had hired the Hittites and the Egyptians to relieve the siege. As a result the Aramean army had fled without even packing up their camp. When the lepers discovered that the camp was empty they went in and began eating and drinking. After a bit, they had an attack of conscience and realized that they needed to give this news to the city. They realized that if they were greedy and waited until morning, they were likely to suffer some calamity.
     When the king heard the news, he was sure it was a trap, so he sent scouts out to see if they could locate the Aramean army. The scouts found a trail that the Arameans had left as they discarded clothing and equipment as they fled. They followed the trail all the way to the Jordan River. When they reported this back to the king, the people of Samaria rushed out of the city to plunder the camp. As a result, the prices were what Elisha had prophesied. The king had appointed the officer skeptical of Elisha’s prophecy to manage the people going through the gate, but they had trampled him to death.
     These stories have a common theme: no matter how powerful the forces arrayed against, and how bad the situation appears, God is capable of rescuing us and bringing us into a time of plenty. We need to always remember what Elisha told his servant, “Don’t be afraid! For there are more on our side than on theirs!” This idea is phrased in another way in the book of 1 John: “You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” We need to remember this whenever the troubles we face in this world threaten to overwhelm us. In the first of these two stories, Elisha was surrounded by a large armed force and all he had in physical terms was himself and his servant. Yet God gave him the ability to lead that large armed force to a place where it was surrounded by an overwhelmingly superior armed force and it surrendered peacefully. In the second story, an army was besieging Samaria and Samaria had no force strong enough to break the siege. Yet God caused the besieging army to believe they were about to be overrun by the armies of both of the two superpowers of the day. If we have faith, God will do the same for us. There is also a cautionary tale in the second story. The Israelite officer who told Elisha that his prophecy was impossible saw the prophecy fulfilled but did not get to experience the good times. Let us never fall into the trap of thinking that something is beyond the ability of God to deliver.

Watching the set up
Watching the set up

Acts 15:36-16:15

     Some time after returning from the Jerusalem Council, Paul suggested to Barnabas that they revisit the cities they had preached in on their first trip. Barnabas agreed and wanted to take John Mark with them again. Paul vehemently disagreed to taking John Mark along. Their disagreement was so strong that they ended up parting ways over it. Each went out on their own. This separation worked out to spread the Gospel even further, but it reflects poorly on Paul. Paul was upset that John Mark had left them part way through their first mission trip and was unwilling to give him a second chance (although we know that they were later reconciled). It is worth noting only as a reminder that even Paul occasionally failed to live up to the standard to which we are called.
     Barnabas took John Mark and sailed to Cyprus, while Paul chose Silas and went to Derbe and then Lystra. In Lystra, Paul asked Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman believer and a Greek man, to join them. Despite Paul’s opposition to requiring Gentiles be circumcised, Paul arranged for Timothy to be circumcised. Paul, Silas and Timothy (and whoever else was with them at the time) traveled through Phrygia and Galatia intending to go on into the Roman province of Asia. However, God arranged circumstances to prevent them from doing so. When they came to the province of Mysia, they headed north towards Bithynia. However, once more they were unable to continue as they planned and were forced to travel through Mysia to the seaport of Traos. The first night in Traos, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia asking him to come to Macedonia.
     At this point, Luke starts using the first person plural to refer to Paul’s travels. The group boarded ship and went over to Macedonia, where they traveled overland to Philippi. In Philippi, there was apparently no synagogue and they went outside the city to a place by the riverbank where they expected to find some worshipers of God gathered for prayer. They found some women gathered there, as they had expected, and they began to preach the Gospel. At least one of the women was receptive to the message they preached and accepted Christ. Her name was Lydia and she was baptized along with her household. Luke notes that she was a wealthy merchant and that she invited them to stay at her house while they were in Philippi. Luke’s wording suggests that she was insistent on them staying at her house.
     We have in this passage two lessons. The first is how God used the strife between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark to multiply his mission workers. Not only does God divide Paul and Barnabas so that there are now two mission trips where before there was only going to be one, but He has Paul take Timothy under his wing so that there are two young men (John Mark and Timothy) being groomed for future leadership positions in the Church. The second is that God used obstacles to doing what Paul and those with him viewed as their mission to guide them into a new mission field. There is a little more to it than that. When Paul and Silas ran into an obstacle to their plans, they did not stand still and keep trying to find ways around those obstacles. They kept moving along the ways that were open to them. God then made clear to them His plans for them. The key to following God’s plans for our lives is to keep moving. I like to use this analogy: it is much easier to steer a car that is moving than one that is standing still.

James prepares to fence
James prepares to fence

Psalm 142:1-7

     This psalm ties together the first two passages from today. When we are overwhelmed by our troubles, let us cry out to God. He is the one who knows which way we should turn. He will guide us when we do not know the direction we should take and He will rescue us when those who oppose us are stronger than we can face. Remember that when we face trouble, God will nevertheless be good to us.

Getting ready to fence
Getting ready to fence

Proverbs 17:24-25

     It is foolish to allow ourselves to be distracted from wisdom and from God. If we keep our eyes focused on God, He will reveal to us the wise course. Once He has shown us the wise course, we should follow it and not allow ourselves to be distracted by other possible paths. As today’s passage from Acts makes clear, if God wants us to follow another path, He will block our way on the path we are on.

June 23, 2013 Bible Study — Am I Willing To Wash In the Jordan?

     I have been using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study for over a year. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I started writing this blog because the only way I can get myself to read the Bible everyday is to pretend that I am teaching someone about what it says to me. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.

Magrat with a stick
Magrat with a stick

2 Kings 4:18-5:27

     After a few years, the woman of Shunem’s son became sick and died. She quickly traveled to where Elisha was and asked him if she had requested that a son, if she had asked for her hopes to be raised. Elisha immediately gave his staff to his servant Gehazi and told him to run and lay it on the boy. The woman said that she would not leave Elisha, so Elisha followed on. When Gehazi got to Shunem he did as Elisha had instructed, but the boy was unresponsive. When Elisha arrived he went in to where the boy lay and after much effort was able to return the boy to life. He then returned the boy to his mother.
     Elisha returned to Gilgal where he was the leader of a group of prophets. There was a famine in the land and one day Elisha told his servant to make a stew for the group. One of the young men gathered some herbs and a few gourds. He shredded them and put them in the stew. Unfortunately, the gourds were poisonous. After a few of the men present had tasted the stew, they told Elisha that the stew was poisonous and would not eat it. Elisha took some flour and put it in the stew. He then told the group that the stew was now safe to eat. They ate it and no one was harmed. On another occasion, a farmer brought Elisha twenty loaves of bread and some grain. Elisha told his servant to give it to the people to eat. His servant told him that it was not enough to feed that many. Elisha told his servant that God had said that everyone would eat and there would be leftovers. When they had given the food to the people, everyone ate and there were leftovers.
     Naaman was the well-respected commander of the king of Aram’s army. However, he suffered from leprosy. Naaman’s wife had a slave girl from Israel as one of her maids. The Israelite girl told Naaman’s wife that she wished Naaman would go to the prophet in Samaria, who would heal him of his leprosy. When the king of Aram heard what the girl had said, he wrote a letter asking for Naaman to be healed of leprosy and sent him to the king of Israel. Naaman went to the king of Israel. However, the king of Israel was upset when he read the letter because he thought the king of Aram was just looking for an excuse to start a war. Elisha heard about it and told the king to send Naaman to him.
     So Naaman went to Elisha’s house. When he got to the door of Elisha’s house, Elisha sent out a messenger and told Naaman to wash himself the Jordan River seven times and he would be healed. Naaman’s initial reaction was anger because Elisha himself did not come out to meet him and cure him directly. Going on from that reaction, Naaman wanted to know why he should wash in the Jordan, couldn’t he wash in one of the rivers closer to home? Naaman’s servants pointed out to him that if Elisha had told him to do something difficult and noteworthy, he would have done so. So, why not at least try what the prophet had instructed? Naaman was convinced and did as Elisha had instructed. He was healed. Naaman returned to Elisha, praised God and offered Elisha a gift. Elisha refused to accept any gifts from Naaman, although Naaman was insistent. Naaman asked Elisha for permission to take bags of dirt from there back with home with him. He told Elisha that he would never again worship any god other than the God of Israel, nor would he offer sacrifices to them. However, he asked that Elisha intercede for God to forgive him when he accompanied the King of Aram to the temple of his god and had to bow down there. Elisha told Naaman to go in peace.
     The passage goes on to describe what happened when Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, went after Naaman to get some of the things which he had offered Elisha. However, to me the main take away from this passage is what Naaman’s servants said to him when he was upset with Elisha’s instructions. They told Naaman that if Elisha had asked him to do some great and difficult task in order to be healed, he would have leapt at the opportunity. However, when Elisha asked him to do something simple and humbling, he balked. How often do we react the same way when God gives us instructions? We are looking for the great task that God wants us to undertake, but are we willing to take on the tasks we perceive as minor and of little importance when God directs us to them?

Magrat's attention is captured
Magrat’s attention is captured

Acts 15:1-35

     After Paul and Barnabas had returned to Antioch in Syria, some believers came down from Jerusalem and told the Gentile believers that they needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas strongly disagreed with them and argued with them passionately. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to get a decision from the church there on the issue. They told the churches along the way that Gentiles were being converted and the believers who heard the news rejoiced to hear it. When they got to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas reported on the ministry God had given them. Then some believers who had been Pharisees stood up and said that the Gentiles needed to be circumcised and taught to follow the law of Moses. The important thing to remember is that up until this point, the Christian Church was, and viewed itself as, a subset of Judaism. With few, if any, exceptions, the Christians of that day viewed themselves as Jews who followed the prophesied Messiah, not as followers of a new religion.
     The apostles and other elders of the church in Jerusalem met to discuss the issue. The meeting went on some time while everyone shared their view on whether or not Gentile believers should be told to follow the law of Moses. Finally, Peter stood up and addressed the group. He told them that he had been chosen by God to preach to the Gentiles and that when he did so, they received the Holy Spirit. God had cleansed them of sin through their faith just as He had the Jewish believers. God had made no distinction between them, why did they now want to burden the Gentiles with rules that neither his listeners nor their ancestors had been able to keep? God had saved both groups through the undeserved grace of Jesus. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke about the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
     At this point James stood up and gave his opinion about the decision that should be made. James said that they should not make things difficult for those Gentiles who were seeking to turn to God. They should tell the new believers to abstain from food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. The law of Moses had been taught in the synagogues for generations and had little impact on bringing people to a desire to serve God. The council agreed with James’ decision and wrote a letter to send to the believers. In addition, they chose a delegation to accompany Paul and Barnabas in taking the letter to the church in Antioch.

Magrat resting
Magrat resting

Psalm 141:1-10

     Another psalm that I will make my prayer today and that sums up so much of what I wish to pray everyday. I cry to the Lord and ask for His help. But for what do I cry?

Take control of what I say, O Lord,
and guard my lips.

This! Yes, this is the first of my requests to God. I want God to give me the words I should speak and to seal my lips against the words which I should not speak. The next line is another one of my fervent prayers.
Don’t let me drift toward evil
or take part in acts of wickedness.
Don’t let me share in the delicacies
of those who do wrong.

It is oh, so easy to little by little drift into doing that which is wrong. I too easily justify doing what I know I should not by thinking “It’s not that bad.” The other night a friend came over to discuss her struggle with determining how God wanted her to deal with associating with other friends who were living immoral lives. I was challenged because so rarely do I feel the desire to confront my friends with how they are hurting themselves (and others)through their sins. The friend who visited was struggling with how to witness to people specifically about the sins they are committing. How do we tell our friends that what they are doing will cause them pain without coming across as if we are telling them not to have fun? God give the words to say and the desire to say them.

Rosebud close-up
Rosebud close-up

Proverbs 17:23

     I am not sure what to say here. I think this proverb tells us that when government officials act in secret it is usually because they know that what they are doing is wicked. Actually, most of time when anyone acts in secret it is because they know that what they are doing is wicked.

June 22, 2013 Bible Study — We Are Merely Human Beings

     I have been using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study for over a year. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I started writing this blog because the only way I can get myself to read the Bible everyday is to pretend that I am teaching someone about what it says to me. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.

Magrat poses for the picture
Magrat poses for the picture

2 Kings 3-4:17

     When Ahab’s son Joram became king of Israel, he tore down the idol to Baal which Ahab had set up, but he continued the practices of Jeroboam. The passage tells us that he did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as much as his father. The king of Moab had paid tribute to Israel, but after Ahab’s death he stopped. Joram mobilized the army of Israel to put down this rebellion. He asked Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom to assist him. They both agreed. Joram decided to attack Moab by going through the wilderness. They traveled seven days and found no water.
     Joram cried out in despair to the other kings that God had brought them there to be defeated by the king of Moab. Jehoshaphat asked if there was a prophet of God in the camp whom they could ask what they should do. One of the officers of the army of Israel replied that Elisha, who had been Elijah’s assistant, was there. Jehoshaphat said that they should consult him. Elisha told the kings that he was only willing to consult the Lord for them because of Jehoshaphat. Elisha then told the kings that there would be no wind or rain, but the valley would fill with water. Not only that, but they would be victorious over the army of Moab and conquer the best of their towns.<
     The next morning water began to flow from the direction of Edom and soon there was water throughout the area where the armies were camped. Meanwhile the people of Moab had mobilized for war and were waiting for the three armies to attack. When they got up on that morning, the sun shown on the water and made it appear to be blood. They concluded that the three armies had attacked and killed each other. The army of Moab rushed out to loot the camp. As they entered the camp the army of Israel attacked them. The army of Moab was taken by surprise and routed. Israel easily conquered most of Moab until they came to a final city and besieged it. When the king of Moab failed in a breakout attempt, he took his son and heir and sacrificed him on the wall. This created a great anger against Israel among the people of Moab which led the Israelites to withdraw to Israel.
     The widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha for help. A creditor was threatening to take her two sons as slaves if she did not pay him. Elisha asked her what she had that she could sell. She responded that she had nothing except a flask of olive oil. Elisha told her to borrow as many jars as she could get from her neighbors. When she had done that she was to go into her house and close the doors. Then she was to pour oil into each of the empty jars until it was full. The widow did as Elisha had instructed until all of the jars were filled. When she told Elisha what had happened, he told her to sell the oil to pay the debt and live off the money left over.
     When Elisha visited the town of Shunem a well-to-do woman who lived there insisted that he eat at her house. After that whenever Elisha went to Shunem, he ate at her house. She went to her husband and told him that they should build a room for Elisha to stay in when he was in Shunem because he was a man of God. After that when Elisha came to Shunem he stayed there. One day he asked what he could do for her and she responded that she had all she needed. Elisha then asked his servant what they could do for her. His servant told him that the woman had no son and her husband was old. Elisha then called the woman and told her that by the following year she would have a son. She begged him not to raise her hopes, nevertheless she gave birth to a son about that time the following year.
     All of the stories in this passage tell how God provides for those who rely on Him. In the first story He even provided for those who had made bad decisions (the armies should not have marched through the wilderness if they did not know where to find water there).

Pachysandra doing well in its new location
Pachysandra doing well in its new location

Acts 14:8-28

     In the next town, a man who had been crippled from birth was sitting and listening to Paul preach. While he was preaching, Paul looked directly at the man and realized he had the faith to be healed. Paul called to the man, “Stand up!” The man jumped up and began walking. The crowd started talking among themselves that Paul and Barnabas must be gods. They decided that Barnabas was Zeus and Paul was Hermes (because Paul was the one doing most of the talking). The Temple of Zeus was located just outside of town. The priest of Zeus and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to Barnabas and Saul. When Paul and Barnabas realized what the people were doing, they became frenetic trying to stop them. They insisted to the people that they were mere men and encouraged the people to stop worshiping idols. Soon after some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium. They won the crowds to their side and stoned Paul. Thinking he was dead, they dragged him out of town. The believers gathered around Paul and he got back up and returned to town. The following day Paul and Barnabas left for Derbe. After preaching in Derbe for a while and converting large numbers they returned through the cities they had visited and appointed elders in each church. They preached in a few more towns and then returned to Antioch in Syria.

Purple wildflowers
Purple wildflowers

Psalm 140:1-13

     Today’s psalm is a prayer of deliverance. If we ask Him, God will rescue us from the wicked and protect us from the violent. God will help those who are persecuted and give justice to the poor. The godly will gladly live in His presence. THe Lord is my God and will listen to my cries for mercy.

Rose buds
Rose buds

Proverbs 17:22

     This proverb tells us something both important and difficult. If you are cheerful, you will be healthier. Yet if your health is poor it will be difficult to be cheerful. Nevertheless, being a glum-gus brings us no benefit, so we should always strive to be cheerful since, not only do most of us prefer it when we are cheerful, but our lives go better.