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1 Kings 9
2 Chronicles 8
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God’s Second Appearance to Solomon

1 Kings 9:1     And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he wanted to do, 2 that the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 And the Lord said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 4 Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, 5 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’ 6 But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight. Israel will be a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8 And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and will hiss, and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9 Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore the Lord has brought all this calamity on them.’ ”

Solomon and Hiram Exchange Gifts

     10 Now it happened at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord and the king’s house 11 (Hiram the king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress and gold, as much as he desired), that King Solomon then gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. 12 Then Hiram went from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, but they did not please him. 13 So he said, “What kind of cities are these which you have given me, my brother?” And he called them the land of Cabul, as they are to this day. 14 Then Hiram sent the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold.

Solomon’s Additional Achievements

     15 And this is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: to build the house of the Lord, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. 16 (Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and taken Gezer and burned it with fire, had killed the Canaanites who dwelt in the city, and had given it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife.) 17 And Solomon built Gezer, Lower Beth Horon, 18 Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land of Judah, 19 all the storage cities that Solomon had, cities for his chariots and cities for his cavalry, and whatever Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.

     20 All the people who were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who were not of the children of Israel— 21 that is, their descendants who were left in the land after them, whom the children of Israel had not been able to destroy completely— from these Solomon raised forced labor, as it is to this day. 22 But of the children of Israel Solomon made no forced laborers, because they were men of war and his servants: his officers, his captains, commanders of his chariots, and his cavalry.

     23 Others were chiefs of the officials who were over Solomon’s work: five hundred and fifty, who ruled over the people who did the work.

     24 But Pharaoh’s daughter came up from the City of David to her house which Solomon had built for her. Then he built the Millo.

     25 Now three times a year Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar which he had built for the Lord, and he burned incense with them on the altar that was before the Lord. So he finished the temple.

     26 King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. 27 Then Hiram sent his servants with the fleet, seamen who knew the sea, to work with the servants of Solomon. 28 And they went to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and twenty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon.

Solomon’s Additional Achievements

2 Chronicles 8:1     It came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the house of the Lord and his own house, 2 that the cities which Hiram had given to Solomon, Solomon built them; and he settled the children of Israel there. Now above we read that Solomon had given these cities to Hiram and after looking at them Hiram did not want them. It may not have been an insult. Maybe they were too far, difficult to defend etc. It appears he gave them back to Solomon and Solomon now restores them for himself. 3 And Solomon went to Hamath Zobah and seized it. 4 He also built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the storage cities which he built in Hamath. 5 He built Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon, fortified cities with walls, gates, and bars, 6 also Baalath and all the storage cities that Solomon had, and all the chariot cities and the cities of the cavalry, and all that Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.

     7 All the people who were left of the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who were not of Israel— 8 that is, their descendants who were left in the land after them, whom the children of Israel did not destroy—from these Solomon raised forced labor, as it is to this day. 9 But Solomon did not make the children of Israel servants for his work. Some were men of war, captains of his officers, captains of his chariots, and his cavalry. 10 And others were chiefs of the officials of King Solomon: two hundred and fifty, who ruled over the people.

     11 Now Solomon brought the daughter of Pharaoh up from the City of David to the house he had built for her, for he said, “My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places to which the ark of the Lord has come are holy.” Do not imagine that Solomon was unaware he should not take foreign wives.

     12 Then Solomon offered burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of the Lord which he had built before the vestibule, 13 according to the daily rate, offering according to the commandment of Moses, for the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the three appointed yearly feasts—the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. 14 And, according to the order of David his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, the Levites for their duties (to praise and serve before the priests) as the duty of each day required, and the gatekeepers by their divisions at each gate; for so David the man of God had commanded. 15 They did not depart from the command of the king to the priests and Levites concerning any matter or concerning the treasuries.

     16 Now all the work of Solomon was well-ordered from the day of the foundation of the house of the Lord until it was finished. So the house of the Lord was completed.

     17 Then Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the seacoast, in the land of Edom. 18 And Hiram sent him ships by the hand of his servants, and servants who knew the sea. They went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and fifty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon.

The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]

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  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On this day, August 11, 1984, Congress voted the Equal Access Act into law, allowing students who wish to conduct religious meetings the same access to schools as other groups. President Ronald Reagan stated: “In 1962, the Supreme Court… banned… prayers. In 1963, the Court banned the reading of the Bible… We had to pass a special law… to allow student prayer groups the same access to school rooms… that a Young Marxist Society… enjoys… Without God there is a coarsening of the society… If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

If you have God's presence,
you have favor.
One minute of God's presence
can accomplish more than 20 years of your striving.
--- Heidi Baker

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.
--- Thomas Merton

Once my hands were always trying,
Trying hard to do my best;
Now my heart is sweetly trusting,
And my soul is all at rest.
--- A. B. Simpson

Sin, in the biblical perspective, is both an act and a state ….What should be borne in mind is that the bias of sin precedes the act of sin.
--- D.G. Bloesch
Essentials of Evangelical Theology Volume 1: God, Authority, & Salvation

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     4. Now when they are to go out of their camp, the trumpet gives a sound, at which time nobody lies still, but at the first intimation they take down their tents, and all is made ready for their going out; then do the trumpets sound again, to order them to get ready for the march; then do they lay their baggage suddenly upon their mules, and other beasts of burden, and stand, as at the place of starting, ready to march; when also they set fire to their camp, and this they do because it will be easy for them to erect another camp, and that it may not ever be of use to their enemies. Then do the trumpets give a sound the third time, that they are to go out, in order to excite those that on any account are a little tardy, that so no one may be out of his rank when the army marches. Then does the crier stand at the general's right hand, and asks them thrice, in their own tongue, whether they be now ready to go out to war or not? To which they reply as often, with a loud and cheerful voice, saying, "We are ready." And this they do almost before the question is asked them: they do this as filled with a kind of martial fury, and at the same time that they so cry out, they lift up their right hands also.

     5. When, after this, they are gone out of their camp, they all march without noise, and in a decent manner, and every one keeps his own rank, as if they were going to war. The footmen are armed with breastplates and head-pieces, and have swords on each side; but the sword which is upon their left side is much longer than the other, for that on the right side is not longer than a span. Those foot-men also that are chosen out from the rest to be about the general himself have a lance and a buckler, but the rest of the foot soldiers have a spear and a long buckler, besides a saw and a basket, a pick-axe and an axe, a thong of leather and a hook, with provisions for three days, so that a footman hath no great need of a mule to carry his burdens. The horsemen have a long sword on their right sides, axed a long pole in their hand; a shield also lies by them obliquely on one side of their horses, with three or more darts that are borne in their quiver, having broad points, and not smaller than spears. They have also head-pieces and breastplates, in like manner as have all the footmen. And for those that are chosen to be about the general, their armor no way differs from that of the horsemen belonging to other troops; and he always leads the legions forth to whom the lot assigns that employment.

     6. This is the manner of the marching and resting of the Romans, as also these are the several sorts of weapons they use. But when they are to fight, they leave nothing without forecast, nor to be done off-hand, but counsel is ever first taken before any work is begun, and what hath been there resolved upon is put in execution presently; for which reason they seldom commit any errors; and if they have been mistaken at any time, they easily correct those mistakes. They also esteem any errors they commit upon taking counsel beforehand to be better than such rash success as is owing to fortune only; because such a fortuitous advantage tempts them to be inconsiderate, while consultation, though it may sometimes fail of success, hath this good in it, that it makes men more careful hereafter; but for the advantages that arise from chance, they are not owing to him that gains them; and as to what melancholy accidents happen unexpectedly, there is this comfort in them, that they had however taken the best consultations they could to prevent them.

     7. Now they so manage their preparatory exercises of their weapons, that not the bodies of the soldiers only, but their souls may also become stronger: they are moreover hardened for war by fear; for their laws inflict capital punishments, not only for soldiers running away from the ranks, but for slothfulness and inactivity, though it be but in a lesser degree; as are their generals more severe than their laws, for they prevent any imputation of cruelty toward those under condemnation, by the great rewards they bestow on the valiant soldiers; and the readiness of obeying their commanders is so great, that it is very ornamental in peace; but when they come to a battle, the whole army is but one body, so well coupled together are their ranks, so sudden are their turnings about, so sharp their hearing as to what orders are given them, so quick their sight of the ensigns, and so nimble are their hands when they set to work; whereby it comes to pass that what they do is done quickly, and what they suffer they bear with the greatest patience. Nor can we find any examples where they have been conquered in battle, when they came to a close fight, either by the multitude of the enemies, or by their stratagems, or by the difficulties in the places they were in; no, nor by fortune neither, for their victories have been surer to them than fortune could have granted them. In a case, therefore, where counsel still goes before action, and where, after taking the best advice, that advice is followed by so active an army, what wonder is it that Euphrates on the east, the ocean on the west, the most fertile regions of Libya on the south, and the Danube and the Rhine on the north, are the limits of this empire? One might well say that the Roman possessions are not inferior to the Romans themselves.

     8. This account I have given the reader, not so much with the intention of commending the Romans, as of comforting those that have been conquered by them, and for the deterring others from attempting innovations under their government. This discourse of the Roman military conduct may also perhaps be of use to such of the curious as are ignorant of it, and yet have a mind to know it. I return now from this digression.

          The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 22:22-23
     by D.H. Stern

22     Don’t exploit the helpless, because they are helpless,
and don’t crush the poor in court,
23     for ADONAI will plead their case for them
and withhold life from those who defraud them.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Mushrooms On The Moor
     by Frank W. Boreham


     Just along the old rut-riddled road that winds through the bush on its way to Bulman's Gully there lives a poor old man who fancies that he is of no use in the world. I am going to send him an onion. I am convinced that it will cure him of his most distressing malady. I shall wrap it up in tissue paper, pack it in a dainty box, tie it with silk ribbons, and post it without delay. No gift could be more appropriate. The good man's argument is very plausible, but an onion will draw out all its defects. He thinks, because he never hears any voice trumpeting his fame or chanting his praise, that he is therefore without any real worth or value to his fellow men. Could anything be more preposterous? Who ever heard a panegyric in praise of onions? At what concert was the song of the onion sung? Roses and violets, daisies and daffodils, are the theme of every warbler; but when does the onion come in for adulation? Run through your great poets and show me the epic, or even the sonnet, addressed to the onion! Are we, therefore, to assume that onions have no value in a world like this? What a wealth of appetizing piquancy would vanish from our tables if the onion were to come no more! As a relish, as a food, and as a medicine, the onion is simply invaluable; yet no orator ever loses himself in rhetorical transports in honour of onions! It is clearly not safe to assume that because we are not much praised, we are therefore of not much profit. And so I repeat my suggestion that if any man is known to be depressed over his apparent uselessness, it would be a service to humanity in general, and to that member of the race in particular, to post him an onion.

     'I always bless God for making anything so strong as an onion!' exclaimed William Morris, in a fine and characteristic burst of fervour. That is the point: an onion is so strong. The very strength of a thing often militates against applause. If a strong man lifted a bag of potatoes we should think no more about it; but if a schoolboy picked it up and ran off with it we should be speechless with amazement. We take the strength of the strong for granted; it is the strength of the weak that we applaud. If a man is known to be good or useful or great, we treat his goodness or usefulness or greatness as one of the given factors of life's intricate problem, and straightway dismiss it from our minds. It is when goodness or usefulness or greatness breaks out in unexpected places or in unexpected people that we vociferously shout our praise. We applaud the singers at a concert because it appeals to us as such an amazing and delightful incongruity that so practical and prosaic a creature as Man should suddenly burst into melody; but when the angels sang at Bethlehem the shepherds never thought of clapping. The onion is therefore in company with the angels. I am not surprised that the Egyptians accorded the onion divine honours and carved its image on their monuments. I am prepared to admit that onions do not move in the atmosphere of sentiment and of poetry. Tears have been shed over onions, as every housewife knows. Shakespeare speaks of the tears that live in an onion. But, as Shakespeare implies, they are crocodile tears—without tenderness and without emotion. Old John Wolcott, the satirist, tells how

. . . . . . Master Broadbrim
  Pored o'er his father's will and dropped the onioned tear.

     And Bernard Shaw writes of 'the undertaker's handkerchief, duly onioned with some pathetic phrase.' No, onions do not lend themselves to passion or to pathos. You would scarcely decorate the church with onions for your sister's wedding, or plant a row of onions on a hero's grave. And yet I scarcely know why. For, in a suitable setting, a touch of warm romance may light up even so apparently prosaic a theme. The coming of the swallows in the spring is scarcely a more delightful event in Cornwall than the annual arrival of the onion-sellers from Brittany. What a picturesque world we invade when we get among those dreamy old fishing-villages that dot the Cornish coast!

Gold mists upon the sea and sky,
    The hills are wrapped in silver veils,
  The fishing-boats at anchor lie,
    Nor flap their idle orange sails.

     The wild and rugged sea-front is itself suggestive of rich romance and reminiscent of bold adventure. The smugglers, the pirates, the wreckers, and the Spanish mariners knew every bluff and headland perfectly. And, however the world beyond may have changed, these tiny hamlets have triumphantly defied the teeth of time. They know no alteration. The brogue of the people is strange but rhythmic, and, though pleasant to hear, very hard for ordinary mortals to understand. The fisherfolk, with their strapping and stalwart forms, their bronzed and weather-beaten features, their dark, idyllic eyes, their tanned and swarthy skins, their odd and old-world garb, together with their general air of being the daughters of the ocean and the sons of the storm, seem to be a race by themselves. And he who tarries long enough among them to become infected by the charm of their secluded and well-ordered lives knows that one of the events of their uneventful year is the coming of the onion-sellers from over the sea. The historic connexion between Cornwall and Brittany is very ancient, and is a romance in itself. The English and French coasts, as they face each other there, are very much alike—broken, precipitous, and grand. The peoples live pretty much the same kind of lives on either side of the Channel. And when the onion-sellers come from France they are greeted with enthusiasm by the Cornish people, and although they speak their own tongue, they are perfectly understood. See! there is one of the Breton onion-sellers lounging among a knot of fishermen near the door of yonder picturesque old Cornish cottage, whilst the wife stands in the open doorway, arms a-kimbo, listening as the foreigner tells of the things that he has seen across the Channel since last he visited this coast. And up the hill there, on the rickety old settle, beneath the creaking signboard of the village inn, is another such group. As I gaze upon these masculine but kindly faces I am half inclined to withdraw my too hasty admission that onions have nothing about them of sentiment, poetry, or romance.

     It always strikes me as a funny thing about onions that, however fond a man may be of the onions themselves, he detests things that are oniony. Give him onions, and he will devour them with magnificent relish. But, through some slip in the kitchen, let his porridge or his tea taste of onions, and his wry face is a sight worth seeing! A friend of mine keeps a large apiary. One summer he was in great glee at the immense stores of honey that his bees were collecting. Then, one dreadful day, he tasted it. The dainty little square of comb, oozing with the exuding fluid, was passed round the table. Horror sat upon every face! It turned out that the bees had discovered a large onion plantation some distance away, and had gathered their heavy stores from that odorous and tainted source! What could be more abominable, even to a lover of onions, than oniony honey? We remember Thackeray and his oniony sandwiches. Now why is it possible for me to love onions and to hate all things oniony? The fact is that the world has a few vigorous, decided, elementary things that absolutely decline to be modified or watered down. 'Onions is onions!' as a well-known character in fiction remarked on a memorable occasion, and there is a world of significance in the bald assertion. There are some things that are as old as the world, and as universal as man, and that are too vivid and pronounced to humble their pride or compromise their own distinctive glory. The exquisite shock of the bather as his naked body plunges into the flowing tide; the instinctive recoil on seeing for the first time a dead human body; the delicious thrill with which the lover presses for the first time his lady's lips; the terrifying roar of a lion, the flaunting scarlet of a poppy, and the inimitable flavour of an onion—these are among the world's most familiar quantities, the things that decline to be modified or changed. You might as well ask for an ice-cream with the chill off as ask for a diluted edition of any of these vivid and primitive things. Onions may be regarded by a man as simply delicious, but oniony honey or oniony tea! The bather's plunge is a rapture to every stinging and startled nerve in his body, but to stand ankle-deep in the surf, shivering with folded arms in the breeze that scatters the spray! Life is full of delightful things that are a transport to the soul if we take them as they are, but that become a torment and an abomination if we water them down. And it is just because Christianity itself is so distinctive, so outstanding, so boldly pronounced a thing, that we insist on its being unadulterated. Even a worldling feels that a Christian, to be tolerable, must be out and out. The man who waters down his religion is like the shivering bather who, feeling the cold, cold waters tickling his toes, cannot muster up the courage to plunge; he is like the man who wants an ice-cream with the chill off; he is like oniony honey or oniony tea!

     A man cannot, of course, live upon onions. Onions have their place and their purpose, and, as I have said, are simply invaluable. But they must be kept to that place and to that purpose. The modern tendency is to eat nothing but onions. We are fast becoming the victims of a perfect passion for piquancy. Time was when we expected our newspapers to tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We don't care a rap about the truth now, so long as they'll give us a thrill. We must have onions. We used to demand of the novelist a love-story; now he must be morbidly sexual and grimly sensational. Our grandfathers went to a magic lantern entertainment and thought it a furious frolic. And on Sundays they prayed. 'From lightning and tempest; from plague, pestilence, and famine; from battle and murder, and from sudden death, Good Lord, deliver us!' Their grandchildren pray, 'From all churches and chapels, Good Lord, deliver us!' And, during the week, they like to see all the blood-curdling horrors of lightning and tempest; of plague, pestilence, and famine; of battle, murder, and of sudden death, enacted before their starting eyes with never a flicker to remind them that the film is only a film. The dramas, the dances, and the dresses of the period fortify my contention. The cry is for onions, and the stronger the better. It is not a healthy sign. Mr. H. G. Wells, in his graphic description of the changes that overcame Bromstead, and turned it from green fields into filthy slums, says that he noticed that 'there seemed to be more boards by the railway every time I passed, advertising pills and pickles, tonics and condiments, and such-like solicitudes of a people with no natural health or appetite left in them.' The pills, that is to say, kept pace with the pickles. The more pickles Bromstead ate, the more pills Bromstead wanted. That is the worst of the passion for piquancy. The soul grows sick if fed on sensations. Onions are splendid things, but you cannot live upon onions. Pickles inevitably lead to pills.

     But that is not all. For the trouble is that, if I develop an inordinate appetite for onions, I lose all relish for more delicately flavoured foods. The most impressive instance of such a dietary tragedy is recorded in my Bible. 'The children of Israel wept and said, "We remember the onions, but now there is nothing except this manna before our eyes!"' Onions seem to have a special connexion with Egypt. Herodotus tells us that the men who built the Pyramids fed upon onions, although the priests were forbidden to touch them. 'We remember the onions!' cried the children of Israel, looking wistfully back at Egypt, 'but now we have nothing but this manna!' The onions actually destroyed their appetite for angels' food! That, I repeat, is the most mournful aspect of our modern and insatiable passion for piquancy. If I let my soul absorb itself in the sensational novel, the hair-raising drama, and the blood-curdling film, I find myself losing appreciation for the finer and gentler things in life. I no longer glory, as I used to do, in the sweetness of the morning air and the glitter of the dew-drenched grass; in the purling stream and the fern-draped hills; in the curling waves and the twinkling stars. The bound of the hare and the flight of the sea-bird lose their charm for me. The world is robbed of its wonder and its witchery when my eyes grow accustomed to the gaudy blinding glare. Jenny Lind was asked why she renounced the stage. She was sitting at the moment on the sands by the seaside, with her Bible on her knee. She pointed her questioner to the setting sun, transforming the ocean into a sea of glory. 'I found,' she said, 'that I was losing my taste for that, and'—holding up her Bible—'my taste for this; so I gave it up!' She was a wise woman. Onions are fine things in their own way. God has undoubtedly left a place in His world for the strong, vivid, elemental things. But they must be kept to that place. God has strewn the ground around me with the food that angels eat, and I must allow nothing on earth to destroy my taste for such sublime and wondrous fare.

Mushrooms on the Moor
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                This experience must come

     And he saw him no more. --- 2 Kings 2:12.

     It is not wrong to depend upon Elijah as long as God gives him to you, but remember the time will come when he will have to go; when he stands no more to you as your guide and leader, because God does not intend he should. You say—‘I cannot go on without Elijah.’ God says you must.

     Alone at your Jordan. v. 14. Jordan is the type of separation where there is no fellowship with anyone else, and where no one can take the responsibility for you. You have to put to the test now what you learned when you were with your Elijah. You have been to Jordan over and over again with Elijah, but now you are up against it alone. It is no use saying you cannot go; this experience has come, and you must go. If you want to know whether God is the God you have faith to believe Him to be, then go through your Jordan alone.

     Alone at your Jericho. v. 15. Jericho is the place where you have seen your Elijah do great things. When you come to your Jericho you have a strong disinclination to take the initiative and trust in God, you want someone else to take it for you. If you remain true to what you learned with Elijah, you will get the sign that God is with you.

     Alone at your Bethel. v. 23. At your Bethel you will find yourself at your wits’ end and at the beginning of God’s wisdom. When you get to your wits’ end and feel inclined to succumb to panic, don’t; stand true to God and He will bring His truth out in a way that will make your life a sacrament. Put into practice what you learned with your Elijah, use his cloak and pray. Determine to trust in God and do not look for Elijah any more.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

     the Poetry of RS Thomas


And having built it
  I set about furnishing it
  To my taste: first moss, then grass
  Annually renewed, and animals
  To divert me: faces stared in
  From the wild. I thought up the flowers
  Then birds. I found the bacteria
  Sheltering in primordial
  Darkness and called them forth
  To the light. Quickly the earth
  Teemed. Yet still an absence
  Disturbed me. I slept and dreamed
  Of a likeness, fastening it,
  When I woke, to a slow
  Music; in love with it
  For itself, giving it freedom
  To love me; risking the disappointment.


Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Exodus 20:1–2

     BIBLE TEXT / Exodus 20:1–2 / God spoke all these words, saying: I the Lord am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods besides Me.

     MIDRASH TEXT / Exodus Rabbah 29, 1 / I the Lord am your God. Thus it is written, “Has any people heard the voice of a god [elohim] speaking …?” [
Deuteronomy 4:33]. Heretics asked Rabbi Simlai, “Are there many gods in the world?” He said to them, “Why do you say this?” “Because it is written, ‘Has any people heard the voice of a god [elohim] speaking?’ ” He said to them, “Then it would have said מְדַבְּרִים/medabrim [speaking, plural], rather than מְדַבֵּר/medaber [speaking, singular].” His students said to him, “Rabbi, you have dismissed them with a crushed reed! But what do you answer us?” Rabbi Levi responded, saying to them, “ ‘Has any people heard the voice of a god [elohim] speaking?’ How [is this to be understood]? If it had been written ‘The voice of the Lord is [equals] His power’ then the world could not exist! Rather, ‘The voice of the Lord is power’ [Psalm 29:4]—each [listener understanding] according to his power. The young according to their power, the old according to their power, children according to their power. The Holy One, praised is He, said to Israel, ‘Just because you heard many voices, don’t think that there are many gods in heaven. But know that I the Lord am your God, as it says, “I the Lord am your God” ’ ”

     CONTEXT / This Midrash is based on an oddity in one of God’s Hebrew names. The word Elohim has the form of a Hebrew plural noun. (The singular, Eloah, is also used of God, though much less frequently.) Furthermore, because it is in the plural, the Hebrew word Elohim is also used in the Bible to describe foreign gods. Thus, in the phrase “You shall have no other gods besides Me,” the text uses this same word Elohim. The reader must figure out from context when Elohim is used to mean the one God or the many gods. At times, later commentators noted in the margins of the printed Bible whether the use was sacred or not.

     This ambiguity in the Hebrew leads certain people to question if Elohim in our verse refers to foreign gods. Heretics asked Rabbi Simlai, “Are there many gods in the world?” The מִינִים/minim, or “heretics,” were any number of small groups of people who adopted non-normative (as far as the Rabbis were concerned) Jewish beliefs and practices. Rabbi Simlai answers, “Then it would have said מְדַבְּרִים/medabrim [speaking, plural], rather than מְדַבֵּר/medaber [speaking, singular].” The verb “speaking” in this sentence is in the singular, clearly indicating that the word Elohim refers to the one God, not gods.

     His students said to him, “Rabbi, you have dismissed them with a crushed reed! But what do you answer us?” The words of Rabbi Simlai’s students, which seem like a compliment for their teacher, are actually a challenge. They likely mean, “You gave them a flimsy explanation, and they took it!” These students demand a much more substantive answer. The Midrash brings an answer in the name of Rabbi Levi, “Has any people heard the voice of a god [Elohim] speaking?” He quotes a verse from
Psalm 29: “The voice of the Lord is power.” Had the verse read “The voice of the Lord is His power,” then God’s voice would equal all of God’s power, which would destroy the entire world. Instead, the verse reads, “The voice of the Lord is power.” As the Rabbis interpret it, the word “power” refers not to God’s capabilities but to the capabilities of the Israelites listening to the voice of God. In other words, “the voice of the Lord is [in the] power”—in the power of each person to hear God in his or her own way.

     The Rabbis interpret this to mean that even though God speaks in many voices and each person hears God uniquely, there is still only one Deity. “Just because you heard many voices, don’t think that there are many gods.” As the verse from the Bible text asserts, “I”—in the singular—“the Lord am your God.”

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     August 11

     My lover is mine and I am his. --- Song of Songs 2:16.

     Let me press [two more] duties on those who have this marriage union with Christ. (The Essential Works of John Flavel)

     1. Adorn this marriage relationship, so that you may be a crown to your husband.

     Wear a veil. We read of the spouse’s veil (
Song 5:7). This veil is humility.

     Put on your jewels. These are the graces that for their luster are compared to rows of jewels and chains of gold (
Song 1:10 KJV). These precious jewels distinguish Christ’s bride from strangers.

     Behave as becomes Christ’s spouse in chastity. Be chaste in your judgments; do not defile yourselves with error. Error corrupts the mind (
1 Tim. 6:5). It is one of Satan’s devices first to defile the judgment, then the conscience.

     Behave as becomes Christ’s spouse in sanctity. It is not for Christ’s spouse to behave like harlots. An exposed body and impure speech do not become a saint. Christ’s bride must shine forth in Gospel purity, so though we can bring Christ no dowry, yet he expects us to keep ourselves pure.

     2. Love your husband, Christ (
Song 2:5). Love him though he is reproached and persecuted. A wife loves her husband when [he is] in prison. To kindle your love toward Christ, consider

     Nothing else is fit for you to love. If Christ is your husband, it is not fit to have other lovers who would make Christ grow jealous.

     He is worthy of your love. He is unparalleled in beauty: “altogether lovely” (
Song 5:16).

     How fervent is Christ’s love toward you! He loves you in your worst condition, he loves you in affliction. He loves you notwithstanding your fears and blemishes. The saints’ infirmities cannot wholly remove Christ’s love from them. Oh, then, how the spouse should delight in her love to Christ! This will be the excellence of heaven: Our love will then be like the sun in its full strength.
--- Thomas Watson

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day
     A Curious Romance  August 11

     Theirs was a curious romance, spiritual but not sexual, ministerial but not marital. Francis and Clare were celibates, evidently in love but unable to marry, who joined forces for Christ.

     Clare was born in Assisi, Italy, in 1194, growing up in a palace. When 16, she heard St. Francis preach and was deeply moved. She sought him out, and he spoke to her of spiritual things. For two years he visited often in her home.

     On Palm Sunday, 1211, Clare pulled off her beautiful clothes, donned an ash-colored robe, and slipped from an unused gate on her parent’s estate. She found her way through the darkening woods to a spot where Francis awaited her. There she joined a group of Benedictine nuns. Francis prepared a home for her in the Chapel of St. Damian just outside Assisi, and according to some biographers, Clare never left the cloister for the remaining 40 years of her life, entertaining those seeking spiritual help. Francis, too, visited often.

     She grieved deeply at his death, but lived another 30 years, confined to a bench from a leg disease. But from that bench, she taught, counseled, and prayed while sewing linens for churches.

     In 1249, her cloister was attacked by marauders intent on ransacking and burning it. Showing no fear, she had herself carried to the door where she prayed resolutely for protection. The invaders scrambled from the walls and retreated.

     Another tradition, an odd one, developed from her deathbed. From her room in San Damian, she reportedly saw and heard solemn midnight Mass being conducted in a basilica miles away. In 1958, citing this ability to receive images and sound over distance, Pope Pius XII proclaimed her the patron saint of television.

     Her more common title has been “The Little Flower of St. Francis.”

     She died on August 11, 1253, but her sisters, the Poor Clares, are serving the needy to this day.

     God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven! God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort! God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them!
--- Matthew 5:3-5.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - August 11

     “Oh that I were as in months past.” --- Job 29:2.

     Numbers of Christians can view the past with pleasure, but regard the present with dissatisfaction; they look back upon the days which they have passed in communing with the Lord as being the sweetest and the best they have ever known, but as to the present, it is clad in a sable garb of gloom and dreariness. Once they lived near to Jesus, but now they feel that they have wandered from him, and they say, “O that I were as in months past!” They complain that they have lost their evidences, or that they have not present peace of mind, or that they have no enjoyment in the means of grace, or that conscience is not so tender, or that they have not so much zeal for God’s glory. The causes of this mournful state of things are manifold. It may arise through a comparative neglect of prayer, for a neglected closet is the beginning of all spiritual decline. Or it may be the result of idolatry. The heart has been occupied with something else, more than with God; the affections have been set on the things of earth, instead of the things of heaven. A jealous God will not be content with a divided heart; he must be loved first and best. He will withdraw the sunshine of his presence from a cold, wandering heart. Or the cause may be found in self-confidence and self-righteousness. Pride is busy in the heart, and self is exalted instead of lying low at the foot of the cross. Christian, if you are not now as you “were in months past,” do not rest satisfied with wishing for a return of former happiness, but go at once to seek your Master, and tell him your sad state. Ask his grace and strength to help you to walk more closely with him; humble yourself before him, and he will lift you up, and give you yet again to enjoy the light of his countenance. Do not sit down to sigh and lament; while the beloved Physician lives there is hope, nay there is a certainty of recovery for the worst cases.

          Evening - August 11

     “Everlasting consolation.” --- 2 Thessalonians 2:16.

     “Consolation.” There is music in the word: like David’s harp, it charms away the evil spirit of melancholy. It was a distinguished honour to Barnabas to be called “the son of consolation”; nay, it is one of the illustrious names of a greater than Barnabas, for the Lord Jesus is “the consolation of Israel.” “Everlasting consolation”—here is the cream of all, for the eternity of comfort is the crown and glory of it. What is this “everlasting consolation”? It includes a sense of pardoned sin. A Christian man has received in his heart the witness of the Spirit that his iniquities are put away like a cloud, and his transgressions like a thick cloud. If sin be pardoned, is not that an everlasting consolation? Next, the Lord gives his people an abiding sense of acceptance in Christ. The Christian knows that God looks upon him as standing in union with Jesus. Union to the risen Lord is a consolation of the most abiding order; it is, in fact, everlasting. Let sickness prostrate us, have we not seen hundreds of believers as happy in the weakness of disease as they would have been in the strength of hale and blooming health? Let death’s arrows pierce us to the heart, our comfort dies not, for have not our ears full often heard the songs of saints as they have rejoiced because the living love of God was shed abroad in their hearts in dying moments? Yes, a sense of acceptance in the Beloved is an everlasting consolation. Moreover, the Christian has a conviction of his security. God has promised to save those who trust in Christ: the Christian does trust in Christ, and he believes that God will be as good as his word, and will save him. He feels that he is safe by virtue of his being bound up with the person and work of Jesus.

Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

Amazing Grace
     August 11


     Words and Music by Ernest O. Sellers, 1869–1952

     The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63)

     O cleansing Word, O precious Word, Your promises are true;
     They keep and purify my heart; Your truths are ever new.
--- Unknown

     God has made provision for each believer to live holy and pure lives—regardless of his or her environment. That provision is the power of His Word. The ability to live above the filth and evil in the daily world around us can be achieved only through listening to and responding to the truth of the Scriptures.

     Portions of the wonderful 119th Psalm, with the majority of its 176 verses speaking pointedly regarding the importance of God’s Word, were paraphrased by Ernest O. Sellers and set to a melody in 1908 to provide us with a hymn that still has an important place in our hymnals.

     The first stanza of this hymn is based on verse 105: “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Stanza two is based on verses 89 and 90: “Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.” The third stanza is taken from the 44th, the 62nd, and the 164th verses of this psalm: “Seven times a day do I praise Thee, because of Thy righteous judgments. At midnight, I will rise to give thanks unto Thee, because of Thy righteous judgments. So shall I keep Thy law continually forever and ever.” The final stanza is based on the 41st verse: “Let Thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even Thy salvation according to Thy Word.”

     For the chorus of his hymn, Mr. Sellers used the words directly from Psalm 119:11. They provide a strong closing summary for the reason we hide God’s Word in our hearts: “Thy Word have I hid in my heart—that I might not sin against Thee.”

     Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path alway, to guide and to save me from sin and show me the heav’nly way.
     Forever, O Lord, is Thy Word established and fixed on high; Thy faithfulness unto all men abideth forever nigh.
     At Morning, at noon, and at night I ever will give Thee praise; for Thou art my portion, O Lord, and shall be thru all my days!
     Thru Him whom Thy Word hath foretold, the Savior and Morning Star, salvation and peace have been brought to those who have strayed afar.
     Chorus: Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.

     For Today: Psalm 119:11, 41, 44, 62, 89, 90, 105, 164; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

     Take one of these choice verses from Psalm 119 and let it saturate your life. Carry with you verse 11 in this musical form ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Friday, August 11, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 13, Friday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 88
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 91, 92
Old Testament     2 Samuel 12:1–14
New Testament     Acts 19:21–41
Gospel     Mark 9:14–29

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 88

A Song. A Psalm of the Korahites. To the leader: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.

1 O LORD, God of my salvation,
when, at night, I cry out in your presence,
2 let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry.

3 For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;
I am like those who have no help,
5 like those forsaken among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
6 You have put me in the depths of the Pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves.     Selah

8 You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a thing of horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
9 my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call on you, O LORD;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the shades rise up to praise you?     Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But I, O LORD, cry out to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 O LORD, why do you cast me off?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15 Wretched and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am desperate.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your dread assaults destroy me.
17 They surround me like a flood all day long;
from all sides they close in on me.
18 You have caused friend and neighbor to shun me;
my companions are in darkness.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 91, 92

1 You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
2 will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
4 he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
or the arrow that flies by day,
6 or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the LORD your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day.

1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

5 How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6 The dullard cannot know,
the stupid cannot understand this:
7 though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever,
8 but you, O LORD, are on high forever.
9 For your enemies, O LORD,
for your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.

10 But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree,
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 In old age they still produce fruit;
they are always green and full of sap,
15 showing that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Old Testament
2 Samuel 12:1–14

12 1 and the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds; 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 6 he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8 I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 Thus says the LORD: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. 12 For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan said to David, “Now the LORD has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die.”

New Testament
Acts 19:21–41

21 Now after these things had been accomplished, Paul resolved in the Spirit to go through Macedonia and Achaia, and then to go on to Jerusalem. He said, “After I have gone there, I must also see Rome.” 22 So he sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he himself stayed for some time longer in Asia.

23 About that time no little disturbance broke out concerning the Way. 24 A man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the artisans. 25 These he gathered together, with the workers of the same trade, and said, “Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business. 26 You also see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost the whole of Asia this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her.”

28 When they heard this, they were enraged and shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 The city was filled with the confusion; and people rushed together to the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s travel companions. 30 Paul wished to go into the crowd, but the disciples would not let him; 31 even some officials of the province of Asia, who were friendly to him, sent him a message urging him not to venture into the theater. 32 Meanwhile, some were shouting one thing, some another; for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 Some of the crowd gave instructions to Alexander, whom the Jews had pushed forward. And Alexander motioned for silence and tried to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours all of them shouted in unison, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35 But when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Citizens of Ephesus, who is there that does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the temple keeper of the great Artemis and of the statue that fell from heaven? 36 Since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 You have brought these men here who are neither temple robbers nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 If therefore Demetrius and the artisans with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls; let them bring charges there against one another. 39 If there is anything further you want to know, it must be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” 41 When he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

Mark 9:14–29

14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. 16 He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” 19 He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23 Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” 26 After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. 28 When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”

The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church

What is Ecumenical Worship?
Maggi Dawn    Yale

Wrestling with God and Evil
Judith Plaskow    Yale

People Who Won't Mentally Engage

Religion in the Public Square
Panel Discussion    Yale

Prophetic Witness and Public Leadership:
Challenges and Opportunities   
Carolyn Sharp   Yale

Lect 7 Gen Letters James 4
Dr. Herb Bateman