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Proverbs 25 & 26
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Further Wise Sayings of Solomon

Proverbs 25:1     These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied:

2     It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

3     As the heavens for height and the earth for depth,
So the heart of kings is unsearchable.

4     Take away the dross from silver,
And it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.
5     Take away the wicked from before the king,
And his throne will be established in righteousness.

6     Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king,
And do not stand in the place of the great;
7     For it is better that he say to you,
“Come up here,”
Than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince,
Whom your eyes have seen.

8     Do not go hastily to court;
For what will you do in the end,
When your neighbor has put you to shame?
9     Debate your case with your neighbor,
And do not disclose the secret to another;
10     Lest he who hears it expose your shame,
And your reputation be ruined.

11     A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver.
12     Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold
Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.

13     Like the cold of snow in time of harvest
Is a faithful messenger to those who send him,
For he refreshes the soul of his masters.

14     Whoever falsely boasts of giving
Is like clouds and wind without rain.

15     By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded,
And a gentle tongue breaks a bone.

16     Have you found honey?
Eat only as much as you need,
Lest you be filled with it and vomit.

17     Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house,
Lest he become weary of you and hate you.

18     A man who bears false witness against his neighbor
Is like a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow.
19     Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble
Is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.

20     Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather,
And like vinegar on soda,
Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

21     If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22     For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the Lord will reward you.

23     The north wind brings forth rain,
And a backbiting tongue an angry countenance.

24     It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

25     As cold water to a weary soul,
So is good news from a far country.

26     A righteous man who falters before the wicked
Is like a murky spring and a polluted well.

27     It is not good to eat much honey;
So to seek one’s own glory is not glory.

28     Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls.

Proverbs 26:1     As snow in summer and rain in harvest,
So honor is not fitting for a fool.

2     Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow,
So a curse without cause shall not alight.

3     A whip for the horse,
A bridle for the donkey,
And a rod for the fool’s back.
4     Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him.
5     Answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
6     He who sends a message by the hand of a fool
Cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.
7     Like the legs of the lame that hang limp
Is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
8     Like one who binds a stone in a sling
Is he who gives honor to a fool.
9     Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard
Is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
10     The great God who formed everything
Gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages.
11     As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly.
12     Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

13     The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road!
A fierce lion is in the streets!”
14     As a door turns on its hinges,
So does the lazy man on his bed.
15     The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl;
It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth.
16     The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes
Than seven men who can answer sensibly.

17     He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own
Is like one who takes a dog by the ears.

18     Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death,
19     Is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, “I was only joking!”

20     Where there is no wood, the fire goes out;
And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.
21     As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire,
So is a contentious man to kindle strife.
22     The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,
And they go down into the inmost body.

23     Fervent lips with a wicked heart
Are like earthenware covered with silver dross.

24     He who hates, disguises it with his lips,
And lays up deceit within himself;
25     When he speaks kindly, do not believe him,
For there are seven abominations in his heart;
26     Though his hatred is covered by deceit,
His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.

27     Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.

28     A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it,
And a flattering mouth works ruin.

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

     “O Beautiful, For Spacious Skies, For Amber Waves of Grain…” Did you know this song, “America the Beautiful,” was so popular in the 1920’s that it almost became our National Anthem? It was written by Katherine Lee Bates, who was born this day, August 12, 1859. An American poet and educator, she was the daughter of a Congregational minister, taught highschool and then became professor of English literature at Wellesley College. In 1892, she journeyed to the top of Pike’s Peak in Colorado, and was so inspired by the view she penned the verse: “America, America, God shed His grace on thee.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

In Christ that name of God,
Justice, has more glorious satisfaction
than ever it will have
in the damnation of sinners.
---Ralph Erskine

Moral authority is never retained
by any attempt to hold on to it.
It comes without seeking
and is retained without effort.

Morality is contraband in war.

Morality is the basis of things
and truth is the substance of all morality.

Morality which depends upon the helplessness of a man or woman
has not much to recommend it.
Morality is rooted in the purity of our hearts.
--- Mohandas Gandhi

Think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven!
Of taking hold of a hand, and finding it God’s hand,
Of breathing new air, and finding it celestial air;
Of feeling invigorated, and finding it immortality,
Of passing from storm and tempest to an unbroken calm,
Of waking up, and finding it Home!
--- Unknown

I slept and dreamt that life was joy; I woke and saw that life was service; I acted, and behold, service was joy. --- Rabindranath Tagore

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 6.

     Placidus Attempts To Take Jotapata And Is Beaten Off. Vespasian Marches Into Galilee.

     1. And now Vespasian, with his son Titus, had tarried some time at Ptolemais, and had put his army in order. But when Placidus, who had overrun Galilee, and had besides slain a number of those whom he had caught, [which were only the weaker part of the Galileans, and such as were of timorous souls,] saw that the warriors ran always to those cities whose walls had been built by Josephus, he marched furiously against Jotapata, which was of them all the strongest, as supposing he should easily take it by a sudden surprise, and that he should thereby obtain great honor to himself among the commanders, and bring a great advantage to them in their future campaign; because if this strongest place of them all were once taken, the rest would be so affrighted as to surrender themselves. But he was mightily mistaken in his undertaking; for the men of Jotapata were apprized of his coming to attack them, and came out of the city, and expected him there. So they fought the Romans briskly when they least expected it, being both many in number, and prepared for fighting, and of great alacrity, as esteeming their country, their wives, and their children to be in danger, and easily put the Romans to flight, and wounded many of them, and slew seven of them; 4 because their retreat was not made in a disorderly manner, be-cause the strokes only touched the surface of their bodies, which were covered with their armor in all parts, and because the Jews did rather throw their weapons upon them from a great distance, than venture to come hand to hand with them, and had only light armor on, while the others were completely armed. However, three men of the Jews' side were slain, and a few wounded; so Placidus, finding himself unable to assault the city, ran away.

     2. But as Vespasian had a great mind to fall upon Galilee, he marched out of Ptolemais, having put his army into that order wherein the Romans used to march. He ordered those auxiliaries which were lightly armed, and the archers, to march first, that they might prevent any sudden insults from the enemy, and might search out the woods that looked suspiciously, and were capable of ambuscades. Next to these followed that part of the Romans which was completely armed, both footmen and horsemen. Next to these followed ten out of every hundred, carrying along with them their arms, and what was necessary to measure out a camp withal; and after them, such as were to make the road even and straight, and if it were any where rough and hard to be passed over, to plane it, and to cut down the woods that hindered their march, that the army might not be in distress, or tired with their march. Behind these he set such carriages of the army as belonged both to himself and to the other commanders, with a considerable number of their horsemen for their security. After these he marched himself, having with him a select body of footmen, and horsemen, and pikemen. After these came the peculiar cavalry of his own legion, for there were a hundred and twenty horsemen that peculiarly belonged to every legion. Next to these came the mules that carried the engines for sieges, and the other warlike machines of that nature. After these came the commanders of the cohorts and tribunes, having about them soldiers chosen out of the rest. Then came the ensigns encompassing the eagle, which is at the head of every Roman legion, the king, and the strongest of all birds, which seems to them a signal of dominion, and an omen that they shall conquer all against whom they march; these sacred ensigns are followed by the trumpeters. Then came the main army in their squadrons and battalions, with six men in depth, which were followed at last by a centurion, who, according to custom, observed the rest. As for the servants of every legion, they all followed the footmen, and led the baggage of the soldiers, which was borne by the mules and other beasts of burden. But behind all the legions came the whole multitude of the mercenaries; and those that brought up the rear came last of all for the security of the whole army, being both footmen, and those in their armor also, with a great number of horsemen.

     3. And thus did Vespasian march with his army, and came to the bounds of Galilee, where he pitched his camp and restrained his soldiers, who were eager for war; he also showed his army to the enemy, in order to affright them, and to afford them a season for repentance, to see whether they would change their minds before it came to a battle, and at the same time he got things ready for besieging their strong minds. And indeed this sight of the general brought many to repent of their revolt, and put them all into a consternation; for those that were in Josephus's camp, which was at the city called Garis, not far from Sepphoris, when they heard that the war was come near them, and that the Romans would suddenly fight them hand to hand, dispersed themselves and fled, not only before they came to a battle, but before the enemy ever came in sight, while Josephus and a few others were left behind; and as he saw that he had not an army sufficient to engage the enemy, that the spirits of the Jews were sunk, and that the greater part would willingly come to terms, if they might be credited, he already despaired of the success of the whole war, and determined to get as far as he possibly could out of danger; so he took those that staid along with him, and fled to Tiberias.

          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 22:24-25
     by D.H. Stern

24     Don’t associate with an angry man;
make no hot-tempered man your companion.
25     If you do, you may learn his ways
and find yourself caught in a trap.

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


     We get over things. It is the most amazing faculty that we possess. War or pestilence; drought or famine; fire or flood; it does not matter. However devastating the catastrophe, however frightful the slaughter, however total the eclipse, we surmount our sorrows and find ourselves still smiling when the storm is overpast. I remember once penetrating into the wild and desolate interior of New Zealand. From a jagged and lonely eminence I surveyed a landscape that almost frightened one. Not a house was in sight, nor a road, nor one living creature, nor any sign of civilization. I looked in every direction at what seemed to have been the work of angry Titans. Far as the eye could see, the earth around me appeared to have been a battle-field on which an army of giants had pelted each other with mountains. The whole country was broken, weird, precipitous, and grand. In every direction huge cliffs towered perpendicularly about you; bottomless abysses yawned at your feet; and every scarped pinnacle and beetling crag scowled menacingly at your littleness and scowled defiance at your approach. One wondered by what titanic forces the country had been so ruthlessly crushed and crumbled and torn to shreds. Did any startled eye witness this volcanic frolic? What a sight it must have been to have watched these towering ranges split and scattered; to have seen the placid snowclad heights shivered, like fragile vases, to fragments; to have beheld the mountains tossed about like pebbles; to have seen the valleys torn and rent and twisted; and the rivers flung back in terror to make for themselves new channels as best they could! It must have been a fearsome and wondrous spectacle to have observed the slumbering forces of the universe in such a burst of passion! Nature must have despaired of her quiet and sylvan landscape. 'It is ruined,' she sobbed; 'it can never be the same again!' No, it can never be the same again. The bright colours of the kaleidoscope do not form the same mosaic a second time. But Nature has got over her grief, for all that. For see! All up these tortured and angular valleys the great evergreen bush is growing in luxurious profusion. Every slope is densely clothed with a glorious tangle of magnificent forestry. From the branches that wave triumphantly from the dizzy heights above, to those that mingle with the delicate mosses in the valley, the verdure nowhere knows a break. Even on the steep rocky faces the persistent vegetation somehow finds for itself a precarious foothold; and where the trees fear to venture the lichen atones for their absence. Up through every crack and cranny the ferns are pushing their graceful fronds. It is a marvellous recovery. Indeed, the landscape is really better worth seeing to-day than in those tranquil days, centuries ago, before the Titans lost their temper, and began to splinter the summits.

     Travellers in South America frequently comment upon the same phenomenon. Prescott tells us how Cortes, on his historic march to Mexico, passed through regions that had once gleamed with volcanic fires. The whole country had been swept by the flames, and torn by the fury of these frightful eruptions. As the traveller presses on, his road passes along vast tracts of lava, bristling in the innumerable fantastic forms into which the fiery torrent has been thrown by the obstacles in its career. But as he casts his eye down some steep slope, or almost unfathomable ravine, on the margin of the road, he sees their depths glowing with the rich blooms and enamelled vegetation of the tropics. His vision sweeps across plains of exuberant fertility, almost impervious from thickets of aromatic shrubs and wild flowers, in the midst of which tower up trees of that magnificent growth which is found only in these latitudes. It is an intoxicating panorama of brilliant colour and sweetest perfume. Kingsley and Wallace, too, remark upon these great volcanic rents and gashes that have been healed by verdure of rare magnificence and orchids of surpassing loveliness. 'Even the gardens of England were a desert in comparison! All around them were orange- and lemon-trees, the fruit of which, in that strange coloured light of the fireflies, flashed in their eyes like balls of burnished gold and emerald; while great white tassels, swinging from every tree in the breeze which swept the glade, tossed in their faces a fragrant snow of blossoms and glittering drops of perfumed dew.' It is thus that, like the oyster that conceals its scar beneath a pearl, Nature heals her wounds with loveliness. She gets over things.

     And so do we. For, after all, the world about us is but a shadow, a transitory and flickering shadow, of the actual and greater world within us. Yes, the incomparably greater world within us; for what is a world of grass and granite compared with a world of blood and tears? What is the cleaving of an Alp compared with the breaking of a heart? What is the sweep of a tornado, the roar of a prairie-fire, or the booming thunder of an avalanche, compared with the cry of a child in pain?' All visible things,' as Carlyle has taught us, 'are emblems. What thou seest is not there on its own account; strictly speaking is not there at all. Matter exists only spiritually, and to represent some idea and body it forth.' The soul is liable to great volcanic processes. There come to it tragic and tremendous hours when all its depths are broken up, all its landmarks shattered, and all its streams turned rudely back. For weal or for woe everything is suddenly and strangely changed. Amidst the crash of ruin and the loss of all, the soul sobs out its pitiful lament. 'Everything has gone!' it cries. 'I can never be the same again! I can never get over it!' But Time is a great healer. His touch is so gentle that the poor patient is not conscious of its pressure. The days pass, and the weeks, and the months, and the years. Like the trees that start from the rocky faces, and the ferns that creep out of every cranny in the ruined horizon, new interests steal imperceptibly into life. There come new faces, new loves, new thoughts, and new sympathies. The heart responds to fresh influences and bravely declines to die. And whilst the days that are dead are embalmed in costliest spices, and lie in the most holy place of the temple of memory, the soul discovers with surprise that it has surmounted the cruel shock of earlier shipwreck, and can once more greet the sea.

     I am writing in days of war. The situation is without precedent. A dozen nations are in death-grips with each other. Twenty million men are in the field. Every hour brings us news of ships that have been sunk, regiments that have been annihilated, thousands of brave men who have been slaughtered. Never since the world began were so many men writhing in mortal anguish, so many women weeping, so many children fatherless. And whilst a hundred thousand women know that they will see no more the face that was all the world to them, millions of others are sleepless with haunting fear and terrible anxiety. And every day I hear good men moan that the world can never be the same again. 'We shall never get over it!' they tell me. It is the old mistake, the mistake that we always make in the hour of our sad and bitter grief. 'We shall never get over it!' Of course we shall! And as the fields are sweeter, and the flowers exhale a richer perfume, after the thunder-clouds have broken and the storm has spent its strength, so we shall find ourselves living in a kindlier world when the anguish of to-day is over-past. Much of our old civilization, with its veneer of politeness and its heart of barbarism, will have been riven as the ranges were riven by the earthquake. But out of the wreckage shall come the healthier day. The wounds will heal as they always heal, and the scars will stay as they always stay; but they will stay to warn us against perpetuating our ancient follies. Empires will never again regard their militarism as their pride.

     Surely this torrent of blood that is streaming through the trenches and crimsoning the seas is sacrificial blood! It is an ancient principle, and of loftiest sanction, that it is sometimes good for one man to die that many may be saved from destruction. If, out of its present agony, the world emerges into the peace and sunshine of a holier day, every man who laid down his life in the awful struggle will have died in that sacred and vicarious way. This generation will have wept and bled and suffered that unborn generations may go scatheless. It is the old story:

No mortal born without the dew
    Of solemn pain on mother's brow;
  No harvest's golden yield save through
    The toil and tearing of the plough.

     It was only through the Cross that the Saviour of men found a way into the joy that was set before Him, and the world therefore cannot expect to come to its own along a bloodless road.

     The recuperative forces that lurk within us are the divinest things about us. I cut my hand; and, before the knife is well out of the gash, a million invisible agents are at work to repair the damage. It is our irrepressible faculty for getting over things. No minister can have failed, at some time or other, to stand in amazement before it. We have all known men who were not only wicked, but who bore in their body the marks of their vice. It was stamped upon the face; it was evident in the stoop of the frame; it betrayed itself in the shuffle that should have been a stride. We have known such men, I say, and heard their pitiful confessions. And the most heartrending thing about them was their despair. They could believe that the love of God was vast enough to find room for them; but just look! 'Look at me!' a man said to me one night, remembering what he once was and surveying the wreckage that remained, 'look at me!' And truly it was a sight to make angels weep. 'I can never be the same again,' he said in effect, 'I can never get over it!' But he did; and there is as much difference between the man that I saw that night and the man who greets me to-day as there was between the man whom he remembered and the man he then surveyed. It is wonderful how the old light returns to the eye, the old grace to the form, the old buoyancy to the step, and how, with these, a new softness creeps into the countenance and a new gentleness into the voice when the things that wound are thrown away and the healing powers get their chance. It is only then that we really discover the marvel of getting over things.

     Indeed, unless we are on our guard this magical faculty will be our undoing. The tendency is, as we have seen, to return to our earlier state, to recover from the change. And the forces that work in that direction do not pause to ask if the change that has come about is a change for the better or a change for the worse. They only know that a cataclysmic change has been effected, and that it is their business to help us back to our first and natural condition. But there are changes that sometimes overtake us from which we do not wish to recover; and we must be on ceaseless vigil against the well-meaning forces that only live to abolish all signs of alteration. No man ever yet threw on his old self and entered into new life without being conscious that millions of invisible toilers were at work to undo the change that had been effected. They are helping him to get over it, and he must firmly decline their misdirected offices.

     '"Father!" said young Dr. Ralph Dexter to the old doctor in The Spinner in the Sun, "father! it may be because I'm young, but I hold before me, very strongly, the ideals of our profession. It seems to me a very beautiful and wonderful life that is opening up before me, always to help, to give, to heal. I feel as though I had been dedicated to some sacred calling, some lifelong service. And service means brotherhood."

     '"You'll get over that!" returned the old doctor curtly, yet not without a certain secret admiration. "You'll get over that when you've had to engage a lawyer to collect your modest wages for your uplifting work, the healed not being sufficiently grateful to pay the healer. When you've gone ten miles in the dead of winter, at midnight, to take a pin out of a squalling baby's back, why, you may change your mind!"'

     And later on in the same story Myrtle Reed gives us another dialogue between the two doctors.

     '"I may be wrong," remarked Ralph, "but I've always believed that nothing is so bad that it can't be made better."

     '"The unfailing earmark of youth," the old man replies; "you'll get over that!"'

     Old Dr. Dexter is quite right. Good or bad, the tendency is to get over things. Many a man has entered his business or profession with the highest and most roseate ideals, and the tragedy of his life lay in the fact that he recovered from them.

     Yes, there is nothing that we cannot get over. Our recuperative faculties know no limit. None of our diseases are incurable. I knew an old lady who really thought that her malady was fatal. She fancied that she could never recover. She even told me that the doctor had informed her that her case was hopeless. She lay back upon her pillow, and her snowy hair shamed the whiteness about her. 'I shall never get over it,' she sighed, 'I shall never get over it!' But she did. We sang 'Rock of Ages' beside her sunlit grave this afternoon.

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

                The theology of rest

     Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? --- Matthew 8:26.

     When we are in fear we can do nothing less than pray to God, but Our Lord has a right to expect that those who name His Name should have an understanding confidence in Him. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the reliable ones. Our trust is in God up to a certain point, then we go back to the elementary panic prayers of those who do not know God. We get to our wits’ end, showing that we have not the slightest confidence in Him and His government of the world; He seems to be asleep, and we see nothing but breakers ahead.

     “O ye of little faith!” What a pang must have shot through the disciples—‘Missed it again!’ And what a pang will go through us when we suddenly realize that we might have produced downright joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, no matter what was ahead.

     There are stages in life when there is no storm, no crisis, when we do our human best; it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely. If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breakingpoint and not break in our confidence in Him.

     We have been talking a great deal about sanctification—what is it all going to amount to? It should work out into rest in God which means oneness with God, a oneness which will make us not only blameless in His sight but a deep joy to Him.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

     the Poetry of RS Thomas


And the dogfish, spotted like God's face,
  Looks at him, and the seal's eye-
  Ball is cold. Autumn arrives
  With birds rattling in brown showers
  From hard skies. He holds out his two
  Hands, calloused with the long failure
  Of prayer: Take my life, he says
  To the bleak sea, but the sea rejects him
  Like wrack. He dungs the earth with
  His children and the earth yields him
  Its stone. Nothing he does, nothing he
  Says is accepted, and the thin dribble
  Of his poetry dries on the rocks
  Of a harsh landscape under an ailing sun.


Searching For Meaning In Midrash

     In the search for God, some ask, “Why don’t we hear God speak today?” God does speak; we are sometimes unable to hear God’s “words.” Our challenge is to find God, “each according to his or her power,” in the variety of ways in which God speaks. Some find God through prayer, others in study. Some see the divine imprint in nature—the sun, moon, stars, the order of the universe. Others find God in quiet serenity.

     Our reading of the Bible may have conditioned us to think of God only as majestic, powerful, and awesome. God is seen in the plagues against Egypt, in the splitting of the Sea, in the thundering voice at Sinai. Yet, the prophet Elijah experienced God in a totally different way, according to his own capability.

     Pursued by Ahab, king of Israel, and his wife Jezebel, Elijah flees into the desert near Beer-sheba. There, an angel commands Elijah to eat. “And with the strength from that meal he walked forty days and forty nights,” until he came to Horeb, another name for Sinai. God tells Elijah to stand on the mountain.

     And lo, the Lord passed by. There was a great and mighty wind, splitting mountains and shattering rocks by the power of the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind—an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake—fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire—a soft murmuring sound. (
1 Kings 19:11–12)

     God may not be in this “soft murmuring sound” (translated by others as a “still small voice”), but Elijah senses God’s presence through it and because of it. When Elijah arrived at Horeb/Sinai, was he expecting another revelation, with God’s voice thundering forth again? Was he looking for God in the great wind and the mighty earthquake, where most of us would expect to find God? Probably. After all, Elijah the prophet was only human. And Elijah surely knew the story of Moses on Sinai! Perhaps just before, in his zeal for God, Elijah had wanted the Holy One, praised is He, to score a resounding victory—a loud, noisy, show of force—against Jezebel and the prophets of Baal. But this time, God was not to be found in the powerful and magnificent. For Elijah, God was in the quiet and understated.

     In our search for God, we may be surprised to find the divine in unexpected places. Sometimes, we find God in a whisper. Each person has to find God according to his or her own power. That is the challenge, and the ultimate beauty, of the search for the divine in our lives.


     Morris is a retired tailor, living off his monthly Social Security check. Ever since he stopped working, he has become a regular at the synagogue’s Morning and Evening services. Every day, right after the Amidah, Morris pulls a small change purse out of his pocket and holds it in the palm of his left hand. With the thumb and forefinger of his right hand, he fishes out fifty cents. When the shammes, the sexton, walks by with the pushke, Morris quietly slips the coins into the charity box. Fifty cents in the Morning, fifty cents at night—a dollar each weekday, approximately three hundred weekdays a year. Except for the shammes, no one knows how much Morris gives or how often. A few of the younger men notice his worn leather change purse and chuckle; how rare to see a man these days who still carries one of those, they think. When most of them come to services, they pull out a wallet and offer a dollar bill to the pushke.

     Murray is a retired businessman. He owned a very successful appliance store, which he sold a few years back for several million dollars. He has a winter home in Florida where he resides from Thanksgiving to Passover; from April to November he lives in New York. He’s been a member of the same synagogue as Morris for thirty-five years. Every year, a week before Rosh Hashanah, the rabbi and the president of the synagogue visit Murray. They shmooze for a bit, asking about his health, his family, and his golf game. And then Murray pulls out his checkbook and gives the synagogue his annual contribution of $18,000—eighteen, of course, being the Hebrew number that stands for “life.”

     There are several plaques in the temple that acknowledge Murray’s generosity and benevolence. The social hall is named for his parents, the library for his in-laws; there is a stained glass window in honor of his children. He has been honored by the synagogue at its annual dinner dance, by the men’s club at its man-of-the-year breakfast, and by Israel Bonds and UJA-Federation. The walls of his homes are covered with tributes and testimonials he has received for his philanthropy.

     One year, the rabbi approached the board of directors with a proposal: “We have a number of members who have been very generous to our temple; Murray is at the top of the list. But we also have members who don’t have the same resources as a Murray, but whose dedication is just as strong. What message are we sending if we honor only the rich people? Why can’t we honor each year a worthy congregant who has given to the synagogue to the best of his abilities? I’m thinking, as an example, of one of our retirees, Morris. He’s here every single day, helping out with the minyans. And when the curtains in the Ark ripped, Morris took them home and sewed them up like new. You know, he gives each day to tzedakah; I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives a higher percentage of his income to the shul than Murray does, with all his money. The Jewish community has to realize that every person offers something unique and different. We should encourage all of those offerings, not just the monetary ones. And we should do that by honoring not only the ‘heavy hitters,’ but also our ‘small’ devoted givers. How much you give is not the crucial thing; that you give is. As the Midrash says, ‘each according to his power.’ ”

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     August 12

     And he brought him to Jesus. --- John 1:42.

     While people sketch out imaginary designs, they frequently miss actual opportunities. (Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Men, Book 2) They would not build because they could not erect a palace. They therefore shiver in the winter’s cold. They were not content to do a little and therefore did nothing.

     Andrew was a commonplace disciple, a man of average capacity, and an ordinary believer. Yet Andrew became a useful minister, an thus the servants of Jesus Christ are not excused from endeavoring to extend the boundaries of his kingdom by saying, “I have no remarkable talent or singular ability.” If you are only like a firefly’s lamp, do not hide your light, for there is an eye predestined to see by your light, a heart ordained to find comfort by your faint gleam.

     Awake and render service to the lover of your souls. Make no excuse, for no excuse can be valid from those who are bought with so great a price. Your business requires so much of your thoughts—I know it does. Then use your business in such a way as to serve God. There must be some opportunities for aiming at conversions. If you can reach but one, do not let that one remain unsought. Time is hastening and people are perishing. The world is growing old in sin.

     O that I had the power to stir the hearts and souls of all other Christians by a description of this huge city wallowing in iniquity, by a picture of cemeteries fattening on corpses, by a portrayal of that lake of fire to which multitudes yearly descend. O that I could set before you the Redeemer on the cross dying to ransom souls! O that I could depict the heaven that sinners lose and their remorse when they shall find themselves self-excluded!

     To bring people to Jesus—let this be your aim and mine! Not to bring them to baptism nor to the church building nor to adopt our form of worship, but to bring them to his dear feet who alone can say, “Your many sins are forgiven. Go in peace.”

     As we believe Jesus is the very center of the Christian religion, those who do not have Christ do not have true godliness. Determine in your spirit that you will never cease to labor for them until you have reason to believe that they are trusting in Jesus, loving Jesus, in the hope that they shall be conformed to the image of Jesus and dwell with him, world without end.
--- C. H. Spurgeon

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

On This Day
     I Am a Christian!  August 12

     The firestorm against the early Christians created a belief that martyrdom was the norm, something to be expected and even desired. When Emperor Diocletian forbade possession of Scriptures, Euplius, a Christian in Sicily, a deacon and a Bible owner, worried that he might escape persecution. To forestall such a calamity, he stood outside the governor’s office one day shouting, “I am a Christian! I desire to die for the name of Christ.”

     When ushered before the governor, he was found to have a manuscript of the Gospels. “Where did these come from?” he was asked. “Did you bring them from your home?”

     “I have no home, as my Lord Jesus Christ knows,” replied Euplius.

     “Read them,” said the prosecutor. So Euplius began reading the words: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10, KJV). He turned to another passage: “Whosoever will come after me, let him take up his cross and follow me.”

     The judge interrupted him. “Why haven’t you surrendered these books?” Euplius replied that it was better to die than to give them up. “In these is eternal life,” he said, “and whoever gives them up loses eternal life.” The governor signaled that he had heard enough, and Euplius got what he wanted. He was subjected to a series of horrible tortures, then executed on this day, August 12, 304, with his Gospels tied around his neck. His last words, repeatedly uttered, were “Thanks be to Thee, O Christ. O Christ, help. It is for Thee that I suffer.”

     The Bible nowhere tells us to deliberately seek persecution, and some of the early Christians undoubtedly overglorified the pursuit of martyrdom. Yet given the choice it is surely better to shout, “I am a Christian!” than to hide our testimony from those around us in this world.

     I am proud of the good news! It is God’s powerful way of saving all people who have faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. The good news tells how God accepts everyone who has faith, but only those who have faith. It is just as the Scriptures say, “The people God accepts because of their faith will live.” --- Romans 1:16,17.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - August 12

     “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.” --- Psalm 97:1.

     Causes for disquietude there are none so long as this blessed sentence is true. On earth the Lord’s power as readily controls the rage of the wicked as the rage of the sea; his love as easily refreshes the poor with mercy as the earth with showers. Majesty gleams in flashes of fire amid the tempest’s horrors, and the glory of the Lord is seen in its grandeur in the fall of empires, and the crash of thrones. In all our conflicts and tribulations, we may behold the hand of the divine King.

     “God is God; he sees and hears
     All our troubles, all our tears.
     Soul, forget not, ’mid thy pains,
     God o’er all for ever reigns.”

     In hell, evil spirits own, with misery, his undoubted supremacy. When permitted to roam abroad, it is with a chain at their heel; the bit is in the mouth of behemoth, and the hook in the jaws of leviathan. Death’s darts are under the Lord’s lock, and the grave’s prisons have divine power as their warder. The terrible vengeance of the Judge of all the earth makes fiends cower down and tremble, even as dogs in the kennel fear the hunter’s whip.

     “Fear not death, nor Satan’s thrusts,
     God defends who in him trusts;
     Soul, remember, in thy pains,
     God o’er all for ever reigns.”

     In heaven none doubt the sovereignty of the King Eternal, but all fall on their faces to do him homage. Angels are his courtiers, the redeemed his favourites, and all delight to serve him day and night. May we soon reach the city of the great King!

     “For this life’s long night of sadness
     He will give us peace and gladness.
     Soul, remember, in thy pains,
     God o’er all for ever reigns.”

          Evening - August 12

     “The bow shall be seen in the cloud.” --- Genesis 9:14.

     The rainbow, the symbol of the covenant with Noah, is typical of our Lord Jesus, who is the Lord’s witness to the people. When may we expect to see the token of the covenant? The rainbow is only to be seen painted upon a cloud. When the sinner’s conscience is dark with clouds, when he remembers his past sin, and mourneth and lamenteth before God, Jesus Christ is revealed to him as the covenant Rainbow, displaying all the glorious hues of the divine character and betokening peace. To the believer, when his trials and temptations surround him, it is sweet to behold the person of our Lord Jesus Christ—to see him bleeding, living, rising, and pleading for us. God’s rainbow is hung over the cloud of our sins, our sorrows, and our woes, to prophesy deliverance. Nor does a cloud alone give a rainbow, there must be the crystal drops to reflect the light of the sun. So, our sorrows must not only threaten, but they must really fall upon us. There had been no Christ for us if the vengeance of God had been merely a threatening cloud: punishment must fall in terrible drops upon the Surety. Until there is a real anguish in the sinner’s conscience, there is no Christ for him; until the chastisement which he feels becomes grievous, he cannot see Jesus. But there must also be a sun; for clouds and drops of rain make not rainbows unless the sun shineth. Beloved, our God, who is as the sun to us, always shines, but we do not always see him—clouds hide his face; but no matter what drops may be falling, or what clouds may be threatening, if he does but shine there will be a rainbow at once. It is said that when we see the rainbow the shower is over. Certain it is, that when Christ comes, our troubles remove; when we behold Jesus, our sins vanish, and our doubts and fears subside. When Jesus walks the waters of the sea, how profound the calm!

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

Amazing Grace
     August 12


     Words and Music by Oswald J. Smith, 1890–1986

     I delight to do Thy will, O my God: Yea, Thy law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8)

     These beautifully worded lines with their soulful melody flowed from the heart of Oswald J. Smith after many difficult experiences during the early years of his ministry. He related in his book, The Story of My Life, that he was carried through these troublesome times by what he called his “Morning watch.”

     It was when I walked alone with God that I learned the lessons He would teach. I set aside a time and a place to meet Him, and I have never been disappointed.

     Dr. Smith was one of the great evangelical preachers and missionary statesmen of the 20th century. For many years he was the pastor of a church he founded, the People’s Church in Toronto, Canada. He described the inspiration that came to him for “Deeper and Deeper:”

     Arriving in Woodstock, Ontario, I was invited to preach one Sunday Morning in the largest Methodist Church in that city. As I walked along the street on my way to the church, the melody of this hymn sang itself into my heart and with the words, “Into the heart of Jesus, deeper and deeper I go.” I can still recall the joy and buoyancy of youth, the bright sunshine overhead, and the thrill with which I looked forward to my service that Sunday Morning, as again and again I hummed over the words. After preaching, I returned to my rented room, and the first thing I did was to write out the melody as God had given it to me. The verses were much more difficult. It was three years later, in the First Presbyterian Church of South Chicago, of which I pastor, that I completed them. The writing of the hymn afforded me much joy. I still love it and always will, for it was the child of my youth. It proves conclusively that God can impart His deepest truths to the hearts of the young, for I doubt if I have ever written anything more profound since.

     * * * *

     Into the heart of Jesus deeper and deeper I go, seeking to know the reason why He should love me so—Why He should stoop to lift me up from the miry clay, saving my soul, making me whole, tho I had wandered away.
     Into the joy of Jesus deeper and deeper I go, rising, with soul enraptured, far from the world below; joy in the place of sorrow, peace in the midst of pain, Jesus will give, Jesus will give—He will uphold and sustain!
     Into the love of Jesus deeper and deeper I go, praising the One who brought me out of my sin and woe; and thru eternal ages gratefully I shall sing, “O how He loved! O how He loved! Jesus, my Lord and my King!”

     For Today: Psalm 42; 16:8, 11; Lamentations 3:26; Isaiah 40:31; 54:2; 1 John 2:17

     Determine to know God in a deeper way than ever before. Sing as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, August 12, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 13, Saturday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 87, 90
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 136
Old Testament     2 Samuel 12:15–31
New Testament     Acts 20:1–16
Gospel     Mark 9:30–41

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 87, 90

Of the Korahites. A Psalm. A Song.

1 On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
2 the LORD loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God.     Selah

4 Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
Philistia too, and Tyre, with Ethiopia—
“This one was born there,” they say.

5 And of Zion it shall be said,
“This one and that one were born in it”;
for the Most High himself will establish it.
6 The LORD records, as he registers the peoples,
“This one was born there.”     Selah

7 Singers and dancers alike say,
“All my springs are in you.”

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

3 You turn us back to dust,
and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.

5 You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning;
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.

7 For we are consumed by your anger;
by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
our years come to an end like a sigh.
10 The days of our life are seventy years,
or perhaps eighty, if we are strong;
even then their span is only toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.

11 Who considers the power of your anger?
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
12 So teach us to count our days
that we may gain a wise heart.

13 Turn, O LORD! How long?
Have compassion on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us,
and as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be manifest to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 136

1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 O give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

4 who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 who spread out the earth on the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 who struck Egypt through their firstborn,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
17 who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed famous kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to his servant Israel,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 O give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Old Testament
2 Samuel 12:15–31

15 Then Nathan went to his house.

The LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill. 16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted, and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 The elders of his house stood beside him, urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, “While the child was still alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how then can we tell him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, he perceived that the child was dead; and David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.”

20 Then David rose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He went into the house of the LORD, and worshiped; he then went to his own house; and when he asked, they set food before him and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you rose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me, and the child may live.’ 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

24 Then David consoled his wife Bathsheba, and went to her, and lay with her; and she bore a son, and he named him Solomon. The LORD loved him, 25 and sent a message by the prophet Nathan; so he named him Jedidiah, because of the LORD.

26 Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites, and took the royal city. 27 Joab sent messengers to David, and said, “I have fought against Rabbah; moreover, I have taken the water city. 28 Now, then, gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it; or I myself will take the city, and it will be called by my name.” 29 So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah, and fought against it and took it. 30 He took the crown of Milcom from his head; the weight of it was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone; and it was placed on David’s head. He also brought forth the spoil of the city, a very great amount. 31 He brought out the people who were in it, and set them to work with saws and iron picks and iron axes, or sent them to the brickworks. Thus he did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

New Testament
Acts 20:1–16

20 After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples; and after encouraging them and saying farewell, he left for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those regions and had given the believers much encouragement, he came to Greece, 3 where he stayed for three months. He was about to set sail for Syria when a plot was made against him by the Jews, and so he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Beroea, by Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, by Gaius from Derbe, and by Timothy, as well as by Tychicus and Trophimus from Asia. 5 They went ahead and were waiting for us in Troas; 6 but we sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we joined them in Troas, where we stayed for seven days.

7 On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were meeting. 9 A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. 12 Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted.

13 We went ahead to the ship and set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul on board there; for he had made this arrangement, intending to go by land himself. 14 When he met us in Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. 15 We sailed from there, and on the following day we arrived opposite Chios. The next day we touched at Samos, and the day after that we came to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; he was eager to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

Mark 9:30–41

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

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

The Word in the Repertory Church
Anna Carter Florence   
Yale University Divinity School

Video on    YouTube

Old Texts, New Works:
The Repertory Preacher and the Company of Grace
Anna Carter Florence   
Yale University Divinity School

Video on    YouTube

Divine Mystery and Our Knowledge of God
William P. Alston   
Yale University Divinity School

Video on    YouTube

Why We Should Take Divine Mystery Seriously
William P. Alston   
Yale University Divinity School

Video on    YouTube

The Need for True Statements About God   
William P. Alston
Yale University Divinity School

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American Foreign Policy and God
Madeleine Korbel Albright   
Yale University Divinity School

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Control is Good, but Trust is Better   
Jürgen Moltmann
Yale University Divinity School

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It is Not Good for Man to Be Alone   Lisa Swain   
Biola University

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Passover Sader   Josh Sofaer   Biola University

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