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Proverbs 16-18
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Proverbs 16:1     The preparations of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

2     All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the spirits.

3     Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established.

4     The Lord has made all for Himself,
Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.

5     Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.

6     In mercy and truth
Atonement is provided for iniquity;
And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.

7     When a man’s ways please the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

8     Better is a little with righteousness,
Than vast revenues without justice.

9     A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

10     Divination is on the lips of the king;
His mouth must not transgress in judgment.
11     Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s;
All the weights in the bag are His work.
12     It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness,
For a throne is established by righteousness.
13     Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And they love him who speaks what is right.
14     As messengers of death is the king’s wrath,
But a wise man will appease it.
15     In the light of the king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.

16     How much better to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

17     The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
He who keeps his way preserves his soul.

18     Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
19     Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly,
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

20     He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.

21     The wise in heart will be called prudent,
And sweetness of the lips increases learning.

22     Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it.
But the correction of fools is folly.

23     The heart of the wise teaches his mouth,
And adds learning to his lips.

24     Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

25     There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

26     The person who labors, labors for himself,
For his hungry mouth drives him on.

27     An ungodly man digs up evil,
And it is on his lips like a burning fire.
28     A perverse man sows strife,
And a whisperer separates the best of friends.
29     A violent man entices his neighbor,
And leads him in a way that is not good.
30     He winks his eye to devise perverse things;
He purses his lips and brings about evil.

31     The silver-haired head is a crown of glory,
If it is found in the way of righteousness.

32     He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
33     The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the Lord.

Proverbs 17:1     Better is a dry morsel with quietness,
Than a house full of feasting with strife.

2     A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame,
And will share an inheritance among the brothers.

3     The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the Lord tests the hearts.

4     An evildoer gives heed to false lips;
A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.

5     He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker;
He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

6     Children’s children are the crown of old men,
And the glory of children is their father.

7     Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool,
Much less lying lips to a prince.

8     A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor;
Wherever he turns, he prospers.

9     He who covers a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates friends.

10     Rebuke is more effective for a wise man
Than a hundred blows on a fool.
11     An evil man seeks only rebellion;
Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him.

12     Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,
Rather than a fool in his folly.

13     Whoever rewards evil for good,
Evil will not depart from his house.

14     The beginning of strife is like releasing water;
Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.

15     He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.

16     Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom,
Since he has no heart for it?

17     A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.

18     A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge,
And becomes surety for his friend.

19     He who loves transgression loves strife,
And he who exalts his gate seeks destruction.

20     He who has a deceitful heart finds no good,
And he who has a perverse tongue falls into evil.
21     He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy.

22     A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.

23     A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back
To pervert the ways of justice.

24     Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding,
But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

25     A foolish son is a grief to his father,
And bitterness to her who bore him.

26     Also, to punish the righteous is not good,
Nor to strike princes for their uprightness.

27     He who has knowledge spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
28     Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;
When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.

Proverbs 18:1     A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment.

2     A fool has no delight in understanding,
But in expressing his own heart.
3     When the wicked comes, contempt comes also;
And with dishonor comes reproach.

4     The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.

5     It is not good to show partiality to the wicked,
Or to overthrow the righteous in judgment.

6     A fool’s lips enter into contention,
And his mouth calls for blows.
7     A fool’s mouth is his destruction,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.
8     The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,
And they go down into the inmost body.

9     He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.

10     The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
11     The rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own esteem.

12     Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty,
And before honor is humility.

13     He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him.
14     The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,
But who can bear a broken spirit?

15     The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

16     A man’s gift makes room for him,
And brings him before great men.

17     The first one to plead his cause seems right,
Until his neighbor comes and examines him.

18     Casting lots causes contentions to cease,
And keeps the mighty apart.

19     A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

20     A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth;
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.

21     Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

22     He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.

23     The poor man uses entreaties,
But the rich answers roughly.
24     A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

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

  • Lect 30, OT Lit Fall Jerusalem
  • 31 Isaiah
  • 32 Prophets South

  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On his third voyage, Columbus sailed south along the east coast of Africa and was caught in the doldrums, a notorious condition of no winds and intense heat. After drifting aimlessly for eight days, the winds returned, but now they were running low on water. Columbus promised to name the first new land he discovered in honor of the Trinity. Sighting an island off the coast of Venezuela this day, July 31, 1498, which coincidentally had three peaks, he gave it the name Trinidad. There they obtained fresh water and in the process were the first Europeans to see South America.

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

To be at peace with God
is to be at peace with nature,
and to love God
is to see traces of him everywhere.
--- George H. Morrison

It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends.
But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy
is the quintessence of true religion.
The other is mere business.
--- Mohandas Gandhi

Impatience was one of Israel’s besetting sins, and God was helping them learn patient obedience; for it’s through ‘faith and patience’ that God’s people inherit what He has promised (Heb. 6:12). God is never in a hurry. He knows what He’s doing, and His timing is never off.
--- Warren Wiersbe   Be Strong (Joshua): Putting God's Power to Work in Your Life (The BE Series Commentary)

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     5. In the mean time, many of the principal men of the city were persuaded by Ananus, the son of Jonathan, and invited Cestius into the city, and were about to open the gates for him; but he overlooked this offer, partly out of his anger at the Jews, and partly because he did not thoroughly believe they were in earnest; whence it was that he delayed the matter so long, that the seditious perceived the treachery, and threw Ananus and those of his party down from the wall, and, pelting them with stones, drove them into their houses; but they stood themselves at proper distances in the towers, and threw their darts at those that were getting over the wall. Thus did the Romans make their attack against the wall for five days, but to no purpose. But on the next day Cestius took a great many of his choicest men, and with them the archers, and attempted to break into the temple at the northern quarter of it; but the Jews beat them off from the cloisters, and repulsed them several times when they were gotten near to the wall, till at length the multitude of the darts cut them off, and made them retire; but the first rank of the Romans rested their shields upon the wall, and so did those that were behind them, and the like did those that were still more backward, and guarded themselves with what they call Testudo, [the back of] a tortoise, upon which the darts that were thrown fell, and slided off without doing them any harm; so the soldiers undermined the wall, without being themselves hurt, and got all things ready for setting fire to the gate of the temple.

     6. And now it was that a horrible fear seized upon the seditious, insomuch that many of them ran out of the city, as though it were to be taken immediately; but the people upon this took courage, and where the wicked part of the city gave ground, thither did they come, in order to set open the gates, and to admit Cestius 30 as their benefactor, who, had he but continued the siege a little longer, had certainly taken the city; but it was, I suppose, owing to the aversion God had already at the city and the sanctuary, that he was hindered from putting an end to the war that very day.

     7. It then happened that Cestius was not conscious either how the besieged despaired of success, nor how courageous the people were for him; and so he recalled his soldiers from the place, and by despairing of any expectation of taking it, without having received any disgrace, he retired from the city, without any reason in the world. But when the robbers perceived this unexpected retreat of his, they resumed their courage, and ran after the hinder parts of his army, and destroyed a considerable number of both their horsemen and footmen; and now Cestius lay all night at the camp which was at Scopus; and as he went off farther next day, he thereby invited the enemy to follow him, who still fell upon the hindmost, and destroyed them; they also fell upon the flank on each side of the army, and threw darts upon them obliquely, nor durst those that were hindmost turn back upon those who wounded them behind, as imagining that the multitude of those that pursued them was immense; nor did they venture to drive away those that pressed upon them on each side, because they were heavy with their arms, and were afraid of breaking their ranks to pieces, and because they saw the Jews were light, and ready for making incursions upon them. And this was the reason why the Romans suffered greatly, without being able to revenge themselves upon their enemies; so they were galled all the way, and their ranks were put into disorder, and those that were thus put out of their ranks were slain; among whom were Priscus, the commander of the sixth legion, and Longinus, the tribune, and Emilius Secundus, the commander of a troop of horsemen. So it was not without difficulty that they got to Gabao, their former camp, and that not without the loss of a great part of their baggage. There it was that Cestius staid two days, and was in great distress to know what he should do in these circumstances; but when on the third day he saw a still much greater number of enemies, and all the parts round about him full of Jews, he understood that his delay was to his own detriment, and that if he staid any longer there, he should have still more enemies upon him.

     8. That therefore he might fly the faster, he gave orders to cast away what might hinder his army's march; so they killed the mules and other creatures, excepting those that carried their darts and machines, which they retained for their own use, and this principally because they were afraid lest the Jews should seize upon them. He then made his army march on as far as Bethoron. Now the Jews did not so much press upon them when they were in large open places; but when they were penned up in their descent through narrow passages, then did some of them get before, and hindered them from getting out of them; and others of them thrust the hinder-most down into the lower places; and the whole multitude extended themselves over against the neck of the passage, and covered the Roman army with their darts. In which circumstances, as the footmen knew not how to defend themselves, so the danger pressed the horsemen still more, for they were so pelted, that they could not march along the road in their ranks, and the ascents were so high, that the cavalry were not able to march against the enemy; the precipices also and valleys into which they frequently fell, and tumbled down, were such on each side of them, that there was neither place for their flight, nor any contrivance could be thought of for their defense; till the distress they were at last in was so great, that they betook themselves to lamentations, and to such mournful cries as men use in the utmost despair: the joyful acclamations of the Jews also, as they encouraged one another, echoed the sounds back again, these last composing a noise of those that at once rejoiced and were in a rage. Indeed, things were come to such a pass, that the Jews had almost taken Cestius's entire army prisoners, had not the night come on, when the Romans fled to Bethoron, and the Jews seized upon all the places round about them, and watched for their coming out [in the Morning].

     9. And then it was that Cestius, despairing of obtaining room for a public march, contrived how he might best run away; and when he had selected four hundred of the most courageous of his soldiers, he placed them at the strongest of their fortifications, and gave order, that when they went up to the Morning guard, they should erect their ensigns, that the Jews might be made to believe that the entire army was there still, while he himself took the rest of his forces with him, and marched, without any noise, thirty furlongs. But when the Jews perceived, in the Morning, that the camp was empty, they ran upon those four hundred who had deluded them, and immediately threw their darts at them, and slew them; and then pursued after Cestius. But he had already made use of a great part of the night in his flight, and still marched quicker when it was day; insomuch that the soldiers, through the astonishment and fear they were in, left behind them their engines for sieges, and for throwing of stones, and a great part of the instruments of war. So the Jews went on pursuing the Romans as far as Antipatris; after which, seeing they could not overtake them, they came back, and took the engines, and spoiled the dead bodies, and gathered the prey together which the Romans had left behind them, and came back running and singing to their metropolis; while they had themselves lost a few only, but had slain of the Romans five thousand and three hundred footmen, and three hundred and eighty horsemen. This defeat happened on the eighth day of the month Dius, [Marchesvan,] in the twelfth year of the reign of Nero.

          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 22:7
     by D.H. Stern

7     The rich rule the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender.

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


     "Will you go with me?"

     '"No, indeed; you must go alone. I shall not appear at all."

     '"Why, mother?"


     I came across the above passage near the beginning of one of Myrtle Reed's stories— The Master's Violin —and, towards the end, I found this:

     '"Iris, I have been miserable ever since I told you I wrote the letters."

     '"Why, dear?"


     And then, in quite another book— Maurice Thompson's Sweetheart Manette —I came upon this: '"Why can't you tell me?" asked Rowland Hatch.

     '"I don't know that I have the right," replied Manette.



     Now, that word 'because' is very interesting. 'It is a woman's reason,' Miss Reed confides to us. That may, or may not, be so. I know nothing about that. It is not my business. I only know that it is the oldest reason, and the safest reason, and by far the strongest.

     Now, really, no man can say why. As Miss Reed says in another passage lying midway between the two quoted: 'We all do things for which we can give no reason.' We do them because. No man can say why he prefers coffee to cocoa, or mutton to beef. He likes the one better than the other because. No man can say why he chose his profession. He decided to be a doctor or a carpenter because. No man can say why he fell in love with his wife. It would be an affectation to pretend that she is really incomparably superior to all other women upon the face of the earth. And yet to him she is not only incomparably superior, and incomparably lovelier, and incomparably nobler, but she is absolutely the one and only woman on the planet or off it. No other swims into the field of vision. She is first, and every other woman is nowhere. Why? 'Because!' There is no other reason.

     The fact is that we get into endless confusion when we sail out into the dark, mysterious seas that lie beyond that 'because.' Nine times out of ten our conclusions are unassailable. And nine times out of ten our reasons for reaching those conclusions are absurdly illogical, totally inadequate, or grossly mistaken. Everybody remembers the fable of the bantam cock who assured the admiring farmyard that the sun rose every morning because of its anxiety to hear him crow! The fact was indisputable; the sun did certainly rise every morning. It was only at the attempt to ascribe a specific reason for its rising that the argument broke down. It is always safer to say that the sun rises every morning because. Ministers at least will recall the merriment that Hugh Latimer made of Master More. The good man had been appointed to investigate the cause of the Goodwin Sands. He met with small success in his inquiries. At last he came upon an old man who had lived in the district nearly a hundred years. The centenarian knew. The secret sparkled in his eyes. Master More approached the prodigy. 'Yes, sir,' the old man answered, 'I know. Tenterden Steeple is the cause of Goodwin Sands! I remember when they built the steeple. Before that we never heard of sands, or flats, or shallows off this haven. They built the steeple, and then came the sands. Yes, sir, Tenterden Steeple is the cause of the destruction of Sandwich Harbour!'

     When we wander beyond that wise word 'because' circumstances seem malicious; they conspire to deceive us. I remember passing a window in London in which a sewing-machine was displayed. The machine was working. A large doll sat beside it, its hand on the wheel. The doll's hand appeared to be turning the handle. As a matter of fact, the machine was electrically driven, and the wheel turned the hand of the doll. In the realm of cause and effect we are frequently the dupes and victims of a very dexterous system of legerdemain. The resultant quantity is invariably clear; the contributing causes are not what they seem.

     I find myself believing to-day pretty much what I believed twenty years ago; but I find myself believing the same things for different reasons. As life goes on, a man learns to put more and more confidence in his conclusions, and to become more and more chary of the reasons that led to those conclusions. If a certain course seems to him to be right, he automatically adopts it, and he confidently persists in it even after the reasons that first dictated it have fallen under suspicion. 'More than once in an emergency at sea,' says Dr. Grenfell, the hero of Labrador, 'I have swiftly decided upon a certain line of action. If I had waited to hem my reason into a corner before adopting that course, I should not be here to tell the tale.' We often flatter ourselves that we base our conclusions upon our reasons. In reality, we do nothing of the kind. The mind works so rapidly that it tricks us. It is another case of legerdemain. Once more, it is the machine that turns the doll, and not the doll that turns the machine. Our thinking faculties often play at ride-a-cock-horse. We recall Browning's lines:

When I see boys ride-a-cock-horse,
  I find it in my heart to embarrass them
  By hinting that their stick's a mock horse,
  And they really carry what they say carries them.

     The rugged truth is, that we first of all reach our conclusions. That is the starting-point. Then, amazed at our own temerity in doing so, we hasten to tack on a few reasons as a kind of apology to ourselves for our own intrepidity, a tardy concession to intellectual decency and good order. But whether we recognize it or not, we do most things because. As Pascal told us long ago, 'the heart has reasons which the reason does not know. It is the heart that feels God, not the reason.' When old Samuel Wesley lay dying in 1735, he turned to his illustrious son John, saying: 'The inward witness, son, the inward witness! That is the proof, the strongest proof of Christianity!' 'I did not at the time understand him,' says John, in quoting the words with approval long afterwards. But the root of the whole matter lies just there.

     My reference to Dr. Grenfell reminds me. The good doctor was questioned the other day as to his faith in immortality. 'I believe in it,' he replied, 'because I believe in it. I am sure of it, because I am sure of it.' Precisely! That is the point. We believe because. And then, on our sure faith, we pile up a stupendous avalanche of Christian evidences. Emerson tells us of two American senators who spent a quarter of a century searching for conclusive evidence of the immortality of the soul. And Emerson finishes the story by saying that the impulse which prompted their long search was itself the strongest proof that they could have had. Of course! Although they knew it not, they already believed. They believed because. And then, finding their faith naked, and feeling ashamed, they set out to beg, borrow, or steal a few rags of reasons with which to deck it. It is the problem of Professor Teufelsdrockh and Sartor Resartus over again. It all comes back to Carlyle's 'Everlasting Yea.' The shame is mock modesty; and the craving is a false one. A woman's reason is the best reason. As the years go by, we become less and less eager for evidence. We are content to believe because. 'I was lately looking out of my window,' Martin Luther wrote from Coburg to a friend, 'and I saw the stars in the heavens, and God's great beautiful arch over my head, but I could not see any pillars on which the great Builder had fixed this arch; and yet the heavens fell not, and the great arch stood firmly. There are some who are always feeling for the pillars, and longing to touch them. And, because they cannot touch them, they stand trembling, and fearing lest the heavens should fall. If they could only grasp the pillars, then the heavens would stand fast.'

     '"But how do you know that there is any Christ? You never saw Him!" said poor Augustine St. Clare, the slave-owner, to Uncle Tom, the slave.

     '"I feel it in my soul, mas'r—feel Him now! Oh, mas'r, the blessed Lord Jesus loves you!"

     '"But how do you know that, Tom?" said St. Clare.

     '"I feels it in my soul, mas'r; oh, mas'r, the love of Christ that passeth knowledge."

     '"But, Tom, you know that I have a great deal more knowledge than you; what if I should tell you that I don't believe your Bible? Wouldn't that shake your faith some, Tom?"

     '"Not a grain, mas'r!" And St. Clare felt himself borne, on the tide of Tom's faith and feeling, almost to the gate of heaven.

     '"I like to hear you, Tom; and some time I'll talk more."'

     Uncle Tom's argument was the strongest and most convincing after all; if only all we arguers, and debaters, and controversialists could come to recognize it. He believed because. And, now that I come to think of it, Miss Myrtle Reed is wrong in calling it a woman's reason. It is a divine argument, the oldest, and sweetest, and strongest of all divine arguments. I said just now that a man loves a woman just because he loves her, and he could not in a thousand volumes give an intelligent and convincing explanation of his preference. And—let me say it in a hushed and reverent whisper—God loves in much the same way. Listen, and let me read: 'The Lord did not set His love upon you because ye were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you!' He loved because He loved. He loved because.

     I intend, therefore, to proclaim the magnificent verities of the Christian gospel. I shall talk with absolute certainty, and with unwavering confidence, about the sin of man, the love of God, the Cross of Christ. If my message is met with a 'why' or a 'wherefore,' I have only one reply—'Because!' There is nothing else to be said. The preacher lives to tell a wonderful love-story. And a love-story is never arguable. 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son!' Why? Because!

Mushrooms on the Moor (Dodo Press)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Till you are entirely His

     Let your endurance be a finished product, so that you may be finished and complete, with never a defect.
--- James 1:4 (Moffatt).

     Many of us are all right in the main, but there are some domains in which we are slovenly. It is not a question of sin, but of the remnants of the carnal life which are apt to make us slovenly. Slovenliness is an insult to the Holy Ghost. There should be nothing slovenly, whether it be in the way we eat and drink, or in the way we worship God.

     Not only must our relationship to God be right, but the external expression of that relationship must be right. Ultimately God will let nothing escape, every detail is under His scrutiny. In numberless ways God will bring us back to the same point over and over again. He never tires of bringing us to the one point until we learn the lesson, because He is producing the finished product. It may be a question of impulse, and again and again, with the most persistent patience, God has brought us back to the one particular point; or it may be mental wool-gathering, or independent individuality. God is trying to impress upon us the one thing that is not entirely right.

     We have been having a wonderful time this Session over the revelation of God’s Redemption, our hearts are perfect towards Him; His wonderful work in us makes us know that in the main we are right with Him; now, says the Spirit, through St. James, “Let your endurance be a finished product.” Watch the slipshod bits—‘Oh, that will have to do for now.’ Whatever it is, God will point it out with persistence until we are entirely His.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

     the Poetry of RS Thomas


God looked at space and I appeared,
  Rubbing my eyes at what I saw.
  The earth smoked, no birds sang;
  There were no footprints on the beaches
  Of the hot sea, no creatures in it.
  God spoke. I hid myself in the side
  of the mountain.
  As though born again
  I stepped out into the cool dew,
  Trying to remember the fire sermon,
  Astonished at the mingled chorus
  Of weeds and flowers. In the brown bark
  Of the trees I saw the many faces
  Of life, forms hungry for birth,
  Mouthing at me. I held my way
  To the light, inspecting my shadow
  Boldly; and in the late Morning
  You, rising towards me out of the depths
  Of myself. I took your hand,
  Remembering you, and together,
  Confederates of the natural day,
  We went forth to meet the Machine.


Searching For Meaning In Midrash

     In Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass, Alice challenges Humpty Dumpty on his use of a particular word.

     “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

     “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

     “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

     At first glance our Midrash seems simple enough. The Rabbis point out that sometimes the Bible uses the word “tomorrow” and means it literally, and other times it uses the same word more generally. But on a deeper level, the Midrash is warning us: Things aren’t always what they appear to be; words don’t always mean what we think they do.

     George Orwell, in his classic novel 1984, showed us what can happen when sinister, instead of silly, individuals become masters of words. Orwell describes “Newspeak,” created by the State to control the individual. The ultimate examples of this new language are the three banners that are found everywhere in Oceania: “War Is Peace.” “Freedom Is Slavery.” “Ignorance Is Strength.” Totalitarianism begins, we are reminded, not with tanks rolling down Main Street but with the control of the printed and spoken word.

     Newspeak is fiction, but in many realms of modern life a similar retooling of our language has already taken place. The military has created its own parlance whose purpose is to hide the realities and horrors of war from the public. We no longer hear about “battlefields”; instead, military spokesmen talk about the “theater of operations.” We are told that there was “significant collateral damage,” a euphemistic way of saying that a lot of innocent people were killed when a bomb missed its target. We can’t question or criticize what our government is doing if we don’t understand what it is that they are telling us.

     Our Midrash is teaching: Be careful with words, even with those that appear to be simple and obvious; they may mean something entirely different from what we think. Do not accept them at face value. Look beneath the surface, check the context, investigate the source. Be sure that the speaker and the listener share a common lexicon—and a common agenda.

     Don’t take language for granted; take it seriously. And do it today. “Tomorrow” may be too late.


     Sometimes, we promise to do something “tomorrow,” and we take that very literally. When we don’t do it tomorrow—the letter we were going to write, the phone call we had to make, that important project—then we get angry, upset. We may say, “I didn’t do it when I was supposed to, and it’ll never get done.” But there are many meanings to the word “tomorrow.” It can mean “the day after today,” but it can also mean “in the future, at some later date.”

     One of the best known songs of Naomi Shemer, Israel’s greatest modern composer, is מָחָר/“Maḥar,” “Tomorrow.” Composed in 1967 in the wake of the Six-Day War, that song speaks of the dreams, hopes, and aspirations of the modern Israeli, all of which will be achieved “tomorrow.”

  Tomorrow when the army takes off its uniforms
  Our hearts will turn silent.
  After, each person will build with his own two hands
  What he dreamed today.

  All this is not a fable or a dream.
  It’s clear as the afternoon light.
  All this will happen tomorrow if not today
  And if not tomorrow, then the day after.

     Israel has been able to achieve such success in so many areas—agriculture, finance, culture—because the society has said, “We’ll aim to do this today, and if not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then at the very latest the day after tomorrow.” This ideology is reflected in the Hebrew word מָחֳרָתַיִם/moḥoratayim, translated in the Naomi Shemer song as “the day after” or “two days from now” (a doubled form of מָחָר/maḥar, “tomorrow”).

     Putting off to tomorrow should not be an excuse to procrastinate. Rather, it should give us the ability to carry out long-range projects in the future—if not tomorrow, then during the tomorrows that follow after.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     July 31

     Delight yourself in the LORD.
--- Delight yourself in the LORD.
--- Psalm 37:4.

     [This delight in prayer] is a delight in God, who is the object of prayer. ISBN-13: 978-1848711006 The glory of God—communion with him, enjoyment of him—is the great goal of believers in their prayers. Such delight in prayer is only a spark of the delight that the soul has in the object of prayer. God is the center, in whom the soul rests, and the goal that the soul aims at. According to our perceptions of God are our desires for him; when we see him as the chief good, we will desire him and delight in him as the chief good. There must first be a delight in God before there can be a spiritual delight or a constancy in duty. Delight is a grace, and, as faith, desire, and love have God for their object, so does this. And according to the strength of our delight in the object or purpose is the strength of our delight in the means of attainment. When we delight in God as glorious, we will delight to honor him; when we regard him as good, we will delight to pursue and enjoy him and delight in that which brings us into communion with him. Those who rejoice in God will rejoice in every approach to him. “The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). The more joy in God, the more strength to go to him. The lack of this is the reason of our snail-like motion to him. We have no sweet thoughts of God and therefore no mind to converse with him. We cannot judge our delight in prayer to be right if we do not have a delight in God—natural men and women may have a delight in prayer when they have corrupt and selfish ends. They may have a delight in a duty as it is a means, according to their understanding, to gain their purpose, as Balaam and Balak offered their sacrifice cheerfully, hoping to ingratiate themselves with God and to have liberty to curse his people.
--- Stephen Charnock

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

On This Day
     The Blessed Tie  July 31

     John Fawcett was converted as a teenager listening to George Whitefield. He joined the Baptists and was ordained on July 31, 1765. He began pastoring a poor church in Wainsgate, finding time here and there for writing. His writings spread abroad, and the little church feared they would lose their pastor to a larger place. Fawcett wondered the same thing, lamenting in his diary that his family was growing faster than his income.

     The call came from London’s famous Carter’s Lane Church. “Think of it!” Fawcett told his wife. “They want us in London to take the place of the late Dr. Gill at that great church! It’s almost unbelievable!” The following Sunday he broke the news to his church, then began packing. Books, dishes, pictures, and furniture were crated for the overland journey to the world’s largest city. When the day of departure came, church members assembled and bravely tried to hold their tears. Finally everything was loaded but one box, and Fawcett entered the house to retrieve it. There he found his wife deep in thought. “John,” she said, voice breaking, “do you think we’re doing the right thing? Will we ever find a congregation to love us and help us with the Lord’s work like this group here?”

     “Do you think we’ve been too hasty in this?” John asked.

     “Yes. I think we should stay right here and serve these people.”

     John was silent a moment, for his heart, too, had been breaking. He nodded. “I was so overjoyed when the call came that I never really prayed about it like a minister should.”

     They walked onto the porch, called the people together, revealed their change of heart, and amid joyous tears unloaded their wagons. Fawcett stayed at Wainsgate the rest of his life. But not in obscurity. Out of this experience, he wrote the world-famous hymn:

     Blest be the tie that binds
     Our hearts in Christian love.
     The fellowship of kindred minds
     Is like to that above.

     I pray that your love will keep on growing and that you will fully know and understand how to make the right choices. Then you will still be pure and innocent when Christ returns. And until that day, Jesus Christ will keep you busy doing good deeds that bring glory and praise to God.
--- Philippians 1:9,10.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - July 31

     “I in them.” --- John 17:23.

     If such be the union which subsists between our souls and the person of our Lord, how deep and broad is the channel of our communion! This is no narrow pipe through which a thread-like stream may wind its way, it is a channel of amazing depth and breadth, along whose glorious length a ponderous volume of living water may roll its floods. Behold he hath set before us an open door, let us not be slow to enter. This city of communion hath many pearly gates, every several gate is of one pearl, and each gate is thrown open to the uttermost that we may enter, assured of welcome. If there were but one small loophole through which to talk with Jesus, it would be a high privilege to thrust a word of fellowship through the narrow door; how much we are blessed in having so large an entrance! Had the Lord Jesus been far away from us, with many a stormy sea between, we should have longed to send a messenger to him to carry him our loves, and bring us tidings from his Father’s house; but see his kindness, he has built his house next door to ours, nay, more, he takes lodging with us, and tabernacles in poor humble hearts, that so he may have perpetual intercourse with us. O how foolish must we be, if we do not live in habitual communion with him. When the road is long, and dangerous, and difficult, we need not wonder that friends seldom meet each other, but when they live together, shall Jonathan forget his David? A wife may when her husband is upon a journey, abide many days without holding converse with him, but she could never endure to be separated from him if she knew him to be in one of the chambers of her own house. Why, believer, dost not thou sit at his banquet of wine? Seek thy Lord, for he is near; embrace him, for he is thy Brother. Hold Him fast, for he is thine Husband; and press him to thine heart, for he is of thine own flesh.

          Evening - July 31

     “And these are the singers … they were employed in that work day and night.” --- 1 Chronicles 9:33.

     Well was it so ordered in the temple that the sacred chant never ceased: for evermore did the singers praise the Lord, whose mercy endureth for ever. As mercy did not cease to rule either by day or by night, so neither did music hush its holy ministry. My heart, there is a lesson sweetly taught to thee in the ceaseless song of Zion’s temple, thou too art a constant debtor, and see thou to it that thy gratitude, like charity, never faileth. God’s praise is constant in heaven, which is to be thy final dwelling-place, learn thou to practise the eternal hallelujah. Around the earth as the sun scatters his light, his beams awaken grateful believers to tune their Morning hymn, so that by the priesthood of the saints perpetual praise is kept up at all hours, they swathe our globe in a mantle of thanksgiving, and girdle it with a golden belt of song.

     The Lord always deserves to be praised for what he is in himself, for his works of creation and providence, for his goodness towards his creatures, and especially for the transcendent act of redemption, and all the marvellous blessing flowing therefrom. It is always beneficial to praise the Lord; it cheers the day and brightens the night; it lightens toil and softens sorrow; and over earthly gladness it sheds a sanctifying radiance which makes it less liable to blind us with its glare. Have we not something to sing about at this moment? Can we not weave a song out of our present joys, or our past deliverances, or our future hopes? Earth yields her summer fruits: the hay is housed, the golden grain invites the sickle, and the sun tarrying long to shine upon a fruitful earth, shortens the interval of shade that we may lengthen the hours of devout worship. By the love of Jesus, let us be stirred up to close the day with a psalm of sanctified gladness.

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

Amazing Grace
     July 31



     The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. (Psalm 29:11)

     Not merely in the words you say,
     Not merely in your deeds confessed,
     But in the most unconscious way
     Is Christ expressed.

     And from your eyes He beckons me,
     And from your heart His love is shed,
     Till I lose sight of you …
     And see Christ the Lord instead.

     --- Unknown

     For the past month we have been considering the benefits and blessings of being a Christian—joy, peace, contentment … with rivers of living waters flowing out of such a life (John 7:38). Knowing Christ as personal Savior, experiencing the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit, and living with a glorious hope for eternity should produce a dramatic difference in the personality and lifestyle of every true believer. Christ’s redemptive work provides not only for our eternal glory, but also for a full and abundant life now (John 10:10). A professing Christian who is perceived by his family, friends, and colleagues to be continually sour, contentious, and discontent is a disgrace to the Gospel and a hindrance in the work of evangelism.

     May the words of this little spiritual increasingly become our genuine testimony as we earnestly seek to direct others to Christ the Lord:

     I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.
     I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.
     I’ve got faith like a mountain in my soul.
     I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.
     I’ve got Christ as my Savior in my soul.

     For Today: Psalm 107:9; 119:165; Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27; 16:33; Philippians 4:6, 7, 11; 1 Timothy 6:6

     Ask God to make your life truly reflect the peace, joy, faith and love of His indwelling presence as you seek to be an effective representative for Him. Allow the Holy Spirit to produce the “rivers of living water” in your daily living. Carry this musical message with you ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Monday, July 31, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 12, Monday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 56, 57 (58)
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 64, 65
Old Testament     2 Samuel 2:1–11
New Testament     Acts 15:36–16:5
Gospel     Mark 6:14–29

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 56, 57 (58)

To the leader: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. Of David. A Miktam, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

1 Be gracious to me, O God, for people trample on me;
all day long foes oppress me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many fight against me.
O Most High, 3 when I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me?

5 All day long they seek to injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They stir up strife, they lurk,
they watch my steps.
As they hoped to have my life,
7 so repay them for their crime;
in wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

8 You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will retreat
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I am not afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?

12 My vows to you I must perform, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of life.

To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
until the destroying storms pass by.
2 I cry to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
3 He will send from heaven and save me,
he will put to shame those who trample on me.     Selah
God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness.

4 I lie down among lions
that greedily devour human prey;
their teeth are spears and arrows,
their tongues sharp swords.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

6 They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my path,
but they have fallen into it themselves.     Selah
7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast.
I will sing and make melody.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens;
your faithfulness extends to the clouds.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

[     To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam.

1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge people fairly?
2 No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.

3 The wicked go astray from the womb;
they err from their birth, speaking lies.
4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
5 so that it does not hear the voice of charmers
or of the cunning enchanter.

6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
7 Let them vanish like water that runs away;
like grass let them be trodden down and wither.
8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime;
like the untimely birth that never sees the sun.
9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!

10 The righteous will rejoice when they see vengeance done;
they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 People will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth.”     ]

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 64, 65

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from the dread enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the scheming of evildoers,
3 who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
4 shooting from ambush at the blameless;
they shoot suddenly and without fear.
5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see us?
6 Who can search out our crimes?
We have thought out a cunningly conceived plot.”
For the human heart and mind are deep.

7 But God will shoot his arrow at them;
they will be wounded suddenly.
8 Because of their tongue he will bring them to ruin;
all who see them will shake with horror.
9 Then everyone will fear;
they will tell what God has brought about,
and ponder what he has done.

10 Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD
and take refuge in him.
Let all the upright in heart glory.

To the leader. A Psalm of David. A Song.

1 Praise is due to you,
O God, in Zion;
and to you shall vows be performed,
2 O you who answer prayer!
To you all flesh shall come.
3 When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,
you forgive our transgressions.
4 Happy are those whom you choose and bring near
to live in your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
your holy temple.

5 By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
6 By your strength you established the mountains;
you are girded with might.
7 You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.
8 Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

9 You visit the earth and water it,
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide the people with grain,
for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.

Old Testament
2 Samuel 2:1–11

2 After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” The LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” He said, “To Hebron.” 2 So David went up there, along with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 3 David brought up the men who were with him, every one with his household; and they settled in the towns of Hebron. 4 Then the people of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

When they told David, “It was the people of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul,” 5 David sent messengers to the people of Jabesh-gilead, and said to them, “May you be blessed by the LORD, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord, and buried him! 6 Now may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you! And I too will reward you because you have done this thing. 7 Therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant; for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”

8 But Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ishbaal son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim. 9 He made him king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and over all Israel. 10 Ishbaal, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. 11 The time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

New Testament
Acts 15:36–16:5

36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. 39 The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

16 Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

Mark 6:14–29

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18 For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23 And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

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

Tackling Temptation
   Ravi Zacharias

Story Of Nehemiah
   Ravi Zacharias

Truth Whose Truth
   Ravi Zacharias

Uniqueness Of Jesus
   Ravi Zacharias

Let My People Think
   Ravi Zacharias

I Believe In The Savior Jesus Christ
   Ravi Zacharias

Chariots Of Fire
   Ravi Zacharias

Keeping Watch
   Ravi Zacharias

Prophet Marries The Prostitute
   Ravi Zacharias

God Or No God?
   Ravi Zacharias

Temple University Open Forum
   Ravi Zacharias

A Fish Out Of Water
   Ravi Zacharias

Cynicism    Craig Hill   Biola University

Prayer   Robert Bishop   Biola University

Lect 28, OT Lit To the End of Northern Kingdom
Dr. Elaine Phillips

Lect 29, OT Lit To the Fall of Jerusalem
Dr. Elaine Phillips

Don't Let The Fears And The Regrets Of The Past Hold Up Your Life
   Ravi Zacharias