August 1, 2015

Hosea 10-14
Israel was once a lush vine, beautiful in grapes.  The more lavish the harvest, the more promiscuous the worship.  The more money they got, the more they squandered on gods-in-their own image...They talk big, lie through their teeth, make deals.  But their high-sounding words turn out to be empty words, litter in the gutter...You got your start in sin at Gilbeah....you thought you could do it all on your own... 

When Israel was an only child, I loved him.  I called out “My son”--called him out of Egypt.  But when others called him, he ran off and left me...Still I stuck with him, I rescued him from human bondage...But he never acknowledged my help...My people are hell bent on leaving me.  They pray to god Baal for help...I can’t bear to even think such thoughts.  My insides churn in protest.  And so I’m not going to act on my anger...And why? Because I am God and not a human.  I’m the Holy One and I’m here--  in your very midst. The people will end up following God....

In the womb, that heel Jacob, got the best of his brother.  When he grew up, he tried to get the best of God.  But God would not be bested.  God     bested him.  Brought to his knees, Jacob wept and prayed....

What are you waiting for?  Return to your God!  Commit yourself in love, in-justice!  Wait for your God, and don’t give up on him - ever!....I’m still your God...I took care of you during the wilderness hard times, those years you had nothing.  I took care of you, took care of all your needs, gave you everything you needed.  You were spoiled.  You thought you didn’t need me.  You forgot me....Well long ago, I gave you a king, but I wasn’t happy about it.  Now fed up, I’ve gotten rid of him...

Who is afraid of you, Death?  Who cares about your threats, Tomb?  In the end, I’m abolishing regret, banishing sorrow...Oh Israel, come back!  Return to your God!  You’re down but you’re not out....If you want to live well, make sure you understand all of this.  If you know what is good for you, you’ll learn this inside and out.  

God’s paths get you where.you want to go.  Right living people walk them easily, wrong-living people are always tripping and stumbling. 

Acts 22:30 - 23:10 - 
The next day, determined to get to the root of the trouble and know for sure what was behind the Jewish accusation, the captain released Paul and ordered a meeting of the high priests and the High Council to see what they could make of it.

Paul surveyed the members of the council with a steady gaze, and then said his piece: “Friends, I’ve lived with a clear conscience before God all my life up to this very moment.”  That set the Chief Priest Ananias off.  He ordered his aides to slap Paul in the face.  Paul shot back, “God will slap you down!  What a fake you are!  You sit there and judge me by the Law and then break the Law by ordering me slapped around!”  The aides were scandalized: “How dare you talk to God’s Chief Priest like that!” Paul acted surprised: “How was I to know he was Chief Priest?  He doesn’t act like a Chief Priest.  You are right, the Scripture does say “Don’t speak abusively to a ruler of the people.  Sorry.”

Paul knowing some of the council was made up of Sadducees and others of Pharisees and how they hated each other, decided to exploit their antagonism by claiming it was the hope and resurrection of the dead believed by most Pharisees that resulted in him being hauled into court.  The moment he said this, the council split right down the middle....Then some of the religion scholars on the Pharisee side shouted down the others “We don’t find anything wrong with this man!...

That was fuel on the fire so the captain ordered the soldiers  to get Paul out of there and escort him back to the safety of the barracks