Friday, February 26, 2016

Daily Readings for February 26, 2016

Genesis 43:1-15
Now the famine was severe in the land. And when they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, "Go again, buy us a little more food." But Judah said to him, "The man solemnly warned us, saying, 'You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.' If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food; but if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, 'You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.'" Israel said, "Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?" They replied, "The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, 'Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?' What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, 'Bring your brother down'?" Then Judah said to his father Israel, "Send the boy with me, and let us be on our way, so that we may live and not die-- you and we and also our little ones. I myself will be surety for him; you can hold me accountable for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice." Then their father Israel said to them, "If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry them down as a present to the man-- a little balm and a little honey, gum, resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the top of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight. Take your brother also, and be on your way again to the man; may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, so that he may send back your other brother and Benjamin. As for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." So the men took the present, and they took double the money with them, as well as Benjamin. Then they went on their way down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.

1 Corinthians 7:1-9
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is well for a man not to touch a woman." But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

Mark 4:35-41
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

Psalm 69 Salvum me fac (Save me)
1   Save me, O God, for the waters have risen up to my neck.
2   I am sinking in deep mire, and there is no firm ground for my feet.
3   I have come into deep waters, and the torrent washes over me.
4   I have grown weary with my crying; my throat is inflamed; my eyes have failed from looking for my God.
5   Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; my lying foes who would destroy me are mighty. Must I then give back what I never stole?
6   O God, you know my foolishness, and my faults are not hidden from you.
7   Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be disgraced because of me, O God of Israel.
8   Surely, for your sake have I suffered reproach, and shame has covered my face.
9   I have become a stranger to my own kindred, an alien to my mother's children.
10   Zeal for your house has eaten me up; the scorn of those who scorn you has fallen upon me.
11   I humbled myself with fasting, but that was turned to my reproach.
12   I put on sack-cloth also, and became a byword among them.
13   Those who sit at the gate murmur against me, and the drunkards make songs about me.
14   But as for me, this is my prayer to you, at the time you have set, O LORD:
15   In your great mercy, O God, answer me with your unfailing help.
16   Save me from the mire; do not let me sink; let me be rescued from those who hate me and out of the deep waters.
17   Let not the torrent of waters wash over me, neither let the deep swallow me up; do not let the Pit shut its mouth upon me.
18   Answer me, O LORD, for your love is kind; in your great compassion, turn to me."
19   Hide not your face from your servant; be swift and answer me, for I am in distress.
20   Draw near to me and redeem me; because of my enemies deliver me.
21   You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor; my adversaries are all in your sight."
22   Reproach has broken my heart, and it cannot be healed; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I could find no one.
23   They gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink.
24   Let the table before them be a trap and their sacred feasts a snare.
25   Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and give them continual trembling in their loins.
26   Pour out your indignation upon them, and let the fierceness of your anger overtake them.
27   Let their camp be desolate, and let there be none to dwell in their tents.
28   For they persecute him whom you have stricken and add to the pain of those whom you have pierced.
29   Lay to their charge guilt upon guilt, and let them not receive your vindication.
30   Let them be wiped out of the book of the living and not be written among the righteous.
31   As for me, I am afflicted and in pain; your help, O God, will lift me up on high.
32   I will praise the Name of God in song; I will proclaim his greatness with thanksgiving.
33   This will please the LORD more than an offering of oxen, more than bullocks with horns and hoofs.
34   The afflicted shall see and be glad; you who seek God, your heart shall live.
35   For the LORD listens to the needy, and his prisoners he does not despise.
36   Let the heavens and the earth praise him, the seas and all that moves in them;
37   For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; they shall live there and have it in possession.
38   The children of his servants will inherit it, and those who love his Name will dwell therein.

Psalm 73 Quam bonus Israel! (How good of Israel!)
1   Truly, God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
2   But as for me, my feet had nearly slipped; I had almost tripped and fallen;
3   Because I envied the proud and saw the prosperity of the wicked:
4   For they suffer no pain, and their bodies are sleek and sound;
5   In the misfortunes of others they have no share; they are not afflicted as others are;
6   Therefore they wear their pride like a necklace and wrap their violence about them like a cloak.
7   Their iniquity comes from gross minds, and their hearts overflow with wicked thoughts.
8   They scoff and speak maliciously; out of their haughtiness they plan oppression.
9   They set their mouths against the heavens, and their evil speech runs through the world.
10   And so the people turn to them and find in them no fault.
11   They say, "How should God know? is there knowledge in the Most High?"
12   So then, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase their wealth.
13   In vain have I kept my heart clean, and washed my hands in innocence.
14   I have been afflicted all day long, and punished every morning.
15   Had I gone on speaking this way, I should have betrayed the generation of your children.
16   When I tried to understand these things, it was too hard for me;
17   Until I entered the sanctuary of God and discerned the end of the wicked.
18   Surely, you set them in slippery places; you cast them down in ruin.
19   Oh, how suddenly do they come to destruction, come to an end, and perish from terror!
20   Like a dream when one awakens, O Lord, when you arise you will make their image vanish.
21   When my mind became embittered, I was sorely wounded in my heart.
22   I was stupid and had no understanding; I was like a brute beast in your presence.
23   Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
24   You will guide me by your counsel, and afterwards receive me with glory.
25   Whom have I in heaven but you? and having you I desire nothing upon earth.
26   Though my flesh and my heart should waste away, God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.
27   Truly, those who forsake you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful.
28   But it is good for me to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge.
29   I will speak of all your works in the gates of the city of Zion.

Daily Meditation for February 26, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

Genesis 43:9 If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.

Jacob repeatedly indicates to his older children the vast extent to which he prefers their younger brothers, the children of Rachel. He allows Simeon to languish in prison rather than even consider allowing Benjamin to accompany his brothers to Egypt. Only the prospect of the family’s imminent starvation moves Jacob to change his mind.

When Judah takes responsibility for Benjamin’s safety, his words and tone indicate his acceptance of a situation that he can’t change. The urgency with which the brothers later petition for the life of Benjamin on behalf of their father indicate their continued love and compassion for Jacob. Accepting Jacob’s parental foibles as they had not done before, they forgive him and protect Benjamin for him, a pivotal decision that changes everything.
 
With a few variations, this story of favoritism and family drama could be told today. The pain and reward of loving family, and the difficulty of forgiving wrongs done over the years, remain as relevant now, thousands of years later, as when the story was first told.