Daily Bible Reading – English Standard Version – May 15, 2013

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Acts 22:30-30

Paul Before the Council

30 But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them.

1 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” 4 Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'” 6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks. 11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”

A Plot to Kill Paul

12 When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. 15 Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” 16 Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, “Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you.” 19 The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?” 20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the counciltomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him. 21 But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him, who have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent.” 22 So the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, “Tell no one that you have informed me of these things.”

A Levite and His Concubine

1 In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite was sojourning in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, who took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. 2 And his concubine was unfaithful to him, and she went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there some four months. 3 Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back. He had with him his servant and a couple of donkeys. And she brought him into her father’s house. And when the girl’s father saw him, he came with joy to meet him. 4 And his father-in-law, the girl’s father, made him stay, and he remained with him three days. So they ate and drank and spent the night there. 5 And on the fourth day they arose early in the morning, and he prepared to go, but the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Strengthen your heart with a morsel of bread, and after that you may go.” 6 So the two of them sat and ate and drank together. And the girl’s father said to the man, “Be pleased to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.” 7 And when the man rose up to go, his father-in-law pressed him, till he spent the night there again. 8 And on the fifth day he arose early in the morning to depart. And the girl’s father said, “Strengthen your heart and wait until the day declines.” So they ate, both of them. 9 And when the man and his concubine and his servant rose up to depart, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Behold, now the day has waned toward evening. Please, spend the night. Behold, the day draws to its close. Lodge here and let your heart be merry, and tomorrow you shall arise early in the morning for your journey, and go home.” 10 But the man would not spend the night. He rose up and departed and arrived opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). He had with him a couple of saddled donkeys, and his concubine was with him. 11 When they were near Jebus, the day was nearly over, and the servant said to his master, “Come now, let us turn aside to this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.” 12 And his master said to him, “We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners, who do not belong to the people of Israel, but we will pass on to Gibeah.” 13 And he said to his young man, “Come and let us draw near to one of these places and spend the night at Gibeah or at Ramah.” 14 So they passed on and went their way. And the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin, 15 and they turned aside there, to go in and spend the night at Gibeah. And he went in and sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night. 16 And behold, an old man was coming from his work in the field at evening. The man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was sojourning in Gibeah. The men of the place were Benjaminites. 17 And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city. And the old man said, “Where are you going? And where do you come from?” 18 And he said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, from which I come. I went to Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to the house of the Lord,but no one has taken me into his house. 19 We have straw and feed for our donkeys, with bread and wine for me and your female servant and the young man with your servants. There is no lack of anything.” 20 And the old man said, “Peace be to you; I will care for all your wants. Only, do not spend the night in the square.” 21 So he brought him into his house and gave the donkeys feed. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank.

Gibeah’s Crime

22 As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” 23 And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. 24 Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26 And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light. 27 And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up, let us be going.”But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home. 29 And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. 30 And all who saw it said, “Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak.”

Come to Our Help

1 O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:  2 you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free;  3 for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them. 4 You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob!  5 Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.  6 For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me.  7 But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us.  8 In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah 9 But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies.  10 You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil.  11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations.  12 You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them.  13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.  14 You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.  15 All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face  16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger. 17 All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant.  18 Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way;  19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death.  20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,  21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.  22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. 23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!  24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?  25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground.  26 Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

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Teshuvah Road is the Road on which Addiction ENDS!

No Loose Laces – Our Daily Bread – May 15, 2013

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One person’s actions can affect an entire group. This truth became clear to journalist Sebastian Junger as he followed a platoon of soldiers. Junger watched a soldier accost another soldier whose bootlaces were trailing on the ground. He didn’t confront him out of concern for his fashion. He confronted him because his loose laces put the entire platoon at risk—he couldn’t be counted on not to trip and fall at a crucial moment. Junger realized that what happens to one happens to everyone.

Achan’s “bootlaces were loose,” and we learn from his story that sin is never private. After the great victory at Jericho, God gave Joshua specific instructions on how to deal with the city and its loot (Josh. 6:18). The people were to “abstain from the accursed things” and to put all the silver and gold “into the treasury of the Lord” (vv.18-19). But they disobeyed his command to them (7:1). The interesting thing is, not all of Israel sinned; only one person did—Achan. But because of his actions, everyone was affected and God was dishonored.

As followers of Jesus, we belong to one another and our individual actions can impact the entire body and God’s name. Let’s “tie up our laces” so that we may individually and together give God the honor He deserves.

Lord, we know our sin is never private, though we
may try to hide it. Help us to remember that we
belong to You and to one another and that what we do
individually grieves You and impacts fellow Christians.
Private sins will inevitably have public impact.

THE SONG OF VICTORY – David Wilkerson Today – A Ministry of World Challenge – WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 2013

THE SONG OF VICTORY
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]
Red-Sea1
The children of Israel were in a hopeless predicament!

The Red Sea was before them; the mountains were to the left and right; and
Pharaoh and his iron chariots were closing in from the rear. God’s people
seemed helplessly trapped—like sitting ducks just waiting to be cut down.
Yet, believe it or not, God purposely had led them into this precarious spot!

It was panic time in the camp of Israel. Men shook with fear, and women and
children wept as they huddled around grandparents and other kin. Suddenly Moses
was mobbed by irate family leaders who cried, “Surely this is the end! Weren’t
there enough graves in Egypt to bury us there? You had to drag us out here to
die? We told you in Egypt to let us alone. It was better to be slaves there
than to die in this miserable wilderness!” (see Exodus 14:10-12).

I wonder if even Moses had a moment of trepidation about their circumstances.
Yet when this man of God wept, the Lord seems to have chided him: “Wherefore
criest thou unto me?” (Exodus 14:15).

No one in Israel could have known what a great deliverance God was about to
bring! Suddenly the winds parted the sea, and the people walked through the
parted waves on dry ground. When Pharaoh and his powerful army tried to follow,
the waters began to rage again, closing in and drowning them all!

What a sight it must have been! The people of God looked back from the other
side and saw their mighty enemy destroyed like tin soldiers. Then a song went
up in the camp as, once again, they realized God had delivered them from
impossible circumstances! Scripture records their reaction—and the song they
sang:

“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake,
saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse
and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song,
and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an
habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (Exodus 15:1-2).

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Acting Chief of I.R.S. Forced Out Over Tea Party Targeting

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WASHINGTON — President Obama announced Wednesday night that the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service had been ousted after disclosures that the agency gave special scrutiny to conservative groups. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., meanwhile, warned top I.R.S. officials that a Justice Department inquiry would examine any false statements to see if they constituted a crime.

Speaking in the White House’s formal East Room, Mr. Obama said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew had asked for and accepted the resignation of the acting commissioner, Steven Miller, who as deputy commissioner was aware of the agency’s efforts to demand more information from conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status in early 2012.

“Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I’m angry about it,” Mr. Obama said. “It should not matter what political stripe you’re from. The fact of the matter is the I.R.S. has to operate with absolute integrity.”

Mr. Miller, who told agency employees that he would leave the administration in early June, is scheduled to testify Friday before the House Ways and Means Committee in the first of a series of hearings on the I.R.S. activities.

The president acted as his administration broadly stepped up pressure on the I.R.S. — and sought to insulate itself from the outcry over the agency’s conduct. Mr. Obama spoke to reporters after an Oval Office meeting with Mr. Lew and his deputy, Neil Wolin, who will be responsible for carrying out the president’s orders to install safeguards to prevent a similar effort.

In an internal message to employees, Mr. Miller, a 25-year veteran of the I.R.S., wrote: “This has been an incredibly difficult time for the I.R.S., given the events of the past few days, and there is a strong and immediate need to restore public trust in the nation’s tax agency. I believe the service will benefit from having a new acting commissioner.”

Mr. Holder’s warning came as lawmakers stated unequivocally that I.R.S. officials had lied to them in failing to disclose the added screening despite being pressed repeatedly.

At a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Mr. Holder said the Justice Department would investigate whether the civil rights of groups or individuals, and statutes governing I.R.S. conduct, had been violated. But Mr. Holder also said, “False-statement violations might have been made given, at least what I know at this point.”

Members of Congress from both parties, meanwhile, prepared a gantlet of hearings for I.R.S. leaders in the coming days. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold the first hearing on Friday, featuring Mr. Miller, who was aware of the problem in March 2012, yet told Republican senators a month later that no such singling out had occurred.

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold its first hearing on the matter, and the next day, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hear the testimony of Lois Lerner, who heads the I.R.S.’s division on tax-exempt organizations and was aware of the issue nearly from the beginning, in 2010, yet told reporters on Friday that she had learned of it from news reports in 2012.

“Lois Lerner lied to me,” said Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, who helped initiate the Congressional investigation of the I.R.S.

The House Oversight Committee requested five senior I.R.S. officials be made available for interviews by May 20, including the director of rulings and agreements, Holly Paz; a former screening group manager in the exempt-organizations determinations division, John Shafer; and a former advocacy group manager, Joseph Herr.

“Potentially dozens of I.R.S. employees are involved with the original targeting, the failure to correct the problem and the failure to promptly report the truth to Congress and the American people,” said Meghan Snyder, a spokeswoman for Mr. Jordan.

Republicans made it clear that they would focus their inquiries on false statements, violations of the civil liberties of conservative groups and whether information on the I.R.S.’s conduct reached Obama administration officials outside the independent I.R.S. but was kept under wraps during an election year.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, on Wednesday noted that the president was beginning to take action, but said Republicans want to know whether “there was an effort to bring the power of the federal government to bear on those the administration disagreed with, in the middle of a heated national election. We are determined to get answers and to ensure that this type of intimidation never happens again at the I.R.S. or any other agency.”

The I.R.S. pushed back on the idea that knowledge of its activity had reached higher levels of the Obama administration, saying for the first time that its chief counsel did not tell Treasury superiors of the I.R.S. targeting efforts, nor did he participate in a 2011 meeting when the issue was discussed with the I.R.S. chief counsel’s office.

House and Senate aides investigating the agency’s actions said they were focusing on an Aug. 4, 2011, meeting in which, according to a report by the Treasury inspector general, the I.R.S.’s chief counsel conferred with agency officials to discuss the activities of a team in the Cincinnati field office. The team had been subjecting applications for tax-exempt status from Tea Party and other conservative groups to a greater degree of review than those from other organizations.

Under I.R.S. rules, the agency’s chief counsel, William J. Wilkins, reports to the Treasury Department’s general counsel. But the I.R.S. statement Wednesday said the notation on which the report relied was referring to the chief counsel’s office, which employs 1,600 lawyers, not Mr. Wilkins himself.

But the I.R.S. statement was less clear about when Mr. Wilkins learned of the added scrutiny, saying instead the counsel “did not learn about specific groups being singled out by name until earlier this year.”

Mr. Holder made it clear that the criminal investigation he said he ordered on Friday was just beginning. He said it will be based in Washington to give it the broadest possible scope and would not be concentrating solely on the service’s field office in Cincinnati, where the handling of nonprofit applications was largely based.

“The facts will take us wherever they take us,” he said, adding “this will not be about parties. This will not be about ideological persuasions. Anyone who has broken the law will be held accountable.”

The I.R.S. released a list of 176 groups that have been granted tax-exempt status through the review process, which centralized operations in Cincinnati in order to deal with a crush of applications that began in 2010 with the Tea Party movement. That list included organizations with names like American Patriots Against Government Excess; Rebellious Truths; the Coalition for a Conservative Majority; and Friends of the Constitution; as well as dozens of Tea Party chapters.

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Survival Food for Uncertain Times

Justice Dept. Defends Seizure of Phone Records

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WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday defended the Justice Department’s sweeping seizure of telephone records of Associated Press journalists, describing the article by The A.P. that prompted a criminal investigation as among “the top two or three most serious leaks that I’ve ever seen” in a 35-year career.

“It put the American people at risk, and that is not hyperbole,” he said in an apparent reference to an article on May 7, 2012, that disclosed the foiling of a terrorist plot by Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen to bomb an airliner. “And trying to determine who was responsible for that, I think, required very aggressive action.”

In a statement in response, The A.P.’s president and chief executive, Gary Pruitt, disputed that the publication of the article endangered security.

“We held that story until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed,” he said. “Indeed, the White House was preparing to publicly announce that the bomb plot had been foiled.” Mr. Pruitt said the article was important in part because it refuted White House claims that there had been no Qaeda plots around the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

At a news conference at the Justice Department, Mr. Holder also disclosed that he recused himself last year from overseeing the case after F.B.I. agents interviewed him as part of their investigation. His deputy, James M. Cole, approved the subpoena seeking call records for 20 office and personal phone lines of A.P. reporters and editors.

Mr. Pruitt disclosed the seizure of the phone records on Monday in a letter to Mr. Holder protesting the action as overly broad and “a serious interference with A.P.’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”

But in a letter to The A.P. on Tuesday, Mr. Cole portrayed the search as justified and disputed a detail in the wire service’s account of the Justice Department action. While the news organization had said that records from “a full two-month period” had been taken, Mr. Cole said that the seizure covered only “a portion” of two calendar months.

“We understand your position that these subpoenas should have been more narrowly drawn, but in fact, consistent with Department policy, the subpoenas were limited in both time and scope,” he wrote. He added that “there was a basis to believe the numbers were associated with A.P. personnel involved in the reporting of classified information. The subpoenas were limited to a reasonable period of time and did not seek the content of any calls.”

The dispute centered on an ambiguous description in the original notice to The A.P., which an employee of the news organization said was sent as an attachment to an e-mail on May 10 from Jonathan M. Malis, a federal prosecutor, to several A.P. employees.

The attached letter, the employee said, consisted of a single sentence citing the Justice Department regulation for obtaining journalists’ telephone records, and saying that The A.P. “is hereby notified that the United States Department of Justice has received toll records from April and May 2012 in response to subpoenas issued” for 20 phone numbers in five area codes and three states.

The regulation requires subpoenas for reporters’ tolling records — logs of calls made and received — to be narrowly focused and undertaken only after other ways of obtaining information are exhausted. Under normal circumstances, news organizations are to be notified ahead of time so they can negotiate or ask a judge to quash the subpoena, but the regulation allows exceptions, in which case journalists must be notified no later than 90 days afterward.

Mr. Cole said the department had undertaken “a comprehensive investigation” before seeking the phone records, including more than 550 interviews and a review of “tens of thousands of documents.” The calling records, he added, “have been closely held and reviewed solely for the purposes of this ongoing criminal investigation” and would not be used in any other case.

The A.P. on Tuesday was still examining whether any telephone companies had tried to challenge the subpoena on its behalf before cooperating. But at least two of the journalists’ personal cellphone records were provided to the government by Verizon Wireless without any attempt to obtain permission to tell them so the reporters could ask a court to quash the subpoena, the employee said. Debra Lewis, a Verizon Wireless spokeswoman, said the company “complies with legal processes for requests for information by law enforcement,” but would not comment on any specific case.

Lucy Dalglish, dean of the journalism school at the University of Maryland, criticized the Justice Department’s broad seizure of phone records, saying it would chill the ability of reporters to report the news. The subpoena came against the backdrop of six prosecutions of officials in leak-related cases under President Obama — twice the number prosecuted under all previous presidents combined.

“The message is loud and clear that if you work for the federal government and talk to a reporter that we will find you,” she said.

Jay Carney, a White House spokesman, on Tuesday reiterated that the White House had no involvement in the subpoena and portrayed Mr. Obama as “a strong defender of the First Amendment and a firm believer in the need for the press to be unfettered in its ability to conduct investigative reporting and facilitate a free flow of information.”

Justice Department regulations do not cover information about journalists’ e-mails. But the A.P. employee said the company operates its own internal e-mail server and had determined that the e-mails were not subpoenaed and no one at The A.P. had supplied information about them to the government.

One unanswered question is why investigators seized phone logs for The A.P.’s bureau in Hartford in addition to its New York and Washington offices. One of the reporters who worked on the bomb plot article, Matt Apuzzo, formerly worked in Hartford but moved to another bureau in 2005.

The leak investigation involving The A.P. is being run by Ronald C. Machen Jr., the United States attorney for the District of Columbia. In June, amid a Congressional uproar over disclosures in the news media of national security information, Mr. Holder assigned Mr. Machen and his counterpart in Maryland to lead two leak investigations.

The other investigation is believed to be focusing on disclosures made by David E. Sanger, a New York Times journalist, in a book and in articles in The Times about a joint American-Israeli effort to sabotage Iranian nuclear centrifuges with computer viruses. The Justice Department has declined to say whether it has issued a similar subpoena in that case, and Mr. Holder would not say on Tuesday if he is also recused from that investigation.

The May 2012 A.P. article disclosed that the Central Intelligence Agency had foiled a plot by the Qaeda branch in Yemen to destroy an airliner using an underwear bomb the government by then had in its possession. The next day, The Los Angeles Times and several other news organizations, including The New York Times, reported that theintended attacker had been a double agent.

By then, officials said, the double agent, who had reported to British, Saudi and American intelligence, had left Yemen and was not in danger. But both American and foreign intelligence officials were furious at the disclosures, which they said alerted terrorists prematurely that the plot was compromised and might discourage potential agents from working against Al Qaeda.

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Israel Hints at New Strikes, Warning Syria Not to Hit Back

DamascusSyriaDestruction

WASHINGTON – A senior Israeli official signaled on Wednesday that Israel was considering further military strikes on Syria to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to Islamic militants, and he warned the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, that his government would face crippling consequences if it retaliated against Israel.

The Israeli official said: “Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah. The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region.”

“If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies,” the official said, “he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.”

The Israeli official, who has been briefed by high-level officials on the Syria situation in the past two days, declined to be identified, citing the need to protect internal Israeli deliberations. He contacted The New York Times on Wednesday.

The precise motives for Israel’s warning were uncertain: Israel could be trying to restrain Syria’s behavior without undertaking further military action, or alerting other countries to another strike. That would ratchet up the tension in an already fraught situation in Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than two years.

Nearly two weeks ago, Israeli warplanes carried out two strikes, the first hitting bases of the elite Republican Guard and storehouses of long-range missiles, in addition to a military research center that American officials have called the country’s main chemical weapons site.

A more limited strike on May 3 at Damascus International Airport was also meant to destroy weapons being sent from Iran to the Islamic militant group Hezbollah. The Israeli government did not confirm either of the attacks, which followed one earlier this year.

The Syrian government publicly condemned Israel for the assaults, saying it “opened the door to all possibilities.” The Syrian deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, declared in an interview with Agence France-Presse, “We will respond immediately and harshly to any additional attack by Israel.” He described the Israeli strikes as a “declaration of war.”

Mr. Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, have both said in recent days that the Israeli-Syrian border, which has been relatively quiet despite the more than two years of civil war inside Syria, could become a “resistance front,” in response to Israeli aggression.

On Wednesday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that several mortar shells, fired from across the Syrian border, had landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The newspaper attributed the information to an official with the Israel Defense Forces.

The shells landed on Mount Hermon, in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, around 6 a.m. Wednesday. The rockets were the latest in a series of what Israel has generally considered errant fire from internal Syrian fighting across the armistice line that landed in its territory, and did not cause any injuries or damage. Israel did not fire back on Wednesday, as it has on several previous occasions, but the incident did cause the closing of Mount Hermon, a popular tourist site, to the public for several hours, during a Jewish holiday in which hiking in the Golan is popular.

In his comments, the Israeli official noted that “Israel has so far refrained from intervening in Syria’s civil war and will maintain this policy as long as Assad refrains from attacking Israel directly or indirectly.”

“Israel,” he said, “will continue its policy of interdicting attempts to strengthen Hezbollah, but will not intercede in the Syrian civil war as long as Assad desists from direct or indirect attacks against Israel.”

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declined to discuss the meaning of the Israeli official’s statement. “We’re not going to comment on the story,” he said.

American and Israeli political analysts agree that Israel has little motive to intervene in Syria’s civil war, but is deeply concerned about the transfer of advanced weapons, as well as the danger that Mr. Assad’s stockpiles of chemical weapons could be used against Israel.

<nyt_correction_bottom>

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 15, 2013

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of Hassan Nasrallah.

 

Click to article in the New York Times

 

Teshuvah Road is the Road on which Addiction ENDS!

Becoming – Our Daily Bread – May 14, 2013

prayer1I grew up in a small town. No famous people. No busy streets. Not much to do. Yet I’ve always been thankful for my quiet, uncomplicated upbringing.

One evening when my husband and I were attending a business dinner, a new acquaintance asked me where I was from. When I told her, she said, “Aren’t you embarrassed to admit it?”

Unsure whether or not she was joking, I simply said, “No.”

Although my town was sometimes belittled for its lack of sophistication, it was not lacking in things that matter. My family was part of a church community in which parents brought up children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Jesus also grew up in a small town: Nazareth. A man named Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Jesus proved that the answer is yes. Even though He grew up in an insignificant place, He was the most significant person in all of history.

Experience taught me and Scripture confirms that what matters is not where you grow up but how you grow up. Sometimes we feel insignificant compared to sophisticated people from prominent places. But we are significant to God, and He can make us strong in spirit and filled with His wisdom.

O teach me what it cost You, Lord,
To make a sinner whole;
And help me understand anew
The value of one soul! —Anon.
What we become is more important than where we’re from.

Verse of the Day – Covenant renewed – Exodus 34:27 – 28 – May 14, 2013

yeshuatheMessiah

And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he  wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. 

Exodus 34:27 – 28 – English Standard Version (ESV)

 

Click to Exodus 34:27 – 28

 

Survival Food for Uncertain Times

Daily Bible Reading – English Standard Version – May 14, 2013

 

Jesus scriptures temple2

 

 

Paul Speaks to the People

 37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:

 1 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.” 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said: 3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamalielaccording to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished. 6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus. 12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ 17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”

Paul and the Roman Tribune

 22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27 So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

 

Micah and the Levite

 1 There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. 2 And he said to his mother, “The 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and also spoke it in my ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “Blessed be my son by the LORD.” 3 And he restored the 1,100 pieces of silver to his mother. And his mother said, “I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.” 4 So when he restored the money to his mother, his mother took 200 pieces of silver and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into a carved image and a metal image. And it was in the house of Micah. 5 And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and household gods, and ordained one of his sons, who became his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. 7 Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. 8 And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And as he journeyed, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. 9 And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn where I may find a place.” 10 And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in. 11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12 And Micah ordained the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.”

 

Danites Take the Levite and the Idol

 1 In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no inheritance among the tribes of Israel had fallen to them. 2 So the people of Dan sent five able men from the whole number of their tribe, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it. And they said to them, “Go and explore the land.” And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. 3 When they were by the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. And they turned aside and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?” 4 And he said to them, “This is how Micah dealt with me: he has hired me, and I have become his priest.” 5 And they said to him, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.” 6 And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the LORD.” 7 Then the five men departed and came to Laish and saw the people who were there, how they lived in security, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting, lacking nothing that is in the earth and possessing wealth, and how they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 8 And when they came to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, “What do you report?” 9 They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them, for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you do nothing? Do not be slow to go, to enter in and possess the land. 10 As soon as you go, you will come to an unsuspecting people. The land is spacious, for God has given it into your hands, a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.” 11 So 600 men of the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, 12 and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On this account that place is called Mahaneh-dan to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 And they passed on from there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah. 14 Then the five men who had gone to scout out the country of Laish said to their brothers, “Do you know that in these houses there are an ephod, household gods, a carved image, and a metal image? Now therefore consider what you will do.” 15 And they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and asked him about his welfare. 16 Now the 600 men of the Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17 And the five men who had gone to scout out the land went up and entered and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war. 18 And when these went into Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19 And they said to him, “Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?” 20 And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people. 21 So they turned and departed, putting the little ones and the livestock and the goods in front of them. 22 When they had gone a distance from the home of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house were called out, and they overtook the people of Dan. 23 And they shouted to the people of Dan, who turned around and said to Micah, “What is the matter with you, that you come with such a company?” 24 And he said, “You take my gods that I made and the priest, and go away, and what have I left? How then do you ask me, ‘What is the matter with you?'” 25 And the people of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall upon you, and you lose your life with the lives of your household.” 26 Then the people of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home. 27 But the people of Dan took what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, and they came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. 28 And there was no deliverer because it was far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with anyone. It was in the valley that belongs to Beth-rehob. Then they rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29 And they named the city Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor, who was born to Israel; but the name of the city was Laish at the first. 30 And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses,and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. 31 So they set up Micah’s carved image that he made, as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.

 

Send Out Your Light and Your Truth

 1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!  2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!  4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

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