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Daily Devotion for February 19, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
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Prayer for the Morning
Oh God, who has created all things, seen and unseen, this day is your creation and I give thanks to live in it. I pray that I will not shut you out of the day you have made, blinded by the petty concerns of life, but that I may be always open to your presence.
I open my body to you and give thanks for your life that fills and warms every cell of it.
I open my eyes and ears to you and give thanks for the light of your Word, without which I would live in the shadow of ignorance.
I open my heart to you and give thanks for your love that fills me with compassion, understanding, and peace.
I open my soul to you and give thanks for your Spirit, who fills me with wisdom when I take a moment to listen.
All that I am, I open to you, I return to you, giving thanks every moment of my life for the blessings that fill this day. Through Christ I pray.
Penitential Prayer (for Lent)
O blessed Christ, my teacher, my savior, my God: You have commanded me to love others as myself. Yet it is so often easy to see the faults in others, for I see their outside and compare it against what is inside me. I have inflated my goodness and importance in my own mind, but have judged others for the smallest shortcoming, and I am filled by foolish pride.
I vow by this prayer that I will strive to follow your Word, to forgive all who have injured me, to turn loose the petty resentments and grudges that poison the world with hatred, and to overlook the faults of others; and I ask to be pardoned wherever I have done injury to my brothers and sisters, who are your beloved children even though they, like me, are sinners. And I vow, when I fall short of your commandment, to seek out and confess my wrongdoing. Forgive me, Holy Christ, and help me to ever amend my life; this I pray, with faith in the grace you have promised to the penitent sinner.
Lord, pour your love into my heart, that I may love you above all things, and my neighbors as myself. Through Christ our Lord.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
Exodus 11 (Good News Translation)
Moses Announces the Death of the First-Born
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will send only one more punishment on the king of Egypt and his people. After that he will let you leave. In fact, he will drive all of you out of here. Now speak to the people of Israel and tell all of them to ask their neighbors for gold and silver jewelry.” The Lord made the Egyptians respect the Israelites. Indeed, the officials and all the people considered Moses to be a very great man.
Moses then said to the king, “The Lord says, ‘At about midnight I will go through Egypt, and every first-born son in Egypt will die, from the king's son, who is heir to the throne, to the son of the slave woman who grinds grain. The first-born of all the cattle will die also. There will be loud crying all over Egypt, such as there has never been before or ever will be again. But not even a dog will bark at the Israelites or their animals.
Then you will know that I, the Lord, make a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites.’” Moses concluded by saying, “All your officials will come to me and bow down before me, and they will beg me to take all my people and go away. After that, I will leave.” Then in great anger Moses left the king.
The Lord had said to Moses, “The king will continue to refuse to listen to you, in order that I may do more of my miracles in Egypt.” Moses and Aaron performed all these miracles before the king, but the Lord made him stubborn, and he would not let the Israelites leave his country.
Notes on the Scripture
This is a good point to recall the first time Moses first spoke to Pharaoh in Chapter 5. Pharaoh's reply was, “Who is this Yahweh, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?” The very nature of God was so different from the Egyptian experience of their inanimate statues that Pharaoh could not grasp it. In his eyes, he was the greatest living power on earth, and his pride is so fixed and absolute that even the nine plagues have not dented it.
Exodus is not only history; it is a metaphorical exploration of how pride can operate to condemn a determined atheist to hell. You will hear atheists demanding proof of God's existence or a sign from God; but in fact, when such signs occur, they will be ignored or rationalized. Consider the life of Christ. When He would, for example, heal a sick person who was beyond hope, determined nonbelievers would not only ignore the implications of the miracle, but would also criticize Him for healing on the Sabbath!
Chapter 11 also highlights another terrible aspect of life, how people must pay for the actions of their government. All of Egypt is ready to submit to Yahweh; even the highest officials will bow down before Moses, to entreat him to intervene for them. But Pharaoh is an absolute ruler. And we have seen, in recent history, how easily the sin and pride of a single absolute ruler can condemn hundreds of millions to death.
Is it fair, that God will kill so many people, including small children, for the actions of their king? One simply cannot apply the idea of "fairness" to God. The human concept of fairness is not a bad thing and often stands, in human affairs, as a rule-of-thumb to implement our concepts of love and justice. But God is not in our control and is not ours to judge.
We suffer the damage and ultimate destruction of our bodies, sometimes at seeming random, and it is not "fair". But in this regard, we must always remember two things. First, Christ Himself was unfairly tortured and executed. And second, in allowing this to occur, He made the death of our bodies almost irrelevant. For by His resurrection, Christ proved His power over mortal death; and by His sacrifice, He promised that we could find the grace to share in His eternal life.