Daily Devotion for March 4, 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.
The unbelievably beautiful and touching Hosannah (What the Lord Has Done for Me) from the Soweto Gospel Choir, the famous professional choir from South Africa, is especially appropriate for today's Scripture.
Let the poor say, I am rich.
Let the blind say, I can see
It's what the Lord has done in me.
To the Lamb that was slain.
Jesus died and rose again.
Into the river, into the river, I will wade,
There my sins are washed away
From the heavens mercy streams
Of the Savior's love for me, yeah, I will rise.
Words and Music by Reuben Morgan
Prayer for God to Dwell with Us Today
Holy Jesus, who has promised that if we love you, you and the Father will love us and come to us and make your home with us, I give you my love without reservation. Your words are sacred and I aspire to live by them, this day and always, and I glorify you for your sacrifice of pain and death, for no other reason than to give salvation and eternal life to me and to all who follow you.
Bless me this day to live with your Spirit, to resist temptation to evil, and to show your joy and love to all. Make your home with me, that I might be truly blessed, I pray,
A Lenten Prayer
Almighty God, You know that I have no power on my own to help myself: Keep me both outwardly in my body and inwardly in my soul, that I may be defended from all adversities which may happen to my body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt my soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
A Prayer of St. Basil the Great
I bless you, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who forever works great and mysterious deeds for me, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who provides me with sleep as a rest from my infirmities and as a repose for my body tired by labor. I thank you that you have not destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your love toward mankind you have raised me up, as I lay in despair, that I may glorify your majesty.
I entreat your infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of my understanding and raise up my mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open my mouth and fill it with your praise, that I may unceasingly sing and confess you, who is God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the only-begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
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.
Proverbs 19:17 (NKJV)
He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
And He will pay back what he has given.
Exodus 13:3-10, 14 (ESV)
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the Lord brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out.
And when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory.
You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth.
For with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.
And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.’”
Notes on the Scripture
This mostly repetitive set of instructions is the end of a distinct part of Exodus. If it were a play, the first three scenes of Act 1 might be: 1) Israel's enslavement, 2) God's call to Moses, and 3) The ten plagues and Passover.
As we discussed earlier, God very pointedly institutes the Feast of Passover before a single Jew has set foot out of his house to leave Egypt. He absolutely demands that it be kept, every year, for all time. Those who do not keep it will not be Jews in the eyes of God; they will be separated from the congregation of Hebrews.
Notice that in paragraph 3, a Jewish parent is not to tell a child, "this is what God did for Israel" or "this is what God did for our parents" or even "did for us". The sentence is: "It is because of what the Lord did for me . . . ."
The relationship of God and man begins and ends with a single person: me. In between, huge masses, societies and nations may be involved simply because of the mechanics of spreading and keeping God's word. Jesus himself chose twelve disciples (as Yahweh chose twelve tribes) and, while still alive, sent them out in pairs. (Matthew 10) But every man and woman's relationship with God is individual. And a parent is to teach a child directly. As pertains to a Jew, the parent must tell the child once a year, directly and specifically, exactly what God did and that he did it, not for some group of people in the distant past, but for me, and by implication, for you.
The tendency of every child is to believe only the world he sees. As far as we are concerned, the world began when we were about four years old and our memory developed. We must develop the understanding that Moses and Yahweh — and, clearly, we are talking about Jesus here, as well — did what they did for me.
The very emphatic language and repetition about the Passover alerts us as to how important God considers this commandment: Teach the child the truth. Teach him or her directly, one to one. Read him the Scripture and make him understand, as clearly as if it is tattooed on his hand or forehead, that it is a letter addressed to him.
This is a duty given by God before the ten commandments and it is stated in the strongest possible terms. Teaching the children about God is an important part of Christian life, as much as charitable giving, prayer and praise, and it is always worth thinking about whether we might seek out an opportunity to make a contribution of some sort.