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Daily Devotion for March 21, 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 angelic voice heard here, singing the German (Schubert) version of Ave Maria, is soprano Barbara Bonney. Ethereally beautiful!
The German Ave Maria is not a translation of the Latin, but a setting of a poem by Sir Walter Scott.
Ave Maria! Unbefleckt!
Ave Maria! Reine Magd!
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, Lord God of my salvation, to you be praise and glory for ever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have delivered me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of your risen Son.
May I, the fruit of your new creation, rejoice in this new day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer for Forgiveness
Heavenly Father, true God, who sent your beloved Son to seek the wandering sheep, I have sinned against heaven and before you; receive me like the Prodigal Son, and clothe me with the garment of innocence, of which I was deprived by sin. Have mercy upon your creatures and upon me, a great sinner, through the miracle of Christ's resurrection and your grace, I pray.
Prayer of Resolve
I bind myself to you this day, oh Christ, in your truth and in your sacrifice. I give to you my anxiety and my fear, my depression and my doubt, for you have promised to take them if we only ask; and I take upon myself your burden, for it is light and your way is gentle. May I keep this in my heart and mind all this day.
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.
Thinking about Tomorrow
Live as though Christ died yesterday, rose from the grave today, and is coming back tomorrow.
~ Theodore Epp
Exodus 16:22-30 (ESV)
Bread from Heaven 
On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers [two omers = one gallon] each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’”
So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”
On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.”
So the people rested on the seventh day.
Notes on the Scripture
For those who have not actually read Exodus before, the lengthy section on gathering of manna and the early imposition of Sabbath laws comes as a surprise. The Hebrews immediately discover that the manna goes bad after one day. Although God has promised to send it daily, they still try to rely on their own skills; they gather extra to store up just in case, one supposes, God changes His mind. They do not trust Him fully.
Then, having established firmly to the Hebrews that manna is a gift from Him, God advances their training to the next level. Having learned to gather one day's food each day, now they must learn that they must gather two day's provision on Friday and that the manna will keep for a day, for God intends that the Sabbath be kept as a holy day.
One would think that they would be happy for a day of rest. Life is grueling in the desert. One would anticipate nothing nicer than a chance to lie around the tent all day, worshipping, talking, singing — anything but working. But no; some of them have to go out and try to gather manna. So, they get another lesson: there is none.
"The Lord said to Moses, 'How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?'" This rhetorical question actually has an answer; for neither the Jews, as a people, nor Christians, as a church, would ever keep God's laws as an entirety. Those who really tried — such as the Catholic Church, the Puritans, the Pharisees — have inevitably broken down into politics, ungodly superstition and physical coercion.
But the greatest difficulty has always been sheer disobedience, the triumph of self-will and earthly appetite over life in the Spirit.
Christ showed us that if there is work that must be done on the Sabbath, one may do it without offending God. But His examples were work that could not wait a day: pulling an ox out of a ditch, healing a sick man. He did not, by His own assertion, come to abolish the Law, and His infringement on the Pharisees' rules for the Sabbath was not an open invitation to ignore the fourth commandment.
God loves us and would not have given us the Sabbath law if it were not beneficial to us. Yet, very few Christians or Jews keep the Sabbath (or technically, in the case of most Christians, the Sunday "Sabbath", which almost all scholars agree fulfills the fourth commandment). It is an issue worth considering and, perhaps, modifying our lives a bit. If we believe in God, then we must trust that following the commandment will ultimately have beneficial consequences.