Daily Devotion for March 23, 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.
This extraordinary footage of Ethel Waters and two small boys singing His Eye is on the Sparrow -- a capella! -- is taken from a 1952 movie, "The Member of the Wedding".
Prayer for the Morning
Father, as I face this new day, let me be aware of the work you have done for me as I slept. I praise you that your loving care never slumbers, but has been with me while I was least aware of it; and that you renew me and the whole world, fresh every day, preparing your plans for me.
I pray that I may seek your will this day, your plan for my life, and carry out your plan in my every action. I lay my hopes and fears on an altar before you, that your Holy Spirit may guide my hopes toward the light of your holiness, and may quiet my fears with the knowledge of your infinite peace, in total confidence that your grace will save me from the evils of this world. In Jesus' name I pray,
Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Christ Jesus, before ascending into heaven, You promised to send the Holy Spirit to Your apostles and disciples. Grant that the same Spirit may perfect in my life the work of Your grace and love, and that I may bear my cross with You and, with courage, overcome the obstacles that interfere with my salvation; Teach me to be Your faithful disciple and animate me in every way with Your Spirit.
For the Forgotten
O merciful God, take pity on those souls who live this day alone, without friends or family, forgotten by all. Bring the comfort of your Spirit to them, I pray, and let them know the most blessed company of all. Grant them to find the consolation of friendship in this life, and bring them into the light of your word, so that when they pass from this life, they may find eternal joy.
All through this day, O Lord, by the power of your quickening Spirit, let me touch the lives of others for good, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I speak, or the life I live.
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.
Psalm 115:1-3 (ESV)
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV)
Water from the Rock
All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”
But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”
And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Notes on the Scripture
Although place names in Exodus, especially the Sinai, are nearly impossible to locate with any accuracy, the Israelites have certainly moved into the lower half of the peninsula and are still in the west. It is a land filled with deserts, and the Hebrews have found a good one; there is no water at all.
By now, the dynamics of the journey are becoming familiar. The Hebrews seem to face certain death. They complain loudly, for their trust in God is weak and their tribulation considerable. God, communicating through His prophet Moses, intervenes; and in this case, the miracle God brings, to reinforce the lesson He intends to pound into their minds for forty years, is spectacular.
Moses' act is, in itself, spectacular: striking a hot, bare, dry boulder in the middle of a scorched desert, whereupon a spring of potable water gushes forth, sufficient for 30,000 people and their livestock. But even more, it demonstrates God's fundamental creative power. Fresh water determines where life can exist on earth, and thus creates a natural and frequently-used Biblical metaphor for God's grace, without which spiritual life cannot exist. E.g.:
Moses performs an act of physical salvation; but layered onto it is a broader message of spiritual salvation, looking ahead to Christ and even Peter, the founder of Christ's church, the "rock upon which" Christ would ensure the continued salvation of the faithful after His ascension.
The desert has come to embody a retreat into a state of spiritual openness, for being there deprives one of physical distraction. It symbolizes (and brings about) what Jesus called becoming "poor in spirit", that is, being free of internal suppositions and thus open to God's word. And so the water of life gushes into the Hebrews, when they are the most thirsty, setting the stage for God to bring His commandments to humanity.