Daily Devotion for May 3, 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 moving Sabbath Prayer from "Fiddler on the Roof", where Tevye prays for the future of his unmarried daughters. Appropriate for a Friday!
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thanks for the Life of Christ
Almighty God, I thank you for the life and teachings of your only Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He lived and walked as one of us, a mortal man who bled and felt pain, who felt anger and love, who would become tired and hungry. The world has seen no other love like this, for you willingly bore the pain of mortality, that we might be saved.
The beating, torture, and painful death that Christ suffered at our hands was a terrible thing; yet you considered his victory in overcoming that death worth the cost, so powerful was your love. I praise you for Christ's resurrection and victory, and for his promise to all people, that he will intercede for us at our death, and bring us to eternal life. Today I remember and celebrate His resurrection, giving all glory to Father, Son and Holy Spirit for this miracle and the redemption of our own lives. Through Christ I pray,
Finally, let me go forth in thanks for the victory I have been given through our Lord Jesus Christ. May I be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, and always remembering that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.
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 5:4-6 (ESV)
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
Exodus 34: 20-22 (CEV)
The Versions of the Ten Commandments 
 Bring an offering every time you come to worship.
 Do your work in six days and rest on the seventh day, even during the seasons for plowing and harvesting. Celebrate the Harvest Festival each spring when you start harvesting your wheat, and celebrate the Festival of Shelters each autumn when you pick your fruit.
Notes on the Scripture
[NOTE: We have taken a diversion from reading Exodus straight-through, to study the Ten Commandments. Their meaning and even their actual wording is quite a surprise, when we read them in context, for there are several versions, other than the standard popularized version from Exodus 20. Currently, we are reading the version recorded in Exodus 34.
Many people will ignore these or term them the "covenant laws" or something, stating or implying that they are less important to Christians than those in Exodus 20. This is error. The Bible clearly states that the matters of Exodus 34 are the "ten commandments" (more accurately translated as the "ten words") given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and engraved on stone by the finger of God.]
The fifth is short and simple. Do not come to worship God without bringing an offering. I'm sure church leaders regret having to leave this one out!
But it is so easy to follow to the letter, and so commonsensical, there is no reason not to just do it. Some people always put something in the offering plate at church, even if they have a regular giving schedule by mailed check or auto-deposit. We might think of it as a "communion of giving", a symbolic participation in the group activity. (Concerning substantial giving to the church generally, the best blueprint is Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 16.)
The Sabbath commandment is a helpful addition to the one in Exodus 20. Basically: no exceptions! No matter how pressing your work, you must keep the Sabbath holy as a day of rest. In many cases, this might involve a real test of faith, because a person might face a situation where he would be fired, lose a customer, or at least incur his employer's wrath. Usually, though, if you take a consistent stand and your employer knows about your faith, they will honor your commitment to your faith, even if only grudgingly.
As for the two holidays created here, it is a good example of following the spirit of the Law. Almost nobody celebrates the "Festival of the Harvest" or "Festival of Shelters"; but we celebrate Thanksgiving in the fall (at least in North America) and Easter in the spring, just as we celebrate Holy Week during Passover week, and Good Friday on Passover.
Yes, Christ freed us from following the letter of the law. But reading this version of the commandment is instructive to Christians. Broadly speaking, it is God's will for us to celebrate communal holidays several times a year. The festivals that God ordained here are major productions. For example, see Leviticus 23. In the time of Christ, people would travel to Jerusalem for seven days to celebrate them. The concept is for God's people to come together as a congregation.
Can we manage to maintain the level of discipline and obedience to God that will fully show our love for Him, without having a strict and detailed legal requirement? In many cases, our practices slowly become haphazard and watered down. Most of us can benefit from a thorough self-examination on the commandments relating to the Sabbath and holidays. Do we participate, with dedication and vigor, in communal festivals or holidays dedicated to God three times a year? Do we keep one day in seven holy, abstaining from work? Do we require (or at least encourage) our "servants" to rest also?