Daily Devotion for September 25, 2014
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.
An old traditional favorite, performed by country music star Alan Jackson.
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
for 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me.
To that old rugged cross I will ever be true,
its shame and reproach gladly bear;
then he'll call me some day to my home far away,
where his glory forever I'll share.
Music and Lyrics by George Bennard, 1910
Come to Our Aid
In the morning Abraham called upon you on the mountain top and you answered him, O lover of men; and in the morning I call upon you, come to my aid and the aid of all your servants, O God, full of mercy, halleluia, and have mercy upon us.
Because Of You
Because you picked me up, when I struggled to get through.
Because you healed my heart, when it was thrown and shattered.
Because you gave me hope, when it seemed so out of reach.
Because you filled me with peace, when chaos flowed through my veins.
Because you showed me the light, when there was only darkness.
Because you gave me comfort, when my voice cried out in pain.
Because you reassured me, when the doubts screamed in my head.
Because you kept me going, when there seemed nowhere to go.
Because you sustained me with strength, when weakness became all I knew.
Because you came and stayed, when everyone else turned around and left.
Because you gave me a purpose, when life seemed so pointless.
Because you restored my happiness, when life seemed to snatch it away.
Because you filled this emptiness, when the void echoed with loneliness.
Because you helped me let it all go, when I gripped the tightest to hold on.
Because you showed me the beauty of life, when the world showed me nothing but hate and corruption.
Because you gave me a better life, when the old one fought to come back.
Because I am nothing without you, nothing but a hopeless being.
Because only You could tear down my wall of pride, and instead build it back up with love and humbleness.
Because of all this, I give you my life Lord.
I will put all my fears and failures in Your hands, my worries that consume me, my pain that destroys me.
You were always there, even when I rejected You.
Because of all You are, my life, oh God, is yours.
Lord, pour your love into my heart, that I may love you above all things, and my neighbors as myself. Through Christ our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Tobit 3:7-17 (MB)
The Background of Sarah
On the same day as Tobit was mocked by his neighbors, a woman of Media named Sarah (the daughter of Raguel in the city of Ecbatana) was being mocked by her father's maidservant. For Sarah had been married to seven men, but before she could know them, the demon Asmodeus would kill them.
She would say, “You who strangles your own husbands, but have never had joy with any of them! Do you beat us because your husbands are dead?” And, “Why don't you join them? May we never see a child of yours!”
Sarah was so stricken with grief that she went to an upstairs room, intending to hang herself. But then she thought of her father, for he loved her and she was his only child. “I would cause my father to be scorned by others, and to go to the nether world in sorrow,” she said to herself. “Better to ask God to take me.”
So she went to the window and, spreading her hands, prayed: “You know, O Master, that I am innocent of any impure act with a man, and that I have never defiled my own name or my father’s. He has no other child to make his heir, nor does he have a close kinsman whom I might marry in time. I have already lost seven husbands; why then should I live any longer? And if it does not please you, Lord, to kill me, have pity on me, and let me hear these insults no more.”
God heard her prayer and the prayer of Tobit in His glorious presence, and had mercy on them, and sent Raphael to assist them: to remove the cataracts from Tobit's eyes, that he might see God's sunlight; and to drive Asmodeus from Sarah, that she might marry, and furthermore, to bring her for marriage before Tobit's son, Tobias.
For Tobias, because of his position in their clan, had the right to claim her. And at the very moment that Tobit returned to his house, Raguel's daughter Sarah came downstairs from the room where she had been praying.
Notes on the Scripture
The last line might mislead a reader into thinking that Tobit and Sarah were in the same area, but Sarah lived in Media, in the city of Ecbatana. (If you want to see, Ecbatana is in the dead center of this map, while Nineveh is 200 miles northwest on the border between the Median Empire and Assyria.) Remember, our last word on travel was that the roads to Media had become unsafe; and the terrain there is harsh desert and mountains.
Although they have never met, Sarah and Tobit are connected in three major ways. First off, both of them are having a really bad day. So bad, in fact, that they both want to die; yet neither will offend the Lord by taking away their own life, for it was His gift to them. Thus, they pray that God Himself might end their lives, out of mercy to them.
Second, they are relatives. Tobit's great-great-grandfather was named “Raguel”, the same name as Sarah's father, and names tended to be handed down in tribal units. (When Elizabeth named John the Baptist, people were perplexed, saying “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Luke 1:59-66.)
Third, they are both righteous, both in their past actions and in their prayer to God. Notice, neither Tobit nor Sarah blames God for their misfortune, but instead praise Him and ask Him to look on their situation and, in His mercy, relieve them of their distress. Sarah will not kill herself out of respect for her father. She reminds us at least a little of her more famous namesake; for like Abraham's wife, she has not been able to provide children for her family line.
The introduction of the demon Asmodeus, who has killed her seven husbands before the marriage could be consummated, adds the flavor of an Eastern fable to the story; Asmodeus takes his name from Aeshma Daeva, a Persian demon of madness.
Notice that the book shifts from first-person to third-person narration at this point. The shift to third person also signals a change in tone and, really, in genre. Up until now we have had a simple autobiographical history; but with the change in narrative point-of-view God becomes a direct actor.
But third-person narration is necessary for us to see what is happening in other locations. In addition to Nineveh, we have scenes set in Media and, really, a third location: The Glory of God. Also, for the first time, the supernatural is introduced, as God charges the angel (or archangel) Raphael to assist them.