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Daily Devotion for September 26, 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.
Beethoven’s beautiful plea that God have mercy on our souls. Christe Eleison; Kyrie Eleison, “Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy.”
Prayer to Abide with God
Dear Lord, as I come before you this morning, my spirit is filled with thanks that you have given me a life and filled it with meaning. Knowing that you have a purpose for me is such a gift as I cannot express; even when the world or my own thoughts fill me with feelings of worthlessness, I can turn to you and know, fully certain, that you are in charge and have filled my existence with meaning and purpose I cannot fully understand.
Lord Christ, you promised that if we love you and obey your teaching, you and the Father will make your home with us; I declare my love for you; and there is nothing I want more than to have you live with me, present in my life. Help me to follow your teaching in every way; for you have given us grace, that by your death and resurrection, we may be perfect before you. Accept my love and be with me, today and always, I pray; not by my merit, but by your grace, oh Christ, oh one true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
For a Sense of Wonder at God's Creation
Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Delight me to see how your Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not His, to be the father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.
[How will I try to obey Christ’s teachings today?]
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep me from falling away and will bring me with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time,
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.
Tobit 4:1-11 (MB)
Tobit Instructs His Son
That same day Tobit thought of the money he had left with his cousin Gabael, in Media; and he said to himself, “I have asked for death; it would be well to instruct my son Tobias before I die.” So he called Tobias to his side and told him: “My son, when I die, bury me correctly. Do not hate your mother, but rather honor her all her days. Act to please her, and do not cause her grief. Remember that she faced many dangers when you were in her womb. And when she dies, bury her beside me.
Be mindful of the Lord your God all the days of your life. Do not sin; obey His commandments in all you do. Remain upright in your actions and never stray. For if you are steadfast in truth, your deeds will prosper, as they do to all who live justly.
Give alms from what you have in life. Do not turn your face from the poor, for if you do not, God will not turn His face from you. Give alms according to what you are given. If you enjoy an abundance, give abundantly; but even if you have little, do not fear to give, little though it be. For if you give of what you have, you lay up treasure for yourself in your day of distress. Giving to the poor saves you from death and will not allow you to walk in the darkness.
A gift of alms is an act of righteousness before the Almighty, for all who give them.
Notes on the Scripture
Tobit, remember, has just prayed that God would kill him. This starts a chain of thought: Thinking he will die brings to his mind the money he still has in Media, being held by Gabael, from the days when he was able to conduct trade there. This, in turn, brings to mind his son, for if Tobit is to die, he wants TobiasHis son is properly called either Tobiah or Tobias to know about the money and be able to inherit it. And this, in turn, puts him in the frame of mind to give his son final advice about life.
He launches into a sort of deathbed speech, although the actual death is speculative. We once again get just the slightest hint of humor — for Tobit is nowhere near to dying — to lighten a serious topic. (The setting is so reminiscent of PoloniusPolonius is a character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a bit of a windbag, who gives his son Laertes a moving but pompous speech filled with advice. that one expects him to say, “neither borrower nor lender be” at any second.)
His first item of instruction is to ensure that he will be buried — certainly just a tiny bit humorous to anyone who has read the earlier chapters. What cause Tobias might have to hate his mother is unclear, but the duty to honor one’s mother is certainly strong throughout Hebrew history, being one of the Ten Commandments.
After general instructions to follow God's law and prosper, sounding straight out of Proverbs, Tobit delivers a long and powerful encomiumEncomium: a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly. for giving alms. The emphasis might surprise us, for we do not think of charity as a paramount value in the law of Moses. Tobit is demonstrating a shifting emphasis in Hebrew ethical thought. Both chronologically and thematically, it lies between and connects two great forces in the Bible: Christ and the latter prophets.
Charity was a value of Mosaic law, but did not have the prominence it would later find in the teachings of Christ and the epistolary apostles. But it finds unexpected emphasis in the writings of the prophets. Amos and Zephaniah, in particular, treat this as one of the great evils underlying the coming destruction of Israel and Judah. We find this theme, albeit less prominently, in Isaiah (e.g. 1:21-27) and Jeremiah (e.g. Jer. 22:13-17), also.
The most startling aspect of Tobit’s speech, though, it how Christian it sounds. Certainly we hear Christ Himself telling us to “lay up your treasure in heaven.” (Matt. 6:19-21) Tobit’s advice to give even if only a little reminds us of the poor widow, e.g Mark 12:41-44.
The use of “walking in darkness” as a metaphor for a person alienated from God is almost a hallmark of John's first epistle; there is even an echo in the magnificent opening lines of his Gospel: “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John also uses a peculiar Hebrew idiom translated into Greek, identical to one used in Tobit, for correct conduct: “Doing the truth.” In fact, in the Greek, the connection to John's epistles is so clearly marked that John must have read Tobit in its Septuagint (Greek) form and been greatly impressed by it.