Daily Devotion for July 21, 2015
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.
Satchmo does a delightful rendition of Didn’t It Rain, an old spiritual with a slightly humorous touch perfect for his puckish personality.
To Remember God During the Day
Lord God, the heavens are telling of your glory and the wonders of your love, the sun by day, and the moon and stars by night. Yet, as clouds will cover your sky in gloom, as the ceilings of men's buildings hide the sky from my sight, so the cares of this existence block your majesty from my mind.
I look with hope to the day when my knowledge of your glory will never be hidden by the concerns of the world, and I may know you every moment of time, forever; but until then, forgive me for all the time I spend with my face bent to the things of earth, your Spirit ignored and forgotten; for you are always there, willing to show yourself to me and guide me and comfort me, if I only lift up my head and see the sky above.
For Forgiveness Among Fellow Christians
Teach me, O Lord, to act so that all my deeds will glorify your holy name and your wonderful creation. Take pity, O Lord, on all Christians. Hear the desires of all who cry out to you, and deliver them from evil. Send them comfort; consolation in sorrows, and your holy mercy.
O Lord, I especially pray for those who have in any way insulted, abused or aggrieved me. Do not punish them for the sake of me, a sinner; but pour your mercy upon them. I also pray to you for all those whom I, a sinner, have insulted or tempted in word, deed, thought, whether knowingly or without realizing it. O Lord God, forgive us our sins and offenses and insults against each other. Dispel from our hearts all indignation, suspicion, anger, remembrance of evil, quarrels, and all that might hinder and lessen brotherly love. Replace resentment with forgiveness, I pray, in the name of Christ.
[Do I ever tempt others into wrongful conduct?]
Lord, pour your love into my heart, that I may love you above all things, and my neighbors as myself. Through Christ our Lord,
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.
Proverbs 24:19-20 (NIV)
Do not fret because of evildoers
or be envious of the wicked,
for the evildoer has no future hope,
and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.
Exodus 32:1-11 (ESV)
The Golden Calf 
[We have omitted Exodus 31 in its entirety. The first half of it repeats the items to be built, and the second half is yet another reminder to keep the Sabbath. In the last verse, God gives Moses the tablets. If you have set out to read Exodus cover-to-cover, you can click the link or go to your own Bible to read it.]
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”
So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’”
And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”
Notes on the Scripture
Everyone who has read this story wonders the same thing: How on earth could the Hebrews — and, of all people, Aaron — so quickly abandon the promises they had just made to Yahweh, considering the enormous miracles he had performed on their behalf? It shows how difficult fundamental change can be; for they, like the entire world of the time, were used to seeing their gods. Everything that they had been taught previously corresponded to what any human being believes by his nature: Reality is primarily visible. We are still the same way; we say, “I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.”
This might be that the most difficult lesson for us to learn: that the spiritual world is primary to, and in control of, the physical world.
And thus, when Yahweh seems to have disappeared, and Moses has been gone for well over a month, the Hebrews become anxious and afraid, and revert to their old habits, as people frequently do under great stress. They are used to seeing God go before them and they want to see their leader; they have not fully grasped that the pillar of cloud and fire that has gone before them is only a manifestation of the real invisible God who will be with them, whether they can see him or not.
Aaron's conduct cannot be excused, but it must be understood in the context of potential violence against him. The people circle around and against him; they make him into the scapegoat.
Most accounts of the golden calf imply that the Hebrews had decided to worship an old god and abandon Yahweh completely, but reading the text, we see that it is not so simple. Aaron, perhaps trying to cobble together some sort of compromise in a difficult situation, declares that there shall be a “feast to the Lord,” meaning a sacrifice to Yahweh. So their sin is polytheism, adding old gods to their worship of Yahweh, rather than outright disavowal of God. Also note, the celebration at this point is not the orgy many picture in their head, but simply a spirited feast with singing and dancing.
The cult of the bull, to which they reverted, was extremely important in early Egypt (although it became less so over time). The bull represented both Ptah, the creator of the universe, and the Pharaoh.