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Monday, November 19, 2018

Daily Devotion for August 31, 2015


<i>Moses’ Staff</i> by Anthony van Dyke, ca. 1620.
Moses’ Staff by Anthony van Dyke, ca. 1620. This illustrates a much later scene than today’s text, but emphasizes the connection between Moses’ staff, a serpent, and the cross. (See Numbers 21.)

Prayers

Scripture

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Lord's Prayer

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.

Amen.



A Puritan Prayer

Almighty God, as I cross the threshold of this day I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to Your care. Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me. Incline my heart to Your ways. Mold me completely into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay.

May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Your praise. Let those around see me living by Your Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconformed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clothed in the entire armour of God, shining as a never-dimmed light, showing holiness in all my doings. Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, and hands.

May I travel swampy paths with a life pure from spot or stain. In every transaction let my affection be in heaven, and my love soar upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities. May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth.

Order this day all my communications according to Your wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable. May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day. This I pray in the name of Christ, my Lord and Savior,

Amen.

For Teachers and Students

Almighty God, I pray to you to look with favor upon our universities, colleges, and schools, that knowledge may be increased among us, and sound learning flourish and abound. Bless all who teach and all who learn; and grant that in humility of heart they may ever look to you, the fountain of all true wisdom, and not be led by the devices of their minds into the pride and hollowness that comes from knowledge without truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Meditation

[The pride and hollowness that comes from empty knowledge.]


Benediction

Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.

Amen.


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.



Marc Chagall painting of Moses and the Serpent staff
God Turns Moses' Staff into a Serpent by Russian primitivist Marc Chagall, ca. 1966.

Discovery

An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly.

~ M.L. Tozer


Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 4:1-9 (ESV)

God Gives Moses Two Signs

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it.

But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail” — so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand — “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

Moses, burning bush, staff: modern stained glass

Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.

“If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”



Notes on the Scripture

There is little wonder at Moses' confusion. He hardly knows who God is; in fact, Moses is only barely "Jewish". He was raised like an orphan, part Egyptian by training, and for forty years he has been living as a Midian shepherd. Moreover, God has been silent for centuries. Having set the creation of the Hebrew nation into motion, He has simply let it grow.

W

hen God appears to this unlikely prophet, this nobody all alone in the middle of nowhere, it does not seem like a moment of great significance, especially after the momentous events of Genesis. But it is a turning point in the relationship between man and God; the beginning of the redemption of mankind from the pit of sin it had built (and always continues to build) for itself. For Moses is anti-Adam.

His first action when God calls him is to come, to obey; we must immediately remember, by contrast, Adam hiding when called. And once we bring Adam to mind, the wooden staff and serpent take on another dimension, for the serpent symbolizes Satan. Moses (again, unlike Adam) shrinks from the serpent in fear. When He transforms the serpent back into a staff, God shows Moses something more than a magic trick to impress Egyptians; He shows him the power to overcome the serpent and make it the servant of man.

The second sign is one of healing. God makes Moses appear sick so that He can show his power to heal; and this will be a great sign for Christ and his disciples, for as illness is the corruption of the human body, sin is the corruption of the human soul.

The third sign, water into blood, runs as a theme throughout the Bible. Again, we see a hint of Christ to come (and there is no shortage of parallels between Christ and Moses). This miracle is a promise, that God will bring His righteousness to flesh-and-blood humans.

The water of the Nile is also physical life to Egypt; the Nile is the source of Egypt's water and thus its food. To pour out water onto the desert hardscrabble is to waste it, just as Pharaoh wastes the lives of God's chosen people to create great idolatrous monuments to his pride. But they will not be wasted. The signs or symbols Moses will show Pharaoh are both a demonstration and a warning, that it is God, and not Pharaoh, who truly has the power of life and death. And God has no intention of allowing Pharaoh to waste the Hebrews; they are His chosen people.



endless knot

Daily Inspiration

“Love Hopes All Things”

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Psalm 16:8 (NKJV): I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.


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