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Daily Devotion for September 18, 2015


<i>Grace</i>, photograph by Eric Enstrom ca. 1918.
Grace, photograph by Eric Enstrom ca. 1918.

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.




Prayer for the Work of This Day

Almighty God, thank you for the work my hand may find this day. May I find gladness in all its toil and difficulty, its pleasure and success, and even in its failure and sorrow. I would look always away from myself, and behold the glory and the need of the world, that I may have the will and the strength to bring the gift of gladness to others; that with them I stand to bear the burden and heat of the day and offer you my work, as well as I may accomplish it, in your praise.

Amen.

Prayer for the Nation

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; I humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people who remember your favor and are glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.

Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here from so many different lands and languages. Grant the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust with the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may demonstrate your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in days of trouble, do not let our trust in you fail; all which I ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Meditation

[Do I find gladness in the toil of the work put before me?]


Dedication

God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make me and all who confess your holy name people of this light. Make me faithful to your Word that I may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord.

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.




Guardian angel, Come unto me all you who travail weary, Bible Matthew 11:28

Psalm 116:5-7 (ESV)

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.
The Lord protects the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.


Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 8:20-30 (ESV)

The Fourth Plague: Flies
T

hen the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. Or else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants and your people, and into your houses. And the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand.

But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. Thus I will put a division between my people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall happen.”’”

And the Lord did so. There came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and into his servants' houses. Throughout all the land of Egypt the land was ruined by the swarms of flies.

blue bottle fly

Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” But Moses said, “It would not be right to do so, for the offerings we shall sacrifice to the Lord our God are an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice offerings abominable to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us? We must go three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as he tells us.”

So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away. Plead for me.”

Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you and I will plead with the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow. Only let not Pharaoh cheat again by not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.”

So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. And the Lord did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.



Notes on the Scripture

Commentary can add little to this straightforward narrative. The plagues are progressive. As miserable as swarms of gnats may have been, flies are worse, for flies are associated with death. Perhaps they were not understood fully as vectors of disease; but in ancient Egypt, just as today, they seem to appear from nowhere when a corpse or dead animal is left unattended. The flies are thus not merely a misery, but a warning; it is as if Egypt is a corpse.

As the plagues are progressive, Pharaoh's responses are progressive. He has abandoned his magicians. Although he will never fully grasp the nature of Yahweh, the one true God, his primitive theology at least realizes that the juju of this Hebrew god is powerful.

He has also begun to bargain. Pharaoh will never become trustworthy; his pride, which will lead him to break any promise at his will, will thus lead him to ultimate destruction. But, his pride bends enough to offer concessions. He finally agrees to let the Hebrews travel into the wilderness to worship. He just cannot bring himself to actually fulfill his promise.



endless knot

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“Searching for Peace”

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Memory Verse

Psalm 73:26 (ESV): My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.



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