Daily Devotion for September 19, 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.
There is a story to this recording. A few months before his death, Elvis was giving a concert in Montgomery when he suddenly announced that he would sing this gospel number. He had never performed it in public before and never would again. (He could only find sheet music for the piano and backup singers, so his band sat silent). It is a touching moment, to see him moved by the Spirit in the midst of his many difficulties.
With my head bowed low,
In the darkness as black as could be.
And my heart felt alone
and I cried, oh Lord,
Don't hide your face from me.
Hold my hand all the way,
every hour every day,
From here to the great unknown.
Take my hand, let me stand,
Where no one stands alone.
Like a king I may live in a palace so tall,
With great riches to call my own;
But I don't know a thing
In this whole wide world
That's worse than being alone.
Music and Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong,
Frank E Wright, III, and Michael Pritchard.
A Prayer of St. Basil the Great
I bless you, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who forever works great and mysterious deeds for me, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who provides me with sleep as a rest from my infirmities and as a repose for my body tired by labor. I thank you that you have not destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your love toward mankind you have raised me up, as I lay in despair, that I may glorify your majesty.
I entreat your infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of my understanding and raise up my mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open my mouth and fill it with your praise, that I may unceasingly sing and confess you, who is God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the only-begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
O gracious Lord, I am heartily sorry, and beg pardon for my sins, especially for my little respect, and for wandering in my thoughts when in your presence, and for my continual infidelitys to your graces; for all which I beg pardon, by the merits of the Blood you shed for them.
[Do my thoughts wander when I am in the presence of God?]
As I travel through the rest of my day, may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.
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.
The presence of hope in the invincible sovereignty of God drives out fear.
~ John Piper
Exodus 9:1-7 (Complete Jewish Bible)
The Fifth Plague: A Plague on Livestock
Then Adonai said to Moshe, “Go to Pharaoh, and tell him, ‘Here is what Adonai, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they can worship me. If you refuse to let them go and persist in holding on to them, the hand of Adonai is on your livestock in the field — on the horses, donkeys, camels, cattle and flocks — and will make them suffer a devastating illness.
But Adonai will distinguish between Egypt’s and Isra’el’s livestock — nothing belonging to the people of Isra’el will die.”’”
Adonai determined the exact time by saying, “Tomorrow Adonai will do this in the land.” The following day, Adonai did it — all the livestock of Egypt died; but not one of the animals belonging to the people of Isra’el died. Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the people of Isra’el had died.
Nevertheless, Pharaoh’s heart remained stubborn, and he didn’t let the people go.
Notes on the Scripture
The plagues against Egypt are both integrated and progressive, and the fifth plague represents a major escalation in several aspects. It is a plague of death. The first four were irritating occurrences, burdensome and disruptive, but the widespread death of Egyptian livestock constitutes serious and permanent economic loss. The role of cattle, sheep and goats in a primitive agricultural economy is enormous: they are a major source of food, a major means of transportation, and the source of raw materials. They are used as a source of power, especially to plow fields.
And the damage does not end when the plague lifts, for the livestock is gone until they can be repopulated. Most of all, though, is the fact that YHWH is causing death; it is an ominous development.
There are more subtle differences in this plague, as well. This is the first time Moses has attributed a plague directly to "the hand of God". It clarifies that the dispute is not between Pharaoh and the Hebrews, but between Pharaoh and God Himself. In the same vein, the phrase "persist in holding onto them", sometimes translated as "holding them back," emphasizes how Pharaoh misunderstands what is going on.
From the Egyptian point of view, this is a matter of slaves wanting their freedom, a dispute between a conquering and a subjugated people. But in fact, the Hebrew inhabitance of Canaan is destiny, the will of the one true God. Pharaoh is not trying to maintain the status quo, as he thinks; rather, he is standing athwart a divine plan.