Daily Devotion for October 9, 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.
Mark Miller’s touching song, I Believe, is sung here by the Harmonium Choral Society in a 2014 performance. The lyrics are words he found scratched on the walls of a cellar in Cologne, Germany by a Jew hiding from Nazi persecution.
I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God even when God is silent.
To Turn My Mind to Heavenly Things
Lord Jesus Christ, who returned from this world to the Father and loved those who were here in this world, make my mind turn from worldly preoccupations to the contemplation of heaven, to despise everything transitory and to yearn only for celestial things, and to burn with the glowing fire of your love. And you, Lord, who deemed yourself worthy to wash the feet of your holy apostles with your sacred hands, cleanse also my heart by pouring in the radiance of the Holy Spirit, so that I may be able to love you, our Lord Jesus Christ, in all things and above all else.
To Spread the Gospel
Father God, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior you have found my heart worthy enough to save, and have entrusted me to spread the Gospel. You have handed to me the very keys to the kingdom of heaven. Let me not grow weary of His cause. And by His grace and mercies given to me, let me be proven worthy of my call. As your Son taught us, the harvest is plentiful, but the gatherers are few. Let me stand for my call in Jesus Christ and take my place among those who gather, not by argument and rancor, but by living as a shining light before the world, always ready to witness to your gifts, your Word, and your glory.
[Prayer is often more effective when we spend as much time listening as we do talking.]
God of mercy, swift to help: as my lips pour forth your praise, fill my heart with the peace you give to those who wait for your salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
How Much Must We Give to God?
“God wants the whole person and He will not rest till He gets us in entirety. No part of the man will do."
~ A.W. Tozer
Exodus 13:1-2, 11-16 (ESV)
Consecration of the Firstborn
The Lord said to Moses, “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.”
* * *
“When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord's. Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.
And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals.
Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”
Notes on the Scripture
The lamb's blood smeared on Hebrew lintels and doorposts during the tenth plague symbolized the sacrifice that Yahweh will expect, as a sign of devotion. In effect, He declared the firstborn of everyone and everything to be His. Those who defied him died; those who obeyed Him were still to be His, but the people and working animals would live, the price of their lives paid in the blood of a lamb.
He gives a reason: that the Jews might not forget who is God, who is their God, and who delivered them from bondage and would give them the land of Canaan.
he life of a lamb, the blood of a lamb, as the price for redemption, will inform the entire course of the Bible hereafter. In particular, it is the source of much meaning and symbolism of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross: Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice to redeem all mankind rather than an individual. Christ was the firstborn of Mary. In fact, Luke recounts the ritual dedication of Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem, in conformance with today's Scripture. It was the occasion when Simeon and Anna recognized Him as the Messiah. (Luke 2:21-38)
As a practical matter, sacrifice to God demands that worship be physical. A lamb was food, a source of life on earth. To destroy something valuable to our earthly life, simply to show our dedication to God, is to choose the spirit over the body. One may still be a hypocrite and give one's earthly goods to the glory of God, but it is a much greater challenge than paying mere lip service to one's belief.
The mandatory sacrifice instituted by Yahweh for the Jews is reasonable, however; other than of Himself, He does not demand the life of a human being, or female animals (which are needed in greater numbers for procreation), or donkeys. He demands that the Hebrews give enough to be significant, but not put them in danger of extinction.