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Daily Devotion for November 13, 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.
An anabaptist hymn of prayer for strength and protection, written by Leonhart Sommer, who died in prison, December 1573, because of his belief.
Prayer for God‘s Protection
Heavenly Father, I live in your shelter. You are my refuge and my fortress. You are my God, in whom I trust. Deliver me and all those who love You from the dangers of the world, both the physical dangers that can crush our bodies and the deadly pestilence that can lay waste to our souls. Cover us with your mighty wings and protect us with your steadfast shield, and we will not fear the terror of the night or the perils of the day.
The world in its darkness curses you, the only truth, the only love, the only salvation; it seeks to destroy us by force, by sarcasm, by seduction, by compromise. But if a thousand fall to the lies of the world, if ten thousand should fall away, it will not affect me. For I have made you my dwelling place, O God. You have sent your angels to guard the faithful. On their hands, they bear us up, that no stone shall strike our foot, and no viper strike our heel.
Deliver me, O Lord, for I hold fast to you even in my fear. No temptation or power of earth can separate me from your love. You answer me when I call to you; you protect me because I call on your name. You have satisfied me with long life and salvation. All praise to the God of Jacob, all praise to Jesus Christ.
To Be Led by God’s Gifts
Heavenly Father, for the words of faith shared in devotionals, from the pulpit, in the sanctuary, in prayer, in song, that color my life so rich: I give thanks, and pray that they will enrich my journey of faith, sharing a bit of grace with other earlier saints.
For the sacrifice, the example, the gift of your Son; who came to earth and lived among us, who gave us words to guide us, who infused the law with Spirit and taught us the beauty of change within our hearts; for the loving way Christ showed us, I give thanks, and pray that His words may lead me to live life as your servant, as your disciple, today and forever.
[The Christian faith is meant to be lived moment by moment.]
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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.
Exodus 20:1-3 (NKJV)
The Ten Commandments - Prologue and First Commandment
And God spoke all these words, saying:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.’
Notes on the Scripture
The word "covenant" is almost identical to the word "contract". The ten laws spoken by God to the Israelites at Mount Sinai are covenantal; the term "commandments" does not fully express the nature of the relationship they imply, for God's relationship with the Hebrews was a covenant. He does not impose commandments on the Hebrews; He has not freed them from involuntary servitude in Egypt, only to bring them into involuntary servitude under Himself. They must agree willingly, as we saw in Exodus 19.
Most people skim over the first words of today's Scripture, but they have real significance. When you write a contract, the first thing you do is identify the parties, and that is the first thing God does here: He formally recites who He is, and the "you" is unmistakable, in light of the previous chapter. There is nobody in hearing range except those Hebrews who have consented to enter into the covenant.
After identifying the parties, the second thing one must do to form a contract is to state what is called "consideration". The crux of a covenant is that both parties must give, or promise to give, something of value. "I promise to give you $500" is not a contract and a court will not enforce it, because it is entirely one-sided. It becomes a contract only when the recipient also makes a promise, e.g. to paint the first person's house.
And thus, the second thing God does is to mention His own side of the bargain. In exchange for the assent of the Hebrews to follow His laws, God has made promises to them. So the phrase, "who brought you out of the land of Egypt" has a specific purpose: to show that God has both the ability and the intention of keeping His promises.
od allows people to live without honoring His laws. The voluntary aspect of the ten commandments is difficult to see in Exodus 20, but clearly seen in Exodus (and Genesis) as a whole. Compare this to His treatment of the Egyptians, to whom he gave unilateral orders: Let my people go, or I will kill your first-born sons.
But God has not told the Egyptians "thou shalt not steal" or "keep the Sabbath holy", etc. Once they cease their enslavement of the Hebrews, He leaves them alone. They are allowed to live in such peace as they may find, worshipping myriad idols. Why does God tell the Hebrews they cannot commit murder and can have no other gods before Him, but not the Egyptians? It is because He has chosen the Hebrews, because He loves them in a special way. Why them? Nobody knows.
What we do know is that mankind has lived in sin, alienated from its Creator, since the time of Adam. For whatever reason, God chose this time to start a long-term project, the reconciliation of humanity to Himself. But it is covenantal, not unilateral: if Christ is the bridegroom, we must say "I do." If we want to have a relationship with God, we have to make an effort.