Daily Devotion for November 14, 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.
Saturday is Oldies Day; for those who are too young to remember, Sam Cooke was a huge pop sensation in the 1960s, but few people remember that he started out as a Gospel singer.
Sam Cooke (V. Davis and Theodore Frye)
He's wonderful, God He's wonderful.
The Lord is my shepherd, He's my guide,
Whenever I need, the Lord will provide,
And praise my Lord's name,
I know He's so wonderful.
And O, He's wonderful and I better believe
The Lord is wonderful, oh yes He is.
And O, He's wonderful, I know the Lord,
He's so wonderful.
And O, if you never tried God, try the Lord one day
And see when my father come down and make a way,
And O, I can't help it but love God,
He's so wonderful, wonderful etc.
He's been my mother and my father too,
There's no limit to what my Lord can do
and O, I love God, He's so wonderful.
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Father, I do not fear this day, for you are with me wherever I might go, your light to shine ahead, your footsteps to lead the way. I do not fear this day, for your word will be my guide. Your strength will sustain me and your love revive me, this day and all days. I do not fear this day, for you are with me. In the name of Christ, I call upon you.
To Hold Fast in a Changing World
Lord, when I see how the world is changing, sometimes I begin to feel unsure. Please help me not to embrace anything that is forbidden by you, but to measure all things by your divine yardstick. What used to be commonplace truth is frowned upon and new standards are being espoused, standards that you did not set out for us. Let me follow only your way. Let me hear only your voice, not the voices of those who do not believe in your teachings. Let me celebrate and rejoice with those who do believe in you.
Help me to stand firm always, and gain my strength through faith, prayer, study of your Word, and worship. Let me turn my head from things that destroy or weaken me. Let me say no to the forbidden that lasts for a short moment in time, looking ahead to the pleasures you have waiting for all who follow your path to eternal glory. Thank you, Lord, for the wisdom to say no to man’s constant, changing lifestyles that steal me away from you. Keep my eyes fixed on you. I ask this in the name your Son, Jesus Christ,
[As we care for our bodies by eating healthy food, we must care for our souls by reading and hearing healthy words.]
Now to him who is able to keep us from stumbling and to present ourselves blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.
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.
“You must believe in God in spite of what the clergy say.”
~ Benjamin Jowett
Exodus 20:4-6 (NKJV)
The Second Commandment
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.
For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Notes on the Scripture
This is by far the most difficult of the commandments given by God at Mt. Sinai. It can be construed in several different ways. Strictly construed, most Christian churches flaunt it; Jews and Arabs, in fact, follow it more literally than we do. Jews will not depict a person or object in their temples and synagogues, and strict Muslims will not make such a depiction anywhere at any time! They do not make statues or paintings at all, and their beautiful artwork is either purely ornamentation or calligraphy.
The issues of interpretation drove a huge wedge between Catholic/Orthodox churches, on the one hand, and the extreme Protestant sects, such as Puritans and Anabaptists, on the other. During the Cromwell era in England, "Roundheads" — the Puritanical and anti-monarchist faction — would raid Catholic churches, burning paintings of saints and the Virgin, busting up statues and breaking stained glass windows.
The first cause of these difficulties is that God did not say: "Here are ten commandments: Number 1, 'Thou shalt not . . . " Dividing His laws into ten parts, even dividing the Bible into verses, was done by humans. These words can more logically be read as a continuation of the words preceding them, and we might get a more accurate picture if we call it the Nine Commandments.
Four Baal idols
Put the words "You shall have no other gods before Me" in the same paragraph preceding today's text and a more accurate picture emerges. God is talking about idol worship: building statues of Baal and sacrificing to them, building great Molochs with furnaces in the belly, building Asharoth poles, etc. This was a huge issue in the Old Testament, and the next 1500 years of Judaism would center on the struggle against such gods. For the Hebrews would constantly continue to lapse into actual idolatry up until the time of Christ; hundreds and hundreds of pages of the Old Testament are, at their core, the history of this struggle.
Compounding the difficulty of interpreting these words correctly is that, with the coming of Christ, the basis of faith changes radically; we are not bound by the letter of the Mosaic law, but have a duty to follow its spirit just as stringently as the Jews.
Thus, Christ would allow violations of the literal law; but, at the same time, He extended the scope of the prohibition in ways that would have astounded Moses. Primarily, Christianity has extended the general spirit of anti-idolatry to mean the primacy of serving God over serving the visible world. In a word, anti-materialism: "You cannot serve two masters . . . You cannot serve both God and money."
He had a greater reward in mind, eventually, the reward of victory over the material world and victory over death. But mankind could not make the leap directly. First, God had to train us to worship Him, and it was a supremely difficult task that took many centuries.
(Note: We will examine the issues here in more depth soon, as we read other versions of the ten commandments.)