Daily Devotion for January 11, 2016
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.
Prayer to Live Today in Obedience
Almighty God, who is the Father of light and who has promised by your dear Son that all who do your will shall know your doctrine: give me grace this day, to live by sincere obedience, that I may increase in faith and in the understanding of your Holy Word; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer of Thanks
O Thou whose bounty fills my cup with every blessing meet! I give Thee thanks for every drop, the bitter and the sweet.
I praise Thee for the desert road, and for the riverside; for all Thy goodness hath bestowed, and all Thy grace denied.
I thank Thee for both smile and frown, and for the gain and loss; I praise Thee for the future crown and for the present cross.
I thank Thee for both wings of love which stirred my worldly nest; and for the stormy clouds which drove me, trembling, to Thy breast.
I bless Thee for the glad increase, and for the waning joy; and for this strange, this settled peace which nothing can destroy.
[The bitter and the sweet.]
May I go in peace, with God and with his other children, and may we love one another as Christ taught us. May I follow the example of good men of old, and may God comfort and help me and all who believe in Him, both in this world and in the world which is to come.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
If you are too busy to pray, you are busier than God wants you to be.
~ Amish saying
Exodus 34: 18-20 (CEV)
The Versions of the Ten Commandments 
 Don’t fail to observe the Festival of Thin Bread in the month of Abib. Obey me and eat bread without yeast for seven days during Abib, because that is the month you left Egypt.
 The first-born males of your families and of your flocks and herds belong to me. You can save the life of a first-born donkey by sacrificing a lamb; if you don’t, you must break the donkey’s neck. You must save every first-born son.
Notes on the Scripture
The third and fourth commandments in Exodus 34 are not generally heard today in any form. The third had already been delivered in detail to the Hebrews on the night of the tenth plague (see Exodus 12:1-20). Simply stated, it requires that Passover be observed and reiterates that no yeast bread may be eaten during the week.
The fourth initially requires that the firstborn male offspring of every female animal (including women) be sacrificed to God. The animal or child may, however, be "redeemed". Redeem is used in the strict sense, to buy something back that has been given to someone else, as in redeeming something from a pawnbroker. In the case of human children, redemption is mandatory. Actual child sacrifice is thus forbidden.
The cost of redeeming the child's life is the sacrifice of a lamb. This has very deep roots in the Old Testament, including the ram sacrificed by Abraham in place of his child Isaac, and the death of the first-born in Egypt, where lamb's blood indicated which houses death should pass over.
The reason we do not follow the letter of this commandment is the same reason we are not obligated to follow the letter of any commandment in the Old Testament. Their purpose was fulfilled by the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ. (Yes, God did the one terrible thing He has never required of us, giving his Son as an actual sacrifice.) This particular commandment is uniquely instructive regarding the relationship of Old Testament law to modern obligations, because it was directly fulfilled by Christ.
Why and how? Here is the short version: God required the sacrifice of every first-born male. However, the first-born could be redeemed by sacrificing a lamb in its (or his) place. Christ was the final sacrificial lamb, so perfect in his sacrifice that He redeemed all people (and animals) for all time. The law requiring the sacrifice is still "on the books", but it has been permanently fulfilled. The required sacrifice has been prepaid.
This argument actually applies to all of the commandments and laws of the Old Testament; we have been freed of the obligation to follow them to the letter, but out of love for God, we follow them in spirit. Every time we take communion, we are essentially honoring the spirit of this commandment, by celebrating the sacrifice of flesh and blood made by Jesus.