Daily Devotion for January 14, 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 Hear God’s Word
Dear God, there is only one voice that is perfect truth, and that is yours: the voice of your Spirit and the voice of your Word. Help me, I pray, to hear your voice clearly. For I tend to lose it in the cacophony. I am filled with the sound of my own voice, with the sense of my importance and the correctness of my thought; and on top of that, I am besieged by dozens and hundreds and thousands of words and voices telling me all kinds of things.
Lead me to read your Word without listening to any voice but yours. Let me hear your truth and read your Word without adding to it or subtracting from it, without twisting it to meet the demands of my own preconceptions. Let me not deny your Word because it is inconvenient for me; even if I cannot follow it today, let me know the truth. Where your teaching and my thoughts conflict, help me to change. Help me to set aside my prejudice, my illusions of knowledge, my rationalizations, so that I can learn; and even if I do not follow your Word perfectly, let me know where to ask forgiveness. This I ask in the name of my only Savior, Jesus Christ,
For God’s Protection
O Almighty Lord, and everlasting God, I beseech you to direct, sanctify, and govern both my heart and body, in the ways of your laws, and in the works of your commandments; that, through your most mighty protection, both here and ever, I may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
[When have I listened to my own voice, rather than God‘s, in reading the Bible?]
The blessing of the Lord rest and remain upon all his people, in every land, of every tongue; the Lord meet in mercy all that seek him; the Lord comfort all who suffer and mourn; the Lord hasten his coming, and give us, his people, the blessing of peace, this day and always.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Who’s the Boss?
If you obey God with your whole heart, you’ll usually scare off the folks who want you to obey them.
~ Meg Moseley
Exodus 34: 23-24 (ESV)
The Versions of the Ten Commandments 
Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land, when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.
Notes on the Scripture
Today's quote requires all the males to gather three times a year for celebration. We get a good glimpse of how these laws were carried out because of the Gospels, when Jesus goes to Jerusalem for Passover. Women and children would make the trip if they were able, although they could be excused; but it was mandatory on men of full age, about 20, and considered very nearly mandatory for older boys.
They would form up as a caravan for protection and company, and in modern terminology, have a party. In many cases (as with Joseph's family, which lived in Galilee) it was a journey of several days. The most striking characteristic of the three enumerated celebrations is that they were community celebrations. A town or village traveled as a group, and everyone in Israel was expected to attend, either in person or by the proxy of male family members.
e have come to see our Christian celebrations more and more as family affairs; and indeed, in many cases, it is difficult enough to get family members together. But there is no mistaking that the spirit of this law — which is as much one of the "ten commandments" as "thou shalt not steal" — requires the faithful to gather as a community of believers, not as a cohort of blood relatives or friends.
We can see this reflected clearly in the habits of devout Christian communities throughout history. The Puritans — picture an early Pilgrim Thanksgiving, and you picture the entire community gathered together. If you study the Amish today (whose "family values" are among the strongest in the world), their celebrations are markedly celebrations, not of families, but of their church community.
Living as a Christian in our increasingly secular society, where aggressive atheism is markedly on the rise, there is a corresponding tendency for Christians to become isolated. It is in fact quite difficult, for many people, not to become isolated. But those of us who face this hurdle must resist it.
For the meaning of one of the "ten" commandments is quite clearly: "Thou shalt gather together with others who fear God to worship and celebrate, for a major festival, three times per year." If this sounds moralistic or proscriptive, it is not; it is a commandment given to us because of how much God loves us. It is a commandment created to ease our burdens, to lead us to happier, more productive, more joyous lives, and to help us walk closer to God.