Daily Devotion for February 20, 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.
The Dixieaires advise, “Don‘t let him catch you at the barroom door!” A treat from 1949.
Prayer for the Morning (Jane Austen)
Compassionate Lord, Your mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day. Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace, increase in knowledge; ripen for spiritual harvest. Let me this day know You as You are, love You supremely, serve You completely, admire You fully.
Through grace let my will respond to You, knowing that power to obey is not in me, but that Your free love alone enables me to serve You. Here then is my empty heart, overflow it with Your choice gifts; here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.
Prayer to Use Our Gifts Wisely
Lord, give me each day the wisdom to see which things are important, and which things are not. Show me how best to use the time and talents you have given me. Help me to use all my opportunities wisely, that I may share, through service to others, the good gifts I have received from you.
[“Don't let him catch you with a lying tongue.”]
Blessing for the Day
May God guard me and all of us, and keep us in safety and comfort and in health and strength, sending us nothing but good. May God, if it is His will, shower down so many blessings upon us that the day is not long enough for them all!
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.
Proverbs 25:4-5 (ESV)
Take away the dross from the silver,
and the smith has material for a vessel;
Take away the wicked from the presence of the king,
and his throne will be established in righteousness.
Exodus 32:15-24 (ESV)
The Golden Calf 
Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.”
And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.
And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”
Notes on the Scripture
e see, first, that the ten commandments are inscribed on both sides of the stone tablets, front and back. We forget this, sometimes, because for the sake of presentation, they are depicted as inscribed on the front. Even odder, the entire text was probably inscribed on each tablet — Moses had ”an original and one copy’ — for this was the common practice of the time, to make an original of a writing to be kept in official storage and a copy to be read by the people. But perhaps not, for we know that two tablets were kept, unseen, in the Ark of the Covenant.
Moses, who has already been told by God what has happened, is able to identify the noise he and Joshua hear as they come down the mountain. When they come near the camp and can see the scene, Moses becomes angry and breaks the tablets. Was this a spontaneous outburst, or had Moses formed a plan to break the tablets in advance? It was certainly a bit of theater meant to impress the wayward Hebrew revelers, a glass of ice water in their face to break the momentum of the festivity.
Either way, the action vividly symbolized the seriousness of the idolatry and impressed the fact on the watchers' minds, that their sin could completely destroy their protected relationship with Yahweh. God has been patient with the Hebrews, but the time has come for them to start taking obedience seriously.
It was common practice for conquerors or rulers to grind statues to dust and scatter them across land, so that they were destroyed utterly, beyond recomposition. The golden calf was, remember, primarily made of wood and thus burned easily. But Moses goes beyond the usual scattering and puts the dust into the water supply, so that it will be eaten by the Hebrews. The material of the idol thus ends up in the most demeaning place possible — at the bottom of a latrine.
In the account Aaron gives to Moses, many commentators see some coloration of defensiveness and self-excuse, on the one hand, or confession, on the other hand. But, really, he almost parrots the preceding verses describing how the idol came to be made. He simply tells Moses the truth. We might say that Aaron should have stood his ground and opposed the Hebrews who wanted to ignore the Word of God, and of course he sinned greatly, but which of us might cast the first stone? He was simply the first of a long, long line of Jewish and Christian leaders to knuckle under to pressure from a misguided majority.
The scene is our first view of how destructive church politics will become. The pressure on church leaders from wrongminded congregations, who dislike or do not agree with the clear teachings of the Bible, has been with us ever since. God's Word is not determined by popular opinion or majority vote.