Daily Devotion for April 20, 2017
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.
How Can I Fear with Jesus is a pretty hymn song, performed here in the style of the Anabaptists: a capella in six-part harmony.
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For a Day Filled with Joy
Oh Father God in heaven: What a great day! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this and every day when I have woken up, with my heart beating and my mind able to read and think.
Whatever physical limitations I may have, whatever aches and pains or illnesses I have this day, they can never diminish the greatness of life itself and the great world in which I have found myself. For I know, I did not earn the millions of little blessings that a human life requires: every cell, every strand of DNA, every bone and every muscle in my body is a gift. I did not make them, nor the air or water or sunshine that keeps them alive.
By the power of your Holy Spirit, fill my heart with joy for all that I have been given. Help me to shoulder the burdens of my life with strength and courage, finding my solace in your promise of eternal life. I look forward in absolute faith to the glorious new body that all of Christ's children have been promised; but I pray to enjoy this not-so-glorious body, to see all of its wonders and remember that, being a gift, I am in no position to complain about its imperfections. Let me enjoy my life while I have it, great Lord. Let me celebrate all the little things I take for granted.
Bless also all the other people of this earth, O Lord, that they may be filled with the joy of life, and especially know that life eternal, which can come only from your Son, Jesus Christ.
Prayer of Praise (from Isaiah 45)
You are the Lord, and there is no other; apart from You there is no God. From the rising to the setting of the sun, I know there is none besides You. You formed the earth; You made the earth to be inhabited, and you created me in your image to dwell upon it. All praise to the great Creator: You are the Lord, and there is no other.
I pray that I may be blessed every step of my path this day by the great God of light. May your sun shine upon me; as the moon moves the tide, may your Spirit move my emotions with every grace and magic; may my heart sing with the voice of your angels and my hearth be warm; and may this and every blessed day You have given me be filled with joy.
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.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
From where in the Bible does the expression “turn the other cheek” come?
Answer: Matthew 5:30
“I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. . . . [L]ove your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Proverbs 14:29 (NKJV)
But he who is impulsive exalts folly.
Genesis 23:1-9 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - The Death of Sarah
Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.”
Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.”
Notes on the Scripture
enesis 23 skips forward some years to the time of Sarah's death. Abraham has, apparently, moved to Hebron in the interim. One does not have to try hard to see why he would want to leave Beersheba, a desert city dependent on wells for survival. This move puts him yet again among a strange people: for now we meet the Hittites, perhaps the first great expansive empire in Western history.
When archaeologists claim not to trust Biblical accounts, one must always remember the Hittites. The world of archeology claimed they simply did not exist (or, if they did, they were some minor tribe) until, in the late 19th century, they began to uncover records of a great empire called the “People of Hattusas” from Anatolia (Turkey). Genesis was right. And when modern archaeologists express doubt about, for example, the existence of Sodom, one is fully justified in believing they simply don't know what they are talking about.
The Hittites are remarkable for another reason: they were not Mesopotamian in origin, but western. Their language was Indo-European — in the same family as English, German, and Latin. Their prominence sprang largely from their use of the chariot, which spread down from Eastern Europe, and they almost certainly had roots there .
Abraham thus lived among all the great middle eastern empires of his day — Mesopotamian (early Babylon), Egyptian, and now Hittite. This represents a meeting not only of empires, but also of continents: African Egypt, Asian Babylonia, and the European Hittites. It is this singular confluence of three continents, together with their peculiar religions and cultures, that has made the Middle East so contentious throughout history; and here we see it, already, more than a thousand years before Christ's birth.
Abraham wants to bury Sarah out of his sight. Rather than dig her a grave — which unlike today, would be difficult to keep secure — he will go to great lengths to bury her in a cave. Protecting a body from discovery or molestation, and putting it in a place where the living would have minimum contact with it in the future, are advanced ideas for the time. Although Abraham really has no civilization to call his own — his entire existence revolves around his direct relationship with God — his sense of civilized customs was progressive, as befits the patriarch of two great peoples: the Hebrews and the Arabs.