Daily Devotion for July 4, 2017
Independence Day (U.S.)
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 Address God with My Heart (inspired by Jane Austen)
Give me grace Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address you with my heart, as with my lips. You are everywhere present, from you no secret can be hidden. May the knowledge of this, teach me to fix my thoughts on you, with reverence and devotion, that I may not pray in vain.
May I now, and on each return of morning, consider how I will spend the day ahead; what thoughts will prevail in my mind? What words will I speak? Will my actions reflect your will, or my own? How far can I acquit myself of evil, and live in the goodness and beauty of my Lord Christ?
Will I think irreverently of you? Will I disobey your commandments? Will I neglect and make excuses for any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline me to ask my heart these questions oh! God, throughout the day, to save me from deceiving myself by pride or vanity.
And give me always a thankful sense of the blessings in which I live, of the many comforts of my lot; that I may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference. Hear me almighty God, for his sake who has redeemed me, and taught me thus to pray.
To Value Others
God our Father, you call each of us by name, and you treasure each of us individually as though no-one else exists. Inspire me to respect and value each person who comes into my life this day. Teach me to recognise your face in the people you put into my life. Let me recognize the duties and responsibilites that come with the gifts you have given me so freely, and inspire me to live in such a way that I always give of my best and be welcoming and generous towards others. In Christ’s name I pray,
[God calls each of us by name.]
Finally, may I go forth filled with the joy and confidence of your Spirit; and may everything I do this day, in word or deed, be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
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.
The Courage to Change
The Bible is necessary to teach us, to tell us things that we do not know. Its purpose is not to prove that what we already think is correct. Its entire purpose is to change us. For the Christian, this means that the Bible is most important where it tells us something we do not want to hear, something we disagree with; where it challenges our beliefs, not where it tells us something we agree with.
Genesis 32:1-21 (TLB)
The Story of Jacob  - Jacob Fears Esau
So Jacob and his household started on again. And the angels of God came to meet him. When he saw them he exclaimed, “God lives here!” So he named the place Mahanaim, “God’s territory!”
Jacob now sent messengers to his brother, Esau, in Edom, in the land of Seir, with this message: “Hello from Jacob! I have been living with Uncle Laban until recently, and now I own oxen, donkeys, sheep, goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform you of my coming, hoping that you will be friendly to us.”
The messengers returned with the news that Esau was on the way to meet Jacob—with an army of 400 men! Jacob was frantic with fear. He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two groups; for he said, “If Esau attacks one group, perhaps the other can escape.”
Then Jacob prayed, “O God of Abraham my grandfather, and of my father Isaac—O Jehovah who told me to return to the land of my relatives, and said that you would do me good—I am not worthy of the least of all your loving-kindnesses shown me again and again just as you promised me. For when I left home I owned nothing except a walking stick! And now I am two armies! O Lord, please deliver me from destruction at the hand of my brother Esau, for I am frightened—terribly afraid that he is coming to kill me and these mothers and my children. But you promised to do me good, and to multiply my descendants until they become as the sands along the shores—too many to count.”
Jacob stayed where he was for the night, and prepared a present for his brother Esau: 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 30 milk camels, with their colts, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, 10 male donkeys.
He instructed his servants to drive them on ahead, each group of animals by itself, separated by a distance between. He told the men driving the first group that when they met Esau and he asked, “Where are you going? Whose servants are you? Whose animals are these?”, they should reply: “These belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present for his master Esau! He is coming right behind us!”
Jacob gave the same instructions to each driver, with the same message. Jacob’s strategy was to appease Esau with the presents before meeting him face-to-face! “Perhaps,” Jacob hoped, “he will be friendly to us.” So the presents were sent on ahead, and Jacob spent that night in the camp.
Notes on the Scripture
n yesterday’s Scripture, we saw Jacob secure his tribe to the north-northeast, the land of Aram, against his uncle, Laban, with the direct help of God. He made a peace treaty with Laban and erected a pile of stones, to define a boundary between Canaan and Mesopotamia. And indeed, there is no telling what Laban would have done, for he never seemed disposed to treat fairly with Jacob.
Jacob has another realistic fear: His older brother Esau, whom he defrauded out of his blessing from Isaac, has become rich and powerful. That the fraud was not wrongful, we know, because it was intended by God. Still, Jacob is not a military man and does not have the sort of militant convenant with God that the Hebrews under Moses would gain. Remember, Esau once vowed to kill Jacob, and was stopped only by their mother’s intervention. (Genesis 27:41-45) This is why he fled to his uncle, Laban, in the first place.
And so, now, he seeks to secure his border with the Edomites, the people of his brother Esau, to the south and southeast. When they encounter Esau’s men, they will be preceded by one nice present after another. Hopefully, when they do eventually meet, the succession of gifts (and the passage of time) will ameliorate Esau’s wrath.