Daily Devotion for September 22, 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.
The text of this selection from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers is taken from Psalm 104. This is extremely soft — turn up your volume to hear it.
Blagosloven yesi, Ghospodi.
Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Lyrics from Psalm 104
To Do God’s Will in Our Work
O God, who hast ordained that whatever is to be desired should be sought by labour, and who by they blessing bringest honest labour to good effect, look with mercy upon my studies and endeavours. Grant me, O Lord, to design only what is lawful and right; and afford me calmness of mind and steadiness of purpose, that I may so do thy will in this short life, as to obtain happiness in the world to come, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Prayer for Unity Among Christians
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace, I have tried to read your Bible and find your Word and your will for me, and to study it. But I think so many thoughts about it, and then I start to think I know something, and then I see another church or hear a pastor or read something, and I think, “that person is wrong”. Or the pastor of my church or a Bible teacher will tell me one thing, and then somebody else will tell me something completely different.
Please, dear God, help me and every person who confesses Christ as his Lord and Savior, not think that they know everything and get into arguments with each other. Let us always remember that it is not other Christians who are our enemies, just because they think something different, or baptize people differently, or have different ideas about sacraments or church leadership or whatever foolish doctrine we might fight about. Let us always remember that there was one Christ, one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and one church. Heal any and all divisions between Christians, Holy God.
And let me be part of the solution and not part of the problem, I pray. Let me put first your command, that we bear with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let me not be made angry or self-righteous by doctrine, but remember always who our true enemy is and direct my efforts to the defeat of atheism and the death that comes from living in the flesh. In the name of Christ, hear my prayer,
[Thinking I know what the Bible says, when I do not.]
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make me and all who confess your holy name people of this light. Make me faithful to your Word that I may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
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.
Psalm 104:1-5, 33 (KJV)
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, thou art very great;
thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment:
who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters:
who maketh the clouds his chariot:
who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
who maketh his angels spirits;
his ministers a flaming fire:
Who laid the foundations of the earth,
that it should not be removed for ever.
I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live:
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
Genesis 48:13-22 (ESV)
Jacob Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh 
And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). And he blessed Joseph and said,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” So he blessed them that day, saying,
‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’”
Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers. Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”
Notes on the Scripture
f you remember the story of Jacob, and how he came to be the third great patriarch of the Hebrews, his behavior will not seem too unusual. He himself was the younger of two sons, but engaged in fraud to deceive his father, Isaac, and get the blessing intended for his elder brother, Esau. So Jacob held little stock in the birthright of the eldest son.
The practice of passing a title, crown, or position of leadership to the eldest son is common in aristocratic societies, but not universal. The Russian czars, for instance, would choose their successor. This would seem to make some sense, as the eldest son is sometimes weak or incapable of leading. Even where it is the rule, it is often bent. The most familiar case to us would probably be the abdication of the profligate British monarch Edward VIII — the Duke of Windsor — after less than a year, so that his younger brother (Queen Elizabeth II’s father) might wear the crown.
So Jacob, having rejected primogeniture for his own benefit, now seems to reject it in general principle. Not only does he give preference to Joseph’s younger son, but he will not leave the eldest of his own children, Reuben, as the leader of the tribe. The brothers will succeed according to their ability, not their age; Joseph and Judah have already become the great leaders among the twelve brothers.