Daily Devotion for July 31, 2020
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.
“Praise the Lord,” a haunting setting of Psalm 104 from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers.”
Blagosloven yesi, Ghospodi.
Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Lyrics from Psalm 104
All provident Lord, place Your holy fear as a guard before my eyes so they may not look lustfully; before my ears so that they may not delight in hearing evil words; before my mouth so that it may not speak any falsehoods; before my heart so that it may not think evil; before my hands so that they may not do injustice; before my feet, that they may not walk in the paths of injustice; but so direct them, that they may always be according to all Your commandments. Have mercy upon Your Creatures and upon me, a great sinner, I pray in the Name of Christ,
To Avoid Vanity of Ownership
Oh heavenly Father, who has created all things, you have given us dominion over much of your creation. I have taken this for granted, oh my God, until it seems to be my entitlement. Yet, it is not. The things of this earth and even my own body will not be mine forever, or even for much longer. One day soon my soul will be naked of every possession. They were given to me, and they will be taken from me. “From dust my body was born, and unto dust it shall return.”
Jesus and the rich young man
Grant me always a sense of eternity when seeking possessions, when dealing with possessions, and especially steer me away from pride of ownership. For it is a temporary thing, and filled with sinful pride, to think that I am elevated by what I possess: my money, my house, my appearance, my intelligence, my achievements—for all are things of this world.
Turn my mind always to eternity and inhabit the forefront of my mind with the only true and enduring possessions I have: Your love, your grace, and your mercy. “The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. ” In Christ’s name I pray,
[Gratitude diminishes greed.]
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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.
Tobit 4:12-20 (DP Bible)
Tobit Tells Tobias About the Money
eware of all adultery; above all, take a wife from the descendants of your fathers. Do not marry a stranger, who is not from the tribe of your fathers, because we are the sons of the prophets. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, are our fathers from ancient times; they all took wives from their brothers and were thus blessed in their children, and their descendants will inherit the earth.
Love your brothers. Do not believe in your heart that you are better than the sons and daughters of your people; but take your wife from among them. In arrogance there is tribulation and ruin. And in moral dissipation there is decay and poverty; lewdness is the mother of hunger.
If any man works for you, pay his wages out of hand; do not let them sit in your purse. If you serve God, He will repay you. Discipline your conduct and take care in all that you do. To those you hate, do nothing. Do not drink wine until you are drunk; drunkenness is a poor companion on a journey. Give the hungry some of your bread, the naked some of your clothing; when you have an abundance, do not begrudge what you give.
Pour out your bread on the burial of the just, but give the wicked nothing. Take counsel from people who live prudently; never disregard advice from the wise. Bless the Lord your God always. Ask Him to direct your path, that you may prosper, for every nation does not have the benefit of His counsel, yet He is the source of all good things. He humbles who He will, when He will, so remember what I have told you and do not forget my words.
And now, I have something else to tell you: I have left ten talents in the safekeeping of Gabael, the son of Gabri, in Media. So do not be discouraged by our present state; if you fear God and do what is right in His eyes, you will have great wealth.
Notes on the Scripture
Much of today’s Scripture sounds like it is straight out of Proverbs. There are some interesting differences, however, between the wisdom of Solomon, from roughly 950 B.C., and what we read in Tobit, that show changes in the morality or ethics of the Hebrews over time.
Dating the actual writing of Tobit, and especially the wisdom literature in today’s passage, cannot be done exactly. The story is set around 700 B.C., but it almost certainly was either written later — perhaps around 300 B.C. — or, at least, amended significantly from an earlier story. All Biblical manuscripts show variation between copies, but versions of Tobit differ enormously. Scholars do not even know what language it was originally written in: Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic are all possibilities!
Tobit strongly emphasized charitable giving in the first ten verses, and he brings it up yet again in this part. The religion of the Hebrews is developing into Judaism, where charity has more emphasis, and its direction is clearly towards the extreme charity—to the point of self-sacrifice—that will characterize Christ’s life and teaching.
God speaks to Amos
The phrase, “to those you hate, do nothing,” is a literal translation, and the ambiguity translates very well. Does he mean, do not take revenge or do hateful things to those you hate? Or does he mean, literally, have nothing to do with them? The latter is entirely possible. The notion of separatism grew continually from the early days of Moses, when conversion to Judaism was mostly a matter of becoming circumcised, through many intermediate stages, until the days of Christ, when a Jew was forbidden to touch a Gentile or even look into the open doorway of a Gentile house.
We still find it today in Christianity, although it has been ameliorated in two aspects. First, the Bible’s sanction that we not be unequally yoked with nonbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-16) is fairly mild in comparison to ancient Judaism. Secondly, of course, Christianity is a proselytizing religion, and nobody is excluded from our company — to whatever degree we construe the separatist injunctions of the New Testament — by virtue of birth.
While Tobit powerfully argues against Jewish marriage to other races, in the matter of almsgiving he differentiates, not between Jew and Gentile, but between the wicked and the just.
And finally he tells Tobias about the money! But how can Tobias possibly get to it? For the roads to Media from Assyria, remember, had become too dangerous to travel.