Daily Devotion for February 16, 2013
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 for the Morning
For the bird who sings outside my window,
For the tree that stands outside my door,
For the neighbor who waves and says "good morning",
I give you thanks dear God, for these and more,
Your blessings every morning know no limit,
Yet I often rush by not seeing them, I fear;
Let me take a moment this and every morning, God, I pray,
To remember all of them, and know that you are here.
Penitential Prayer of St. Ambrose of Milan
O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake,
Prayer for Peace
I thank you, master and lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. I appeal to you to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hate for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.
Grant peace to your servants. Implant in us the fear of you and confirm in us love for one another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For you are our peace and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father and the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.
May the God of hope fill me and all of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing, so that we may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
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.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
Exodus 10:12-20 (ESV)
The Eighth Plague: Locusts 
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, so that they may come upon the land of Egypt and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.” So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night.
When it was morning, the east wind had brought the locusts. The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again. They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt.
Then Pharaoh hastily called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the Lord your God only to remove this death from me.”
So he went out from Pharaoh and pleaded with the Lord. And the Lord turned the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea. Not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go.
Notes on the Scripture
Pharaoh is psychologically trapped. He is not stupid and knows what is happening, and knows what is going to happen. He asks Moses, not to make the locusts leave, but rather, "to remove this death from me." He also makes the remarkable statement that he has sinned against the "Lord your God" and asks to be forgiven "just this once." But when the threat is removed, he goes right back to his old ways.
Sound familiar? In our own lives and the lives of others, how often do people continue on a destructive course, even when the proof becomes irrefutable that it is leading them to failure (or even death)? A combination of fear and pride can put us in a rut that we cannot bring ourselves to climb out of, even if it is otherwise not so terribly difficult.
We pray sometimes for the "courage to change," and indeed, the Holy Spirit will come to us and lift us just high enough to overcome a destructive course or habit before it is too late. Has not God promised us "He will not let [us] be tempted beyond what [we] can bear. But when [we] are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that [we] can stand up under it"? (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God seems to love us, much of the time, more than we love ourselves. Fatalism is foreign to Christianity. So many people misunderstand Christ and become mired in guilt, or turn away for fear of guilt; but Christ's forgiveness is the end of guilt. Once we fully grasp God's love, we realize that we are empowered to love ourselves. We can enjoy our life fully, relish being alive, for we reject the inevitability of death.
The great secret lies in Christ's teaching, that we must be born again. We must grab onto the notion of total and radical change, so powerful that it will pop us right out of that deep rut we have gotten into.