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Daily Devotion for August 9, 2014

An Alpha-Omega design in glazed terracotta, from Moravian Tile Works, ca. 1864.
An Alpha-Omega design in glazed terracotta, from Moravian Tile Works, ca. 1864.



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Lord's Prayer

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 Live Christ's Word Today

Gracious God, Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child.

Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me.
This I pray in Jesus' name.


Prayer for Help with the Burdens of Life

Grant me, I pray, your divine helping grace; endow me with patience and strength to endure my tribulations with complete submission to your will. You know my misery and suffering and to you, my only hope and refuge, I flee for relief and comfort; trusting your infinite love and compassion, that in due time, when you know it is for the best, you will deliver me from my troubles, and turn my distress into comfort, and I will rejoice in your mercy, and exalt and praise your Holy Name, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,



[I flee to God for comfort in my tribulations.]


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.

<i>The Triumphant St. Michael,</i> by Dosso Dossi, ca. 1562.
The triumphant St. Michael, by Dosso Dossi, ca. 1562. St. Michael's uses a spear, instead of Elijah’s bolt of lightning, to claim victory over Beelzebub in Revelation 12:7.

Proverbs 24:1-2 (NKJV)

Do not be envious of evil men,
Nor desire to be with them;

For their heart devises violence,
And their lips talk of troublemaking.

Blue Latin Cross

2 Kings 1 (The Message) (excerpts)

Israel after Solomon (10): Elijah, Ahaziah, and Baal

One day Ahaziah fell through the balcony railing on the rooftop of his house in Samaria and was injured. He sent messengers off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, “Am I going to recover from this accident?”

God’s angel spoke to Elijah the Tishbite: “Up on your feet! Go out and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria with this word, ‘Is it because there’s no God in Israel that you’re running off to consult Baal-Zebub god of Ekron?’ Here’s a message from the God you’ve tried to bypass: ‘You’re not going to get out of that bed you’re in—you’re as good as dead already.’” Elijah delivered the message and was gone.

The messengers told Ahaziah what had happened, and the king said, “That has to be Elijah the Tishbite!” He then sent a captain with fifty men to Elijah. Meanwhile Elijah was sitting, big as life, on top of a hill. The captain said, “O Holy Man! King’s orders: Come down!”

Elijah answered the captain of the fifty, “If it’s true that I’m a ‘holy man,’ lightning strike you and your fifty men!” Out of the blue lightning struck and incinerated the captain and his fifty. The king sent another captain with his fifty men, with the same result. The third captain he sent fell on his knees in supplication: “O Holy Man, have respect for my life and the souls of these fifty men!” So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.

And Elijah told him, “God’s word: Because you sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron, as if there were no God in Israel to whom you could pray, you’ll never get out of that bed alive—already you’re as good as dead.”

And he died, exactly as God’s word spoken by Elijah had said.

Notes on the Scripture

Ahaziah — the son of Ahab and Jezebel — was one of a number of minor kings of the Northern Kingdom, idolatrous, unsuccessful, and short-lived; he reigned for less than a year. He would not be worth a mention, except that he managed to tangle with Elijah. We used The Message today, since the entire first chapter of 2 Kings comprises an anecdote that verges on humorous, due to Ahaziah's clumsiness and cluelessness, but with a timeless message.

Ahaziah, from a book
of woodcuts by Guillaume
Rouillé, ca. 1535.

We don't actually see evil people in the Old Testament struck dead by lightning very often; but God and/or Elijah seem to disdain Ahaziah so greatly that they don't mess around with lengthy lessons. At the first sign of disrespect, God simply dispatches them with a bolt from the blue.

If Ahaziah is so stupid as to send to priests of Baal-Zebub for prophecy, the third captain seems to have some shred of sense. He drops to his knees in respect and asks for mercy; and at the word of God's angel, Elijah follows them back. His treatment of Ahaziah is as peremptory as his treatment of the disrespectful soldiers, basically, “Since you have worshipped Baal instead of God, you will now die.”

As we pointed out once before, “Ba'al” is not actually the name of a specific god, but a generic title for a number of gods who were the sons of El. The Bible will occasionally use the term “worshipping Ba'al,” but it is just shorthand, or perhaps a mistranslation of “worshipping a Ba'al”; Hebrew has no indefinite article and the two phrases are written exactly the same; one must use context and knowledge to understand when to supply the indefinite article to a passage.

Notice that this god's name is actually Zebub, and with his title in front, his name is identical to Beelzebub. Scholars are in a complete muddle about what to do with this. Baal-Zebub, an important god to the Philistines, was also called Baal-Muian, “Lord of the Flies”. The New Testament tells us, however, that Beelzeboul is the Prince of Demons (e.g. Mark 3:22), and Jesus likens him to Satan in Matthew 12:25-28. To complete the confusion, later translations of the New Testament changed Beelzeboul to Beelzebub, leaving us with the question: Did the Philistines, and perhaps some of the Northern Kings, actually go so far as to worship Satan?

The question is unanswerable. The idol god might or might not be the Devil himself. In Christian theology, it really doesn't matter — if we love Christ we can find salvation from all sins; and those who do not are lost, whether they worship Satan in blood rituals, or their bank account.

endless knot

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Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

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