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Daily Devotion for August 17, 2015

Jacob and Joseph, Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo
"Jacob and Joseph" from The Ancestors of Christ, fresco in the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo c. 1512. Notice Joseph's Egyptian hair style and lack of a beard.



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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 for the Morning

God, let your Holy Spirit be powerful to direct my thinking today, so that it be empty of self pity, dishonesty, self-will, self-seeking and fear. Inspire my thinking, decisions and intuitions. Help me to relax and take it easy. Free me from doubt and indecision. Guide me through this day and show me my next step. God, show me what I need to do to take care of any problems. I ask all these things that I may be of maximum service to you and my fellow man. In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, I pray.


Prayer for the Holy Spirit's Guidance

Gracious God,
Send your Holy Spirit to deepen my worship life.
Open my heart to the gifts and cultures which surround my church.
Open my heart to the people who are different from me.
In Jesus' name, I pray.



[The cultures that surround my church.]


Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine — to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever,


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.

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh\
"Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dreams", illustration from The History of Joseph and His Brethren by Owen Jones, 1869.


Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying,"I will try again tomorrow."

~ Mary Anne Radmacher

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 1:1-7 (ESV)

Israel Increases Greatly in Egypt

These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt.

Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Notes on the Scripture

Of the old devotions on Daily Prayer, the ones about Exodus are, by far, the most read. I have been going over them and discover, to my dismay, that I have already forgotten about half of it.

Adding the translation of Paul’s epistles from ancient Greek has proven enormously time-consuming, more than I had anticipated by a factor of about 5 or 10. I'm still at it, but together with other personal circumstances in my life, it has made for more work than there are hours in the day. It has become stressful, and actually impossible, to write new devotions each day, together with all the other work that goes into Daily Prayer.

The upshot of all of this is that we are going to reprise the series on Exodus, to give me time to catch my breath. The prayers and music will be new, and the commentary will be updated, but most of the Scripture and the majority of commentary and artwork will be an update of the Daily Devotions from 2 1/2 years ago.

Because we are so far into Galatians, we will intersperse new Devotions on the last chapter of Galatians occasionally. But I have to get started on the next epistle — I'm trying to decide between Ephesians and 1 Corinthians — and I also have to consider whether or not to gather up and edit the Galatians commentary in book format. So, we will concentrate on the Old Testament for a few weeks. I'm ready for a break from Paul anyway, to tell the truth.

         *         *         *

The final verses of Genesis end the story of Joseph with a few words about his last years and his death at the age of 110. The era of the Hebrew patriarchs — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (also named "Israel") — ends there. But God made a promise to them: that their line would become a mighty nation as numerous as the grains of sand in the desert (or the stars in the sky) and that He would give them Canaan as their land.

Once Jacob moved to Egypt with his twelve sons and their families, the inheritance of this promise through a single patriarch ended. Although the Hebrews were still a single nation, there was no longer a single leader. But as a nation, they keep the name of the last patriarch, Israel (Jacob).

Both Abraham and Isaac had had other sons, and they sometimes founded great tribes, but they are not inheritors of God's promise. Most notably, Ishmael married an Egyptian woman and, according to a majority of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic scholars, his descendants became the Arabs. Esau also founded a nation, Edom, which lived in a large arid region south of the Dead Sea and survived primarily by trade; they will frequently come into conflict with the Hebrews later on.

But it was the children of Jacob with whom God had His covenant. We do not know exactly how long a period of time the first few verses of Exodus represents, but it was certainly centuries, most likely 300-400 years. Pharaoh had given Joseph extensive lands in the east of the Nile delta to act as Egypt's shepherds and herders, for this activity was anathema to the Egyptians and the Jews were thus unclean to them. This served to insulate Israel from outside corruption, either cultural or genetic, as it grew; they spoke their own language, worshiped their God, and married among themselves.

They were successful, and became increasingly wealthy and numerous. Their social isolation served as a cultural incubator for the fledgling tribes, until they had the size and means to become a mature nation unto themselves.

(Note that there are said to be "twelve tribes of Israel", as listed in today's Scripture, but this isn't as cut and dried as it sounds. Both of Joseph's sons, Manasseh and Ephraim formed tribes or "half-tribes". The enumeration is fluid. Revelation 7, for instance, omits the tribe of Dan and the half tribe of Ephraim but includes the "tribe of Joseph" and the half tribe of Manasseh.)

endless knot

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John 16:33 (ESV): I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

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