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Daily Devotion for September 22, 2015

Seventh plague Egypt from Exodus, John Martin painting
The Seventh Plague by John Martin (ca. 1823). Moses (with Aaron in the foreground) stretches his staff towards heaven. Martin drew heavily on drawings of ancient Thebes to portray the city; the sky is unmistakably influenced by Turner.



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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

Holy Father, who watches over your children by night and by day; blessed Jesus, my food and my strength; sweet Holy Spirit, the light and guide of my soul; I thank you for this new day and pray that you will watch over me. May my thoughts, my words and actions reflect the Spirit that dwells within me. And may every minute of my life celebrate the gift of grace, earned by the blood of Christ, in whose name I pray.


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 hatred for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.

Grant peace to your servants. Implant in them the fear of you and confirm in them love one for 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 to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.

I pray, Lord our God, for all those who suffer from acts of war. I pray for your peace and your mercy in the midst of the great suffering that people are now inflicting on each other. Accept the prayers of your Church, so that by your goodness peace may return to all peoples. Hear us and have mercy on us.



[What have I done to destroy the dividing wall of enmity?]


O  God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore: Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men and women everywhere love you and serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, I pray,


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.

Archangel Michael defeats Satan, Guido Reni ca. 1635
St. Michael Archangel by Guido Reni (ca. 1635). The final triumph of light over darkness. Michael, the embodiment of the Church militant, defeats Satan in a scene based on the Book of Revelation.

The Great Beauty

“We may speak about a place where there are no tears, no death, no fear, no night; but those are just the benefits of heaven. The beauty of heaven is seeing God.”

~ Max Lucado, Experiencing the Heart of Jesus

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 9:13-14 (ESV)

The Seventh Plague: Hail [1]

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth.

For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go.

Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”

Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt — on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.”

When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation.

Egyptian Pharaoh and Anubis
A pharaoh depicted on even footing with the jackal-god, Anubis.

Notes on the Scripture

For the first time in Exodus, the Lord speaks broadly (through His prophet, Moses) of His power, His will, and His purpose. The time has come in the Divine purpose not only for the Hebrews to inherit Canaan, but also for the earth to understand His power and "proclaim His name".

"Fear of the Lord," the Bible tells us several times, "is the beginning of all wisdom." (E.g. Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7) "Fear" has a specific meaning, however; for we are not to fear God as we might fear, say, a murderous maniac or a vicious dog. God has been good to us and will continue His blessings. Ultimately, He will even sacrifice His own life that we might find grace and eternal life. Fear of God might be better translated as "respect", except respect is not a strong enough word.

The opposite of fear, in this context, is pridefulness. And the dichotomy between a deep and fundamental respect for God, on the one hand, and the false pride anchored deep in our human psyche, on the other, permeates Exodus.

G illuminated, Belluno Gradual, St. Francis

od could, we now realize, destroy in the blink of an eye. With the flick of a finger, He could send the earth spinning into the sun or out towards former-planet Pluto, or send the 100 billion stars of our galaxy into a collision course with Andromeda. In Genesis, we saw not only His ability to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but even more frightening, His willingness to do so out of anger for human sin. He is a terrifying God, not a cuddly kitten.

But even at His most fearsome, God leaves a door open by which we can escape. The key to the door lies in subordinating our pride. Egypt was a land permeated by idolatry and pride; yet, God has not destroyed it. All he asks of Pharaoh, at this point, is not to oppose His specific will: That the Hebrews be released to fulfill their destiny. Pharaoh must bend his pride to God's will.

Pharaoh is the proudest and most powerful man on earth. He has no reason to think that this god of the slaves can best him; and his pride makes it impossible for him to see an obvious truth, one that many officials have begun to understand.

endless knot

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“Sitting in the Dark”

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Memory Verse

Psalm 73:26 (ESV): My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

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