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May the peace of God reign in this place
and the love of God forever hold you tight,
May the Spirit of God flow through your life
and the joy of God uphold you day and night.

Daily Devotion for January 13, 2016

Festival of Tabernacles
A procession during the Festival of Shelters in modern-day Jerusalem.



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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 for God's Glory

O  God, lover of Your people, help me this day to live entirely to Your glory. Let me be deaf to unmerited criticism and the praise of men. Nothing can hurt my new-born inner self, it cannot be smitten or die; nothing can mar the dominion of Your Spirit within me; it is enough to have Your approval and that of my conscience.

Keep me humble, dependent, supremely joyful, as calm and quiet as a dependent child, yet earnest and active. I wish not so much to do as to be, and I long to be like Jesus; if You make me right, I shall be right; Lord, I belong to You, make me worthy of Yourself.


To Witness to Christ

Heavenly Father, Christ left with us his instructions to spread the gospel into every nook and cranny of the world, to let others know about him and find him, to save their souls and bring them into true peace and your ultimate purpose for us. But I am so stupid and ignorant, I do not know what to say. I am so filled with a desire not to offend others that I am afraid to speak up. It is so much easier for me just to sit back and leave everything up to you, or up to professional preachers. I retreat into thinking that this is somebody else's job.

Help me dear Lord to do your work. I promise to try, but I cannot do this without your. Fill me with the fire of your Holy Spirit and give me the words and the strength, if only to witness how much you have meant to me in my own life. Give me strength to plunge straight through feelings of awkwardness or potential hostility, and to offer to you just the simplest witness before others. For I know that if I help only one person to find you, it is worth ten thousand rejections. Bless me to remember, that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

In Christ's name, I pray,



[Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.]


Now to Him who has given me grace in accordance with His gospel, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for many ages past, but now revealed and made known by the command of the eternal God, so that all mankind might find the obedience that comes from faith; to the only God, the God of wisdom and truth, be glory forever through His only son, Jesus Christ.


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.

endless knot

Psalm 5:4-6 (ESV)

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.

The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.

You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 34: 20-22 (CEV)

The Versions of the Ten Commandments [5]

[5] Bring an offering every time you come to worship.

[6] Do your work in six days and rest on the seventh day, even during the seasons for plowing and harvesting. Celebrate the Harvest Festival each spring when you start harvesting your wheat, and celebrate the Festival of Shelters each autumn when you pick your fruit.

Notes on the Scripture

The fifth of the “Exodus 34 version” of the Ten Commandments is short and simple. Do not come to worship God without bringing an offering. I'm sure church leaders regret having to leave this one out!


ut it is so easy to follow to the letter, and so commonsensical, there is no reason not to just do it. Some people always put something in the offering plate at church, even if they have a regular giving schedule by mailed check or auto-deposit. We might think of it as a "communion of giving", a symbolic participation in the group activity. (Concerning substantial giving to the church generally, the best blueprint is Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 16.)

The Sabbath commandment is a helpful addition to the one in Exodus 20. Basically: no exceptions! No matter how pressing your work, you must keep the Sabbath holy as a day of rest. In many cases, this might involve a real test of faith, because a person might face a situation where he would be fired, lose a customer, or at least incur his employer's wrath. Usually, though, if you take a consistent stand and your employer knows about your faith, they will honor your commitment to your faith, even if only grudgingly.

As for the two holidays created here, it is a good example of following the spirit of the Law. Almost nobody celebrates the "Festival of the Harvest" or "Festival of Shelters"; but we celebrate Thanksgiving in the fall (at least in North America) and Easter in the spring, just as we celebrate Holy Week during Passover week, and Good Friday on Passover.

Yes, Christ freed us from following the letter of the law. But reading this version of the commandment is instructive to Christians. Broadly speaking, it is God's will for us to celebrate communal holidays several times a year. The festivals that God ordained here are major productions. For example, see Leviticus 23. In the time of Christ, people would travel to Jerusalem for seven days to celebrate them. The concept is for God's people to come together as a congregation.

Can we manage to maintain the level of discipline and obedience to God that will fully show our love for Him, without having a strict and detailed legal requirement? In many cases, our practices slowly become haphazard and watered down. Most of us can benefit from a thorough self-examination on the commandments relating to the Sabbath and holidays. Do we participate, with dedication and vigor, in communal festivals or holidays dedicated to God three times a year? Do we keep one day in seven holy, abstaining from work? Do we require (or at least encourage) our "servants" to rest also?

Text: Jesus at the Temple - Max Liebermann c. 1876
Twelve-year-old Jesus at the Temple, by Max Liebermann (1876)
The famous story of Jesus at the Temple occurred when Mary and Joseph traveled to Jerusalem for the Festival of Passover.

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Psalm 33:11 (NKJV): The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.

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