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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 September 26, 2017

Queen of Sheba and Solomon, Baptistry of San Giovanni, Florence, Italy (by Ghiberti)
Solomon and Sheba, a panel on the famous doors of the Baptistry of San Giovanni in Florence, Italy (by Ghiberti, c. 1450).



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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.


For Holiness

All provident Lord, place Your holy fear as a guard before my eyes so they may not look lustfully; before my ears so that they may not delight in hearing evil words; before my mouth so that it may not speak any falsehoods; before my heart so that it may not think evil; before my hands so that they may not do injustice; before my feet, that they may not walk in the paths of injustice; but so direct them, that they may always be according to all Your commandments. Have mercy upon Your Creatures and upon me, a great sinner, I pray in the Name of Christ,


To Strive for Health

Oh Lord God, who has told us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that we should honor you with our bodies, I confess that I have not been doing as good a job as I might. Perhaps I sometimes eat and drink that which is not healthy, or in excess. Perhaps I do not get enough exercise; perhaps I do not get enough rest. Perhaps I allow the anxieties of the world to disturb my thoughts, which causes me physical stress. Perhaps I do things with my body that I know I should not do.

I pray that you will lead me to listen to the Holy Spirit, and not to my own urgings or those of the world, in matters of physical and mental health. Direct my eye, my ear, and my activities to holiness, that I might honor You the best I can, in my body and my mind.


Parting Prayer

Oh Lord as I face creation
Let me see with eyes made clear
By Your promise of salvation,
Never to return to fear.


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.

Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question

What Bible verse assures us that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to handle?

Answer: 1 Corinthians 10:13

Tile, Lion of Judah, Mosav Zkenim Synagogue, Tel Aviv
A tile depicting the Lion of Judah from the ancient Mosav Zkenim Synagogue in Tel Aviv

Beginning Now

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

~ George Eliot

Blue Latin Cross

Genesis 49:1-13 (ESV)

Jacob Blesses His Sons [1]

Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come. Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob, listen to Israel your father.

“Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,
preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.
Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,
because you went up to your father’s bed;
then you defiled it — he went up to my couch!

“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
weapons of violence are their swords.
Let my soul come not into their council;
O my glory, be not joined to their company.
For in their anger they killed men,
and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,
and their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
and scatter them in Israel.

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons shall bow down before you.

Judah is a lion’s cub;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth whiter than milk.

“Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea;
he shall become a haven for ships,
and his border shall be at Sidon.

Notes on the Scripture

All we know of Jacob’s displeasure with Reuben is that Reuben slept with Bilbah, one of the two slave women with whom Jacob had sons. (Genesis 35:22)

Emblem of Jerusalem The Emblem of Jerusalem, showing the Lion of Judah.
Apparently, this offense was serious enough to alienate Jacob and his eldest son, but not enough so that Reuben was driven out. Simeon and Levi, Leah’s next two sons, are criticized for their temper and violent nature.

Judah is favored by Jacob and, from the little we have seen, rightly so. He was apparently a man of wisdom and strength. He had already taken on a lot of the responsibility for guiding the tribe of Israel. Although it is Joseph who will receive Jacob’s blessing, and become head of the tribe (as we will see in the next episode), Judah’s line will be the strongest. The first 8 books of 1 Chronicles are so dry as to be practically unreadable, but one short passage helps explain the relationship of Reuben, Judah, and Joseph (e.g. 1 Chronicles 5:1-3)

Most importantly, it is from the Tribe of Judah that David and Solomon, and eventually Jesus of Nazareth, will spring. Indeed, the lines beginning “The scepter shall not depart from Judah” can be seen as a prophecy of Christ

Jacob compares him to a lion, and the “Lion of Judah” became a famous symbol in Judaism and early Christianity, for it is also associated with Christ. In The Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis depicted a Christ figure as a lion named Aslan.

The oddest use of the term comes from the country with the oddest relationship to Judaism and Christianity, Ethiopia. Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, was known as the “Lion of Judah.” The figure was the central the symbol on the Ethiopian flag until 1974.

Rastafarian tradition holds that Selassie was the direct descendant of Judah himself, and the notion is not terribly far-fetched. An ancient Ethiopian book related that when the Queen of Sheba returned from Israel, she had a male child sired by Solomon (the head of the Tribe of Judah), as well as a retinue of Hebrews from the Tribe of Dan. And indeed, as far back as history goes, a community of Jews (called “Beta Israel”) lived in Ethiopia, although the great majority of them repatriated to Israel proper during the political strife and famine of the years after Selassie was overthrown.

endless knot

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Philippians 2:6-7 (DP): Although He existed in the form of God, Christ did not retain equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men.

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