Daily Devotion for September 28, 2010
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.
Michael W. Smith had an enormous hit with his tuneful worship song, Agnus Dei.
Prayer for the Morning
I call upon you, O Lord. In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.
I lift my heart to you, O Lord, to be strengthened for this day. Be with me in all I do, my God; guide me in all my ways.
I will carry some burdens today; some trials will be mine. So I wait for your help, Lord, lest I stumble and fall.
I will do my work, Father, the work begun by your Son. He lives in me and I in him; may his work today be done.
To Love Others
Holy Lord, give me the grace to embody love for others in spite of what they say or do, and to express the sacrificial love of Jesus by treating others in the way Jesus treated me. My confidence is in You, and I will steadfastly hold fast to You rather than wringing my hands over the evils in this generation.
That the World May Find Christ
Almighty God, whose compassions fail not, and whose loving-kindness reacheth unto the world’s end; We give thee humble thanks for opening heathen lands to the light of thy truth; for making paths in the deep waters and highways in the desert; and for planting thy Church in all the earth. Grant, we beseech thee, unto us thy servants, that with lively faith we may labour abundantly to make known to all men thy blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May God the Father bless us; may Christ take care of us; the Holy Ghost enlighten us all the days of our life. The Lord be our defender and keeper of body and soul, both now and for ever, to the ages of ages.
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
In what verse does Jesus tell His disciples, “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”?
"Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand."
~ Mark Twain
Exodus 20:8-11 (The Voice)
The Fourth Directive (Commandment)
“You and your family are to remember the Sabbath Day; set it apart, and keep it holy. You have six days to do all your work, but the seventh day is to be different; it is the Sabbath of the Eternal your God. Keep it holy by not doing any work — not you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, or any outsiders living among you.
For the Eternal made the heavens above, the earth below, the seas, and all the creatures in them in six days. Then, on the seventh day, He rested. That is why He blessed the Sabbath Day and made it sacred.”
Notes on the Scripture
The Voice, published in 2011-2012, is one of the more successful new translations meant to present the Bible in modern vernacular, to make it more accessible to the 21st century reader. It emphasizes the storytelling aspect of the Bible. Perhaps its oddest formatting choice is that dialogue is punctuated as if it is a screenplay. Thus, today’s passage has the name of the character (God, whom The Voice calls “Eternal One” in this passage) followed by a colon, and then the passage the actor (God) has spoken.
It also calls the commandments “directives”; this provides us with a new way of looking at what are usually termed “commandments.” It emphasizes the nature of the law as something that will allow us to succeed if we follow it, something that shows us the right direction, as opposed to something that we do simply because we are ordered to do it.
Since we have had a number of discussions about keeping the Sabbath; we don’t need to cover the same ground here. Suffice it to say, few of us make even a really good-faith effort to follow the spirit of this “directive”. We allow secular society undermine our obedience to God; it is the path of least resistance. Are we out of milk? I’ll just run to the store real quick. Whether or not buying a quart of milk violates the commandment as to our ourselves, we commit the modern-day equivalent of allowing our servant to work: We employ, vicariously, the grocery-store clerks who work in the store.
We have a very different attitude about, say, committing murder. And yet, the commandment to keep the Sabbath came before the commandments not to kill, or steal, or commit adultery; and not just higher up in the Ten Commandments, but actually a long time before Moses received the other commandments on tablets of stone. God imposed the obligation on the Israelites by force, long before they reached Mount Sinai (Exodus 16:22-30.)
We might well conclude that God’s priorities are different than those of the secular society we live in; who knows God’s mind? He might take as much umbrage at a person going into the office on Sunday as He does at a person committing murder. The idea sounds as shocking and unlikely to me as it does to you; but at the very least, we must realize that the commandment is written in clear and unambiguous language, repeatedly, throughout the Bible. God means us to take it seriously.
The Hebrews certainly followed the commandment with extreme particularity (and some still do). It is our chance to show God that we sincerely love Him “with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind.” Do we love God more than our lawn? Then why do we mow the grass on Sunday? Do we love God more than our car? Then why do we wash our car on Sunday?
And just to re-emphasize an important point: God tells us, directly, that we cannot cause (or perhaps even allow) others to work. We cannot let the gardener or the boy down the street mow our lawn. We cannot contribute to the employment of others who live among us, whether or not they are Christians.
Right now, while the subject is fresh in our mind, is a good chance to make a resolution on this subject. Am I going to live in faith, or am I going to live in convenience? For when we begin to refuse to do things on Sunday (or the Sabbath, either one will do) that conflict with this very central commandment from God, we cannot help but increase our life in the Spirit.