Daily Devotion for July 31, 2021
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.
This hymn is so “old-timey” that I have never heard it sung in church. But my grandmother sang it.
No lovelier place in the dale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.
Oh, come to the church by the wildwood
Come to the church in the dale,
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.
How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning
To list to the clear ringing bell.
It's tones so sweetly are calling
Oh, come to the church in the vale.
There, close by the church in the valley
Lies one that I love so well.
She sleeps, sweetly sleeps, neath the willow
Disturb not her rest in the vale.
There, close by the side of that loved one
Neath the tree where the wild flowers bloom.
When the farewell hymn shall be chanted
I shall rest by her side in the tomb.
Prayer for This Day
Heavenly Father, let me do my work this day; and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me in the desolation of other times. May I still remember the bright hours that found me walking over the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming on the margin of a quiet river, when a light glowed within me, and I promised my early God to have courage amid the tempests of the changing years.
Spare me from bitterness and from the sharp passions of unguarded moments. May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit. Though the world knows me not, may my thoughts and actions be such as shall keep me friendly with myself.
Lift up my eyes from the earth, and let me not forget the uses of the stars. Forbid that I should judge others lest I condemn myself. Let me not follow the clamor of the world, but walk calmly in my path.
Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope.
And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life, and for time's olden memories that are good and sweet; and may the evening's twilight find me gentle still.
For My Enemies
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead me from anger, prejudice, and selfish pride to acceptance, love, truth, and sympathy for all people, and especially those who would be my enemies in this life; and if it is your will, enlighten those who hate me, and bring them into your holy truth, that they may find you. Deliver all of us from hatred, cruelty and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make me and all who confess your holy name people of this light. Make me faithful to your Word that I may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
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 tells us that we are blessed when God disciplines us?
Proverbs 24:19-20 (ESV)
Do not fret because of evildoers
or be envious of the wicked,
for the evildoer has no future hope,
and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.
Exodus 32:1-11 (ESV)
The Golden Calf 
hen the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”
So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’”
And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”
[We have omitted Exodus 31 in its entirety. The first half of it repeats the items to be built for the tabernacle, and the second half is yet another reminder to keep the Sabbath. In the last verse, God gives Moses the tablets. If you have set out to read Exodus cover-to-cover, you can click the link or go to your own Bible to read it.]
Notes on the Scripture
Everyone who has read this story wonders the same thing: How on earth could the Hebrews — and, of all people, Aaron — so quickly abandon the promises they had just made to Yahweh, considering the enormous miracles he had performed on their behalf? It shows how difficult fundamental change can be; for they, like the entire world of the time, were used to seeing their gods. Everything that they had been taught, previously, corresponded to what any human being believes by his nature: Reality is primarily visible. We are still the same way; we say, “I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.”
This might be that the most difficult lesson for us to learn: that the spiritual world is primary to, and in control of, the physical world.
And thus, when Yahweh seems to have disappeared, and Moses has been gone for well over a month, the Hebrews become anxious and afraid, and revert to their old habits, as people frequently do under great stress. They are used to seeing God go before them and they want to see their leader; they have not fully grasped that the pillar of cloud and fire that has gone before them is only a manifestation of the real invisible God who will be with them, whether they can see him or not.
We might have trouble understanding Aaron’s conduct, but Aaron is not ours to judge. His actions must be understood in the context of potential violence against him. The people circle around and against him; they make him into the scapegoat.
Most accounts of the golden calf imply that the Hebrews had decided to worship an old god and abandon Yahweh completely, but reading the text, we see that it is not so simple. Aaron, perhaps trying to cobble together some sort of compromise in a difficult situation, declares that there shall be a “feast to the Lord,” meaning a sacrifice to Yahweh. So their sin is polytheism, adding old gods to their worship of Yahweh, rather than outright disavowal of God. Also note, the celebration at this point is not the orgy many picture in their head, but simply a spirited feast with singing and dancing.
The cult of the bull, to which they reverted, was extremely important in early Egypt (although it became less so over time). The bull represented both Ptah, the creator of the universe, and the pharaoh.