Daily Devotion for January 20, 2023
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.
The Lord God loves them all!
1. All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
2. Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.
3. The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.
4. The purple headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky.
5. The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one:
6. The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;
7. He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
Music from an English folk song, adapted by William Henry Monk (1879)
Lyrics by Mrs. Cecil F. Alexander (1848)
Celtic Prayer for the Morning
I will kindle my fire this morning in the presence of the holy angels of heaven; Without malice, without jealousy, without envy, without fear; without terror of any one under the sun, but the Holy Son of God to shield me.
God, kindle thou in my heart within a flame of love to my neighbour, to my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all; To the brave, to the coward, to the man in the street, O Son of the loveliest Mary, from the lowliest thing that lives to the Name that is highest of all. In the name of Christ, I pray.
Prayer to Look Beyond Appearances
Heavenly Father, I confess that in my life, I have been more attentive to someone who was beautiful and ignored another who was not. I have judged people by the way they look, by how old they are, by how they are dressed; and yet I know, in my heart, that all souls are beautiful to you and that you have commanded us to love one another, not through the sinful eye of our body and our emotions, but through the perfect eye of your Spirit.
Help me, I pray, to see other people as you see them, as my fellow souls struggling to find you. Let me not be deceived by appearance; let me not be misled by my prejudice. Let me not compare the outside of other people to the inside of myself, nor believe that the circumstances of my birth define a standard that others are supposed to meet. Let me see my own imperfection and not that of my fellow man. This I pray,
“Avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.”
~ Titus 3:9
And now let me go forth praising you, O Lord, with all my heart, telling of all your wonders, with my words and in my actions. I will be glad and rejoice in you this day. I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
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.
Walk in the Light
Walk in the light, the beautiful light.
Come where the dew drops of mercy shine bright.
Shine all around us by day and by night.
Jesus, the light of the world.
~ Mrs. J. V. Coombs (1890)
Genesis 31:43-55 (TLB)
The Story of Jacob  - God is My Witness (Mizpah)
aban replied, “These women are my daughters, and these children are mine, and these flocks and all that you have—all are mine. So how could I harm my own daughters and grandchildren? Come now and we will sign a peace pact, you and I, and will live by its terms.”
So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument, and told his men to gather stones and make a heap, and Jacob and Laban ate together beside the pile of rocks. They named it “The Witness Pile”—“Jegar-sahadutha,” in Laban’s language, and “Galeed” in Jacob’s.
“This pile of stones will stand as a witness against us if either of us trespasses across this line,” Laban said. So it was also called “The Watchtower” (Mizpah). For Laban said, “May the Lord see to it that we keep this bargain when we are out of each other’s sight. And if you are harsh to my daughters, or take other wives, I won’t know, but God will see it. This heap,” Laban continued, “stands between us as a witness of our vows that I will not cross this line to attack you and you will not cross it to attack me. I call upon the God of Abraham and Nahor, and of their father, to destroy either one of us who does.”
So Jacob took oath before the mighty God of his father, Isaac, to respect the boundary line. Then Jacob presented a sacrifice to God there at the top of the mountain, and invited his companions to a feast, and afterwards spent the night with them on the mountain. Laban was up early the next morning and kissed his daughters and grandchildren, and blessed them, and returned home.
Notes on the Scripture
Laban still cannot quite swallow the idea that Jacob’s property and family belong to Jacob. He sees Jacob as a sort of subordinate officer in Laban’s tribe. But his pride has been stymied by the Lord, who has enjoined him from either blessing or cursing Jacob.
Thus, he cannot make war on Jacob or physically force him to remain in Laban’s homeland; neither can he entice Jacob (or his daughters) to remain as part of his fief in Mesopotamia. He cannot even make Jacob his heir: for Jacob’s destiny is not as Laban’s heir in present-day Iraq, but as Isaac’s heir in Canaan.
Jacob’s descendant, David
singing in Hebrew.
We see one great difference when they give different names to the same place. Semitic language has already differentiated between Laban’s Aramean name for the Witness Pile, and Jacob’s Hebrew “Galeed.” (Oddly enough, thousands of years later, the native language of Jesus and his disciples will be an outgrowth of Aramaic. Hebrew was already a dead language by then, used only for religious reasons, primarily reading Scripture.)
Laban’s only recourse is to allow Jacob his independence in a foreign land, to accept the will of God, and to try to ensure that Jacob will not attack him in the future. We see an odd bit of polytheism here, for Laban honors the God of Jacob, while still worshipping his own gods. And remember, Rachel has several of Laban’s household gods hidden in her saddle!
“Mizpah” is Hebrew for “lord watch over me.” Largely because of this passage, it became a common terms to mark an agreement between two people, with God as their witness. Laban can only trust in Jacob’s piety to defend him against future attack.
Most important, in this passage, is that we see an early return to Canaan, the land promised to the heir of Abraham. Jacob is an early paradigm for diaspora followed by a return to Canaan.