Daily Devotion for January 23, 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.
This old hymn, a favorite of people from all denominations, is given a fresh sound by Francisco Ortega.
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how all thy longings have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
[Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.]
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
Music: Lobe den Herren (anon. 1665)
Lyrics by Joachim Neander (1680), English tr. Catherine Winworth (1863).
Prayer to Know the Presence of God
My God, as I read your words delivered to me across so many centuries, I know that you are speaking directly to me; for two-thousand years are no more than the blink of an eye, to you. Help me, Lord, not to look on your Word as something to be considered, interpreted, mulled over, accepted in part when my meager brain agrees with it. Rather, let me hear the voice of my Master, all-wise and all-loving, who has a pure motive of saving my life in eternity, and helping me to find my way through an evil and seductive world. For your Word is truth beyond my understanding.
Make your home with me, Holy Spirit of God; let me feel your holy presence in everything that I think or do. For your Word and your Spirit are holy and eternal. In the name of my Savior Jesus Christ, I pray,
Prayer for Eternal Life
Almighty God, with whom abide the spirits of those who depart hence in the love of Christ, and with whom the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity; I give you hearty thanks for the good examples of all your servants, who, having finished their course in faith, now rest from their labors. And I pray to you that I, with all those who are departed in the true faith of your holy Name, may have my own perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in your eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.”
~ Isaiah 66:9
May I go in peace, with God and with his other children, and may we love one another as Christ taught us. May I follow the example of good men of old, and may God comfort and help me and all who believe in Him, both in this world and in the world which is to come.
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.
The Courage to Change
The Bible is necessary to teach us, to tell us things that we do not know. Its purpose is not to prove that what we already think is correct. Its entire purpose is to change us. For the Christian, this means that the Bible is most important where it tells us something we do not want to hear, something we disagree with; where it challenges our beliefs, not where it tells us something we agree with.
Genesis 32:1-21 (TLB)
The Story of Jacob  - Jacob Fears Esau
o Jacob and his household started on again. And the angels of God came to meet him. When he saw them he exclaimed, “God lives here!” So he named the place Mahanaim, “God’s territory!”
Jacob now sent messengers to his brother, Esau, in Edom, in the land of Seir, with this message: “Hello from Jacob! I have been living with Uncle Laban until recently, and now I own oxen, donkeys, sheep, goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform you of my coming, hoping that you will be friendly to us.”
The messengers returned with the news that Esau was on the way to meet Jacob—with an army of 400 men! Jacob was frantic with fear. He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two groups; for he said, “If Esau attacks one group, perhaps the other can escape.”
Then Jacob prayed, “O God of Abraham my grandfather, and of my father Isaac—O Jehovah who told me to return to the land of my relatives, and said that you would do me good—I am not worthy of the least of all your loving-kindnesses shown me again and again just as you promised me. For when I left home I owned nothing except a walking stick! And now I am two armies! O Lord, please deliver me from destruction at the hand of my brother Esau, for I am frightened—terribly afraid that he is coming to kill me and these mothers and my children. But you promised to do me good, and to multiply my descendants until they become as the sands along the shores—too many to count.”
Jacob stayed where he was for the night, and prepared a present for his brother Esau: 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 30 milk camels, with their colts, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, 10 male donkeys.
He instructed his servants to drive them on ahead, each group of animals by itself, separated by a distance between. He told the men driving the first group that when they met Esau and he asked, “Where are you going? Whose servants are you? Whose animals are these?”, they should reply: “These belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present for his master Esau! He is coming right behind us!”
Jacob gave the same instructions to each driver, with the same message. Jacob’s strategy was to appease Esau with the presents before meeting him face-to-face! “Perhaps,” Jacob hoped, “he will be friendly to us.” So the presents were sent on ahead, and Jacob spent that night in the camp.
Notes on the Scripture
In the previous verses, we saw Jacob secure his tribe to the north-northeast, the land of Aram, against his uncle, Laban, with the direct help of God. He made a peace treaty with Laban and erected a pile of stones, to define a boundary between Canaan and Mesopotamia. And indeed, there is no telling what Laban would have done, for he never seemed disposed to treat fairly with Jacob.
Jacob has another realistic fear: His older brother Esau, whom he defrauded out of his blessing from Isaac, has become rich and powerful. That the fraud was not wrongful, we know, because it was intended by God. Still, Jacob is not a military man and does not have the sort of militant covenant with God that the Hebrews under Moses would gain. Remember, Esau once vowed to kill Jacob, and was stopped only by their mother’s intervention. (Genesis 27:41-45.) This is why he fled to his uncle, Laban, in the first place.
And so, now, he seeks to secure his border with the Edomites, the people of his brother Esau, to the south and southeast. When they encounter Esau’s men, they will be preceded by one nice present after another. Hopefully, when they do eventually meet, the succession of gifts (and the passage of time) will ameliorate Esau’s wrath.
It will be an uneasy truce; for over thousand years later, the Edomites would give the world the Herodian dynasty, and it was these Herods who would oversee the murder of John the Baptist, Jesus, and many others (including an attempt at Paul, who was luckily a Roman citizen).