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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 March 20, 2023


Sinai Desert, Genesis, Bible
Photo of travelers in the Sinai Peninsula

Prayers

Scripture

233 people in our community are currently praying with you.

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.

Amen.

This quiet ballad reminds me of Melissa Manchester. In the Presence of Jehovah sung by Damaris Carbaugh, with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.




Prayer for the Morning

For the bird who sings outside my window,
 For the tree that stands outside my door,
For the neighbor who waves and says “good morning”,
I give you thanks dear God, for these and more,

Your blessings every morning know no limit,
Yet I often rush by not seeing them, I fear;
Let me take a moment this and every morning, God, I pray, To remember all of them, and know that you are here.

Amen.

For Honest and Full Confession

<i>The Dove of the Holy Spirit</i> by Sebastiano Bombelli, ca. 1703.
The Dove of the Holy Spirit
Sebastiano Bombelli, 1703.

O  Blessed Spirit of Truth, you who searches the heart and tries the innermost thoughts: Bring my sins to my remembrance and grant me light to see them and find them out. Strengthen me also with courage to confess them truly, hiding nothing, keeping nothing back in my heart; that I may, by your mercy, obtain pardon and entire absolution; and thus healed, may rise to newness of life, humbly and worthily receiving the wondrous gift of your love. Through the merits and for the sake of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

Amen.

Meditation - Why We Read

“We read to know we are not alone.”

~ C.S. Lewis


Benediction

Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.

Amen.

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.



+ Black woman at prayer, professional photo

“The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but obedience.”

~ Oswald Chambers


Blue Latin Cross

Genesis 45:21-28, 46:1-7 (abridged) (ESV)

Joseph’s Brothers Return Home
T

he sons of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey. To each and all of them he gave a change of clothes, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five changes of clothes. . . .

So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” And Jacob’s heart became numb, for he did not believe them.

But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. And Israel said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

Then Jacob set out from Beersheba. The sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him. They also took their livestock and their goods, which they had gained in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters. All his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.


Notes on the Scripture

So God’s great miracle, still with us today, takes a great step forward. Jacob has been out of sorts because of the loss of the two sons he had had with Rachel, the wife of his heart: first the apparent death of Joseph and then, almost fifteen years later, the apparent loss of Benjamin. He has become depressed, and his will to live seems to have left him. His focus on his role as the patriarch of the people of God also seems to have receded.

And so, just as Jacob’s life hits its low point and he is resigned to die unhappy, a miracle occurs. His ten other sons come home, bearing not just food to keep them alive, but wagons filled with riches, and Benjamin, and news that his lost son Joseph is not simply alive, but is also one of the most powerful men in Egypt!

Devotional painting of Jacob Ladder, St. Catherine Monastery, Sinai
Jacob’s Ladder
Monastary of St. Catherine
12th century
Genesis 28:10–19

But Jacob cares nothing for the power or wealth. “It is enough,” he says, that Joseph lives. Jacob will go and see his beloved son before he dies; it is all he wants.

Beersheba, remember (if you were with us when we studied Abraham and Isaac, or know the story) is at the very edge of the Negev Desert, a sort of “last gas for 200 miles” place. It is truly a terrible and desolate desert to the west, across the Sinai Peninsula; although it is not the magnitude of the Sahara or Kalahari, crossing it is a major (and risky) undertaking.

But God appears to Jacob, to give him strength, and to reaffirm His promises to Abraham (Genesis 15:13-14) (This is called “theophany” in theological circles, when God makes a direct appearance to a human.) So Jacob gambles all; this is not a trip, but rather, a migration.

Almost everyone feels some reluctance to commit their heart completely to God. The actions of Jacob should give us all pause for thought: he commits not only his life, but also the lives of his children and grandchildren, and all that they own, to march into a deadly wasteland, based solely on their faith. How easy and tempting it is for us to retain comfortable habits of thought and action, knowing that we could do better. And age is no excuse; Jacob is quite old by now.



endless knot

Daily Inspiration

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 5:34: I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool . . . . Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.



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