Daily Devotion for June 30, 2012
Fresco in the Sumela Monastery, Turkey, probably painted c. 1349
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.
Karl Richter demonstrates the origin of the expression "pulling out all the stops", as he performs Bach's great organ masterpiece at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Freiberg, Germany. Bach himself played this famous organ.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord?
Jonah 1:17 (ESV)
A Great Fish Swallows Jonah
And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Notes on the Scripture
And so, the great moment for which Jonah is so well known. Jonah's not going anywhere! When he tries to get on a ship to avoid the mission that God has set out for him, God has him thrown off the ship and then provides His own form of transportation back to where he wants Jonah to be.
The literal translation of the animal that swallows Jonah is a "great fish", but the incident is commonly called "Jonah and the whale", and for good reason. Whales were thought to be gigantic fish until a long time later, when marine biology became much more sophisticated and was able to classify whales as mammals. In modern taxonomic terms, we would not confuse fish and whales, but it seems silly to make a fuss over the matter about a story that occurred 3000 years ago.
There was a modern account of a man swallowed by a whale. In 1891, it was reported that one James Bartley, a seaman about the whaler Star of the East, was lost at sea when his boat was capsized by the tail of a sperm whale. When the animal was killed and its stomach cut open, some time later, Bartley was found alive inside of it.
But it would be a mistake to consider Jonah's fate a natural phenomenon at all. The very nature of God's communication with mankind is the action of an incomprehensible being, made manifest on earth in a way that can be grasped by a human mind. Perhaps God literally created a great fishlike creature who swallowed Jonah, or perhaps this is simply the only way in which the people of the time could grasp or explain what had occurred.
It is entirely possible that Jonah could have been swallowed by a whale and lived in its belly for three days, for God has the power to make this happen. Or it is possible that something else actually happened, and this is the explanation given us to understand. The point is, the narrative is given to us for a purpose. If we have to suspend our disbelief in order to understand a message from God, and to grasp the meaning of the Book of Jonah, we should simply be thankful for such a colorful and memorable account of Jonah's ordeal.