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Daily Devotion for July 3, 2012
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 great Shirley Verrett, late in her career. (From a Broadway revival of Carousel.)
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For our restful sleep at night,or the rain and sunshine bright,
For the love that Thou dost send,
For our homes and for each friend,
For the day and all its pleasures,
Grateful thanks I render now.
May our lives pass on the blessings,
None can give to us, but Thou.
As I travel through the rest of my day, may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.
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.
What a Church Needs
What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but people whom the Holy Ghost can use — people of prayer, men and women mighty in prayer.
The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through human beings. He does not come on machinery, but on people. He does not anoint plans, but people, people of prayer.
~ E. M. Bounds
Jonah 3:6-10 (ESV)
The People of Nineveh Repent
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh.
“By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
Notes on the Scripture
We think of the Old Testament in terms of Hebrews and heathens: The Hebrews, who come to an understanding of the One God and worship Him, and who are blessed by Him; and everyone else, who worship idols and invent gods, incurring God's wrath.
But it isn't quite so simple, for we repeatedly see Gentile peoples who will, at least for a time, honor God. It is exceedingly odd to see the king of Nineveh, who would have been the ruler of the powerful Assyrian Empire, to suddenly bow his knee to Yahweh; and yet, he was filled with the fear of God with Jonah's prophecy.
Note that the king is not one for half measures. Even the livestock are made to fast. This is a great sacrifice, for the weight of livestock is wealth in a pastoral economy.
God's intention is to make salvation available to anyone who will believe in Him, and we see a glimmer of his ultimate purpose here. It was, in human terms, a slow process, for human beings are by their nature prone to reverting to their base instincts. We see it, in Jonah's day, by the erection of idols in the Kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam; and all of us see it in our own lives.
And consider, the Assyrians could not have the confidence that we can in God's mercy. We, who may trust in salvation by the death and merits of Christ, still struggle with our faith. But Ninevah had no covenant with God and no law of sacrifice as penance for sin. They simply ceased their conduct and asked for mercy, by word and deed.
So we see the greatness of God's mercy. He takes no pleasure in the death of sinners. Remember, He told Abraham he would spare Sodom if even ten righteous men could be found there. (Genesis 18:20-33)