Daily Devotion for May 29, 2013
“Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
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.
A beautiful quiet version of a very old hymn.
with grief and shame weighed down,
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, thine only crown:
how pale thou art with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish
which once was bright as morn!
What thou, my Lord, has suffered
was all for sinners' gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
'Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor,
vouchsafe to me thy grace.
What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love for thee.
Music by Hans Leo Hassler (1600)
Lyrics by J.W. Alexander, 1830
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God, who has created all things, seen and unseen, this day is your creation and I give thanks to live in it. I pray that I will not shut you out of the day you have made, blinded by the petty concerns of life, but that I may be always open to your presence.
I open my body to you and give thanks for your life that fills and warms every cell of it.
I open my eyes and ears to you and give thanks for the light of your Word, without which I would live in the shadow of ignorance.
I open my heart to you and give thanks for your love that fills me with compassion, understanding, and peace.
I open my soul to you and give thanks for your Spirit, who fills me with wisdom when I take a moment to listen.
All that I am, I open to you and I return to you, giving thanks every moment of my life for the blessings that fill this day. Through Christ I pray.
For a Sense of Wonder at God's Creation
Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Delight me to see how your Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not His, to be the father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.
May the God who made me, the God who keeps me, and the God who will be my Lord through all eternity, shine down His blessings and wisdom upon me like the sun upon a field; and may I keep Him in the forefront of my every thought and deed, throughout this day, and evermore.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 18:25-27 (NKJV)
With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
For You will save the humble people,
But will bring down haughty looks.
What Do We Know?
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, saying:
"Who is this that darkens my counsel, using words without knowledge? Gird your loins like a man; for I am going to ask questions, and you are going to answer me.
Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you know, who marked off its measurements? Surely you know that! Who stretched the guide string? Where were its foundations fastened, and who laid the cornerstones, while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted with joy?
Who shut up the sea behind doors when it broke forth like a babe from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling, when I set its boundaries and put into place doors and bars to constrain it, when I said, 'This far you may come, but no farther, and here is where your proud waves will be stayed'?
Have you commanded the morning since your birth, showing dayspring its place, that it might take hold of the edges of the earth and shake the wicked out of it?
Can you hold the beautiful Pleiades in place, or cut the cord that binds Orion? Can you make the constellations appear in their season, bringing out the Great Bear with her cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you establish God's dominion over the universe?
Can you shout to the clouds to cover yourself with water? Do you send lightning bolts on their way? Do these report to you, saying, 'Here we are'?
Who endowed the heart with wisdom and gave understanding to the mind?"
Notes on the Scripture
This is less than half of God's diatribe against Job's prideful speech, in response to Job's espousing his theories of the universe. Job thinks he has things pretty well figured out, but God disagrees.
The basic idea is repeated throughout the Bible, e.g., "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5) But nowhere else is it stated with such forcefulness or so directly and personally: Job 38 is a wonderful passage to keep handy and read from time to time, for we inevitably start thinking we have something all figured out, and we need an occasional wake-up call.
Job is probably the earliest written book in the Bible. God thus began his written advice to mankind with a stern warning about confidence in our understanding and opinions. If it is "Lesson # 1", most of us need to return to kindergarten.
The French poet, Andre Gide said, "Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it." He might well have said, trust your mind when you are seeking the truth, but become skeptical when you think you know it.
This is why salvation is a matter of faith, not a matter of knowledge. A lack of preconception and an attitude of acceptance is the only way we can find Christ. This is a major theme in 1 Corinthians: "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
We cannot know God. We cannot understand Him. There are things that our brains are incapable of grasping. The Talmud puts this very nicely: "We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are."
Here is an example: Many people struggle with the concept of predestination. If God is all-knowing, then He knows (and has always known) who will be saved. But we have free will. We can choose to believe or we can choose not to believe. But, logically, these two principles are absolutely contradictory.
But it is not God, but logic, that will fail in the end. For although our minds tell us that logic is infallible, logic is not truth; it is our attempt to make sense of the world. Logic is a fallible construct of the human mind. It is a useful tool, but it is not truth.
The first words of the Sermon on the Mount are: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3) This is a little confusing, because "poor in spirit" sounds like a person without much spirit, but that is not the meaning. The phrase means that we must have the spirit of a poor person; that we must recognize that we do not really know very much. We must be spiritually hungry, we must realize our impoverishment.
Only after we empty ourselves of our opinions can truth find us. We pray, "Thy will be done."