Daily Devotion for January 15, 2010
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.
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.
Joshua Renews the First Covenant
Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel:
Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
Then the people answered, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God."But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good."
Notes on the Scripture
Many people believe, in their hearts, some deep concept that God has especially blessed those who worship Him and keep His holy commandments, and that this benefit extends to nations. This is especially true in the United States, which was colonized by Englishmen looking for a place they might live their beliefs -- and it was a fairly stern and demanding Christian sect that started out in New England.
Today, there is a lot of tension between the nation that the political ideals of the Constitution has engendered, on the one hand, and the Christian ideals that lay beneath the nation's rise to greatness, on the other. The growing secularism -- the humanistic ideals of diversity and freedom of individual expression of the country which have come to dominate the national sense of ethics, seems to coincide with a decline in national economic and diplomatic success.
It is constantly tempting to wonder if God does not yet enforce something akin to the First Convenant, with the Gentiles. As Christians, our lives look to a reward after death; Christ certainly did not promise rewards on earth, as did the Old Testament prophets. In fact, He warned that some of His followers might be called upon to suffer in His name, and many did. But nevertheless, people often see a correlation between the sincerity of Christian practice and national success.
Who knows God's intention in this regard? One thing about it, though: Nigeria, home to one of the strongest areas of Christian growth in the world. It is the largest country in Africa and the eighth largest country in the world; its population is booming, and it lies in the heart of one of the most troubled areas on the planet. Although it has a majority Muslim population, it is one of the few places on earth where Christianity seems to be growing in popularity, cheek-by-jowl against Islam's characteristic tendency to drive out other religious belief.
It is a situation worth following. There are great complexities in the nation, especially given the large variety of tribes and languages, and people's identification with them. But it will be interesting to see if the spread of Chritianity continues and what effect it has upon the earthly lives of large groups of adherents. Will Christian areas show greater success in battling AIDS and other diseases, poverty, and political chaos? And if so, is it due to God's blessings on Christ's followers, or a more prosaic side-effect of Christian organization or morals?