Daily Devotion for September 29, 2013
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.
Our Sunday hymn is sung by the award-winning Fron Choir, from an unpronounceable town in Wales: Froncysyllte.
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.
Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.
Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Music (Eventide) by Wm H. Monk, 1861
Lyrics by Henry Lyle, 1847
Prayer of Ambrose of Milan
O Lord, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of your Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore you, a heart to delight in you, to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ's sake.
O blessed Christ, my teacher, my savior, my God: You have commanded me to love others as myself. Yet it is so easy to find the faults in others, for I see their outside and compare it against what is inside me. I have inflated my goodness and importance in my own mind, but have judged others for the smallest shortcoming, and I am filled by foolish pride.
I vow by this prayer that I will strive to follow your Word, to forgive all who have injured me, to turn loose the petty resentments and grudges that poison the world with hatred, and to overlook the faults of others; and I ask to be pardoned wherever I have done injury to my brothers and sisters, who are your beloved children even though they, like me, are sinners. And I vow, when I fall short of your commandment, to seek out and confess my wrongdoing. Forgive me, Holy Christ, and help me to ever amend my life; this I pray, with faith in the grace you have promised to the penitent sinner.
Prayer of Supplication
Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me, for I am poor and needy. Without you, I have nothing. I pray that this day I will have food, and shelter, and be free of pain and fear. If it is not your will for me to suffer, Lord, I pray that I will not. And above all, cleanse my soul of sin, that I might someday be free of all pain and evil; for, whatever I may bear in this life, I have faith and hope in the life to come, through your goodness and mercy. In Christ's name, I pray,
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted me as a living member of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have blessed me with the grace of forgiveness through the sacrifice He made for me and for all people. Send me now into the world in peace, and grant me strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 91:1-6 (ESV)
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
Revelation 21:22-22:5 (ESV)
The City of God
I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day — and there will be no night there.
People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more.
But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Notes on the Scripture
Both the passage from Revelation and the Psalm are tremendously comforting. The Psalm teaches us that we live in the shadow of a powerful and protective God, and that we do not need to fear anything in our lives. The passage from Revelation illustrates, as well as our human minds can grasp, the utter beauty of a world without sin or falsehood that we will inherit.
Revelation is often a hard book to read, filled as it is with fantastic and florid imagery, and long weird accounts of happenings that seem impossible to decipher. The reason for these difficulties is a combination of primarily two problems.
First, Revelation depicts something that cannot be comprehended by the human mind. Like God Himself, the experiences of the Apocalypse have no analogueAnalogue: A person or thing seen as comparable to another. in human experience. John the Divine's revelation is further limited by the inherent limitations of human sensory abilities. He must, for instance, describe events as if they are seen by the human eye; but most of reality cannot be seen. We only perceive radio and television waves, for example, by building machines that can translate them into a form that our ears can hear or our eyes can see.
We cannot see the spiritual world. So, describing what something looks like that the human eye might not be able to see, and then trying to narrate event in a sequence that can be grasped by a human mind, creates difficulties.
The second difficulty in reading Revelation is that it was written 2,000 years ago. The truth is timeless, but the imagery and metaphor John uses was intended for a very different society.
Luckily, the imagery in today's passage is almost entirely meaningful to a modern reader, without explanation. We still see slight examples of datedness, however; for example, “the throne of God” is something we can comprehend, but it still doesn't have quite as much meaning to us as it would to someone living in a time of absolute monarchy. We see thrones in museums or even in traditional political rituals, such as the crowning of a British monarch. But in our daily lives, a person holding supreme political power does not exist, much less sit in a throne.
But by and large, this is one passage of Revelation we can read with full appreciation — no study or interpretation required. The images are so lovely. What could be more inviting than a crystal-clear river flowing through our city, lined by trees? These are trees of life, with twelve kinds of fruit, one for each month. (Maybe Harry and David were inspired by this passage!)