Daily Devotion for June 29, 2014
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 “Virtual Sunday Church” this week is the Edenton Street United Methodist in Raleigh, NC. Click the lyrics and sing along!
All glory, laud, and honor,
to thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
Thou art the King of Israel,
thou David's royal Son,
who in the Lord's name comest,
the King and Blessed One.
The company of angels
are praising thee on high,
and we with all creation
in chorus make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
with psalms before thee went;
our prayer and praise and anthems
before thee we present.
To thee, before thy passion,
they sang their hymns of praise;
to thee, now high exalted,
our melody we raise.
Thou didst accept their praises;
accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightest,
thou good and gracious King.
Music by Melchior Teschner,
Lyrics by Theodulph of Orleans.
Prayer for Purity of Worship
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires are known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that I may perfectly love you and worthily praise your holy name. Through Christ I pray,
O Changeless God,
Under the conviction of the Spirit I learn that
The more I do, the worse I am,
The more I know, the less I know,
The more holiness I have, the mores sinful I am,
The more I love, the more there is to love.
O wretched man that I am!
I have a wild heart
And cannot stand before thee;
I am like a bird before a man.
How little I love thy truth and ways!
I neglect prayer,
By thinking I have prayed enough and earnestly,
By knowing thou hast saved my soul.
Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical hypocrite,
Who sins more safely because grace abounds,
Who tells his lusts that Christ’s blood cleanseth them,
Who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell, for his is saved,
Who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians, but lives
My mind is a bucket without a bottom,
With no spiritual understanding,
No desire for the Lord’s Day,
Ever learning but never reaching the truth,
Always at the gospel-well but never holding water.
My conscience is without conviction or contrition,
With nothing to repent of.
My will is without power of decision or resolution.
My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.
My memory has no retention,
So I forget so easily the lessons learned,
And thy truths seep away.
Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.
For Those in Distress
I pray to you, Master, be our helper and defender. Rescue those of our number in distress; raise up the fallen; assist the needy; heal the sick; turn back those of your people who stray; feed the hungry; release our captives; revive the weak; encourage those who lose heart. Let all the nations realize that you are the only God, that Jesus Christ is your Child, and that we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.
[The misery of the prisoner.]
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 19:1-4 (ESV)
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (ESV)
God’s Unceasing Revelation
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
Romans 1:18-20 (ESV)
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them.
Notes on the Scripture
At various points in the New Testament, Paul (and whoever authored Hebrews) makes a rather basic point: People who live in the world and do not realize that God exists are blind. They have no excuse. The people of the most primitive culture understand that there is a creator; the most brilliant scientist as well, if he is not blinded by his pride. God declares His existence in every cloud, every star, every rock. The heavens tell his glory as clearly as if they were singing. A person has to refuse to listen not to understand God's hand in it.
Scientists are often atheists, but not because they have any less evidence of God than anyone else. Like a very wealthy man, or a person of wonderful physical beauty, they give in to pride of ownership. Those who share greatly in God's natural gifts seem to have a harder time finding Him, for they believe that somehow they are responsible for their own gifts and glorify themselves. They are “born on third base and think they have hit a triple.” Pride is the cardinal sin, for the beautiful person does not ask “who made me so beautiful” but instead thinks “I am by my nature superior.” Everyone experiences this at some point: what it is like to feel better than others.
But while pride is a natural urge, that does not excuse it in God's eye: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them.” Gratitude must be learned, but there is enough in nature to learn it. We have the Bible, of course, but Paul says we do not need it to reach at least the minimum point of understanding that the essence of a gift is that someone gave it to us.
Beauty has no evolutionary function. There is no “natural selection” for people who see the beauty of a butterfly or a song. Loving the shape of a great canyon or the movement of a swimming fish or the color of a glorious sunset does not improve our chance of survival; so why do we have it? Because God implanted it in us to help teach us that He is. It is an artist's signature on the creation. So tell us, atheist fools, why do we love the beauty of the world?
Job, in the book written before Moses and the law taught us of God, said it: “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” (Job 12:7-9)
Do we think we improve upon God? We will never make anything to compare to the majesty of a night sky filled with stars. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28-29)
Semonkong Waterfall in Lesotho (Africa)