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Daily Devotion for July 4, 2014
Independence Day (U.S.)
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.
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife,
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers! holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!
Let me to-day do something that shall take
A little sadness from the world’s vast store,
And may I be so favoured as to make
Of joy’s too scanty sum a little more.
Let me not hurt, by any selfish deed
Or thoughtless word, the heart of foe or friend;
Nor would I pass, unseeing, worthy need,
Or sin by silence when I should defend.
However meagre be my worldly wealth,
Let me give something that shall aid my kind –
A word of courage, or a thought of health,
Dropped as I pass for troubled hearts to find.
Let me to-night look back across the span
‘Twixt dawn and dark, and to my conscience say –
Because of some good act to beast or man –
“The world is better that I lived today.”
Prayer for Peace
I thank you, master and lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. I appeal to you to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hate for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.
Grant peace to your servants. Implant in us the fear of you and confirm in us love for one another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For you are our peace and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father and the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.
[Awaken the longing for a peaceful life.]
All through this day, O Lord, by the power of your quickening Spirit, let me touch the lives of others for good, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I speak, or the life I live.
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.
Proverbs 11:29 (KJV)
He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind:
and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.
1 Kings 4:20-34 (ESV)
The Story of Solomon (10) — Solomon’s Wealth and Wisdom
Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea. They ate and drank and were happy. Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.
Solomon's provision for one day was thirty cors of fine flour and sixty cors of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty pasture-fed cattle, a hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl. For he had dominion over all the kings west of the Euphrates. And he had peace on all sides around him. And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon. Solomon also had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen. And those officers supplied provisions for King Solomon, and for all who came to King Solomon's table, each one in his month. They let nothing be lacking.
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.
Notes on the Scripture
What happens when a wise man becomes the leader of a nation? That is easy enough to see; even a cursory examination of world history shows the correspondence of wise rule with political gain.
But what is wisdom, and how can we discern it? For we, who elect our leaders, have been fooled as often as not. Wisdom does not seem to carry very much weight with the electorate; truthfully, a wise leader is a lucky accident. Solomon's proverb, “the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart”, is more in the nature of advice than inevitability.
Solomon himself gives us one way to discern the wise from the foolish: “The fear of the Lord”, he writes repeatedly, “is the beginning of wisdom.” (e.g. Proverbs 9:10) Surely Solomon is history's great object lesson. Israel's shining moment of power and prestige came only when the anarchic period of the Judges ended and God's anointed King, David the shepherd, a man who (at least in his early days) walked before God in reverence and obedience, came to power. Fear of the Lord begat wisdom, and wisdom begat 40,000 horse stalls and a fig tree in every garden.
Here, for once, a ruler of great wisdom sitting on the throne reflects not chance, but divine purpose. The people's choice, Adonijah, was overruled solely by the will of David. It was God, acting through his servant David, who thrust Solomon into office.
It is fun to consider how rich, powerful, and wise Solomon became; and how a rather poor little nation like Israel came to a position of such prominence. But we must remember, God is telling us a story, with Canaan as His stage and the Jews as His troupe, and we are only to the end of Act II. Glorification of worldly success is not, ultimately, the point at all; for much later in the story, the One who brings true salvation will inform us that we cannot serve both God and Mammon (or “money”).
So what is the point of Solomon's earthy glory? Just this: God keeps his promises. He promised the Hebrews, a tribe of slaves in Egypt, that He would bring them into a land of milk and honey and that their dominion would stretch from Egypt to the Euphrates River. Wisdom, also, will become ambiguous in the sense of knowing how to live successfully; for as Paul will teach:
We are getting a little ahead of the story, obviously; but we see that Solomon himself, in true wisdom, understood exactly the point that God was making when He blessed Israel with this implausible prosperity. Ecclesiastes, Solomon's theological exposition on the “vanity” (or folly) of human activity, concludes: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man”. (Eccl. 12:13)