Daily Devotion for July 12, 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.
There is a story to this recording. A few months before his death, Elvis was giving a concert in Montgomery when he suddenly announced that he would sing this gospel number. He had never performed it in public before and never would again. (He could only find sheet music for the piano and backup singers, so his band sat silent). It is a touching moment, to see him moved by the Spirit in the midst of his many difficulties.
With my head bowed low,
In the darkness as black as could be.
And my heart felt alone
and I cried, oh Lord,
Don't hide your face from me.
Hold my hand all the way,
every hour every day,
From here to the great unknown.
Take my hand, let me stand,
Where no one stands alone.
Like a king I may live in a palace so tall,
With great riches to call my own;
But I don't know a thing
In this whole wide world
That's worse than being alone.
Music and Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong,
Frank E Wright, III, and Michael Pritchard.
Draw Thou Our Hearts
O Lord Jesus Christ, draw thou our hearts unto thee; join them together in inseparable love, that we may abide in thee, and thou in us, and that the everlasting covenant between us may stand sure forever. O wound our hearts with the fiery darts of thy piercing love. Let them pierce through all our slothful members and inward powers, that we, being happily wounded, may so become whole and sound. Let us have no lover but thyself alone; let us seek no joy nor comfort except in thee.
Prayer for Goodness (based on Psalm 1)
Heavenly Father, who has given us the gift of your law, so that we might know our sin, and your Son, that we might be forgiven where we fall short: Give me the grace to remember your holy Word, when my surroundings tempt me to confusion and weakness, that I might more nearly approach true obedience to your will. Help me to resist the arguments of the ungodly; let me not be deceived by false beauty; and let me never replace the truth which you have put into my heart with the clever words of men. Through Christ I pray,
[Let me not be deceived by false beauty.]
Into your hands, O Lord, Jesus Christ, my God, I commend my spirit. Bless me and all those who pray in faith of You this day; save us and grant unto us everlasting life.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
1 Kings 8:21-36 (Living Bible)
The Story of Solomon (16) — Solomon‘s Prayer (1)
Then, as all the people watched, Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord with his hands spread out toward heaven and said, “O Lord God of Israel, there is no god like you in heaven or earth, for you are loving and kind and you keep your promises to your people if they do their best to do your will. Today you have fulfilled your promise to my father David, who was your servant; and now, O Lord God of Israel, fulfill your further promise to him: that if his descendants follow your ways and try to do your will as he did, one of them shall always sit upon the throne of Israel. Yes, O God of Israel, fulfill this promise too.
“But is it possible that God would really live on earth? Why, even the skies and the highest heavens cannot contain you, much less this Temple I have built! And yet, O Lord my God, you have heard and answered my request: Please watch over this Temple night and day—this place you have promised to live in—and as I face toward the Temple and pray, whether by night or by day, please listen to me and answer my requests. Listen to every plea of the people of Israel whenever they face this place to pray; yes, hear in heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.
“If a man is accused of doing something wrong and then, standing here before your altar, swears that he didn’t do it, hear him in heaven and do what is right; judge whether or not he did it.
“And when your people sin and their enemies defeat them, hear them from heaven and forgive them if they turn to you again and confess that you are their God. Bring them back again to this land which you have given to their fathers.
“And when the skies are shut up and there is no rain because of their sin, hear them from heaven and forgive them when they pray toward this place and confess your name. And after you have punished them, help them to follow the good ways in which they should walk, and send rain upon the land that you have given your people.
“And when foreigners hear of your great name and come from distant lands to worship you (for they shall hear of your great name and mighty miracles) and pray toward this Temple, hear them from heaven and answer their prayers. And all the nations of the earth will know and fear your name just as your own people Israel do; and all the earth will know that this is your Temple.
Notes on the Scripture
Solomon first gives thanks for the immediate issue: the Temple represents the fulfillmentMore accurately, it is a partial fulfillment, for God promised Abraham that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” of a promise made all the way back in Genesis 13. Kept by Solomon and David, but more important, kept by God. And it only took 1,000 years!
the Promised Land
He then addresses a question that occurs to all who read the books about the Tabernacle and then the Temple; how can it be that God is inside a box, no matter how fancy it is? Solomon recognizes this great attribute of Yahweh, so different from other gods: his omnipresence and infinite nature. He seems to know that God is not in the “Ark”; this concept of an infinite formative power has a philosophical sophistication that will elude the great Greeks until Plato, 500 years later.
The Hebrews were not philosophers, and Solomon is an oddity in the Old Testament. The great asset the Jews had, in coming to dominate Western religious thought, was not brilliance, but faith and a personal relationship with a living God. The Greeks eventually arrived at the conclusion that there must be a single organizing principle to the universe, but lacking faith, they could not find God by their intellect. God came to us, not through the mind, but through faith. We cannot find Him; He has to find us.
The second paragraph, asking God to judge those who come before His altar, has the same odd nature as much of the Lord's Prayer: recognizing what God will do, in the form of asking Him to do it. In effect, it is a prayer of praise and faith, and a showing that one's will is in accord with that of God. And here again, notice that Solomon asks God to hear a petitioner “in heaven”, not in the Ark.
The paragraphs about battle and rain crystallize the difference between the old and new covenants. God will punish the Hebrews for their sins, by making them lose battles or by bringing drought; they can end the punishment by prayer and repentance. They are treated, in effect, like young children. It is a paradigm many Christians hold in the back of their mind, but once a perfect Christ hung on a cross, the relationship changed. The beloved of God, now, might suffer the most while in the world. The Old Testament is a lengthy training session in sin, a primary school, preparing us for the more advanced final lessons to be brought by Christ 1,000 years later.
Finally, Solomon's prayer that God will come to the Gentiles is remarkable. From Moses to David, the will of God is that the Hebrews not be tainted by outsiders. It was not a proselytizing religion; and although conversion was possible, a convert was a second-class Jew. The authorities of Judaism will become narrower and narrower in holding on to the Mosaic idea of a pure Hebrew bloodline; but many of the prophets (who were persecuted by kings and priests alike) will see that the ultimate goal of Judaism will be a messiah who will be “a light to the Gentiles (or nations).” (Isaiah 42:6)