Daily Devotion for September 1, 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.
Have I Done Any Good? An inspiring message from Alex Boye and Carmen Rasmusen Herbert, as they perform an updated version of an old hymn.
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.
There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.
’Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love’s labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.
Text and music: Will L. Thompson, 1887.
Prayer of Praise and Thanks
Oh God, you know every blade of grass that grows, every sparrow that dies, every act and thought of the seven billion people here on earth. The hundred billion stars are yours and you made them, and you watch them, and the vastness of space and the countless galaxies, you know. You know my coming in and my going out, my thoughts and dreams and schemes, my countless little sins and lies, my kindnesses and my cruelties, my prayers and my curses.
Your knowledge is utterly beyond my comprehension, Lord. And yet, despite all of this, you have promised to know me, to be with me, to listen to me and help me and, if I only ask for it in the name of your Son, to forgive me when I offend you.
I praise you above all else, Mighty God; for the wonderment of your existence and the unfathomable size and complexity of your creation. And above all, my love and obedience are yours; I give them to you now and forever, in gratitude for your greatest gift, the sacrifice of your blessed Son, Jesus Christ.
The little plans I tried to carry
O' Dear God.
But, I will not sorrow
I will pause a little while
And try again tomorrow.
[I will pause a little while and try again tomorrow.]
And now, as a little child, let me abide in you all this day, oh Christ, so that when you appear I may have confidence and not shrink from you in shame at your coming. For I know that you are righteous, and I am sure that I will be made righteous only by my life in you.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 44:1-3 (NKJV)
We have heard with our ears, O God,
Our fathers have told us,
The deeds You did in their days,
In days of old:
You drove out the nations with Your hand,
But them You planted;
You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out.
For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword,
Nor did their own arm save them;
But it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance,
Because You favored them.
Isaiah 1-5 (ESV) (excerpts)
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.
“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?”
says the Lord;
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts.”
How the faithful city
has become a whore,
she who was full of justice!
Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them,
and the mountains quaked;
and their corpses were as refuse
in the midst of the streets.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.
Notes on the Scripture
Israel after Solomon (26): Introduction to Isaiah
Isaiah is a long book at 66 chapters, not at all well-organized, and rather windy even by Old Testament standards. Much of it was written by prophets who, although inspired by God, were not named “Isaiah”, and parts of it may have been written centuries after he died. Nevertheless, it is the most influential book of prophecy to Christianity and is, at times, profoundly moving and beautiful.
Today's Scripture, a selection of verses from the first five chapters, characterize Isaiah's warnings about the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah. Notice the mixing of tenses. Future events are often written in the past tense, which reflect the visionary nature of Isiah's prophecy. He has been, in effect, transported into a future time by a vision, and thus his prophecy sometimes looks “back to the future”.
The early chapters relate to the sinfulness that characterized the Kingdom of Judah during his youth and middle age. That is, the time under the first three kings named in Isaiah 1:1 — Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, all of whom are utterly forgettable. Under them, Judah had lapsed into full-blown polytheism; foreign idols were erected and worshipped in the Temple itself. The government was corrupt. The greed of the rich and powerful went unchecked by the law of Moses, which had numerous provisions to protect the poor and helpless.
The first 33 chapters of Isaiah contain primarily prophecies that the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel will be defeated and destroyed — Israel in the near future by the Assyrians, and Judah at an unspecified time. Chs. 34 and 35 extend this vision of destruction to the entire world. Chs. 36-39 give a detailed historical account of the miraculous defeat of the Assyrian army by Hezekiah, saving Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah from the destruction that had just been visited on the Kingdom of Israel. This salvation of Jerusalem, coming after 35 chapters predicting its destruction, might seem odd. But it follows the chronology of Isaiah the man.
Isaiah played two different roles. The kings had prophets (whether they wanted them or not) to advise them about current times and the immediate future, as Elijah prophesied to Ahab, Nathan to David, etc. Isaiah played this role in advising Hezekiah in his middle or later years, and thus, we find this shorter-term prophecy about the Assyrians in the middle of the book.
But the latter prophets began to foretell God's plans for the distant future, hundreds or even thousands of years in advance, which is the primary reason they are separate books of the Bible. Isaiah made such prophesies his entire life. In fact, one finds prophecies about the coming of Christ as early as Chapter 7, as well as throughout the later chapters.