Daily Devotion for September 4, 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.
Profound meaning often comes in the simplest of songs.
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep.
We pray for healing, prosperity.
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering.
All the while, You hear each spoken need.
Your love is too way too much to give us lesser things.
Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this night, are Your mercies in disguise?
We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear.
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near.
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love.
As if every promise from Your word is not enough.
All, the while, You hear each desperate plea.
And long that we'd have faith to believe.
When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win;
We know that pain reminds this heart,
that this is not, this is not our home.
What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life;
Is a revealing of greater thirst that a world can't satisfy?
Words and Music by Laura Story ©
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God, who has created all things, seen and unseen, this day is your creation and I give thanks to live in it. I pray that I will not shut you out of the day you have made, blinded by the petty concerns of life, but that I may be always open to your presence.
I open my body to you, for it is your breath that fills and warms the lifeless clay.
I open my eyes and ears to you, thankful for the light of your Word, which has brought me out of the shadow of ignorance.
I open my heart to you, aglow with thanks for your love, filling me with compassion, understanding, and peace.
I open my soul to you, grateful for your Spirit, who fills me with wisdom when I take a moment to listen.
All that I am, I open to you and I return to you, giving thanks every moment of my life for the blessings that fill this day. Through Christ I pray.
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,
[I open my body to God.]
Holy God, I pray to be filled with your Holy Spirit for the rest of this day. Let me go forth, walking with your Spirit in my heart, that I may be filled with the joy and energy and praise for your entire creation, thankful in the many gifts you have given me, and showing forth your light in my every word and deed. This I pray in Christ's name,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did. For millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it.
~ Frederick Buechner
Isaiah 40:1-11 (ESV)
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Notes on the Scripture
Israel after Solomon (28): Isaiah’s Prophecies of the Return to Jerusalem
The prophecies in Isaiah are jumbled up. It skips from one time to another, one subject to another, without any warning. It does not have a nice, tidy section labeled “God Will Restore Jerusalem”. Prophecies of the Second Temple period are not Isaiah's strong suit, anyway. The restoration prophesies are strongest in several minor prophets and the prophets of the Exile, Daniel and Ezekiel (see chart). But Isaiah does have them.
One reason Isaiah's restoration prophecies seem vague is that they are highly poetic. Not that this is unusual; we have seen plenty of metaphor in need of study to disentangle the simple meaning, Habakkuk and Hosea being prime examples. While many prophets speak in poetic imagery and symbolism, Isaiah did so exceedingly.
Further complicating matters, his greatest prophecies include prophecies of a messiah; scrolls predicting the return of Israel from Babylon are often mixed together with longer-term predictions of the final salvation, i.e. the first and even second coming of Christ, and can be read both ways.
Today's selection is a perfect example. The second paragraph describes a highway being built in the wilderness. One might read that this is the highway upon which captive Hebrews travel back to Judah, and in context, the reading is completely valid. Fifteen Psalms (Psalms 120-134, called “psalms of ascents” or “psalms of degrees”) were sung by Hebrews, looking up from a wilderness highway to see Jerusalem in the hills above. The image was fixed in Hebrew consciousness,, and if we put ourselves in their place, this selection from Isaiah quite readily appears to refer to the return from Babylon.
But this prophecy of return from Babylon is also messianic. Having read the New Testament, when we read the lines, “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,’” we immediately think of John the Baptist. The Scripture prophesies both of the return of Judah from captivity in Babylon, and the coming of Christ.
Isaiah's aim is so Christological, in fact, that it is often hard to see a prophecy of the rebuilding of the Temple. But when one reads through Isaiah in its entirety, one understands clearly that the Jewish migration after the conquest of Jerusalem will end, and the Jews will return to their land.
Isaiah is a beautiful book, alternating predictions of woe and despair with passages filled with hope; and not simply hope, but God's promise of forgiveness and redemption. Handel chose passages from Isaiah for much of his great oratorio, The Messiah, for exactly this reason: the beauty and promise of the imagery. (In fact, at least three sections of The Messiah were taken from today's Scripture: “Comfort Ye”, “Every Valley” and “And the Glory of the Lord”.)