Daily Devotion for September 8, 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.
Here's a profound and beautiful sentiment to keep in mind all week!
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.
Music and Lyrics by Joseph Brackett (1848)
Prayer for the Guidance During the Day
Oh my God, you know my weakness and failings, and that without your help I can accomplish nothing for the good of souls, my own and others'. Grant me, therefore, the help of your grace, according to my particular needs this day. Enable me to see the tasks you will set before me in the daily routine of my life, and let me set my hand to these tasks with the vigor and joy of one with whom you abide. And if I should face trials, suffering or failure, I pray that your hand will lift me up, and I may be refreshed. In the name of Christ, I pray,
For Forgiveness Among Fellow Christians
Teach me, O Lord, to act so that all my deeds will glorify your holy name and your wonderful creation. Take pity, O Lord, on all Christians. Hear the desires of all who cry out to you, and deliver them from evil. Send them comfort in distress, consolation in sorrows, and your holy mercy to forgive their misdeeds.
I especially pray for those who have in any way insulted, abused or aggrieved me. Do not punish them for the sake of me, a sinner; but pour your mercy upon them. I also pray to you for all those whom I, a sinner, have insulted or tempted in word, deed, thought, whether knowingly or without intending or realizing I had done so. O Lord God, forgive us our sins and offenses and insults against each other. Dispel from our hearts all indignation, suspicion, anger, remembrance of evil, quarrels, and all that might hinder and lessen brotherly love. Replace resentment with forgiveness, I pray, in the name of Christ.
[Replace resentment with forgiveness.]
Oh God who has made me, oh God who keeps me, oh God who will be my Lord through all eternity, shine down Your blessings and wisdom upon me like the sun upon a field; and may I keep You in the forefront of my every thought and deed, throughout this day, and evermore.
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.
Habakkuk 1:1-8 (ESV)
The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw:
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.
“Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
that bitter and hasty nation,
who march through the breadth of the earth,
to seize dwellings not their own.
They are dreaded and fearsome;
their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.
They all come for violence,
all their faces forward.
They gather captives like sand.
They laugh at every fortress,
for they pile up earth and take it.
Then they sweep by like the wind and go on,
guilty men, whose own might is their god!”
Notes on the Scripture
Israel after Solomon (31): Habakkuk Prophesies Jerusalem’s Fall
Saturday we promised to discuss the two minor prophets of pre-Exile Judah (see chart), Zephaniah and Habakkuk. But Habakkuk is so much more interesting that we are going to give him two days and Zephaniah . . . well, poor Zephaniah has just become “extra credit”.
The Bible tells us absolutely nothing about Habakkuk, the man. Unlike most of the prophetic books, which give at least some background information on the prophet, all we are told about Habakkuk is what you read in the first line today. And his name is weird; it is unknown in Hebrew. Most of the names in 1 & 2 Kings might sound weird to us, but notice that Habakkuk sounds unlike any of the others. He is something of a mystery man.
Habakuk Mausoleum, Iran.
But like the Queen of Sheba, he turns up in a lot of non-Biblical places. In the colorful Apocrypha book Bel and the Dragon, an angel flies him from Jerusalem to Babylon and back, just to take Daniel a bowl of the stew he is making. The KabbalahThe Kabbalah is a secret, mystical Hebrew cult that claims to have special knowledge about hidden meanings in the Hebrew Bible. The adherents use a great deal of numerology. literature claims he is the Shunamite boy that Elisha brought back from the dead in 2 Kings 4. Strangest of all, there is shrine to him in Iran, of all places; Iranians believe it is his tomb.
Much of the book of Habakkuk is difficult to translate; nobody even knows what his name means. But it is a very fine example of Hebrew poetry, both in style and content. He and Zephaniah both accomplish the basic task of warning that Judah, because of its idolatry and other sins, will be destroyed by Babylon, and the people taken captive. But Habakkuk is unique in style, at times even reminiscent of Job in its philosophical pondering.
The book begins by doing something no other prophetic book does: questioning God's work, almost to the point of criticizing Him. Today’s Scripture, when he asks forcefully how God can allow the wicked to continue ruling Judah, implicates an intractable theological problem called simply “the problem of evil in the world”; if God is both good and all-powerful, how can He allow evil to exist?
This is the beginning of a dialogue with God, written in the parallel style of Hebrew psalmists. The second section of the Scripture is God answering (in the first person), telling him to look around, because He has raised up the “bitter and swift” Chaldeans, violent, godless and merciless, who by implication are going to solve the lack of justice and piety in Jerusalem.