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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Daily Devotion for July 7, 2015


Icon of four minor prophets from the Monastery of St. Cyril, Belozersk, Russia.  (Habakkuk is to the far right.)
Icon of four minor prophets from the Monastery of St. Cyril, Belozersk, Russia, 17th century. (Habakkuk is to the far right.)

Prayers

Scripture

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Lord's Prayer

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.

Amen.



Prayer for This Day

Holy God, I pray in the name of Christ that you will this day increase my faith in the sweet promises of the Gospel. Give me repentance from dead works. Pardon my wanderings, & direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation. Teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments.

Make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber. But daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life.

Bless my family, friends & kindred; unite us all in praising & glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed Saviour, who hath taught us thus to pray, our Father.

Amen.

Praise

Oh Lord God, you are what thought cannot better; you are who thought cannot reach; you are who no thinking can even conceive. Without you, man can have no being, no reason, no knowledge, no good desire, nothing. You, Oh Lord, are what you are, transcending all.

Amen.

Meditation

[My thinking cannot conceive of God.]


Prayer of Resolve

I  bind myself to you this day, oh Christ, in your truth and in your sacrifice. I give to you my anxiety and my fear, my depression and my doubt, for you have promised to take them if we only ask; and I take upon myself your burden, for it is light and your way is gentle. May I keep this in my heart and mind all this day.

Amen.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.


Reproduction of the god El, as a golden calf.
Reproduction of the god El, as a golden calf.

Idolatry

You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.

~ Anne Lamott


Blue Latin Cross

Habakkuk 2:18-20 (NKJV)

What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it,
The molded image, a teacher of lies,
That the maker of its mold should trust in it,
To make mute idols?

Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’
To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
Yet in it there is no breath at all.

But the Lord is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”


Notes on the Scripture

Habakkuk on Idolatry

I had meant to spend a day or at most two on Habakkuk, but this short book is so full of wonderful nuggets that I couldn't resist another passage. Habakkuk is known to most Christians, if at all, as a prophet who foretold the destruction of Jerusalem by the (Chaldean) Babylonians. (See chart.) His book is only three chapters and not frequently read.

N

obody knows who he was, where he came from or what happened to him. Iranians claim he is buried there and have a shrine at his burial site. His name does not seem to be Hebrew and, of all the Old Testament writers, he might be the hardest to translate. Many lines of translation in his three little chapters are outright guesses — some of the book is actually lost to humanity forever — and his imagery is so dense that it can take work to understand it fully, even when it is reliably translatable

But he was clearly a master poet as well as a prophet. Today's selection is much clearer than most of the book and we can get the general ideas quite easily. Following it closely is a bit trickier, because it seems to be “discontinuousTechnically, “discontinuity” describes “writing in which the words of an (immediate) constituent (at some level in the analysis of the sentence) are not adjacent to each other.” Or more simply stated, somewhere else are words or phrases than where they are supposed to be.”.

In the first stanza, “the molded image, a teacher of lies” appears to be a parenthetical remark that logically should come after “What profit is the image”. But the opening words, “What profit is”, are followed by two parallel predicate clauses, “the image, . .” and “The molded image . . . . ” The same construction is used in the second verse and is easier to see; “Woe to him who says” is followed by two parallel direct objects, “to wood . . .” and “To silent stone . . . .”

The final line of the first verse, which reads awkwardly at first, actually finishes the opening words. In effect, this stanza reads “What profit is (it) to make mute idols” with two parallel elaborations of “(it)” sandwiched in between. The sophisticated Hebrew listener would have found this complexity enormously pleasing, but people accustomed to reading English poetry might find it just as pleasing, 2700 years later.

We see two kinds of parallelism — the bread-and-butter of Hebrew poetry — in verse two. The second line (“To silent stone . . .”) restates line one, but adds another detail: that the maker intends for the image to teach. Lines 3 and 4 use a different form of parallelism, contrast. Instead of repetition, lines 3 and 4 contrast external beauty with internal wisdom. Remember that “breath” does not simply refer to the ability to speak; it is also the word used in Hebrew for spiritual creation:

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

So this statue cannot teach, because it has no literal breath and cannot talk at all; neither can it act as a god, for it does not have a spirit. All it has is a shiny gold surface in which the maker can see his own reflection. The only teaching the maker of it might have is the sound of his own voice, an idea Habakkuk reinforces by having direct discourse, i.e. the maker of the statue saying “Awake!” and “Arise! It will teach!” The human speaks, the god is silent. So we now understand that the real “teacher of lies” in the previous verse is actually the person making the statue.

And finally, he ends his poem with a magnificent and powerful couplet (which is frequently quoted). Before the true God, the man must stop talking and listen, for Yahweh will speak, teach, and create. The maker of graven images needs to keep silence; he needs to listen to the quiet voice of the one true God, and he also needs to be silent in the sense of ceasing to carve his statues.

In later times, by the way, the form of the poem (two quatrains with a final couplet) was known as a “sonnetina tre”, and Shakespeare could have done no better with it.



endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

1 Peter 3:10: Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile.


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Comments (2)

Topic: Page Two | Devotion for Day of July 7, 2015 | Daily Prayer
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Andrea Flannery (ocala, US) says...
Thank you Ann for the reminder that Jesus loved others for who He was not for who others were. I pray that that thought stays with me when I get riled up at others.
7th July 2015 11:42am
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Ann Brock Ludington (US) says...
Thank you for your comment Andrea. God bless your day. Cool
7th July 2015 1:09pm
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Pamela White (Phoenix, US) says...
Grin I stumbled upon this site while praying for my brother in the hospital I have always enjoyed reading meditational works. So this site is great for my reading and prayer time. God Bless the writers, readers, and this entire work of faith.
6th July 2015 5:40pm
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Eva (Bayshore, Trinidad-Tobago) says...
Mason, thank you for the reminder about prayer. You are truly gifted in the way that you explain the biblical writings and provide daily inspirations. if I'm unable to log on each morning, it almost feels like I forgot to put on something important. Daily Prayer site is an important part of my spiritual wardrobe!
May God bless you, staff, and members.
6th July 2015 10:04am
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