Daily Devotion for February 19, 2016
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.
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Father, I do not fear this day, for you are with me wherever I might go, your light to shine ahead, your footsteps to lead the way. I do not fear this day, for your word will be my guide. Your strength will sustain me and your love revive me, this day and all days. I do not fear this day, for you are with me. In the name of Christ, I call upon you.
Prayer to Treat Others with Courage and Grace
Lord, this day and forever, may I have the courage never to be afraid of anyone. May I have the generosity to bear ill-feeling toward no-one. Lead me to live in such a way as to treat others in the same way as I would like to be treated. Inspire me never to be violent in thought, word or action, and lead me to conquer evil with goodness.
[The generosity to bear ill-feeling toward no-one.]
I dedicate this day to you, mighty God. I pray that your Spirit will lift me up this day, and that your face may shine upon me all the day long, that I might do your will and lead a new life in Christ, reborn in the Spirit.
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.
Psalm 8:1-2 (NKJV)
O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!
Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
Ecclesiastes 8:6-11 (NKJV)
Crime and Punishment
If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen? To every purpose there is a time and a judgment, so the misery of man is great: He doesn't know what will happen, for who can tell him when it will occur?
There is no man with power over the spirit so that he can retain the spirit; neither has he power in the day of death. And there is no discharge from this war; neither will wickedness deliver those that are given to it.
All this have I seen, and applied my mind to every work that is done under the sun: there comes a time when one man rules over another to his own hurt.
And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this, too, is vanity. But because sentence against evil works is not executed quickly, the hearts of men are set to do evil.
Notes on the Scripture
This poetic and philosophical passage from Ecclesiastes, the great book of wisdom, treats two similar themes. The first describes the misery that people suffer from not knowing when they will suffer or when they will die. Nobody knows what will befall him, or when. We go to the doctor and find out that we have a disease we didn't ever expect; a man or woman is walking and is attacked by a criminal. These things happen unexpectedly. And you can't opt out. There is no "honorable discharge" from the vicissitudes of life.
The punishments, the rewards, all that we believe to be the outcome of our activities is "vanity", a major theme of Ecclesiastes. People slip into evil, because their punishment is slow to come; and so they live for a short while, under the illusion that they have gotten something good by doing something bad. Even when we do good works, the feeling of satisfaction we get is vanity — personal satisfaction that will soon be gone, forgotten by others, in a year, or a decade, or a hundred thousand years.
Like the punishment for crime that is so often slow to come, God's day of judgment is unpredictable. And so we fool ourselves into believing that there will be no consequences. But the day of judgment will come, when our faith and steadfastness will bring us the ultimate reward, and the evil we have committed will be judged.
The implicit message is that we must do good works out of love for God, and to His glory, rather than for the temporary pride of doing good; and we must not think our evil acts are forgotten, if no punishment follows them. The earthly result of our actions is vanity, fleeting in time.
The money we stole, our pride at forcing someone to do something, a street named after a venal politician: these will become dust. Likewise, the temple we erected to the glory of God or the hungry man we fed, are acts that disappear from the earth. So we must not fret, if the good we do seems to be forgotten and unknown on earth, that the dollar we give a hungry man on the street is consumed and gone, anonymous and unknown. For as Christ tells us, we lay up treasure in heaven, where deeds done for the glory of God are remembered forever. We will come before Christ at the time of His choosing, and He will judge us for our actions and, hopefully, forgive us for our sins by His grace.