Daily Devotion for May 22, 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.
Our Sunday anthem comes courtesy of the Greenleaf Friends Academy pre-school program. (We may have lost our minds here, but we dare you to watch this and not laugh.)
For a Heart Open to God's Word
God, as you gave us the sun to lighten our days, so you have given us your Word to lighten our minds and our souls. I pray that you will pour out on me your Spirit as I pray today, that my heart and mind may be opened to your Word, and that I may learn and accept your will for my life.
Shine within my heart, loving God, the pure light of your divine knowledge; open the eyes of my mind and the ears of my heart to receive your Word, this day and always,
Confession of Sins, with a Prayer for Contrition and Pardon.
Most merciful God, whose eyes are too pure to behold iniquity, and who has promised forgiveness to all those who confess and forsake their sins; I come before you in a humble sense of my own unworthiness, confessing my many transgressions of your righteous laws. [* Here make a short pause, to remember and confess the sins and failings of the past week.] But, O gracious Father, who desires not the death of a sinner, look upon me, I beseech you, in mercy, and forgive me for all my transgressions. Make me deeply sensible of the great evil of them; and work in me a hearty repentance; that I may obtain forgiveness at your hands, who is ever ready to receive humble and penitent sinners; for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, my only Saviour and Redeemer.
Prayer for Those Who Have Turned Away
Grant, O Lord, peace, love and speedy reconciliation to your people whom You have redeemed with your precious blood. Make your presence known to those who have turned away from You and do not seek You, so that none of them may be lost, but all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, so that everyone, in true love and harmony, O long-suffering Lord, may praise your all holy Name.
Finally, may I go forth filled with the joy and confidence of your Spirit; and may everything I do this day and this week, in word or deed, be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
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.
Hasten, O God, to save me;
O Lord, come quickly to help me.
May those who seek my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!"
turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
"Let God be exalted!"
Yet I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay.
Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, "It is being given into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence": See, I am going to gather them from all the lands to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation; I will bring them back to this place, and I will settle them in safety. They shall be my people, and I will be their God.
I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for all time, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them, never to draw back from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts, so that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing good to them, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.
Notes on the Scripture
Jeremiah was a prophet who lived in a small town just outside Jerusalem in the 7th Century B.C., when the land was ruled by King Josiah of Judah. The great Temple of Solomon was the center of Judaism, but the Jews gradually came to rely more and more on the ritual and worship in the Temple to please God, and less on following God's word in their daily lives. Although Josiah implemented sweeping religious reform, after his death, the idolatrous King Jehoiakim came into power and undid Josiah's reforms. Hebrew godliness deteriorated badly. They began to worship idols, and God was not in their hearts.
Jeremiah constantly warned the Hebrews of terrible things to come. His prophecies were so powerful that his name is remembered today in the English word "jeremiad", which means a long speech of lamentation, often combined with a dire warning. He was constantly harassed by the kings of Judah, and his prophecies were burned at least once. In the end, however, Jeremiah's predictions came true. The Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, burned the Temple to the ground, and enslaved the Hebrew people; many of them were taken as slaves to Babylonia (known as the "Babylonian captivity").
The verse today explains why God allowed this to happen. God was punishing the Hebrews in order to save them. They had become complacent, taking God's blessing for granted. God withdrew his blessing, so that they would give him proper fear and respect. But His intention all along was that they would learn their lesson and that he would restore them to their homeland in peace and safety, because He "rejoice[d] in doing good to them".
The reading applies to our daily lives today as much as it did to the Hebrews 2700 years ago. God loves us and loves to do us good. We are undone because of our own sin, and none of us is free of sin. God does allow terrible things to happen to "good" people, but only so that they might know the true cost of sinfulness before they stray too far from Him and become liable for eternal judgment.