Daily Devotion for May 28, 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.
The Blind Boys of Alabama could still tear it up in their later years.
I'm a soldier in the army of the Lord,
Soldier in the army.
I'm a soldier in the army of the Lord,
Good soldier in the Army.
Now when I get to heaven
I'm gonna sing and shout;
Ain't nobody there who can turn me out.
I'm gonna talk to the Father, sit down with the son,
And tell him bout' the mean old world I just came from.
I'm a warrior in the army of the lord;
Warrior in the army. (2x)
Now I got a Mother in the promised land;
Don't expect to stop until I shake her hand.
When I get to heaven gonna sing and yell;
Three tall angels gonna tone them bells.
If you don't believe that I've been redeemed,
Follow me on down by the Jordan sea.
My head got so wet with the midnight dew,
I'm so glad that I'm a witness too.
Martin Luther's Prayer for Morning
I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me.
Prayer to Cast Aside Bad Habits
Mighty Holy Spirit, face of the one true God, help me, for I have slipped into bad habits. Something in me defies my attempts to change, and I feel compelled to do that which I do not want to do. I feel weak and ashamed, and I turn to you for help. Help me, dear God. Help me to resist this temptation. Lend me your mighty power to cast it aside.
You have graciously promised that you would not let us be tempted beyond our ability, but instead, would provide an escape for any temptation we pray to resist. Holy Spirit, show me my escape from my bad habit. Let me resolve to work on it, to pray on it, to turn it into a habit of good; for I know how you love righteous conduct, and my love for you longs to please you. Work your power to help me please you, mighty God; for I know that with your help, I can overcome any evil. In Christ's name, I pray,
May the God who made me, the God who keeps me, and the God who will be my Lord through all eternity, shine down His blessings and wisdom upon me like the sun upon a field; and may I keep Him in the forefront of my every thought and deed, throughout this day, and evermore.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 73 (ESV)
Envy of Prosperous and Wicked Men
Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore his people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them.
And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Behold, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.
Notes on the Scripture
Seeing sinful, even wicked, people who are rich, beautiful, and in possession of many desirable worldly attributes and goods, is sometimes a difficult pill to swallow. Although this psalm is styled as a song to God, much of it is an internal monologue in substance, as the writer struggles within his own mind to reconcile the pain and envy he feels when he sees wicked atheists or idolaters who seem to be better off than he is.
The psalm is more dynamically structured than most psalms; it is very modern for such an ancient poem. Part one introduces the situation. He loves God, BUT . . . he has come close to losing his faith, because of his envy. Part two develops the theme. There is wonderful description of rich, arrogant people who have forgotten God, including lines such as “Their eyes swell out through fatness” and “their tongue struts through the earth”; this actually sounds very much like Shakespeare.
The third part identifies his feeling of despair. Our poet has tried to live a moral life and now finds himself beneath those who have not. It creates a dilemma for him.
The fourth section is the key to the meaning of the psalm; in modern terms, it would be the dramatic climax of a fictional work: “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me, until I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” These fat cats are living on a slippery peak from which they will fall; the poet bemoans his own envy, the urge within himself to be like them; he has become like a beast, that is, a slave to his animal nature.
He then recounts that “Nevertheless” he has remained faithful; even in his darkest moment he did not give up his faith. He ends his story with a short song of praise and faith, having renewed his commitment to God, certain the God will save him and the wicked will be judged.
There is really very little to add. Beauty, wealth, and life itself are fleeting. We store up our treasure in heaven, "where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal". (Matthew 6:20)