Daily Devotion for March 25, 2017
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.
This hymn is so “old-timey” that I have never heard it sung in church. But my grandmother sang it.
No lovelier place in the dale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.
Oh, come to the church by the wildwood
Come to the church in the dale,
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.
How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning
To list to the clear ringing bell.
It's tones so sweetly are calling
Oh, come to the church in the vale.
There, close by the church in the valley
Lies one that I love so well.
She sleeps, sweetly sleeps, neath the willow
Disturb not her rest in the vale.
There, close by the side of that loved one
Neath the tree where the wild flowers bloom.
When the farewell hymn shall be chanted
I shall rest by her side in the tomb.
Prayer of Praise and Thanks
Oh God, you know every blade of grass that grows, every sparrow that dies, every act and thought of the seven billion people here on earth. The hundred billion stars are yours and you made them, and you watch them, and the vastness of space and the countless galaxies, you know. You know my coming in and my going out, my thoughts and dreams and schemes, my countless little sins and lies, my kindnesses and my cruelties, my prayers and my curses.
Your knowledge is utterly beyond my comprehension, Lord. And yet, despite all of this, you have promised to know me, to be with me, to listen to me and help me and, if I only ask for it in the name of your Son, to forgive me when I offend you.
I praise you above all else, Mighty God; for the wonderment of your existence and the unfathomable size and complexity of your creation. And above all, my love and obedience are yours; I give them to you now and forever, in gratitude for your greatest gift, the sacrifice of your blessed Son, Jesus Christ.
A Prayer of Repentance
O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended you, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray you, O Lord: of your mercy forgive me for all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
[Christ can be known only by His own Spirit.]
Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal high priest himself, the Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth and in all gentleness and in all freedom from anger and forbearance and steadfastness and patient endurance and purity.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
"As the sun can be seen only by its own light, so Christ can be known only by His own Spirit."
~ Robert Leighton
Genesis 4:1-12 (ESV)
Cain and Abel
Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let's go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don't know,” he replied. “Am I my brother's keeper?”
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Notes on the Scripture
ust as it is often said that “Life is unfair,” God can be “unfair.” “Fairness” is a human concept that defies full explanation, because it has entitlement at its root. Something in our nature tells us that, if somebody else has something, we are entitled to have it, also.
The idea of fairness may be a good guide for us when we are called upon to judge something, but when used as a complaint against the acts of nature or God, it is tainted by pride and covetousness. Instead of accepting and learning, we want to impose our own ideas; and such an attitude leads to dire consequences. This is the lesson of Cain and Abel. And it occurs early in the Bible, because it is a lesson we need to learn early in life.
God did not look with favor Cain's offering; we don't know why. Some theologians have inferred that Abel brought the best of his flock, while Cain simply brought a middling quality from his harvest, but consider what these theologians are doing: changing the Bible, to harmonize it with their own concept of fairness. The Bible does not give God's reason. God is, after all, God. He does not owe us an explanation. If we think God treated Cain unfairly, it is our concept of fairness that needs examination, not God's actions.
But the reason for God's favoritism is not the point of the story. Although God looked with more favor on Abel's offering, He still accepted Cain. But Cain was filled with pride and jealousy. One can almost hear him say, “This isn't fair and I'm not going to stand still for it.” And his self-righteousness led him to the terrible sin of murder, for which he was cast out of society and cursed in the sight of God.
Christ taught the same lesson repeatedly. For example, in the parable of the laborers of the vineyard: “When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.'” (Matthew 20:1-16) The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) might be even better-known.
The Bible tells us repeatedly that “fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,” e.g. Proverbs 9:10. It emphatically does not tell us that our personal concept of fairness is the beginning of wisdom. If we believe in God, it must occur to us that He knows something we don't! We must always approach our study of the Bible with a desire to learn and become obedient to God's will, because this is our only chance to overcome the sin and ignorance into which were born.