Daily Devotion for August 26, 2010
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 of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day; when I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for Goodness (based on Psalm 1)
Heavenly Father, who has given us the gift of thy law, so that we might know our sin, and thy Son, that we might be forgiven where we fall short. Give me the grace to remember your holy Word, when my surroundings tempt me to confusion and weakness, that I might more nearly approach true obedience to your will. Help me to resist the arguments of the ungodly; let me not be deceived by false beauty; and let me never replace the truth which you have put into my heart with the clever words of men. Through Christ I pray,
The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this day and evermore.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 107:24-25, 28-29
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
Luke 10:1-4, 8-12
"The Prosperity of Christian Nations"
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, `Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
"Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."
Notes on the Scripture
Today's Scripture is the instructions Jesus gave to his disciples towards the end of his ministry, when he sent them out on their own to preach the Gospel. In it, He makes a dire prediction about any town that does not welcome the disciples, but rejects them and will not listen to them: such a town will fare worse than Sodom.
Sodom, of course, was a city in the Old Testament that worshipped idols; sin of all sorts, especially sins of the flesh, were endemic. God destroyed the entire city and all who lived in it.
What are we to think of this today? Christ was the bringer of peace and salvation, yet here, he pronounces a dire curse on towns that completely reject his teachings. By analogy, he warns that they will be destroyed entirely.
It is difficult to conclude how much this pertains to the modern world. Yet it is difficult not to see a difference between nations where there is widespread acceptance of Christ, and nations where his word is entirely or almost entirely rejected. The United States and Canada, which today have the most active Christian populations in the world, have enjoyed an enormous boom in prosperity and influence over the past 100 years. In Europe, Christianity previously thrived and still prevails; and Europe became the most prosperous and powerful area of the world.
At the opposite extreme, the most virulently anti-Christian areas of the world have suffered. Communist countries especially found themselves in distress compared to their neighbors; and those which have overthrown Communism (especially Russian and China) have seen a huge increase in standard of living. Especially strong comparisons might be drawn between neighbors such as North and South Korea, Nigeria and its neighbors, even Israel and the surrounding areas.
Of course, such comparisons are very far from perfect and cannot always be explained in terms of Judeo-Christian religious practice. Some Muslim countries sit on huge deposits of crude oil and are very rich (although I'm not sure that their quality of life, especially for women, fully reflects their monetary prosperity). Japan became an enormously rich and powerful country (although it has been on the wane recently) during a period where Christianity was completely suppressed.
Nevertheless, when one looks at the statistics, trying to account for the huge number of other variables, there is without doubt a positive correlation between Judeo-Christian belief and earthly prosperity and happiness. Even within populations, happiness has repeatedly been found to correlate with worship. The happiest people in the United States, for example, are people who regularly attend church or synagogue services. (E.g. Scripps Howard/Ohio Univeristy Poll, 2006; AP/MTV Poll, 2007.)