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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Daily Devotion for March 27, 2020


Vanity of vanities | Ecclesiastes 1

Prayers

Scripture

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Lord’s Prayer

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.

Amen.




Prayer to Follow God's Will Today (by Chas. Haddon Spurgeon)

O  God, the author of all good, I come to You for the grace another day will require for its duties and events. I step out into a wicked world; I carry about with me an evil heart. I know that without You I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned, however harmless in itself, may prove an occasion of sin or folly, unless I am kept by Your power.

Hold me up O God and I shall be safe. Preserve my understanding from subtlety of error, my affections from love of idols, my character from stain of vice, my profession from every form of evil. May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Your blessing, and in which I cannot invite Your inspection. Prosper me in all lawful undertakings, or prepare me for disappointments.

Anglo-Saxon cross found on the corpse of a dead girl, @ 500 AD

Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food suitable for me, lest I be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or be poor, and steal, and take Your name in vain. May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Your will. Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, to walk in wisdom toward those without, and in kindness to those within, to do good to all men, and especially to my fellow Christians. And to You, O God, be the glory.

Amen.

Prayer for Peace

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live together in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Meditation

“A saint is not someone who is good, but someone who experiences the goodness of God.”

~ Thomas Merton


Benediction

Now to Him who has given me grace in accordance with His gospel, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for many ages past, but now revealed and made known by the command of the eternal God, so that all mankind might find the obedience that comes from faith; to the only God, the God of wisdom and truth, be glory forever through His only son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.


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.




Cross by Michael Keck, contemporary.
Cross by Michael Keck, contemporary.

Walk in the Light

Walk in the light, the beautiful light.
Come where the dew drops of mercy shine bright.
Shine all around us by day and by night.
Jesus, the light of the world.

~ Mrs. J. V. Coombs (1890)


Blue Latin Cross

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 (NKJV)

The Wisdom of Solomon - Ecclesiastes
T

he words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever.

The sun also rises, and the sun goes down,
And hastens to the place where it arose.
The wind goes toward the south,
And turns around to the north;
The wind whirls about continually,
And comes again on its circuit.

All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
To the place from which the rivers come,
There they return again.
All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.

That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which it may be said,
“See, this is new”?

It has already been in ancient times before us.
There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.


Notes on the Scripture

Ecclesiastes (not to be confused with EcclesiasticusEcclesiasticus, is an alternate title for a deuterocanonical book (in the Protestant Bible, part of the Apocrypha) better known as the Wisdom of Sirach, a wonderful book more similar to Proverbs than Ecclesiastes, but written too late (@ 200-150 B.C.) to be included in the Jewish canon.) like the other four “Wisdom” books of the Bible, is one of a kind. It is attributed to Solomon, who is identified as the author in verse 1 under a pseudonym, “the PreacherThe Greek word from which the title is taken, “ecclesiastes”, means a person who addresses a congregation or assembly. The word in the Hebrew Bible (Koheleth) means “one who gathers” and was used to refer to a teacher.”.

Beatus Liebana
Margin illustration from
Commentaries on Revelation
by Beatus of Liebana,
ca. 700 A.D.

The beautiful opening poem — possibly the best part of the book — is a condensed thematic statement of the following 12 chapters, expounding a nihilistic philosophy. “Vanity” is used to translate a Hebrew word with a wide range of meanings, such as “breath,” “vapor,” and “nothingness.”

The book is disjointed, rambling, repetitive, sometimes self-contradictory, and rather depressing; but also insightful, charming, and sporadically hypnotic. There is one other very beautiful and well-known poem at 3:1-8, beginning “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heavenThese verses were the basis for a song written by Pete Seeger in the 1950s, “Turn! Turn! Turn!”. It was recorded by the Byrds in 1965 and became an international hit.).”

The body of the book alternates between two apparently contradictory themes. First, that everything we are and everything we do is transitory, repetitive, and ultimately forgotten. The theme (which, in theological terms, treads perilously close to Buddhism) has formed the basis of numerous artistic works, from pop music — notably “Dust in the Wind”, a 1977 hit by Kansas — to some of the best-known English romantic poetry (e.g. Ozymandias by Shelley and Keats’ Odes), and became very popular among various 20th-century philosophers.

The second theme reminds us of Greek Epicurean philosophy: that we should enjoy the good things in life, even though they have no ultimate meaning, for that is all we have. These “good things” range from virtues, such as wisdom, to the enjoyment of friendship and a good meal.

Both concepts are theologically contrary to Christian belief. In a theological sense, Ecclesiastes redeems its apparent nihilist/Epicurean outlook — which cover 12 long chapters — by the short statement of the final two verses:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.

For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.”

These verses seem abrupt and disconcerting. They present a diametrically different concept from the text, with no preparation. One might speculate that they were tacked on, to rescue Ecclesiastes from the dustbin of heresy.

Yet they do sound like Solomon’s thoughts. As we know from other works, Solomon was far ahead of his time in his anticipation of aspects of Christian theology. He was by no means a messianic prophet; the coming of a Redeemer does not figure in his work. But even so, he seemed to gaze ahead to a time of ultimate judgment by God, along with mercy and forgiveness for those who believe in Him.



endless knot

Daily Inspiration

“Victory in New Life”

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12: Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, . . . so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.



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Daily Quiz

Top score(s) on the Daily Quiz for Mar 27, 2020 were:
Cindy Moniz (12)
HM Latchmenarine (11)

Top score(s) on Match-a-Verse:
Keith Langley (9 out of 9)
Pam Carpenter (9 out of 9)
Greg Flippin (9 out of 9)
Norman Daniels (9 out of 9)
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