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Thursday, July 9, 2020

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Evening Devotion for June 29, 2020

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<i>The Miraculous Draught of Fishes</i>, by Raphael, ca. 1515.
The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by Raphael, ca. 1515.

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 for Renewal

As I come to the end of this day, oh Lord, I wonder: How will tomorrow be different from any other day? Has my faith in you grown into a stale routine, or will I grow this day, closer to you than I have ever been?

Shake me up, Holy God! Rattle the door of my cage, set off my smoke detector, ring my doorbell until I answer the door! Let me read your Word until something new sinks in; let me pray until I hear your voice, until all smugness has given way to gratitude. By the power of your Holy Spirit, renew me afresh in your Word and power, today and every day, energizing me in your great commission. In Christ’s name, I pray.

Amen.

Confession

Have mercy on me, Oh Lord, for I am a humble and miserable sinner. [At this point, pause to remember specific sins you have committed during the day and speak or think them.] I renounce all of these sins, heavenly Father, and repent of them, and I promise to make every effort not to repeat them.

Have mercy on me, pardon me for these offences and any I might have omitted from forgetfulness or ignorance; in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I pray for forgiveness. And I pray that your Holy Spirit may dwell with me in the coming day, to comfort me, to give me strength against temptation, and to guide me into the path of righteousness.

Amen.

Prayer for Those Who Have Turned Away

Grant, O Lord Christ, peace, love and speedy reconciliation to your people whom You have redeemed with your precious blood. Make your presence become 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 come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. May all the earth praise your holy Name, living in the true love and harmony you purchased for us by your suffering.

Amen.

Parting Prayer

Lord, pour your love into my heart, that I may love you above all things, and my neighbors as myself. Through Christ our Lord.

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.



Moses and Aaron, Red Sea, Dura Europos Synagogue
This fresco of the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea was found in the “Dura Europos” Synagogue in Syria. It probably dates between 150 AD and 256 AD.
To the left, a Hebrew army walks over flopping fish. In the center, Moses (in a toga) appears under the hands of God, while Aaron stretches his staff over the drowning Egyptians. (Full size)

Proverbs 5:21-23 (ESV)

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
and he ponders all his paths.

The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.

He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.


Blue Latin Cross

Habakkuk 1:13-16a (NASB)

Israel after Solomon (32): Habakkuk’s Second Complaint to God
Y

our eyes are too pure to approve evil,
And You can not look on wickedness with favor.
Why do You look with favor
On those who deal treacherously?
Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?

Why have You made men like the fish of the sea,
Like creeping things without a ruler over them?
The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook,
Drag them away with their net,
And gather them together in their fishing net.

Therefore they rejoice and are glad.
Therefore they offer a sacrifice to their net
And burn incense to their fishing net;



Notes on the Scripture

Habakkuk modern
Habakkuk

In the first dialogue (Habakkuk 1:1-11), Habakkuk complained to God for allowing Jerusalem to live in wickedness; how could a just God allow the city of His Temple to be ruled by such idolatrous, immoral, greedy people? God responded by saying, basically, “the problem is being solved right this minute.” He had raised up the Chaldeans (Babylonians), “dreaded and fearsome,” who would turn Jerusalem into rubble and take its people captive.

Today’s Scripture is the first section of the second dialogue, Habakkuk’s second “complaint.” Habakkuk says, if I may paraphrase: “The Chaldeans! That’s even worse. They are wickeder than the people of Jerusalem. How could you let the partially-bad be punished by the horrible?” (God’s response is in Chapter 2 of Habukkak, which we will read in the near future.)

The second paragraph of Habukkak’s complaint is superb metaphor, so powerful that it will be adopted and expanded by Jesus Himself. He compares “men” — the people that the Chaldeans conquer in general, and specifically the Hebrews — to fish in the sea. The fish swim wherever they want, without a leader. Habukkak complains of a situation very much like the contemporary standard of self-realization. His frame of reference, however, is 180 degrees opposite the modern secular one, for he considers “everyone doing his own thing” to be a characteristic of lower life forms, “creeping things without a ruler over them.”

God’s response to both of Habukkak’s complaints is (like so much of the Bible) counter-intuitive. His justice is not Habakkuk’s justice. Those who believe they are righteous in His eyes will be swept up in the Chaldeans’ net with those they judge as sinners; this crowd, who will reappear in the Gospels as the Pharisees, lord their righteousness over those who are openly immoral. We might infer, from our knowledge of the New Testament, that sin in the eyes of God is not graded “on the curve.” They are all sinful, and they will all be judged. We will see in God’s response (in Habakkuk 2) the ultimate truth of the Bible, from Abraham, through Christ, and finally elaborated at great length by Paul: salvation can come only through faith.

fishers of men, Simon Peter Andrew
Fishers of men.

The Chaldeans find these directionless fish easy prey. They catch them with hooks and nets, and rejoice over the big easy catch. And having done so, they make their fishing net into a god and worship it!

This rich metaphor has a wealth of applications. The Chaldeans’ net could be anything that worldly men make into a god and serve, because it has given them power over people who are foolish and rudderless. Money. Television. A national flag. Cults. Political parties. The list is endless. People who will not listen to, or who have forgotten, or who ignore the teachings of their leader become rudderless fish, and they fall easy prey to the manipulative lies of — for a pointed example — CNN or Fox News (take your pick — I’m not trying to single out anyone specific! If this is too emotional for you to take the lesson, you can contemplate, say, Citibank or Mao Tse-Tung or Vogue Magazine).

A post-script: To be more specific about the prophetic nature of Habukkak’s fish metaphor, remember the words of Christ: “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) The fish is perhaps the second most popular symbol of Christianity, after the cross.



Christ fish car emblem

Daily Inspiration

“Salvation by Grace”

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Ephesians 2:8: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.



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