Daily Devotion for August 2, 2020
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.
Our “Virtual Sunday Church” video came without identifying the choir or church, but the building appears to be Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, England. The hymn is set to a traditional Irish melody. Delightful.
1. Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever child-like, no cares can destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.
2. Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labors, and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.
3. Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.
4. Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.
Traditional Irish Tune
Lyrics by Jan Struther, 1931
For a Heart Open to God’s Word
God, as you gave us the sun to lighten our days, so you have given us your Word to lighten our minds and our souls. I pray that you will pour out on me your Spirit as I pray today, that my heart and mind may be opened to your Word, and that I may learn and accept your will for my life.
Shine within my heart, loving God, the pure light of your divine knowledge; open the eyes of my mind and the ears of my heart to receive your Word, this day and always,
Prayer of Saint Clement of Rome
You, Lord, through your works have revealed the everlasting structure of the world. You, Lord, created the earth. You are faithful throughout all generations, righteous in your judgments, marvelous in strength and majesty, wise in creating and prudent in establishing what exists, good in all that is observed and faithful to those who trust in you, merciful and compassionate; forgive us our sins and our injustices, our transgressions and our shortcomings.
Do not take into account every sin of your servants, but cleanse us with the cleansing of your truth, and “direct our steps to walk in holiness and righteousness and purity of heart,” and “to do what is good and pleasing in your sight” and in the sight of our rulers. Yes, Lord, “let your face shine upon us” in peace “for our good,” that we may be sheltered “by your mighty hand” and delivered from every sin “by your uplifted arm”; deliver us as well from those who hate us unjustly.
Give harmony and peace to us and to all who dwell on the earth throughout the day to come, just as you did to our fathers when they reverently “called upon you in faith and trust,” that we may be saved, while we render obedience to your almighty and most excellent name, and give harmony and peace to our rulers and governors on earth.
Now to him who is able to keep us from stumbling and to present ourselves blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.
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.
Matthew 4:8-11 (DP)
gain, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to Him, “All these I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Depart, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”
Matthew 21:5 (ESV)
Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.
Matthew 27:29 (NASB)
And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
John 6:15 (NASB)
So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.
John 18:36 (NASB)
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
Notes on the Scripture
Kings or Priests?
Many Christian churches have some degree of political involvement, either directly from the leadership, or indirectly by affinity of the congregation. It is a subject that apparently needs to be addressed constantly, so I thought I would trace the theme of Jesus’ political involvement through the Gospels.
The Kingdom of Israel existed, in its entirety, under only two kings: David and Solomon. Over the thousand years between the death of Solomon and the birth of Christ, there were a few sporadic instances where parts of it were re-established under Hebrew rule for short periods, particularly during the Maccabee revolt against the Seleucid Empire (legacy of Alexander the Great) between 164 B.C. and the conquest of Judea by the Roman general Pompey in 63 B.C.
Most Hebrews hated the Roman occupation and yearned for a king from the line of David, God’s anointed bloodline, who had been foretold by many prophets, who would raise an army and cast off the Roman occupation. The Pharisees and Sadducees belonged to this rebellious majority, although they grudgingly cooperated with the Roman governor.
The Jews believed that this savior of Israel would enter Jerusalem with an army, mounted on a great stallion, radiant with the power of military might and the glory of conquest, to throw off the Roman yoke and restore the Kingdom of David, the true Israel.
But what did God send them? A scruffy carpenter riding a donkey colt, so humble that he washed the feet of his followers. Instead of sitting on a throne, he would hang on a cross as a criminal. Instead of the bejeweled crown of a king, he would wear a crown of thorns, to be mocked and spat upon.
Dominion over the world had been given to Satan. Jesus did not gain earthly power, and, in fact, actively avoided it. He retreated when He thought the people wanted to force Him to become an earthly king. (John 6:15.) He paid tax to Caesar for the simple reason that it was meaningless, in terms of what He considered important. His kingdom was not of this world. The meek, the humble, the poor, the powerless — these, He declared, would be first in His kingdom, the kingdom of heaven. And thus, He was indeed the poorest and most powerless of all: last in earthly power, first among the suffering and weak.
But one must choose; Christ told us that we cannot straddle the fence — yet, almost all of us try to do exactly what he forbade. He commanded us directly to choose: Love the world, or love God. We cannot serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) “If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
The greatest statement of the principle, though, comes not from a pithy one-liner, but from the entirety of the Gospels and the life of Christ Himself.
Consider any of the Gospels as if it were a novel, and sort the characters by their political involvement. The bad guys are, to a man, politicians. They all have different ideas and opinions on how Israel should be run. They struggle against each other for control of the Judea and often hate one another. But consider, by contrast, the involvement of Jesus and his apostles in politics: Zero. They try not to make waves; they pay their taxes.
The Sanhedrin, ironically, tried to make Jesus out as a political revolutionary so that Pilate would execute Him. But Pilate — a corrupt and vicious man who would kill a suspected Jewish troublemaker at the drop of a hat — was so unconvinced that he would have let Jesus go free. He only allowed Christ’s execution to keep peace with the Sanhedrin. He was clear-sighted enough to see Jesus’ innocence, but corrupt enough to choose political expediency over justice.
There are a few parts of the Bible that almost nobody wants to hear, and this is one of them. When people hear it, the first thing that pops out of their mouth is “but”. Our nature teaches us to seek power; our eyes tell us that we should make the world “better” by taking power and using it for good. But there is no “but”. This is not what Christ did, and it is not what Christ taught. What He taught was, “take up your cross and follow me.”(Luke 9:23.)
We want to judge evil and punish it; but this is the work of Satan appealing to our pride. God has not empowered us to judge. (Matthew 7:1-3.) He has, instead, commanded us to forgive. We ask God every day to forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others. Will we teach and practice forgiveness? Or will we seek to accomplish what we consider “Christian values” by doing what Christ commanded us not to do?