Daily Devotion for April 27, 2012
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 song from the Gaithers is based on an idea well worth remembering — God stooped down to touch us, because our sin prevents us from finding Him.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, O Lord my God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids. I thank you for all that you have done while I was asleep, watching over me and all your children while we slept unaware, and I pray that my thoughts and acts this day may show forth my love and thanks for you and all you have done for me.
Help me through your Holy Spirit, that I may remember what you have taught me in the Bible and it may show forth in my every deed. Let me not wander into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, not into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, but steer my inclinations towards goodness and charity this morning and all the day. In the name of Christ I pray.
Prayer for the Nation
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; I humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people who remember your favor and are glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.
Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here from so many different lands and languages. Grant the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust with the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may demonstrate your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in days of trouble, do not let our trust in you fail; all which I ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May the God of peace, who declared victory over death by the resurrection of His only Son, Jesus Christ, make me perfect in every thought and act through His grace, that my life might be pleasing in his sight and that I might share the perfect peace that is only possible through Him, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
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.
When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.
~ Alexander Graham Bell
Sirach 3:9-19 (D-R)
They that trust in Him, shall understand the truth: and they that are faithful in love shall rest in him: for grace and peace is to his elect.
But the wicked shall be punished according to their own devices: who have neglected the just, and have revolted from the Lord.
For he that rejecteth wisdom, and discipline, is unhappy: and their hope is vain, and their labours without fruit, and their works unprofitable.
Their wives are foolish, and their children wicked.
Their offspring is cursed: for happy is the barren: and the undefiled, that hath not known bed in sin: she shall have fruit in the visitation of holy souls.
And the eunuch, that hath not wrought iniquity with his hands, nor thought wicked things against God: for the precious gift of faith shall be given to him, and a most acceptable lot in the temple of God.
For the fruit of good labours is glorious, and the root of wisdom never faileth.
But the children of adulterers shall not come to perfection, and the seed of the unlawful bed shall be rooted out.
And if they live long, they shall be nothing regarded, and their last old age shall be without honour.
And if they die quickly, they shall have no hope, nor speech of comfort in the day of trial.
For dreadful are the ends of a wicked race.
Notes on the Scripture
Today's passage is from Sirach, also called "The Book of Wisdom". Sirach is part of the Protestant Apocrypha, although it is included of the Catholic and Orthodox canon, i.e., the main Bible. People sometimes misunderstand the Apocrypha, possibly because the word "apocryphal" in modern English means "false" or "counterfeit". But the Apocrypha is not apocryphal! The books contained in it are not included in the Protestant canon -- that is, the books of the Bible which we are to accept as the Word of God -- mostly for historical reasons. There is nothing theologically wrong with them and Protestant theologians consider them to be "recommended reading" and perfectly good for Christian instruction.
Today's passage sounds very Old Testament, like a reading from Psalms or Proverbs, in its description of what becomes of the wicked and the contrast to those who love God. There are several unusual and interesting sections.
The next to last paragraph actually sounds Christian and could be taken from an Epistle of Paul. The section just before it is more Judaic sounding, warning us that wicked people will be without honor in their old age; and indeed, this often seems to be true. People's sins tend to catch up with them eventually. Many famous and highly regarded people have been ruined late in life, by the revelation of hidden iniquities.
The next paragraph, however, is very Christian, in that it implies a reward for the righteous after they die. It speaks of a "day of trial", what Christians might call Judgment Day, when the wicked will pay for their sins and, by implication, those who have spent their days trusting in God will find "grace and peace".
The passage spends many verses talking about the effect of wicked parents on their children, and most people seem to realize this just from the experience of their life. Countless young couples who have fallen away from Christ will join a church when they have children, because they love their children more than they (apparently) love themselves. They want their children to be good, happy people, and they know that Christ is the path to righteousness.