Evening Devotion for September 15, 2019
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” this week takes us to Sunday School at the Centenary Church (Methodist) in Fiji, on Palm Sunday.
I have no idea what they are singing, and I despair of trying to find a translation from Fiji to English. But . . . simply hearing these children sing to the glory of Christ, on some little island in the South Pacific, fills my heart with joy.
Prayer for Sunday Worship
O God, you make me glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son my Lord: Give me the peace to worship you with my whole heart and mind, forgetting the cares of the world, and dwelling with you for a short moment with my entire being. And give me this day such blessing through my worship of you, that the week to come may be spent in living knowledge of your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.
Prayer for Sunday
Heavenly Lord, I thank you for this day, when your holy priesthood gathers around the world to celebrate your victory over death, in the resurrection of our Savior, Christ Jesus. Help me always to keep in mind that the Sabbath was made for men, and that your commandment to keep one day holy, not to work and not to suffer others to work, was made for our benefit. Help me understand, Holy God, the benefit to me, both in this world and the next, of taking a day every week to dedicate to you; keep me from the temptation of adding to my worldly wealth on this day, for all wisdom is yours, and you have commanded us to make this a day of rest and worship.
Make me always aware that your commandment extends to making others work; and let me do what is within my power to follow your commandment with my full heart, as your Spirit may guide me.
To Love Lost Souls
Lord Jesus, I want to love with Your love those souls that are withering or lost. Enable me to remove any prejudices, judgments, and assumptions from my heart so that I may see them as You do: glorious and beloved children of the Father who have the opportunity for eternal life with Him. Remind me that You love them as much as You do me, and that at some point, You used someone to revive me as I withered and to bring me into Your flock when I was lost.
May the Almighty and merciful Lord graciously hear me, pardon and deliver me from all my sins, confirm and strengthen me in all goodness, and bring me to everlasting life; through my Savior, Jesus Christ.
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.
Psalm 1:1-2 (KJV)
Blessed is the man
that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners,
nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord;
and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Proverbs 2:10-22 (ESV)
The Way of Wisdom
or wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,
delivering you from the way of evil,
from men of perverted speech,
[W]ho forsake the paths of uprightness
to walk in the ways of darkness,
who rejoice in doing evil
and delight in the perverseness of evil,
men whose paths are crooked,
and who are devious in their ways.
So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words,
who forsakes the companion of her youth
and forgets the covenant of her God;
for her house sinks down to death,
and her paths to the departed;
none who go to her come back,
nor do they regain the paths of life.
So you will walk in the way of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
For the upright will inhabit the land,
and those with integrity will remain in it,
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
Notes on the Scripture
- A teenager is out with her friends, who start drinking beer and having fun with it. They repeatedly offer her a sip, but she has pledged to her parents not to drink.
- A man plays golf with three important friendly clients, who curse and blaspheme constantly; he finds himself saying “Jesus H. Christ” when he misses a short putt.
- You are at a meeting when the group begins to demean Christians for their hypocrisy, stupidity, and superstition. You stay quiet about your faith, despite some inner turmoil.
- A Baptist minister lives in an adequate but humble house. His wife and children want a bigger, nicer one in a more prestigious neighborhood; he feels the allure of a nicer home, but struggles with his conviction that it would be prideful. His congregation and friends argue that he deserves it and owes it to his children.
Countless dilemmas face a Christian living in a secular world, where we want to fudge our beliefs to get along in the world. We all give into it sometimes. Even St. Peter denied Christ — three times — out of fear of what the soldiers in Gethsemane might do to him.
In today’s passages, the Bible teaches us two techniques to help us resist temptation. The Proverb states that when wisdom and knowledge enter our heart and soul, it will protect us from temptation by others. As we study and reflect upon the lessons of the Bible and take them into our heart, we will automatically be “delivered” from two of the most powerful temptations others might make:
The first, men who speak poisonous things. Sarcastic people who puncture sacred cows and point out the hypocrisy and stupidity of others, appeal strongly to our pride. In the face of such articulate wit, one is not anxious to be identified with the object of his scorn. It is a powerful human instinct, not to be scorned and rejected, especially in public and especially in the presence of an intelligent speaker who has charmed a crowd with his cynicism.
Street scene in Tel Aviv,
where prostitution is legal.
The second, a seductive woman, involves another powerful drive. At times, the animal desire for sex can drive men and women near to insanity. Emotional desire for sex — thoughts of intimacy and love, being in the good graces of someone you find beautiful or wonderful, who makes you feel good about yourself, etc. — can be just as powerful.
The passage tells us, though, if you have prepared yourself by learning, it will save you in situations of even such overwhelming temptation. You will know the ultimate outcome of succumbing to even the most powerful temptation, and you will have prepared yourself to face it.
Psalm 1 gives us hope, informing us of the reward if we do resist; we will be blessed. And reinforcing the Proverb, this blessed person meditates constantly on God’s word. And the blessing, unlike the promise of eternal life given to us by Christ, is an earthly one. “And he shall be like a tree beside a river of water, who brings forth its fruit in its season; and whatever he does will prosper.”