Daily Devotion for July 18, 2012
The Day of Judgment (detail) by Fra Angelico, c. 1435 (Museum of San Marco, Florence, Italy)
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.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, Lord God of my salvation, to you be praise and glory for ever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have delivered me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of your risen Son. May I, the fruit of your new creation, rejoice in this new day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer for Personal Conduct (from 1 Timothy)
Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy, above reproach. May I be this day temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, and not violent, but gentle. May I never be quarrelsome, always seeking peace even in disagreement, and may my love be for you and my fellow man, not for money. I pray that I manage my own household well. If I have any children in my charge, I pray to that I may take the time to see that they are in control and behaving with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. This I pray through my Lord Christ, whose love and attention ever gave us an example of conduct,
Prayer for Renewal
Lord, I am one of your people, the sheep of your flock. I pray for you to heal those who are wounded; touch those who are in pain; clean those who are soiled; warm those who are cold; help me to know the Father's love through Jesus the shepherd, and through the Spirit.
Help me to lift up that love, and show it all over this land. Help me to build love on justice and justice on love. Help me to believe mightily, hope joyfully, and love divinely. Renew me that I may help renew the face of the earth.
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 the author walks on the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right . . . something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left?
For this time it will be God without disguise . . . it will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.
~ C.S. Lewis
Revelation 20:7-10 (ESV)
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of Heaven, and devoured them.
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Notes on the Scripture
If there is one thing that both the Bible and science agree upon, it is the certainty that one day all life on earth will end. Scientists say that the sun will begin to run out of fuel in about five million years, and, as it becomes a "red giant" star, drag the earth into it. Various sects give us a lot less time, most recently the "Mayan calendar" crowd, who claim the earth will die before the end of 2012 because that's when the ancient Mayan calendar ended.
John the Divine, the author of Revelation, depicts the end as a lake of fire and brimstone, which is to say, a great body of burning sulfur; from this, we get much of the popular concept of hell. But even if we shy away from the florid scenario of Revelation, the concept of hell as a fiery pit, into which the souls of sinners are cast, was often used by Christ himself. And, in fact, the term is used much more often in Matthew than in Revelation.
The more Christian theologians distance themselves from the Bible, the less punitive hell seems to become; many of the more modern ones will tell you that the price of death outside of God's grace is eternal separation from him, a sort of slipping into a void — a concept really taken more from Buddhism than Christianity, and actually fairly close to how atheists conceive of death.
But the Biblical teaching leaves no room for doubt. If a person is going to believe in Christ, hell is indeed fiery. In Mark, He describes hell as "the fire that never shall be quenched." (Mark 9:45)
In the passage, a great body of people who have been rallied by Satan surround the faithful to make war on them and on the holy city (Jerusalem), but God rains fire down upon them. And again, the destruction of humanity by fire is not something the most heathen astrophysicist will necessarily disagree about.
Where atheists get it wrong is in failing to understand that the souls of the faithful will not be destroyed. Christ promised us not only continued existence, but also an existence free of suffering, living in the true peace and joy that can come only from God.