Daily Devotion for August 4, 2021
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.
I am often touched by Gospel songs from popular music icons, who suffered terrible breakdowns in their lives. Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Elvis Presley, to name three; all of them seeming to reach out to God in terrible pain, despite their fame and riches.
Many nights we've prayed
With no proof anyone could hear,
In our hearts a hopeful song
We barely understood.
Now we are not afraid;
Although we know there's much to fear
We were moving mountains long
Before we knew we could.
There can be miracles, when you believe;
Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill.
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will,
You will when you believe.
In this time of fear
When prayers so often prove in vain,
Hope seems like the summer birds,
Too swiftly flown away.
Yet now I'm standing here;
My heart's so full I can't explain.
Seeking faith and speaking words
I never thought I'd say.
They don't always happen when you ask
And it's easy to give in to your fears.
But when you're blinded by your pain,
Can't see your way straight throught the rain,
A small but still resilient voice
Says hope is very near.
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Prayer to Do Good
If there be some weaker one,
Give me strength to help him on;
If a blinder soul there be
Let me guide him nearer thee;
Make my mortal dreams come true
With the work I fain would do;
Clothe with life the weak intent,
Let me be the thing I meant;
Let me find in Thy employ,
Peace that dearer is than joy;
Out of self to love be led,
And to Heaven acclimated,
Until all things sweet and good
Seem my natural habitude.
Prayer for Physical Renewal
Lord, I come before you today in need of your healing hand. In you, all things are possible. Hold my heart within yours, and renew my mind, body, and soul.
I am lost, but I am singing. You gave me life, and you also give me the gift of infinite joy. Give me the strength to move forward on the path you’ve laid out for me. Guide me towards better health, and give me the wisdom to identify those you’ve placed around me to help me get better. In your name I pray,
Oh Lord as I face creation
Let me see with eyes made clear
By Your promise of salvation,
Never to return to fear.
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.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
In what passage does Christ tell us that He came to abolish the Law?
Psalm 90:15-17 (NKJV)
Make us glad according to
the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
John 16:3 (ESV)
“You will have suffering in this world.”
Notes on the Scripture
ne of the most difficult passages in the Bible to understand and accept is Romans 5, when Paul says, “[W]e rejoice in our sufferings . . . because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.”
According to an old saw, the only things certain in life are death and taxes; but I am waving my hand at the back of the classroom, wanting to add “suffering” to the mix. If you get stranded on a desert island, you might never pay taxes again. It’s not impossible. There have got to be people in the Amazon Basin and New Guinea who pay no taxes.
For that matter, suffering is more certain than death. The best we can tell from the Bible, at least two people never died: Enoch and Elijah, both of whom were apparently taken up directly by God, still breathing. But I bet they suffered. How long does it take a (healthy) newborn baby to start screaming bloody murder?
And it is not simply an unavoidable reality: Christ imposed upon us a duty to suffer. Christians are commanded to suffer more, in many circumstances, than the godless. This is not a popular sentiment among preachers; the people sitting in the pews — us — don’t want to hear how we are supposed to suffer. We want to hear that Christ suffered, to feel awed and to be deeply affected that His suffering made forgiveness of our sins possible. Then we head out to Denny’s for a Grand Slam. Who can blame us?
But what exactly should we think Christ meant when He told us, “Take up your cross and follow me”? He wasn’t talking about a pretty silver cross to wear around one’s neck. He wasn’t telling us to follow Him to the Last Supper and then go about our own business. He was telling us to join Him on the road to Calvary.
“Gospel” means “good news,” and this doesn’t sound like good news. There is, of course, very good news to follow: the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life. But there is a smaller item of good news that we often overlook; no matter how much we suffer, if we are walking up the road to Calvary, Christ is walking with us. All we have to do is give our pain to Him.
It causes us unnecessary grief, to think that we should not be suffering, when we are in pain. The pain is bad enough. Illness, divorce, betrayal, grief, injuries, disappointment, heartache, crime and death are real and they are awful. But do you know how to make them even worse? Just think, “This is not supposed to happen to me.” Believe that you are entitled to be free of adversity. Envy those who are younger, richer, healthier. Fill yourself with anger at your misfortune. Turn your back on Calvary and try to outrun the human condition.
If instead, we know Christ and do as He commanded, facing our tribulation in the fullness of faith, our envy and anger and entitlement fade away, and we are better equipped to take our suffering in stride. Our pain diminishes. For with true faith, the joy of Christ is greater than the worst the world can inflict upon us.
No illustration could be more explicit than the account of Stephen’s death, especially his death scene in Acts 7:54-60. I hope none of us will suffer as he did; yet, even at the moment he died his gruesome death, he did not bemoan his ordeal. It is here that the Bible gives us, the common people, the nameless saints of Christ’s holy church, a model for how joy may overcome the pain of even the worst suffering. For as his body was being crushed by stones, he lifted his eyes to Christ and begged forgiveness for those in the process of cruelly murdering him.
“And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”