Daily Devotion for March 19, 2023
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.
The great Fron Choir, in Wales, sings our anthem for our “Virtual Sunday Church.” O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.
Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.
Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Music (Eventide) by Wm H. Monk, 1861
Lyrics by Henry Lyle, 1847
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 for Forgiveness
Almighty and most merciful Father, I have erred and strayed from your ways like a lost sheep. I have followed too much the devices and desires of my own heart. I have offended against your holy laws. I have left undone those things which I ought to have done; and I have done those things which I ought not to have done; and there is no good in me.
O Lord, have mercy upon me, a miserable sinner. Spare all those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore those who are penitent; according to your promises declared to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. And Grant that I and all who confess his holy name may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life; to his glory and not our own,
Saint Francis’ Prayer of Praise
You are holy, Lord, the only God,
and your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong;
You are great.
You are the Most High,
You are almighty,
You, holy Father, are
King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One,
Lord God, all good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good,
Lord God, living and true.
You are love,
You are wisdom,
You are humility,
You are endurance.
You are rest,
You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches,
And you suffice for us.
You are beauty,
You are gentleness.
You are our protector,
You are our guardian and defender,
You are courage.
You are our haven and our hope.
You are our faith,
Our great consolation.
You are our eternal life,
Great and wonderful Lord,
Blessing of Mark
O Sovereign and almighty Lord, bless all your people, and all your flock. Give your peace, your help, and your love unto us your servants, the sheep of your fold, that we may be united in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one hope of our calling, in your divine and boundless love.
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.
1 Corinthians 13:4-10 (NKJV)
Love suffers long and is kind;
love does not envy;
love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely,
does not seek its own,
is not provoked, thinks no evil;
Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never fails.
But whether there are prophecies, they will fail;
whether there are tongues, they will cease;
whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect has come,
then that which is in part will be done away.
Isaiah 51:17-23 (ESV)
God Promises Salvation for Zion
wake, awake, and stand, Jerusalem, which has drunk the cup of Jehovah's wrath. You have drunk the cup until you stagger, and drained it.
Among all the sons she has spawned, there is none to lead you; among all the sons that she has raised, none will take her by the hand.
You have received desolation and destruction have fallen, and who will moan for you? Both famine and the sword have come, and how can you be comforted?
Your sons have fainted and lie in the streets, like deer in a trap; they are full of the wrath of Jehovah, the rebuke of your God.
Therefore hear this, you afflicted, drunken with wine. Your Lord Jehovah speaks, your God who pleads the cause of his people. “Behold, I have taken the cup of staggering out of your hand, even the bowl filled by my wrath; you will drink it no more. I will put it instead into the hands of them that afflict you, that have said to your soul, 'Bow down, that we may pass by.' For you have put your back flat on ground, as flat as the street, to them that pass by you.”
Notes on the Scripture
In the 6th Century B.C., the Babylonians (under Nebuchadnezzar and his heirs) sacked Jerusalem, knocking down the walls, the houses and, most importantly, the Temple. Most of the prominent Israelites who survived were taken back to Babylonia in chains, to become slaves.
In Isaiah 51, the image of wine and the cup are used extensively: First, as an analogy for the general moral dissipation of the Hebrew people (which surely included excessive drunkenness); and Second, as a concrete metaphor for God's wrath. Drunkenness, which prostrates men with intoxication, and God's wrath, which lays men on their backs in death or fear of the conquering Babylonians, are both represented as drinking from a cup.
But Isaiah, the great prophet of the transition from the Old Testament to the coming of Christ, has many layers of meaning, and his message of hope to those “flat on their back” lives on today, in full force. Most of us have paid a price for our sins during our lives. In extreme cases, our lives seem to be permanently damaged. We lose our home or our job, we get divorced, we go to jail. We clog our arteries and wait in patience, trying not to feel the terror of the heart attack or stroke that will come. Our ability to withstand some temptation seems inadequate, and we feel doomed to continue sliding down a slope, for we do not have the strength to stop our fall.
Many are terrorized and controlled by other people. This can be especially acute outside the English-speaking world, but it can happen to anyone. And the victims are powerless to fight their oppressors.
But there is one who has such power, and that is God Almighty. He has the power and, as one person after another will testify, He will help if asked often enough and with conviction. Because His power is greater than that of sin; His power has overcome death itself.
God can and will help us if we ask him with sincere and steadfast hearts. It is true that good Christians are murdered or suffer gravely: we cannot know the mind of God. But person after person will testify to victory over a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, that came only after they began to ask for, and unwaveringly believe in, God's love and willingness to help us overcome our sin.
Good Sunday to all, and Christ be with you.