Daily Devotional for September 13-19
“For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
7 Yet from the days of your fathers
You have gone away from My ordinances
And have not kept them.
Return to Me, and I will return to you,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“But you said,
‘In what way shall we return?’
8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;
12 “And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
Application: The Israelites stopped observing the commands of God that they were given: to give 10% to the Lord. Because of the the Lord ‘took’ his tithe and more through the losses they suffered in failed crops (and by application unsuccessful ventures in all areas of life). This was not just a loss of material things but the time it took to produce them as well. The devil/devourer) wants to harm us in all areas and it is God’s hand that holds him back (rather than God ‘doing it’ to us). In the Christian era the lesson is for us to follow Christ’s commands of giving to the Church in material gifts/money and time (attending services, daily prayer, etc.). If we fail to do this we eventually are ‘on our own’ and Satan has free reign to cause us problems in all areas of our life.
Prayer: O Gentle Light of the holy glory of the immortal, heavenly, holy, blessed Father, O Jesus Christ: Having come to the setting of the sun, having beheld the evening light, we praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: God. Meet it is for Thee at all times to be hymned with reverent voices, O Son of God, Giver of life. Wherefore, the world doth glorify Thee.
*Eastern Vesper Hymn
St Nikolai’s Prologue this week
The Holy Prophet Jeremiah prophesied the coming of the Holy Savior of the world from the line of David. The Branch of Righteousness is Jesus Christ Himself. These words could not have referred to anyone else, since, at the time of the Lord Jesus’ coming, a prince of the lineage of David no longer sat on the throne at Jerusalem but rather a foreigner, Herod the Idumean. Nor from then until today has there been any other prominent branch of David, either as a worldly ruler or as a spiritual ruler. At the time of the Nativity of Christ, there were but a few people from the tribe of David, and they were unknown and impoverished. Among these were the Most-holy Virgin and the righteous elder, Joseph the carpenter. It is clear, therefore, that for the thousand years after this prophecy was spoken, no other majestic branch from the lineage of David appeared, except the Lord Jesus. This becomes more clear from the following words: As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David My servant, and the Levites that minister to Me (Jeremiah 33:22). These words could only apply to the spiritual descendants of David through Christ the Lord, that is, to Christians. For only the number of Christians (and not the physical descendants of David, of whom there are not any at all) during these twenty centuries can be measured with the stars in the heavens and with the sand in the sea. O my brethren, let us rejoice that we Christians are among this countless number of God’s people, among the greatest people in the history of the world, both as to numbers and as to character. Let us rejoice even more that we belong to that divine Branch of David, Who by His Blood redeemed us from the stranger, adopted us and made us heirs and co-heirs of the Eternal Kingdom. O All-good Lord, Thou hast redeemed us prodigal sons from contemptible humiliation and hunger, and hast made us sons of the Kingdom.
Prayer: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
When a tyrant commits violence against the righteous out of greed, then the violence brings about loss and gain; that is, a loss to the tyrant and a gain to the one who suffered violence. Boris Godunov murdered Dimitri, the eight-year-old crown prince [of Russia in the 16th century], to gain control of the throne without competition. The imperial days of Boris ended quickly, and the tyrant was given over to corruption and condemnation, but Dimitri was proclaimed a saint. After lying in the grave for fifteen years, the body of Dimitri was exhumed and found to be incorrupt and miracle-working. Forty-five miraculous healings occurred over his body. Who, therefore, receives the injury, and who receives the benefit from tyranny? If the tyrant knew that by his tyranny he would help his opponent to be included among the saints and that he would prepare defeat and damnation for himself, he would desist from his plan of violence. But twisted thinking is the forerunner and companion of tyranny.
Prayer: Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
And the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall burn with fire (Jeremiah 43:13). Who will burn them? Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, said the Lord (Jeremiah 25:9). This prophecy came true. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt and by fire destroyed the houses of the false gods, the idols of the Egyptians. He burned them but he did not destroy them forever. For after that came the destruction of Babylon, again according to the prophecy of the holy Prophet Jeremiah, and Babylon became and remains to this day heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment and a hissing, without an inhabitant (Jeremiah 51:37). But there is a tradition, recorded by St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, that there remained another prophecy of Jeremiah about the final destruction of the idols of Egypt: “All the idols will fall,” says this prophecy, “and all that is made by hands will be destroyed at the time when a Virgin Mother comes here with a young Child, Who was born in a cave and placed in a manger.” This prophecy was preserved by the pagan priests themselves, who from the time of Jeremiah introduced the custom of depicting the Virgin as she reclines on a bed and her young Child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.
Prayer: O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victory over their enemies to Orthodox Christians, and protect Thy people with Thy Cross.
Continued from Wednesday…
Nebuchadnezzar, the servant, was able by God’s permission to cut down evil, but not to pluck it out by the roots. Sheared evil, like sheared grass, grows again. When the Lord came to earth, He plucked out evil by the roots. Nebuchadnezzar, the servant, burned the temples and the idols, but the temples were rebuilt and new idols were made, for they were not plucked out from the souls of men. When the Lord came and began His reign in the souls of the Egyptians, the temples and idols fell forever. So it was the same with the disobedient Jews who waged war against God. Nebuchadnezzar, the servant, took them into bondage for seventy years, and the offended Lord scattered them throughout the world, where many of them find themselves in dispersion today even after two thousand years. This scattering of the Jewish people throughout the world was clearly prophesied by Jeremiah. Thus, time justified the prophet of God in all his words.
Prayer: O my God relying on Thy infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.
*Act of Hope
When Theodore the Sanctified was in Panopolis with his spiritual father St. Pachomius, a philosopher approached him and offered to debate with him about the Faith. The philosopher posed these three questions to Theodore: “Who was not born, but died? Who was born and did not die? Who died and did not decay?” To these questions, St. Theodore replied: “Adam was not born but died. Enoch was born and did not die. Lot’s wife died and did not decay.” And the saint added this advice to the philosopher: “Heed our sound advice; depart from these useless questions and scholastic syllogisms; draw near to Christ, Whom we are serving, and you will receive forgiveness of sins.” The philosopher was silenced by such a pointed answer and, ashamed, he departed. From this, the enormous difference is clearly seen between a pagan philosopher and a Christian saint. The one loses himself in abstractions, in cleverly twisted words, in contests of logic and in mental gymnastics, while the other focuses his whole mind on the Living God and on the salvation of his soul. The one is abstract and dead, while the other is practical and alive.
Prayer: O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all-good and worthy of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
*Act of Contrition
…the vision seen by the courageous Judas Maccabeas. The first to appear to him from the other world was Onias the high priest, and after that the holy Prophet Jeremiah. Just as the apostles saw Moses and Elias in glory on Mount Tabor, so at one time Judas Maccabeas saw the Prophet Jeremiah in glory. Even before the risen Christ, then, the merciful God did not leave men without proof of life after death. In Christian times, however, those proofs are without number and without end. Whoever, even after all of this, doubts life after death, remains under the curse of his sin as under a tombstone. As dead things cannot see the light of day, neither can he see the life that is, and of which there is no end. But behold how the Prophet Jeremiah is crowned with glory in the other life! Gray hairs and exceeding glorious! Around him was a certain indescribable dignity, a certain bright aureole, a certain inexpressible pleasure and beauty. He was dragged and beaten by the men to whom he had imparted the will of God, was a captive in prison and a martyr in a fetid hole, was derided as a liar, was tried as a traitor, and finally was stoned to death as a transgressor. However, the judgment of sinners is one thing, and the judgment of God is another. The most humiliated among men became crowned with angelic glory before God. And yet, behold how heaven names one whom the earth called false, a traitor and a transgressor! Lover of the brethren: this is what heaven called him. Lover of the brethren, who prays much for the people. Finally, see how the saints in heaven pray to God for us! Not sleeping, they pray for us while we are asleep; not eating, they pray for us while we are eating—and over-eating; not sinning, they pray for us while we are sinning. O brethren, let us be ashamed before so many of our sincere friends.
Prayer: O my God I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. (Act of Charity)