We pray: “Almighty God, heavenly Father, You have called us to be Your children and heirs of Your gracious promises in Christ Jesus. Grant us your Holy Spirit that we may forsake all covetous desires and the inordinate love of riches. Deliver us from the pursuit of passing things that we may seek the kingdom of Your Son and trust in His righteousness and so find blessedness and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Amen.

Hear the full audio of a meditative Matins service for August 30.

The readings appointed for today include:

Psalm 29:1-4, 10-11 (ESV)

Devotional thoughts:

The question of the “Glory of God” was raised in Bible Class last Sunday. Then we talked especially in terms of “Glory” as His personal divine presence and power at work for the good of His people and the defeat of evil enemies. Psalm 29 is another example of how the Psalms use the word “Glory,” here in terms of acknowledging and crediting to the Lord alone the splendor and the power to do the things God alone can do, has done, and continues to do for us. His glory is to dwell with His people and exercise His saving power to forgive, renew and strengthen.

My mind wanders to the Gospel of John here, speaking especially of Jesus:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Often we seem to steal the glory and rob the credit due Him for ourselves, sometimes in openly proud or quietly subtle ways. God alone is worthy to be worshiped and praised. I most certainly am not. Yet there dwells something in us all which craves the praise and approval of others, even becoming angry when it is withheld and outraged when it is denied. “How dare you not approve of me–How dare you not give me credit for all I have done!” the sinner’s heart inwardly shouts. What strange and wretched creatures are we, to desire or require others give us glory–while often denying God the glory due His name. We tend to take all the credit and give Him none!

Our hearts have it exactly backwards. The Lord alone possesses splendor and power. The Lord alone deserves credit for how strong and holy He is. The Lord sits enthroned and reigns over us, not we over Him or anyone else.

What good news, then, to find this glorious Lord so pleased to bestow good gifts. This He does most graciously for His people–granting them strength and peace in Christ.

1 Kings 12:20-13:5, 33-34 (ESV)

Devotional thoughts:

In this passage, Solomon is dead and the kingdom politically divided between two of his sons. Ten tribes north of Jerusalem united under Jereboam. Only the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, there in Jerusalem, acknowledge Rehoboam as the legitimate Davidic king.

Rehoboam plans to make war against the north, but the Lord prevents this by sending a Word through his prophet Shemaiah. I don’t have my Hebrew text before me, but I notice shamah (hear / listen) as the root of his name. I wonder might it translate “He-hears-the-Lord” or “My-Lord-Hears-Me“? It might be fun to check out later. Always a lovely little sermon in those ancient Hebrew names.

At least they were united in faith, spiritually united under God though, right? David planned and Solomon built the temple there in Jerusalem for all the twelve tribes. The Lord blessed the temple and there Himself dwells in the Holy of holies–the most holy place, seated on the Ark of the Covenant.

The king of Israel–the king of the 10 tribes in the North (Jereboam) grows concerned. If all the people must continue to travel and worship there in Jerusalem, offer sacrifices and prayers there in Jerusalem, find the living Lord God Himself present there in Jerusalem…how long could Jereboam possibly hope to hold their loyalty?

So the man hatches a plan to harness religion for his own twisted political purpose. He proceeds to invent and establish his own place and times of worship. He must control the priesthood, too. The Lord had established the Levites to tend the tabernacle and offer sacrifices and prayers under the one high priest from way back in the wandering desert days.

Jereboam goes to outrageously defiant and evil lengths to keep the glory of his stolen crown. He establishes imitation temples, orders golden idols be built. Not in the temple, not on the Ark of the Covenant, not in Jerusalem–but right here is the God who delivered you. Then he points to his new custom-crafted idols! Jereboam concocted his own self-devised worship, recruits illegitimate priests. All this he does to secure political loyalty and keep Israel from the one place on earth the Lord promised to be really present and dwell among His people, for His people, to give them strength and peace.

My thoughts wander to how even today politicians cherry-pick Biblical truths and make blatently false claims about God to mislead people and secure for themselves glory and power in this world.

I ponder also how individuals go to great lengths to invent their own places and ways to worship the Lord. The Devil so entices many hearts to preserve an illegitimate reign to prevent people from gathering together in God’s Name, in God’s house.

Better that we should seek Jesus on His own terms in His own Church. There we know preachers He called and sent to baptize and make disciples do teach and serve God’s holy people with the Word and Sacraments, as the Lord wills and commands it.

2 Corinthians 8:1-24 (ESV)

Devotional thoughts:

For the first time in my 50-some years on earth, perhaps, I notice today this strange well-known but unnamed brother preacher Paul sends along with Titus here in the last paragraph:

16 But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. 18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. 19 And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. 20 We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, 21 for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man. 22 And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found earnest in many matters, but who is now more earnest than ever because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men.

I smirk with some delight in the fact he is unnamed. Perhaps famous for a time, but unnamed here. The only thing we know these centuries later is that he preached the Gospel well, he was tested and approved not just by a handful of Christians on a hill, but by “all the churches.” This man is long gone; yet the Gospel remains.

The days come soon enough where none will remember my name. My picture will hang on the wall in the basement, perhaps, like the men who served before me there. The least one can hope might be said, “they were messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.”

God, grant I might do this much today: to preach the Gospel to the Lord’s glory–and that through this gracious and saving message Your people might find their strength and peace in Jesus. Amen.

(You can get these daily Lectionary readings set in Matins and other services via the Pray Now app, or in downloadable and physical print formats in the Treasury of Daily Prayer)

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