8:4 “You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord: When men fall, do they not rise again? If one turns away, does he not return? 5 Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return. 6 I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turns to his own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle. 7 Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the Lord.
– Jeremiah 8:4-7
Hearing the Lord speak through Jeremiah in the texts for today one could feel despairing or, at the least, convicted that we are not unlike those He speaks of concerning our own thoughts and behaviour at times, and even compare them favourably with the current political, social and cultural climate of today. One only has to hear the news, pay attention to regular updates about COVID-19, and be caught up in the negativity and speculation that attends our frustrations at lockdowns, inconsistent rules and just down right miserableness at the situation we are all in, just for example, let alone other sins.
But as we consider inconsistent rules, God has something to say about this too. “Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the Lord” (Jer. 8:7). The craziness in the world today is derived from our own not knowing “the rules of the Lord.”
How we live in this world is seen by our character, not always by our competencies, whether in the business world, parenting or the Church. We might be good at some tasks, but are we good people? Do we know the Word of God that guides our hearts and minds and forms us into His people, being “little christs” to each in this world of ours, as Luther once quipped. Do we commit ourselves to prayer, to contemplation on God’s goodness and wisdom to act and speak winsomely for the Gospel, or do we neglect the Word and continue to backslide?
Lest we fall into despair because of our own tendencies to not follow rules, follow our own ways and disregard others is certainly accurate and true, greater yet is the Light of the world which pierces the night of our discontent, illumines our need and bathes us in His mercy and love. God’s mercy is indeed new every morning, His Spirit is with us, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).
Prayer: Father in heaven, comfort us and convict us by the light of Your Son, and guard our hearts and minds from the strategies of the dark kingdom that would entice us into the shadows. Bless our yearning to be faithful and strengthen our resolve to know You by Your Word and prayer, ever thankful for Your promises in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Lenten Response: As you read the Scriptures, where are you in the story? Whom do you identify with? How can you give hope to someone you might be concerned for?
Devotion written by the Rev. Phillip Gagnon
Jeremiah 8:4–7 (Listen)
Sin and Treachery
4 “You shall say to them, Thus says the LORD:
When men fall, do they not rise again?
If one turns away, does he not return?
5 Why then has this people turned away
in perpetual backsliding?
They hold fast to deceit;
they refuse to return.
6 I have paid attention and listened,
but they have not spoken rightly;
no man relents of his evil,
saying, ‘What have I done?’
Everyone turns to his own course,
like a horse plunging headlong into battle.
7 Even the stork in the heavens
knows her times,
and the turtledove, swallow, and crane
keep the time of their coming,
but my people know not
the rules of the LORD.
Jeremiah 8:18–9:6 (Listen)
Jeremiah Grieves for His People
18 My joy is gone; grief is upon me;
my heart is sick within me.
19 Behold, the cry of the daughter of my people
from the length and breadth of the land:
“Is the LORD not in Zion?
Is her King not in her?”
“Why have they provoked me to anger with their carved images
and with their foreign idols?”
20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended,
and we are not saved.”
21 For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded;
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me.
22 Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of the daughter of my people
not been restored?
9:1 Oh that my head were waters,
and my eyes a fountain of tears,
that I might weep day and night
for the slain of the daughter of my people!
2 Oh that I had in the desert
a travelers’ lodging place,
that I might leave my people
and go away from them!
For they are all adulterers,
a company of treacherous men.
3 They bend their tongue like a bow;
falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land;
for they proceed from evil to evil,
and they do not know me, declares the LORD.
4 Let everyone beware of his neighbor,
and put no trust in any brother,
for every brother is a deceiver,
and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
5 Everyone deceives his neighbor,
and no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongue to speak lies;
they weary themselves committing iniquity.
6 Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit,
they refuse to know me, declares the LORD.
Romans 5:1–11 (Listen)
Peace with God Through Faith
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
John 8:12–20 (Listen)
I Am the Light of the World
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
Psalm 5 (Listen)
Lead Me in Your Righteousness
To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David.
5:1 Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
3 O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
9 For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.
Psalm 147:1–12 (Listen)
He Heals the Brokenhearted
147:1 Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
Psalm 27 (Listen)
The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation
27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
Psalm 51 (Listen)
Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
51:1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
On this day, Evangelical Lutheran Worship lists Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. In this proposed common calendar, they have been moved to July 20 with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Amelia Jenks Bloomer, renewers of society, as commemorated in Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1997).
This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.