Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation. Psalm 118:5-9, 14
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.
Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”
As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
Now I was cupbearer to [King Antarxes].
So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. . . .
So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. . . .
Then I said to [the Jewish officials], “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.”
Now when [the king of their enemies] heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. . . . Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.
So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. Nehemiah 1:4-11; 2:4-6, 11, 17-18; 4:1, 4-6
As I [Christ’s apostle, Paul] urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers,the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
. . . I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 1:3-11; 2:1a-4
DEVOTIONAL WRITING [Compilation of the devotional “Writings” from the CPH “Treasury of Daily Prayer for September 11-12.]
“O Timothy, keep the deposit, shunning profane novelties of words and oppositions of the knowledge falsely so called, which some professing have erred concerning the faith” [1 Timothy 6:20]. After words such as these, is there anyone of so hardened a front, such anvil-like impudence, such adamantine pertinacity, as not to succumb to so huge a mass, not to be crushed by so ponderous a weight, not to be shaken in pieces by such heavy blows, not to be annihilated by such dreadful thunderbolts of divine eloquence? “Shun profane novelties,” he says. He does not say shun “antiquity.” But he plainly points to what ought to follow by the rule of contrary. For if novelty is to be shunned, antiquity is to be held fast; if novelty is profane, antiquity is sacred. He adds, “And oppositions of science falsely so called.”“Falsely called” indeed, as applied to the doctrines of heretics, where ignorance is disguised under the name of knowledge, fog of sunshine, darkness of light. [VIncent of Lérins]
DAILY PRAYER for MONDAY
O Lord, merciful and holy Bridegroom; we grieve the fall of Your Church. It is our fault that we beauty of Your Bride is no longer recognized. Therefore we pray You: give and increase in us faith, love, and hope in You; root out of us all sins and vice, all strife, all disbelief, all error and heresy; rebuke the erring, convert the unbelievers, bring the rebellious again to the unity of the Christian Church and show them the light of Your truth. Protect our shepherd from all danger of body and soul. Bless all pastors and those who administer in the Church in the building of Your congregation; grant them success in all things. Equip Your whole Church with the power and proof of the holy faith. Stand by You witness among the nations and further the course of Your Gospel in all the world.
Fill all government with the fear of You and let their ruling serve to foster and preserve peace. Have mercy on our people and country. Let the youth be brought up in discipline and in a right knowledge of You, so that they may recognize Your law and the way of Your salvation. Give constancy and loyalty to all pious teachers.
Comfort all the troubled and sorrowful. Impart health of body and soul to the sick. Grant to all pregnant women, according to Your mercy, a happy result in their childbearing. To the needy give bodily and spiritually according to Your good pleasure. Let those who travel be commended to the protection of Your holy angels. And be a strong help to all who need You. For the sake of Your holy wounds, O Jesus. Amen.