Daily Devotion for June 21, 2012
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.
Anyone who is taking things a little too seriously needs to watch the Deep River Boys singing about the three Hebrew Children.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, Lord God of my salvation, to you be praise and glory for ever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have delivered me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of your risen Son.
May I, the fruit of your new creation, rejoice in this new day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer to Live Christ's Word
Gracious God, Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child.
Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me. This I pray in Jesus' name.
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
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.
Never lose an opportunity for seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting; a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it, as a cup of His blessing.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
1 John 4:16-21 (ESV)
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Notes on the Scripture
John gets a little repetitive here. But we have to wonder: Is he just starting to ramble about love and God like a foolish old man? Or had his sixty-plus years of ministry driven home to him a critical fact, and his repetition is a red flag to us, that we need to pay attention?
The concept is not as easy as it sounds. Many of us sit in church and all the talk of love goes in one ear and out the other. Or else it is reduced to a smarmy familiarity that we don't want to be part of. Or else, we take it to heart, and work one or two nights each week at a charity, or send a check to a shelter or African relief organization.
It is certainly laudable to do any sort of general charity work, to give of ourselves to strangers. But where it gets tough is with people who bug us. Spouses, family, neighbors, co-workers. A boss who is a jerk; a vocal political opponent; a nasty check-out clerk. Or, someone in our social circle or club or church we just simply don't like.
And if they aren't practicing Christian love, or even common courtesy, what are we supposed to do? Engage in a painful relationship where all the "give" is coming from us?
Well, in a word: Yes. The key to solving this dilemma is in John's phrase, "perfect love casts out fear". There is always a strong component of fear in dislike of other people. Most of the time, the fear we feel is fear that our ego will be damaged. We spend much of our lives defending our self-image, our pride, our power and control. But the more we love and come to depend upon God, the less we have to fear.
When we focus our attention on important things, the little things become insignificant. A person with a mission will endure discomforts and opposition with courage, and the petty irritations will become insignificant to him. And so it is with us. Christianity is a great mission and, if we focus on our love of God, if we set our minds to striving to walk in Christ's shoes, we will fear what other people say and do less and less. Love will become possible.