Daily Devotion for July 31, 2012
Angelus, by Jean-Francois Millet c. 1857.
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.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For our restful sleep at night,
or the rain and sunshine bright,
For the love that Thou dost send,
For our homes and for each friend,
For the day and all its pleasures,
Grateful thanks I render now.
May our lives pass on the blessings,
None can give to us, but Thou.
As I travel through the rest of my day, may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.
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.
God always answers prayers. Sometimes it's 'yes.' Sometimes the answer is 'no.' Sometimes it's 'you gotta be kidding.'
~ Jimmy Carter
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.
For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Notes on the Scripture
What good does boasting do for us? We do it to make other people regard us more highly, but it doesn't really have that effect. It mostly just makes other people like us less. It makes us appear conceited. It is a self-inflicted wound for our image. Even worse, it makes other people hope that we fail.
So, why do it? Mostly because it makes us feel better about ourselves. If we have feelings of inferiority, we boast to assuage that awful feeling. Psychologically injured people are most likely to brag about themselves or their accomplishments. Or perhaps we feel like we really are better than everyone else, and want more respect and obeisance from them — but this attitude is even more likely to make enemies.
If you are a Christian and feel an urge to boast — which we all do, at least sometimes, in some places — dig down into yourself and talk to God about it. Find the source of your urge. It is possible, with enough work, to heal even terrible mental wounds we have carried from childhood. Christ has offered to take our anxieties on Himself; He has actually requested that we give our pain to Him, for his capacity is infinite.
We should not be afraid to take advantage of the benefits of our faith, for that is what God wants! So go ahead and dump your problems in God's lap. Ask Him to take them.
Boasting, for a Christian, is nonsensical. Christianity is the ultimate non-hierarchical religion, for we all receive one great gift, and the pride and possessions of this life become nothing more than vanity to us. Still, life is so much better when we stop playing one-upsmanship games. Instead of swinging through a range of self-image, we have a steady, fulfilled knowledge of our place in the universe. It is possible for us to almost completely stop thinking about ourselves, in the sense of ranking ourselves.
Unleavened bread, which Jews eat at Passover, is simply bread that is not inflated with hot air. Leavened bread is full of hot air. This is perfectly good for bread, but for people, it is counterproductive. (If you are not sure you want to become "a new lump" — well, the translation is admittedly unfortunate.)