Daily Devotion for August 2, 2012
Jesus Before His Judges, Maurycy Gottlieb, ca. 1877
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.
A still-young Odetta sings this lovely version of What a Friend We Have in Jesus in duet with Ernie Ford.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.
Will abide among the wise.
He who disdains instruction despises his own soul,
But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.
The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.
1 Corinthians 6:1-8 (ESV)
Lawsuits Against Believers
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?
And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?
To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud – even your own brothers!
Notes on the Scripture
1 Corinthians is full of tough messages, and this one was as hard for the people of Corinth as it is today. But it is taken directly from the mouth of Christ Himself: "And if anyone would sue you and take your shirt, let him have your cloak as well." (Matthew 5:40)
Paul is actually a little milder than Jesus was, in this respect, for he will allow church members to have a dispute among themselves settled by other members of the church. (One would suppose, the losing party would be expected to take his loss in good graces.)
Reading a passage like this, most of us will simply despair of meeting the demands of Christ and expect to throw ourselves on His mercy for our attachment to the baubles and comforts of this world. For Christ expected His followers to have a total disregard for physical possessions.
If you think this is impossible, consider for a moment the life of a monk, or a married couple who work as missionaries in complete commitment to God's service. Are they unhappy, compared to those of us who have mortgages and lawnmowers?
Love of money is a trap, a pit with no bottom, for if we love money and possessions, no matter how much we have, we want more. Do you know what you call a man with five hundred million dollars? "A frustrated billionaire," says an old joke. Young people dream of being rock stars or movie stars, but look at reality. Their suicide rate for rock stars is higher than average, the incidence of drug and alcohol addiction horrendous, and the chances of a happy marriage small. They have few real friends.
We should all of us take time, in our prayers and reflections, to realize that life would not become hell on earth if we had less money. Many people who actually are not so terribly attached to their possessions really fear insecurity more than poverty. But this, also, is a worry that Christ taught us to overcome, in one of the Bible's great passages, Matthew 6:25-34.