Daily Devotion for August 3, 2012
The Potato Eaters by Vincent van Gogh c. 1885.
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.
The MTC really captures the beauty of this old English hymn.
Prayer for the Morning
Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.
Prayer for Deliverance
Dear Lord, grant me, I beseech you, your divine helping grace. Endow me with patience and strength to endure my tribulations with complete submission to your will. You know my misery and suffering. I flee to you, my only hope and refuge, for relief and comfort, trusting to your infinite love and compassion; that in due time, you will deliver me from all the trials of this life and turn my distress into comfort. I rejoice in your mercy. I exalt and praise your holy name, oh Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: now and forever.
Prayer of Thanks
Almighty and gracious Father, I give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make me and all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
And now, as a little child, let me abide in you all this day, oh Christ, so that when you appear I may have confidence and not shrink from you in shame at your coming. For I know that you are righteous, and I am sure that I will be made righteous only by my life in you.
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.
As we trust God to give us wisdom for today's decisions, He will lead us a step at a time into what He wants us to be doing in the future.
~ Theodore Epp
1 Corinthians 6:9-20 (ESV)
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be dominated by anything.
"Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food" — and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh."
But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Notes on the Scripture
Paul takes up one of the difficult problems of Christian theology: Since Christ has brought us forgiveness for all our sins, why do we need to stop sinning? We are saved by our faith; therefore, why does it matter if our lives are righteous? After all, the purpose of the law was to show us that we were not righteous and we cannot be righteous, for nobody is altogether free from sin.
Notice that Paul repeats, in quotes, "All things are lawful for me." In Corinth, Antioch, and other early Christian churches, there had arisen a sect that took Christ's teachings about the law to the next logical step. No doubt, they said "All things are lawful for me" repeatedly, when their conduct was challenged, and now he throws it back in their face.
The mistake is very characteristic of the Greek world, because it is based on logic that is difficult to refute, a phenomenon called "sophistry". But Christ was not the product of the logic of the weak human intellect. Christ and Christianity are based on the mystery of rebirth in the Holy Spirit. He broke the Sabbath laws out of love, in order to heal; to serve God better.
One who is truly reborn would not have to ask the question, "why can I not sin as I please?", because he serves God rather than his own flesh. His face is pointed away from lust and greed, toward the face of God.
The sect might seem a bit ridiculous to us today, but how many of us use this as a psychological trick at some point to excuse our sinful behavior? We pray for forgiveness for a sin, and then repeat it the next day? Christ told us to repent our sin, and "repent" doesn't mean we say we are sorry now and do it again tomorrow.
Most people have sins that they seem to have trouble avoiding: natural inclinations, weaknesses, even obsessions, that pull us into temptation with great power. Homosexuals have a terrible dilemma, for their only option is celibacy; and, in addition, they have the active blessing of a society that promotes their sin. Alcoholics and the obese have a chemical addiction, a disease.
And yet, these and all other great sins can be overcome through prayer, love, and brotherhood. But clearly, the first step is not to excuse the conduct, but always to seek to overcome the temptation rather than rationalize it.