Daily Devotion for September 13, 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.
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 for All People
O God, the creator and preserver of all humanity, I humbly pray to you for all sorts and conditions of people; that it might please you to make your Word known to them and bring your saving health to all nations. In particular I pray for the entirety of your church, in all of its many forms; that it may be guided and governed by your Holy Spirit, and that all who profess your name and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth. May all of us live in the unity of spirit our faith in Christ provides to us, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.
Finally, I commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are ill or in distress, in their mind, body, or circumstances. May it please you to comfort and relieve them in accordance with their needs, giving them patience during their suffering, and a fortunate outcome to all of their problems. And this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who was always pleased to relieve the suffering of those he encountered.
Now the God of patience and consolation grant to me, and to all who pray in the name of Christ, to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
1 Corinthians 16:1-4 (ESV)
Giving to the Church
Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
Notes on the Scripture
It comes as no suprise that one of the first things churches instituted was passing the collection plate. The early church was poor; it would not be until much later, when churches became entangled with the aristocratic systems, that they would hold income-producing properties and become the repositories of gold and precious stones, made into precious artwork, or generate the kind of money that would build the great cathedrals.
Once local expenses were paid, the rest was stored and sent to Jerusalem, where it was used to support the Council and pay for missionaries.
Paul says nothing about how much of one's income should be given to the church, but he does say that every person is to "put something aside . . . as he may prosper," that is, set aside a portion of wealth proportionate to one's income. The tithe, not mentioned in the New Testament, comes from the Jews. The first mention comes in Leviticus 27:30, "Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord."
Ten percent of one's income has seemed to be a universal standard for the devout. Even the least insitutionalized of the world's religions, Buddhism, will often speak of "Buddha's ten percent" and encourages giving to temples: "If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving and sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of selfishness overcome their minds." Itivuttaka Sutra.
It is hard for us, also, to justify our faith when our actions show that our primary concerns are human. One cannot grow in Christ when attached to money, and Christ himself was especially clear on this matter. "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." (Matthew 6:24)
When we feel torn, we should do what we should always do: pray diligently, for God's wisdom is available anytime we pray in honesty and humility. (James 1:5). Above all, whatever one offers should be given with pure intentions, as a service to the church of Christ and an act of submission and love of God. "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”." (2 Corinthians 9:7).