Daily Devotion for January 23, 2013
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.
For Faithfulness in the Use of this World's Goods
Almighty God, whose loving hand has given me all that I possess; Grant me grace that I may honor you with my substance, and remembering the account which I must one day give, may be a faithful steward of your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.
God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and Spirit of God amidst us, direct our way unto you. Make us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end we may stablish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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.
Many persecute and trouble me, yet I have not swerved from your laws.
Seeing these traitors makes me sick at heart, because they care nothing for your word.
See how I love your commandments, Lord. Give back my life because of your unfailing love.
The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever.
How a Christian Should Live
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.
But now you must get rid of all such things-- anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Notes on the Scripture
I remember a coach once telling us the secret to playing great baseball. There is no secret. You win games with "basics and execution".
Today's lesson reminds me of what he said. There isn't much mystery to what Paul is saying and it really doesn't need a lot of commentary. There is no deep theological web of thought to untangle, no hidden meaning, nothing unclear. It is a matter of basics and execution.
If you want to follow the path of Christ, what you should do is fairly easy to state. Don't act out of anger. Don't use abusive language. Be kind. Be humble. And so on — every one of us has a pretty good idea, in theory, of how Christ wants us to behave. The problem, of course, comes when we try to actually do it in our daily lives, because our old nature is very strong and often pulls us in the opposite direction.
So it is always helpful to read this passage and try to set our day's thoughts and actions up against it. This makes for a very good meditation at the end of the day. The most frequent means of avoiding Christian duty is by lying to ourselves and getting confused. If somebody has offended us, for example, our urge to be angry and to get revenge, or at least to nurture our resentment, is powerful! We first try to ignore our Christian duty, and then, find a hundred excuses and rationalizations why we should not follow Christ in this specific instance.
It takes time and prayer, every day, to hold our thoughts and actions up to Christian standards, to see where we have gone wrong, and to ask God for help in overcoming the great power of Satan trying to act through our human nature.