Daily Devotion for August 16, 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.
This impossibly beautiful Russian Orthodox hymn is sung a capella, in the old style. "Hallelujah. Behold, the bridegroom comes in the middle of the night. Blessed is the servant whom he shall find watching."
Prayer for the Morning
Good morning, dear Father; thank you for this day, Help me to follow you in every way. Let me speak as you speak, and do as you do; Let me help others, as you help them, too.
Help me to be honest, don't let me play games, Help me to grow, yet still stay the same. Help me not to be selfish, to give of my heart, my mind and my labor; Give all - not just part.
Help me to love others, my family, my friends, Bless all of my foes, help me make amends. Help me be kind, Father, where I am needed, let Me give warm attention, and see all needs are met.
Help keep me busy, to strive for the best, Help me not to be lazy, but find needed rest. Let me come to you, Father, throughout the day, Often to thank you, often to pray.
Prayer to Look Beyond Appearances
Heavenly Father, I confess that in my life, I have been more attentive to someone who was beautiful and ignored another who was not. I have judged people by the way they look, by how old they are, by how they are dressed; and yet I know, in my heart, that all souls are beautiful to you and that you have commanded us to love one another, not through the sinful eye of our body and our emotions, but through the perfect eye of your Spirit.
Help me, I pray, to see other people as you see them. as fellow souls struggling to find you. Let me not be deceived by appearance; let me not be misled by my prejudice. Let me not compare the outside of other people to the inside of myself, nor believe that the circumstances of my birth defined a standard that others are supposed to meet. Let me see my own imperfection, and not that of my fellow man, this I pray,
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 (The Message)
When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help . . . don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. . . .
The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you.
So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.
Sermon on the Mount - Giving
Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
Notes on the Scripture
Christ is actually not extending the law of Moses here, for the duty to give and lend under the law was extensive. (E.g., Deut. 15:7-11.) Jews, however, were well on their way to having one set of rules for dealing with other Jews, and another for everyone else. Jesus abolishes this restriction.
Unlike the previous verse, however, we can put some limits on the obligation of giving. If a person is simply unwilling to work, we can refuse to feed him. (2 Thess. 3:6-13.) In this day and age, however, where we encounter so many strangers, we must always consider the possibility of a debilitating mental illness when we see a beggar.
Nor does this verse deal with evil persons who seek to take from us by force, as did the previous verses. What this seeks to do is to remind us that our duty to God lies in the everyday. There is a story -- well, actually a formal study done by two social scientists, who finagled a theology school to give seminarians an “important” assignment: Present a lecture on the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to a panel of professors.
Our scientists then arranged for many of the students to run a bit late for their presentation and to encounter, on their way to their presentation, a person on the ground, coughing and moaning. About half the students simply rushed past the apparently troubled stranger, in some cases stepping over the person's prone body. (There were many variables and scenarios; see The Good Samaritan Experiment for a fuller explanation. The complete study can be read here.)
This should give us all pause, for these people were more dedicated to serving Christ than most of us. They were primarily defeated, the researcher concluded, by being in a hurry. Some were so focused on their task that they did not even notice the person in distress.
So there is a practical lesson to be learned. If we allow ourselves to become too stressed out and hurried in life, our service to Christ will suffer. We have to use our brains and our willpower, to cut out activities that impede us; for having time to pray, to study Scripture, and to be ready for unexpected calls for help has the utmost importance to our souls.