Daily Devotion for August 31, 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.
The Deep River Boys have a lot of fun with the story of the Hebrew children (from the first three chapters of Daniel). You might want to watch this full-screen (see today's "Tip").
Prayer of Thanks
Heavenly Father, I thank you for my life and everything you have bestowed upon me and upon all people, this day and every day. I thank you for the good and bad, the understanding of forgiveness, and your holy power, without which we would have nothing. I thank you this day for all your blessings, your gifts, your never ending love for us. Although we all are sinners, I ask you to forgive me every day for what I might have done wrong, that I might not have noticed. Even though we all come short of the glory of God, I thank you for the sacrifice of your only son Jesus Christ for all our sins. You and only you know us Father and you know if our hearts are true. So once again, I thank you with all my heart and soul. In the name of Christ I pray,
A Prayer of St. Basil the Great
I bless you, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who forever works great and mysterious deeds for me, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who provides me with sleep as a rest from my infirmities and as a repose for my body tired by labor. I thank you that you have not destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your love toward mankind you have raised me up, as I lay in despair, that I may glorify your majesty.
I entreat your infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of my understanding and raise up my mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open my mouth and fill it with your praise, that I may unceasingly sing and confess you, who is God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the only-begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
And finally, may the grace of Christ our Savior, and the Father's boundless love, with the Holy Spirit's favor, rest upon me, and all of us, from above. Thus may we abide in union, with each other and the Lord, and possess, in sweet communion, joys which earth cannot afford.
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.
I firmly believe a great many prayers are not answered because we are not willing to forgive someone.
~ D.L. Moody
Matthew 6:12, 14-15 (KJV)
Sermon on the Mount - Lord’s Prayer 
[A]nd forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
* * *
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Notes on the Scripture
If you have ever been confused by the word “debt” in the Lord's Prayer, studying the Biblical concept of sin will clarify its usage. People misunderstand what sin is. Most think it is very bad conduct — doing something evil: stealing, adultery, selfishness, etc.
Our Western morality is certainly founded in, and based upon, the religion of the Jews and Christians. But the overlap between the concept of right and wrong, in an atheist humanistic society, and sin, as the Christian understands it, is partial. There is a gulf between society's (or a person's) emotional concept of right and wrong, and the Christian's concept of sin (although many Christians, being persons themselves, also get them confused).
I apologize for getting into Greek again, but there is no way around it. The Greek Bible uses five different words which are all translated into “sin” in English. The most common, hamartia, means missing a target. Not doing evil, but rather, just not hitting the bullseye. The target in question is God's will, as told to us by the Old and New Testaments.
Our emotional sense of evil is situational and unreliable. It will change. For example, current societal standards of right and wrong in sexual relationships is changing, simply because people want to be able to have sex where the Bible tells them not to. We rationalize. But sin is not doing something that we, ourselves, have decided is naughty; righteousness is an unchanging objective target, and sin is simply missing the mark.
Because of time constraints, we will need to skim three of the terms for sin: Parabasis, which means stepping across, i.e. driving on the wrong side of the line; Paraptoma, which means simply slipping across, as on ice — this is similar to the previous term, but less intentional; and anomia, outright lawlessness. It is the fifth term, opheilema, that is used in the Lord's Prayer and concerns us here.
Opheilema means “failure to pay what is due”, which explains why the word “debt” appears in the Lord's Prayer. But “debt”, although literally accurate, just doesn't get the full message across, for the debt we owe is not monetary. It is a debt of duty. It is what we owe God for making and sustaining us.
This gives us a new perspective on the Lord's Prayer. When somebody calls us a rude and insulting name, or steals from us, it is a sin. But it is a particular kind of sin, because we are directly hurt; we perceive a sin against ourselves, a breach of a duty owed to us; we take it personally. But it is God, not us, who is the source of this duty.
If a person murders our child, the police and courts punish him; the civil law does not allow us to “pay him back”. If we kill him in revenge, we go to prison! Just so with offenses against God's law. Part of our debt to God is love of others, and it is unaffected by others' actions towards us. It is for God to judge. If we do not forgive, we become the offender.