Daily Devotion for December 1, 2013
First Sunday in Advent
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 performance by Vineyard is live from a worship service, but the slight loss of audio quality is more than compensated by having fellow Christians to sing along with.
Sunday Prayer of Praise to God's Glory
Heavenly God, you are the King eternal, immortal and invisible. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God; the same yesterday, today, and forever.
In times long past did you lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands: Yet they will perish, but you will endure; yes, all of them will grow old like a garment, as a coat you will change them, and they will be changed; but you are the same, and your years will have no end.
You alone are God, and do not change; and because of this, we may hope to be preserved. Are you not from eternity, O Lord our God, our Holy One? The everlasting God, even the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, who does not faint nor grow weary? There is no searching out your understanding, mighty Lord, but by our praise we may glorify your Holy Name, now and all our lives.
Have mercy on me, Oh Lord, for I am a humble and miserable sinner. [At this point, pause to remember specific sins you have committed during the week and speak or think them.] I renounce all of these sins, heavenly Father, and repent of them, and I promise to make every effort not to repeat them.
Have mercy on me, pardon me for these offenses and any I might have omitted from forgetfulness or ignorance; in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I pray for forgiveness. And I pray that your Holy Spirit may dwell with me today and throughout the coming week, to comfort me, to give me strength against temptation, and to guide me into the path of righteousness.
For My Enemies
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead me from anger, prejudice, and selfish pride to acceptance, love, truth, and sympathy for all people, and especially those who would be my enemies in this life; and if it is your will, enlighten those who hate me, and bring them into your holy truth, that they may find you. Deliver all of us from hatred, cruelty and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.
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.
Since it is likely that, being men, they would sin every day, St. Paul consoles his hearers by saying ‘renew yourselves’ from day to day. This is what we do with houses: we keep constantly repairing them as they wear old. You should do the same thing to yourself. Have you sinned today? Have you made your soul old? Do not despair, do not despond, but renew your soul by repentance, and tears, and Confession, and by doing good things. And never cease doing this.
~ John Chrysostom
Galatians 6:6-10 (NIV)
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
Notes on the Scripture
We aren't going to fool God by living life like atheists and then asking for eternal salvation. That is what "mocking" means. God knows what we have done.
To use the metaphors in the parable we have just read in Matthew 13, if a farmer sows wheat seeds, he gathers a hundred times more wheat than he planted; but he doesn't expect that barley or pigs are going to grow from the wheat seeds he has sown. And if he should, for some reason, sow chickweed seeds, he would not be surprised to have a field full of weeds. (“Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.” Job 4:8) “But this [I say], He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)
But no farmer is stupid enough to sow chickweed, because he knows what would happen. Just the same, no Christian should be stupid enough to lead a life filled with all kinds of sin, because the acts we commit are the seeds of our future. If we plant sin, we will reap misery; if we plant goodness, we will reap joy.
Paul emphasizes the importance of working for the good of all, especially those in the family of faith, whenever we can. We know we should try to avoid personal sin and lead a moral life, but it is also very important that we work for the good of others.
First Sunday in Advent
In most Western churches, Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30 or the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which means its date and the number of days is variable; we get 24 days this year. (Orthodox Christians date it from Nov. 15, and it is 40 days long every year.)
We will continue our study of Matthew for two more weeks, then shift to seasonal Scripture readings for Advent and Christmas.