Daily Devotion for December 4, 2013
The Temptation of Eve, signed “Gielebertus”, ca. 1130. This bas-relief was carved over the main door of the Cathédrale Saint-Lazare d’Autun, Autun, France. Measuring about 6’ by 3’, it is the finest example of Romanesque sculpture in France.
Eve is captured at the moment of taking the fruit; her nudity signifies that she is yet innocent, but the center tree covering her hips shows her crossing the threshold of guilt.
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.
Note: The translation of the Zulu is difficult and the spoken words sometimes don't sound like the English transliteration, so it is hard to follow word-for-word. There are many repeats.
Prayer for Personal Conduct (from 1 Timothy)
Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy: Above reproach. May I be this day temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, and not violent, but gentle. May I never be quarrelsome, always seeking peace even in disagreement, and may my love be for you and my fellow man, not for money. I pray that I manage my own household well. If I have any children in my charge, I pray to that I may take the time to see that they are in control and behaving with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. This I pray through my Lord Christ, whose love and attention ever gave us an example of conduct,
Prayer for Those Who Have Turned Away
Grant, O Lord, peace, love and speedy reconciliation to your people whom You have redeemed with your precious blood. Make your presence known to those who have turned away from You and do not seek You, so that none of them may be lost, but all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, so that everyone, in true love and harmony, O long-suffering Lord, may praise your all holy Name.
Blessing of Mark
O Sovereign and almighty Lord, bless all your people, and all your flock. Give your peace, your help, and your love unto us your servants, the sheep of your fold, that we may be united in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one hope of our calling, in your divine and boundless love.
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.
Proverbs 28:9 (The Message)
of the people who won’t listen to him.
The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen.
Notes on the Scripture
“There are no atheists in foxholes.” People sometimes turn to God when they are in dire trouble, promising something (usually improvement in conduct) if He will help them out of their predicament. These are the seeds cast on rocky ground (Matthew 13:18-23), which spring up quickly and, just as quickly, die. When the danger is over, the promises are forgotten.
The concept of bribing God is so ridiculous that it is funny, when you stop to think about it. Of course, it happens all the time. We attempt to strike a bargain: “God, just get me out of this and I promise I will never sin again.” How many times and how many variations of this prayer have been said by all kinds and conditions of people?
We can't bribe God with promises of future good behavior. And moreover, such prayers are usually said to gain some kind of tangible reward, such as living through an ordeal, or not getting caught by the police or your parents or some other person who is going to punish you, or winning a game. These are not things God promises to anyone, saint or sinner.
The only time such a prayer might work is if we are asking for God's forgiveness, but it is not a bribe. It is good and right to promise God not to repeat sinful behavior, or at least to try, when you are praying for forgiveness; but God's forgiveness is, in effect, free for the asking. All you have to do is believe in Him, love Him, and ask for mercy in the name of Christ; it is God's grace that saves us from judgment, not our promises or even our past works.