Daily Devotion for January 24, 2014
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.
Bach’s stirring Gloria from the Mass in B Minor. The only lyrics are “Gloria in excelsis Deo” - Glory to God in the highest - “et in terra pax homiibus bonae voluntatis” - and on earth peace, good will to (or among) men.
Praise and Thanks this Morning
Hallelujah! The sun has risen again and it is morning! And I have awoken into it, alive, breathing, thinking, knowing that the Son will rise again and I will be saved. What did I do to deserve this day? It is a gift from you. Glory and praise to you, my God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for filling me with life to live another day, for it is you who made me and not me myself.
I resolve to spend this day in the presence of the Holy Spirit, filled with his joy and energy, that I might accomplish your will, my God, and do what I can to deserve the joys of the day, for I know my time here is short. Be with me, oh Holy Spirit, to fill me with the energy and positivity and comfort that only you can bring. In Christ's name I pray that thy will be done,
[Let us close our eyes for a minute to meditate on the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us.]
Prayer for Holiness
Holy God, no one can put together what has crumbled into dust, but you can restore a conscience turned to ashes. You can restore to its former beauty a soul lost and without hope. With you, there is nothing that cannot be redeemed. You are love; You are Creator and Redeemer. I praise you with my every ounce.
I fear the lesson, my God, of the fall of Lucifer, full of pride. I pray you will keep me from such a terrible fate; keep me safe with the power of your Grace; save me from falling away from you. Save me from doubt. Incline my heart to hear your mysterious voice every moment of my life and thus be led to call upon you, for you are present in every thing and every moment.
May God the Father bless us; may Christ take care of us; the Holy Ghost enlighten us all the days of our life. The Lord be our defender and keeper of body and soul, both now and for ever, to the ages of ages.
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.
There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.
~ Indira Gandhi
Matthew 16:24-28 (ESV)
Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Notes on the Scripture
In the preceding verses, we saw that when Christ told the apostles that He would allow the Sanhedrin to arrest and execute him, Peter's reaction was strongly and instinctively negative; not understanding the lesson of self-sacrifice, he vowed to defend Christ, which Christ vehemently corrected, saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan.”
Now he speaks a hard lesson to extend his announcement of self-sacrifice; a similar sacrifice is to become a duty of the apostles, and by extension, all Christians. It is the very hard lesson of Christianity; in essence, He informs both them and us that we are expected to follow him.
Having full confidence once we see him overcome death, we must be willing to give up all the things of this world, up to and including our very lives, to follow the Word. The early teaching, “You cannot serve both God and mammon,” is taken to the ultimate conclusion. We must choose between our life on earth and our life in heaven; between our body and our soul.
Few of us are called to be martyrs, but implicit in the notion of denying ourselves and taking up Jesus' cross, is that we will destroy the pride and self-centeredness that saturates every moment of our earthly existence. Self-centeredness is Rule 1 of our natural instinct; Christ tells us to make it Rule 0. Many early Christians actually were martyred and came very close to following this commandment; on the other hand, however, we see throughout the epistles, especially Paul's epistles to the various churches, how much pride interefered with Christian growth even in the churches of the first century.
Church politics is especially difficult to watch. Has there ever been a priest who did not want to be a bishop, and take steps to advance his cause? There have been and still are a few, but they are a minority. Has there ever been a pastor who did not want to see his church become larger and more influential, not only because of increase in glory to God, but also for his personal satisfaction? Same answer. They exist but you tend not to hear about them, because people who become great in the public eye are most generally those who are ambitious for their own ego.
Living entirely for the glory of God takes a degree of faith and commitment possessed by few; we are ego-driven by nature. We must remember that Christ has mercy upon us all, because we all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. He was one of a kind, the only human being without sin. (Actually, among the founders of all major religions, Jesus is the only one who even claimed to be without sin.)
So, in practical terms, we must do the best we can; but the “best we can” is surprisingly good, in human terms, if we are sincere in our faith. It is often a matter of slow growth; a specific sin may be difficult to give up, but if we manage to do it for a while, we are almost always suprised at how well it turns out for us, at how little we suffer and how much we gain.
And in terms of our ego, Harry Truman echoed the quote from Indira Gandhi (above) when he said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” So let us paraphrase: It is amazing what you can accomplish if you give God the credit.