Daily Devotion for July 6, 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.
We share our Sunday worship with the Mennonites this week, singing this lovely old hymn in their unique complex a capella harmony.
Prayer of St. Chrysostom
Almighty God, Who has given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications unto thee and does promise that when two or three are gathered together in Thy name you will grant their requests; fulfill now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of your servants, as may be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the world to come life everlasting,
Prayer of Confession
Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbors as myself; and I sorrow for these wrongful acts and omissions from the bottom of my heart. I humbly and fully repent all of my misdeeds, and pray that for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, you will have mercy on me and forgive me, not by my merits, but by that grace that He has granted those who confess his name. And I pray that you will be in my heart and walk with me, that I might sin no more.
Prayer for All People
O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, I humbly pray to you for all sorts and conditions of humanity; that it might please you to make your Word known to them and bring your saving health to all nations. In particular I pray for the entirety of your church, in all of its many forms; that it may be guided and governed by your Holy Spirit, and that all who profess your name and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth. May all of us live in that unity of spirit which our faith in Christ provides to us, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.
Finally, I commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are ill or in distress, in their mind, body, or circumstances. May it please you to comfort and relieve them in accordance with their needs, giving them patience during their suffering, and a fortunate outcome to all of their problems. And this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who was always pleased to relieve the suffering of those he encountered.
[May all of us be guided by the Holy Spirit.]
Oh God who has made me, oh God who keeps me, oh God who will be my Lord through all eternity, shine down Your blessings and wisdom upon me like the sun upon a field; and may I keep You in the forefront of my every thought and deed, throughout this day and the week to come, and evermore.
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 12:19 (ESV)
The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment.
2 Timothy 1:6-14 (ESV)
Hold to the Standard of Sound Teaching
For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.
Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
Notes on the Scripture
We are often faced with conflict between two different principles and must make a choice, a decision, according to which principle we choose. Sometimes, the choice is more obviously one between our Christian beliefs and our human nature. Do we gossip maliciously about someone whose teenage child has been arrested for selling drugs, or do we pray for them to know Christ's forgiveness and try to help them overcome their obstacles? If we need money and we find a fat wallet, do we take out the money before returning it anonymously to the owner (or even throw it in the trash)?
But sometimes the line between ethical and selfish behavior is not so clear-cut. If we are short of money and can barely meet our bills, do we give money to a beggar on the street who doesn't seem, to us, to even try to be earning his own living? If our neighbor insists on parking broken-down old pickup trucks in his driveway (or yard), what do we do? If the popular crowd at our school is wearing an expensive new item of clothing that we can afford, which becomes an earmark of higher status, do we buy one?
Paul gives us, in his Epistle to Timothy, an anchor point to help us out. “Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are Jesus Christ.”
The Bible is filled with wisdom to help us make difficult choices. It gives us a bedrock of standards against which we can test our decisions and actions. If we make these standards our primary focus, our lives will follow a straight and focused path. We will not feel so much confusion every time our situation changes.
The more we study and learn, the better we are able to subordinate quick or transient solutions to our long-term goals. As we internalize these standards, we will feed less anxiety when we are unwilling to compromise them. And without doubt, the more we keep in mind our long-term goals, the better off we are, not only in terms of our eternal relationship with God, but also in terms of the contentment and peace of mind we enjoy during our lives.
I hope the music for today, and the quote from Proverbs, will help to strengthen our resolve to turn to God in our daily decisions.