Daily Devotion for August 17, 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.
Our “Virtual Sunday Church” this week takes us to the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ, Memphis, Tennessee.
For Sunday Morning
Oh heavenly Lord, who decreed that we should take one day of rest, one special day in remembrance of you, today I celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the moment of His glorious victory over death. I add my voice to countless millions of others in thanks, in praise, and in awe of Your sacrifice for us.
Help me, dear Lord, to dedicate these few moments to You completely. You have taught us that we may dwell with you, even while we are caught in this difficult world, and I pray to dwell with you fully now. Guard me against wandering of mind and the intrusion of mundane thought, so that I may be fully present with you, through the power of Your Holy Spirit.
And in the coming week, I pray that my mind may constantly turn to you, so that I may always remember you when I am tempted to anger, to selfishness, to lust for power and the vanities of this world, or any of the myriad temptations that might assail me in the course of life. In the name of Christ and through faith in Him, I pray,
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 offences 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.
Prayer of Salvation
Most blessed Christ, I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. No matter how weak or lowly I may feel, I will always remember your words: that those whom the earth despises — the stones that the builders rejected — have become the cornerstone of your church. Let me be strong in faith and strong in your Spirit; for only by You, Lord Christ, may the gates of righteousness be opened to a sinner. I pray that I may be part of the foundation of your church on earth, and that by your grace, the gates of righteousness may be opened to me and to all who confess your holy name.
[Those whom the world despises have become the cornerstone of Christ's church.]
Now to him who is able to keep us from stumbling and to present ourselves blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.
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 16:19 (ESV)
It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor,
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
1 Corinthians 16:1-4 (ESV)
Giving to the Church
Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
Notes on the Scripture
It comes as no sunrise that one of the first things churches instituted was passing the collection plate. The early church was poor; it would not be until much later, when churches became entangled with the aristocratic systems, that they would hold income-producing properties and become the repositories of gold and precious stones, made into precious artwork, or generate the kind of money that would build the great cathedrals.
Once local expenses were paid, the rest was stored and sent to Jerusalem, where it was used to support the Council and pay for missionaries.
Paul says nothing about how much of one's income should be given to the church, but he does say that every person is to “put something aside . . . as he may prosper,” that is, set aside a portion of wealth proportionate to one's income. The tithe, not mentioned in the New Testament, comes from the Jews. The first mention comes in Leviticus 27:30, “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.”
Many Christians follow (and many churches teach) a 10% guideline for giving. It is a disciplinary test to ensure that they do not rationalize greed and so corrupt their souls, but it is not Biblical. Like most of the Mosaic law, Christ moved from formal requirements of outward compliance with fixed laws to spiritually-led decisions. The New Testament gives no fixed amount or percentage of money that one should give to charity and the church. Instead, it focuses on the individual's spiritual growth and the expression of one's love for Christ.
Do not think that Christ brought a softer faith. His standards were enormously greater than the Mosaic law; He taught, for example, that where the Jews did not commit adultery, His followers should not even lust in their hearts; where the law forbade murder, Christ forbade anger, unresolved disputes, and even self-defense. (Matthew 5) And where the law set a tithe, Christ taught that, to be perfect, we should sell all our possessions, give them to the poor, and follow Him. (Matthew 19:16-22)
It is hard for us to justify our faith when our actions show that our primary concerns are human. One cannot grow in Christ when attached to money, and Christ himself was especially clear on this matter. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
When we feel torn, we should do what we should always do: pray diligently, for God's wisdom is available anytime we pray in honesty and humility. (James 1:5). Above all, whatever one offers should be given with pure intentions, as a service to the church of Christ and an act of submission and love of God. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”.” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
One other bit of advice, practical mixed in with theological, is the instruction to set aside something at the beginning of every week. In modern terms, we might adjust this to whenever we do our budgeting or receive our income; the point is, to set something aside for God when we receive, rather than see how much we have left over.