Daily Devotion for December 2, 2015
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.
Selah is a contemporary Christian vocal trio consisting of Todd Smith, Allan Hall, and Amy Perry. They do a terrific job updaing this old British hymn.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end...
Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Music by Jean Sibelius
Lyrics by Catharina von Schlegel, @ 1740
For God's Help
Lord God, Enlighten what is dark in me,
Strengthen what is weak in me,
Mend what is broken in me,
Bind what is bruised in me,
Heal what is sick in me,
Revive whatever peace and love that has died in me.
Restore me, Father God, as you would have me,
That I may better serve you
And show your Glory to all the world.
In the name of Christ, I pray,
O blessed Christ, my teacher, my savior, my God: You have commanded me to love others as myself. Yet it is so easy to find the faults in others, for I see their outside and compare it against what is inside me. I have inflated my goodness and importance in my own mind, but have judged others for the smallest shortcoming, and I am filled by foolish pride.
I vow by this prayer that I will strive to follow your Word, to forgive all who have injured me, to turn loose the petty resentments and grudges that poison the world with hatred, and to overlook the faults of others; and I ask to be pardoned wherever I have done injury to my brothers and sisters, who are your beloved children even though they, like me, are sinners. And I vow, when I fall short of your commandment, to seek out and confess my wrongdoing. Forgive me, Holy Christ, and help me to ever amend my life; this I pray, with faith in the grace you have promised to the penitent sinner.
[In what ways am I hypocritical?]
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make me and all who confess your holy name people of this light. Make me faithful to your Word that I may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
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.
Matthew 15:7-9 (ESV)
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
James 2:14-26 (ESV)
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV)
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
Notes on the Scripture
We all know the basic meaning of hypocrisy: Saying one thing and doing another, where the “thing” is considered laudable or praiseworthy. Because Christianity is chock full of morality and “should” statements — or even stronger, “must” statements — there is an enormous opportunity for hypocrisy to take root. We are not going to get into specific subjects, but rather, discuss the way in which we might avoid hypocrisy, to the degree possible.
The three Scripture citations today define three variations of hypocrisy. We who know we are disobedient to God and hide our disobedience; we who refuse to read God's Word as it is written while professing to be Christians; and we who judge others.
The most notorious form of Christian hypocrisy comes from high-profile Christian leaders whose lives bear no resemblance to the Gospel message they preach. Two prominent examples are Jimmy Swaggert and Rodrigo Borgia, who became Pope Alexander VI. Swaggert railed against sexual immorality and (at least implicity) held himself up as a faithful married man. Yet, again and again, he was caught with prostitutes and pornography. Rodrigo Borgia make a mockery of Christianity; his very election to the papacy was accomplished by bribes of money and promises of worldly power, but unlike Swaggert, he was brazen enough to make one of his sons by one of his multiple mistresses a cardinal.
That the church survives such leaders as these, and a myriad like them, is a testament to the power of the Living Spirit.
ll of us, however, may see a tiny reflection in our own lives. Which of us is innocent of leading or allowing other Christians to believe that we follow Christ's commandments more closely than we do? Which of us has not accepted prideful credit for an act of charity, or checked out a pretty pair of legs when our wife was not watching? Let us, then, confess our hypocrisy and seek forgiveness for it, intending not to repeat it.
Every church denomination, and as far as I know every Christian, practices a second form of hypocrisy: “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Conservative evangelicals will explain to you why the many injunctions to submit to the civil authorities -- such as Paul's statement in Acts 23:5 “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people” -- does not inhibit them from cursing Barack Obama.a I recently heard a “conservative” Bible teacher explain to me why Romans 1 requires Christians to deny global warming!
On the other side of the aisle, liberal theologians will be happy to explain to you why you should ignore Biblical teachings about matters that offend advocates of free sex and easy divorce, feminists, gay rights activists, etc. Where the Bible conflicts with current societal values, modernism prevails. In effect, they believe that whatever is considered right by society in a specific year is timeless and the Bible is not.
The solution is simple: We must ask ourselves, “Where does the Bible say that?” We must remind ourselves that the Bible is the Word of God, a God who is timeless and eternal and a God who knew that people in the 20th Century would be reading it. And most of all, we should be mindful of allowing our own prejudices and preconceptions to hide the Bible from our own minds, for the Bible offends the preconceptions of everyone who reads it.