Daily Devotion for February 7, 2016
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 is a pastiche of sung prayers and images from Orthodox worship, in the unlikeliest of places: Valdosta, Georgia.
Orthodox worship can seem very foreign if you are accustomed to Protestant services. But I hope everyone, from whatever background, can appreciate both the beauty of it and its reflection of the heartfelt search for Christ which unites us all.
Prayer for Sunday Worship
O God, who makes us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ; Give me this day such blessings through my worship of you, that the days to come may be spent in your service; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer for the Morning
Holy Father, who watches over your children by night and by day; blessed Jesus, my food and my strength; sweet Holy Spirit, the light and guide of my soul; I thank you for this new day and pray that you will watch over me. May my thoughts, my words and actions reflect the Spirit that dwells within me. And may every minute of my life celebrate the gift of grace, earned by the blood of Christ, in whose name I pray.
Confession of Sins, with a Prayer for Contrition and Pardon.
Most merciful God, whose eyes are too pure to behold iniquity, and who has promised forgiveness to all those who confess and forsake their sins; I come before you in a humble sense of my own unworthiness, confessing my many transgressions of your righteous laws. [* Here make a short pause, to remember and confess the sins and failings of the week.] But, O gracious Father, who desires not the death of a sinner, look upon me, I beseech you, in mercy, and forgive me for all my transgressions. Make me deeply sensible of the great evil of them; and work in me a hearty repentance; that I may obtain forgiveness at your hands, who is ever ready to receive humble and penitent sinners; for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, my only Saviour and Redeemer.
To Lay Our Suffering at Jesus' Feet
Lord Jesus, you call me to live every aspect of my life in your presence, and so I come before you as I am. With the myrrh that the wise men carried I bring, too, the pain and sorrow and suffering that I have experienced. I lay them before you because they are all part of who I am. I ask that good may come from whatever negative things happen to me, knowing that nothing can ever separate me from your love.
Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the church and in the world, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.
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.
Psalm 18:1-3 (ESV)
I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (ESV)
Why Do We Love Christ?
The love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Notes on the Scripture
"We are convinced that one has died for all." We not only believe, we are convinced — we have made up our mind and taken this fact as an absolute truth — that one person died for everyone else. So, when Christ died, everyone died.
But the "for all" has a second shade of meaning. Christ did not die because he wanted to. We know that it was horrifically painful and He suffered just like any man. So, why did He do something that He knew was going to be a horrible experience? He died for everyone else, meaning, to bring some benefit to us. It was pure, unadulterated love. It was the most terrible death imaginable, endured only because it was motivated by the greatest love possible.
And the best part is: we know that Christ did not stay dead. He defeated death because God resurrected him, because Christ was God personified. Death was not the end for Him; it was a transformation. And this is the very heart of Christianity, for we can die while our bodies are still alive and enjoy the benefit of a resurrection, a rebirth, a life in the spirit where we are not longer the slaves of sin.
he sin does not disappear, because we cannot be free of sinful urges as long as we wear our bodies. Our faith will waver, our eye will stray to our neighbor's spouse or car, and judgment and anger towards others will still creep into our hearts. But we now have the means to free ourselves of the consequences. In our heart and in our spirit, we do not live to satisfy our appetites or our sinful urges; our goal has shifted, our primary aim in life has changed. We may sin, but we do not love our sin. We love Christ, and we live for Him.
Once we really believe this completely in our hearts, "The love of Christ urges us on." Christ died because he loved us, and once we fully understand and believe this, we love him for it. Such strong love is a powerful force. This love propels us, upholds us; it puts wind in our sails and we walk with new conviction and purpose.
Put another way, Paul tells us that we no longer regard other people from a "human point of view". That is, although we are born with selfishness programmed into us, like an animal, when we die and are reborn in Christ, we become a new and different creation. Our primary outlook on life is transformed. We live by a completely new set of principles and rules, no longer slaves to the law of the jungle.
We have found a new, eternal, and beautiful life, a life of love and obedience to truth. We see other people in a completely different way: not from a human point of view, as objects to be subdued, enslaved, manipulated and controlled, but as fellow souls who share our wonderful gift of God's love.