Daily Devotion for May 2, 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.
Heaven hear me now.
I'm lost without a cause
After giving it my all.
Winter storms have come
And darkened my sun.
After all that I've been through
Who on earth can I turn to?
I look to you. I look to you.
After all my strength is gone,
In you I can be strong.
I look to you.
I look to you.
And when melodies are gone,
In you I hear a song.
I look to you.
About to lose my breath,
There's no more fighting left,
Sinking to rise no more,
Searching for that open door.
And every road that I've taken
Lead to my regret.
And I don't know if I'm going to make it.
Nothing to do but lift my head.
My levees are broken,
My walls have come
Crumbling down on me.
When rain is falling.
Defeat is calling.
I need you to set me free.
Take me far away from the battle.
I need you to shine on me.
Music and lyrics by Robert S. Kelly
For Joy in God's Creation
O Heavenly Father, who has filled the world with beauty; Open my eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that rejoicing in your whole creation, I may learn to serve you with gladness, faithfully managing your bounty; for the sake of him by whom all things were made, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
For Faithfulness in the Use of this World's Goods
Almighty God, whose loving hand has given me all that I possess; Grant me grace that I may honor you with my substance, and remembering the account which I must one day give, may be a faithful steward of your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer for Personal Conduct (from 1 Timothy)
Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy: Above reproach. May I be this day temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, and not violent, but gentle. May I never be quarrelsome, always seeking peace even in disagreement, and may my love be for you and my fellow man, not for money. I pray that I manage my own household well. If I have any children in my charge, I pray to that I may take the time to see that they are in control and behaving with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. This I pray through my Lord Christ, whose love and attention ever gave us an example of conduct,
[The importance of having “a good reputation with outsiders” and the equal importance of not being driven by the opinion of others.]
God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and Spirit of God amidst us, direct our way unto you. Make us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end we may stablish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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.
On the rude tablet overhead —
“I was born sickly, poor and mean,
A slave: no misery could screen
The holders of the pearl of price
From Cæsar’s envy; therefore twice
fought with beasts, and three times saw
My children suffer by his law —
At last my own release was earned:
I was some time in being burned,
But at the close a Hand came through
The fire above my head, and drew
My soul to Christ, whom now I see.
Sergius, a brother, writes for me
This testimony on the wall —
For me, I have forgot it all.”
From Easter-Day by Robert Browning.
Matthew 5:10-12 (ESV)
The Beatitudes 
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Notes on the Scripture
Most scholars count eight beatitudes, even though there are nine statements beginning with “Blessed are . . .” If they are looking for eight pithy one-sentence teachings, they omit verses 11-12; or, as we have done, the count these three sentences as one teaching.
Few people reading this page are in danger of severe persecution. We will not be covered in pitch and used as human torches in Nero's garden, simply because we are Christians. But Western society is currently turning noticeably anti-Christian, and we can expect to be reviled, and listen to people “utter all kinds of evil” against us falsely on Christ's account.
Our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents did not have to suffer this, for Western society in the 19th and 20th centuries had a Christian norm. Many people would pretend to be Christians even though they had not given themselves to Christ; they would even participate in worship half-heartedly, for it was expected. It raised one's status. It was good for business.
But now, we see a winnowing away of the chaff. Society has grabbed onto a new norm, and outspoken hostility to the worshippers of Christ is a growth industry. We are increasingly reviled. If you have not been exposed to the current evil falsehood, that is rapidly becoming the accepted wisdom of the Western atheist, “Christians” are now held by many to be responsible for more wars and murders than any other force in history.
Both Paul and Peter teach us great lessons about how we must react. We should take it patiently, and show how much the Christian, under the consciousness of innocence, can bear. “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect . . . .” (1 Peter 3:13-17)
Paul provides detailed guidance in 2 Timothy 2:14-26. “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (2 Timothy 2:24)
But the final word, and the greatest comfort, come from Christ himself. We will read Christ's great teachings on forgiveness in the next few weeks. But the first lesson is that we should find joy in whatever we might suffer.
“Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”
I draw a fair amount of direct hostility, being a Christian writer — and especially on the internet, which allows for direct response so easily. All Christians see both actions and words that must cause us direct pain. By God's design, however, we have Christ going before us: villified, whipped, and crucified for nothing more than bringing a message of peace, love, and the need for godliness in the human heart. And so we must find joy in our comparatively slight pain, if and when it occurs, remembering that when all is said and done, God himself will reward us.