Daily Devotion for May 17, 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.
Ester Mui is not well known, but this is a lovely worship song from a talented singer-songwriter.
To Help Others This Day
Heavenly Lord, I pray that this day, you will continue to bless me, that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak. Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those that are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those that are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don’t know you intimately. I pray that others will find your strength, so that they can love and help one another. I pray for those that don’t believe, that they may find you.
And when this world closes in on me, let me remember the example of my Lord and Savior: to slip away and find a quiet place to pray. Remind me, nudge me, let me remember to find you when I’m feel like I'm pushed beyond my limits. In Christ's name, I come to you,
Thanks for the Life of Christ
Almighty God, I thank you for the life and teachings of your only Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He lived and walked as one of us, a mortal man who bled and felt pain, who felt anger and love, who would become tired and hungry. The world has seen no other love like this, for you willingly bore the pain of mortality, that we might be saved.
The beating, torture, and painful death that Christ suffered at our hands was a terrible thing; yet you considered his victory in overcoming that death worth the cost, so powerful was your love. I praise you for Christ's resurrection and victory, and for his promise to all people, that he will intercede for us at our death, and bring us to eternal life. Today I remember and celebrate His resurrection, giving all glory to Father, Son and Holy Spirit for this miracle and the redemption of our own lives. Through Christ I pray,
[The purpose of my strength is to help the weak.]
And finally, grant me O Lord, I pray, the lamp of charity which never fails, that it may burn in me and shed its light on those around me, and that by its brightness I may share a vision of that holy City, where dwells the true and never-failing Light, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:19-23 (Douay-Rheims)
My son, do thy works in meekness,
and thou shalt be beloved above the glory of men.
The greater thou art, the more humble thyself in all things, and thou shalt find grace before God:
For great is the power of God alone,
and he is honoured by the humble.
Seek not the things that are too high for thee,
and search not into things above thy ability:
but the things that God hath commanded thee, think on them always,
and in many of his works be not curious.
For it is not necessary for thee to see with thy eyes those things that are hid.
Matthew 6:1-4 (ESV)
Sermon on the Mount - Giving in Secret
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Notes on the Scripture
We all want recognition. But we have to choose: Do we want recognition from other people, or do we want recognition from God? Do we want a brief moment of higher status in the eyes of others people, or do we want to go to heaven? Christ says nothing difficult to understand, here: the message is clear and simple. Go ahead, read it again.
The rub, as usual, comes not from any difficulty in understanding exactly what we should do, but in dealing with our instincts to the contrary. We want to be recognized as a “good person”. Everybody instinctively wants prestige, recognition, fame; life on earth is a rat race, and we at least want to climb a bit higher in the rat pile for our $1000 or whatever. It's a freebie; once we are giving the money anyway, why not be recognized for it?
The direct answer is simple: Jesus told us not to. And we know that he never speaks to hurt us; he seeks to teach us for our own good. Even when his teachings seem difficult, he knows much that we do not and seeks to share his knowledge with us. He is like a parent telling a small child not to stick his finger in a light socket; he sees clearly something we cannot. We do not obey him like slaves, but like students with absolute trust in their teacher's knowledge and motives.
And even the “why” is not hard to see. To gain salvation, we must be crucified with Christ and be born anew, living in Christ, which means, living both in and for the glory of God. We betray our salvation when we seek glory for ourselves. We celebrate our salvation and our love for Christ when we give to the sole glory of God.
Our giving is not forgotten, for Christ promises us that we will “lay up our treasure in heaven” in verses 19-21. When Christ tells us that we will get our reward from our Father in heaven, we are not anxious about receiving it. We have a deposit in the safest bank. Thieves cannot steal it and it cannot be corrupted or destroyed; it is absolutely assured.
There had been premonitions of Christian themes in Judaism, and we see the theme of hidden reward treated in the beautiful, but slightly more obscure, poetry of Sirach, above. (This is part of the Protestant Apocrypha, but canonical in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.) Concerning our reward, the poet tells us, basically, that we need not worry about it. God's plan is beyond our understanding, he tells us, but if we listen to God's teachings, we will be “beloved above the glory of men.”