Daily Devotion for July 14, 2017
Portinari Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes, c. 1475 (center panel of a triptych).
Notice that the infant Jesus lies alone, remarkably the strongest figure even though He is a newborn. Another notable feature of this remarkable work are the three shepherds, who are the largest figures in the painting other than Joseph and Mary. Gap-toothed and rustic, still carrying their tools, the emphasis on these rough workmen in the presence of angels and kings anticipates the apostles and Christ's primary mission to the poor and wretched. Such a depiction was unusual in Renaissance art.
In the full-size work, there is an especially touching tribute to the women in Christ's life, notably Mary Magdelene, who can be recognized by the jar of ointment in her hands. (The woman in red would appear to be St. Margaret.)
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.
(Note: Composers frequently repeat, omit, or put phrases out of order.)
O magnum mysterium,
For Each New Morning
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
I thank thee.
Prayer to Cast Aside Bad Habits
Mighty Holy Spirit, face of the one true God, help me, for I have slipped into bad habits. Something in me defies my attempts to change, and I feel compelled to do that which I do not want to do. I feel weak and ashamed, and I turn to you for help. Help me, dear God. Help me to resist this temptation. Lend me your mighty power to cast it aside.
You have graciously promised that you would not let us be tempted beyond our ability, but instead, would provide an escape for any temptation we pray to resist. Holy Spirit, show me my escape from my bad habit. Let me resolve to work on it, to pray on it, to turn it into a habit of good; for I know how you love righteous conduct, and my love for you longs to please you. Work your power to help me please you, mighty God; for I know that with your help, I can overcome any evil. In Christ's name, I pray,
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, 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.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
What Bible verse informs us that those who “are not against us, are for us”?
The charity that hastens to proclaim its good deeds ceases to be charity, and is only pride and ostentation.
~ William Hutton
1 Peter 5:1-5 (ESV)
Shepherd the Flock of God
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Notes on the Scripture
Many of Peter’s exhortations to obedience and humility are addressed to those under authority. Here, however, he instructs Christian leaders; and what a better world we would live in, if his instructions were followed. There are two specific admonitions to those who are placed in charge.
irst, to lead by example, not by domination. “Do as I say, not as I do” has no place in Christian doctrine, and especially not among those who would lead churches, ministries, or programs of any sort. Do children who are told to value honesty and humility listen, if their parents and teachers tell half-truths and act full of their own importance? For only by living the Gospel can one convince others to believe it.
Second, to lead “not for shameful gain, but eagerly.” And shameful gain is not only the fortunes that some Christian leaders have amassed. It is other types of gain, as well. Seeking to become powerful and having others bend to one’s own will, rather than to the will of God, is a common temptation among leaders who are blind to their own sin of pride. We are commanded, in effect, to all be humble before all of our fellows, a difficult task in a world where competition for money, status, and personal glory is constantly before us.
So today, let us pray for our own humility and try to take ourselves down a notch in our own estimation. For thereby we will please the God who made us and protects us in all things, and we can take joy and pleasure in having tried to please God, a joy more real and enduring than our silly pride.