Daily Devotion for July 24, 2010
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.
Prayer of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day; when I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
I Came Not to Judge the World, but to Save It
Jesus cried aloud: "Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.
I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life.
What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me."
Notes on the Scripture
One of the biggest criticisms of Christians and Christianity by non-Christians is that they are judgmental. People are very sensitive to perceived criticism, and it makes them defensive. And all too often, the criticism is justified. I'm human. I get angry at people who do bad things and I condemn them. Sometimes I feel like I hate them.
But Christians are not morally superior to anyone. If that sounds disturbing, let me repeat it: Christians are not morally superior to anyone. An attitude of moral superiority is diametrically opposite to Christ's teachings.
Judgment for sin is God's sole right. Yes, people who do not avail themselves of God's grace will face eternal darkness, or hell, or damnation, or however you might picture the fate of the unsaved after the death of their body. But this is the natural order of mankind. By our nature every one of us has sinned, again and again, and are doomed to eternal darkness when our bodies die. The Bible tells us it is impossible to live a life without sin.
When Christ says that he came to save, not to judge, it is because there was nothing for Him to judge. Everyone was "guilty". Christ came to show us a way out, a way to avoid the darkness that every human faced at the time of death. He didn't come to criticize some people and not others; He came to tell us that we are all in the same boat. Murderer and holy man, street thug and honest hardworking mother, all of us have sinned
Being a better person is, hopefully, one effect of taking Christ into our hearts, but it is not the cornerstone of what it means to be a Christian. We cannot become perfect; we fall short of the glory of God, and all of us are doomed by our sin. So when Christ said, "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world," about all we can say in our favor is that we have been smart enough, or lucky enough, to accept the gift of grace that Christ brought to us. It does not make us morally superior to our neighbors who have not accepted the gift, because a feeling of moral superiority is itself a sin, the sin of pride.