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Daily Devotion for September 3, 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 for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, 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,
Community of Prayer
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.
With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD; in the great throng I will praise him.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Morality Lite in Today's World
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.
For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
Notes on the Scripture
This passage certainly rings true today. I love the line, "they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires." There is nothing so ridiculous as some of the teachings that are made in the United States today and called "Christian". There are churches where the primary message is that God meant for us to make a lot of money; in recent memory, there were a lot of churches that preached against civil rights for African-Americans, even though they might have been fellow Christians, not to mention the hatred that has been poured out from pulpits against non-Christians.
The most disheartening, to me, are the moral teachers who have adopted Christian values but rejected Christ. I don't know where they think these values came from -- the idea that a human life has intrinsic value was simply unknown until Christ revolutionized human morality. The Romans, notably, simply did not value human life. Murder was a crime only if the person being killed had some particular stature and genocide was not considered to have general moral implications.
I'm not saying that people calling themselves Christians have not committed murder or even genocide; what I am saying is that people knew it to be wrong. It is hard to conceive, for us, that there was a time when nobody thought killing another human being was wrong, in and of itself. But moral atheists have started to take it for granted. Humanism devoid of Christinity is a boat with a broken anchor line. Unless our morality is rooted in the immutable words of the Bible, it is subject to drifting off in any direction with no fixed point of reference to guide it back.
I recently saw a video of Oprah Winfrey talking about heaven and my jaw dropped. She basically believes that good people go to heaven. She apparently has never stopped to ask herself where this concept of heaven, or the morality that enables us to reach it, originated. (You can see her talking about this, and the dumbfounded reaction from some of the audience, on YouTube).
Her poorly-conceived philosophy boils down to this: we create our own salvation by leading good lives. She thus diametrically opposes the doctrine of salvation by grace. The self-contradictions hidden in this concept are not very hard to see. She talks about people who lead lives under the "morals taught by Jesus" but who have never heard of Him and have never had the opportunity to hear of Him. She doesn't explain, however, how such people are going to learn Christian values. Nor does she grasp the contradiction inherent in imagining someone "following Christian values" without following the greatest Christian value, asking God for forgiveness in Christ's name.This is morality lite. Without the Bible, there is no touchstone, no objective reference to which we can look and measure ideas we hear. Without it, we have no fixed basis to judge whether something somebody is saying or doing is right or wrong, or, for that matter, to straighten out our own crazy ideas about right and wrong. What Oprah is trying to do is not to discriminate against people who follow other religions -- be they Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans or cults. What she accomplishes is to make the Bible into a collection of suggestions for how to lead a better life.