Daily Devotion for September 28, 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.
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.
Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast,
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.
From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.
Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Father, I do not fear this day, for you are with me wherever I might go, your light to shine ahead, your footsteps to lead the way. I do not fear this day, for your word will be my guide. Your strength will sustain me and your love revive me, this day and all days. I do not fear this day, for you are with me. In the name of Christ, I call upon you.
For Guidance in Bringing Others to Christ
Oh Heavenly Father, who has promised to send us a Spirit to lead us, if we but listen and hear his presence in the bustle of life, I pray for your direction and guidance in becoming a disciple of your word. Teach me to spread your truth, to anyone I might see who might be able to hear it. Let me always reach out and show your love to the world through my every action. I pray, Holy Spirit, show me your path in this wayward world. Mold me by the model of your Son, and let me every day approach nearer to his perfect service. Let me, too, be a fisher of men. Show me how; teach me to help guide others to you, both in my words and in my deeds. In the name of Christ, I pray,
[For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation.]
God of mercy, swift to help: as my lips pour forth your praise, fill my heart with the peace you give to those who wait for your salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.
I prayed for riches, and achieved success;
All that I touched turned into gold. Alas!
My cares were greater and my peace was less,
When that wish came to pass.
I prayed for glory, and I heard my name
Sung by sweet children and by hoary men.
But ah! the hurts – the hurts that come with fame.
I was not happy then.
I prayed for Love, and had my heart’s desire.
Through quivering heart and body, and through brain,
There swept the flame of its devouring fire,
And but the scars remain.
I prayed for a contented mind. At length
Great light upon my darkened spirit burst.
Great peace fell on me also, and great strength –
Oh, had that prayer been first!
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Romans 2:25-29 (ESV)
The Unreliability of Outward Appearances of Faith
or circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.
For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
Notes on the Scripture
To the modern reader, the passages in Paul’s epistles about circumcision can seem puzzling, alien, completely irrelevant, and rather distasteful. To us, circumcision is a minor health decision and something we do not really care to talk about. To understand what Paul is saying, we have to get past the language, and understand what a critical issue this was to the Jews who were the first Christians.
The Jews had been born and raised in the belief that a man could not be blessed before God unless he was circumcised; it was the defining mark of obedience to God. Thus, the Gentile men’s lack of it was an enormous barrier to reconciling Jewish and Gentile Christians.
So, every time Paul says “circumcision,” translate this mentally into “Jewish faith in God.” He is speaking to the Jews about hypocrisy. A person does not become righteous before God by his outward appearance. The mark of circumcision is outward, where it can be seen by men. What matters to God is what is done and thought within, in one’s heart and spirit.
The lesson is as important today as it was then, only we have replaced circumcision with speech and (sometimes) Christian jewelry, such as a cross or crucifix, or even an act such as attending church. These are good things. They build Christian community, they advertise our beliefs, they show that we believe our glory is in God.
They are, however, outward. In terms of actual belief and salvation, they mean nothing. Many a total hypocrite will attend church every Sunday, hoping for some advantage in life. Strippers and drug dealers often wear crosses. Frauds appear on television, earning a fat living by “talking the talk” of Christ to convince watchers to send them money.
We must always be careful that our outward self truly reflects what is going on within us. As we saw in the previous verses, trying to appear holy in public while sinning in private causes blasphemy among non-believers and discourages our brothers and sisters. Representing ourselves as holier than we are is a sin in itself, the sin of pride or vanity; for when we do it, we are seeking honor among men, not God’s glory.