Daily Devotion for January 7, 2011
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
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. 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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
A Light to the Nations
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols.
See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
Notes on the Scripture
Isaiah here gives a great poetic tribute to Christ. His words are equally applicable to the Hebrews and to Christ's disciples. If you read the passage with the thought that he is talking about Christ, Israel, Paul, or yourself, it makes sense.
The third paragraph is something that has confounded people for thousands of years. Many Hebrews expected that their messiah would come with a sword; the appearance and divinity of Jesus was a shock to them. He preached a doctrine of peace and humility. He did not raise armies to conquer by force; instead, he submitted to force and, even in death, conquered the world by truth and goodness.
The battle continues to rage in our lifetime, as it has since Christ's ascension. We are torn between two mighty forces. One is the law of nature, the survival of the fittest. It teaches us to build weapons, fight and kill if necessary, to promote ourselves and make our abilities and accomplishments as public as possible. Few people are humble on television. The world preaches its doctrine in the language of anger and pride.
The other is the law of God, the survival of the meek, whom Jesus promised would inherit the earth. It tells us not to "cry or life up [our] voice, or make it heard in the street." We should be so gentle that we would not even break the most fragile thing possible, which Isaiah calls "a bruised reed".
There have been people with the strength of faith to practice this doctrine in life. Quakers would die before they would go to war, even refusing to defend themselves. But very few can live lives of pacifism. People don't want to die; they don't want to be conquered by other nations; they don't want to be walked over during their lives by people of less ability and fewer scruples.
We must do the best we can with this. If you ever begin to feel self-righteous, like you are a paragon of Christian virtue, just ask yourself if you have followed this, the hardest of all the Bible's teachings.
When others assault you, physically or verbally, do you turn the other cheek? When someone sues you for your shirt, do you give him your cloak as well? Or do you hire a lawyer and defend your property? We all sin and fall short of the glory of God; but we can at least be truthful with ourselves about where we have fallen short and confess our shortcomings, rather than pretending they don't exist.