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Daily Devotion for January 8, 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.
Even though I speak not one word of Russian, I sang in the Yale Russian Chorus for two years just because I loved the music so much (it was quite a task memorizing all the words). This piece, Blagoslovi, dushe moya or \"Praise the Lord\", by Rachmaninoff, was part of our sacred repertory.
Prayer for the Morning
I bless you for the day you have made, Mighty Lord God, and pray that I may spend this day rejoicing in your creation. I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill me with the joy of my salvation, so that your light may shine through me into the world, that your honor and glory may be known to all people.
Remind me of your blessings, I pray, with every tribulation I may face, so that I may act with energy, forgiveness and love, ever mindful of the grace You have shown to me. Through Christ I pray,
A Prayer of Repentance
O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended thee, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray thee, O Lord: of thy mercy forgive me all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make me perfect in every good work to do his will, working in me that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory 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.
Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no one living is righteous.
Then Peter began to speak to them:
"I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ--he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
Notes on the Scripture
Judging others is contrary to Christian belief. Christ taught us this in no uncertain terms. For example, "Judge not, lest ye be judged". (Matthew 7:1-3) It is a sin to judge other people; it is the sin of pride. When we do it, we puff ourselves up. Again, as Christ taught, we should not complain about a splinter in our neighbor's eye, but worry about the stake that is in our own eye.
When we judge others, we compare their exterior against our interior. Our interior is a poor guide, because it is human nature to justify oneself. People universally inflate the importance and truthfulness of their thoughts and biases.
On the other side of the coin, we cannot see into someone else's heart. The most devout people are those most likely not to brag on their own deeds and attitudes. We judge or even dislike other people for the most ridiculous reasons. Their skin is a different color. They go to a different church. Our parents told us not to like them. A friend said something uncomplimentary about them.
Confession is an important part of prayer. When you confess your sins, in whatever form you do it, remember instances when you have judged others. Pray for humility. Hopefully, this will gradually lead you closer to God and you will notice whenever you judge another person. And remember the importance of this: "everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14)