Daily Devotion for April 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,
Penitential Prayer of St. Augustine
O Lord, The house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that you may enter in. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases Your sight. I confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, to whom shall I cry but to you? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare Your servant from strange sins.
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.
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 let your heart turn to the prostitute's ways or stray into her paths.
Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.
Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
"These things I have spoken to you, so that you will not stumble. They will throw you out of the synagogues; but an hour will come, that everyone who has killed you will want to offer service to God; they will do these things to you, because they did not know the Father, or me.
These things I have told you, so that when the hour comes, you will remember what I said to you; I did not tell them to you from the beginning, because I was with you; but now I will go away to Him who sent me, and none ask me, 'Where do you go?' But what I say to you fills your heart with sorrow.
But I tell you the truth; it is better for you that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you, and if I go on, I will send Him to you; and having come, He will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment.
Concerning sin indeed, because they do not believe in me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to my Father and you will see me no longer; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged."
Notes on the Scripture
The last half of the Scripture today is difficult. The translations are imprecise, and the concepts, puzzling. It is easy just to let your eyes run over it and not really take anything away from it. I would urge you to at least try to understand what Christ is telling us.
Christ says that he must die, because the Holy Spirit will not come to us until he has ascended into heaven. He then says that the Holy Spirit (or Comforter, or Helper) will convict (or judge) the world in regard to sin, and righteousness, and judgment. How then does a "Comforter" come to judge the world? "Convict" and "comfort" are not terms we associate with each other.
The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin because the world does not believe in Christ. But the Holy Spirit has been sent to dwell within us. In other words, we have been given the ability to identify sin; we can tell the difference between right and wrong. This is not an authorization for us to judge the sins of others, but rather, that we should be able to know whether our actions are sinful or righteous.
To reinforce this message, Christ says that the Holy Spirit will judge righteousness because Christ has gone. He is no longer here to tell us what is right and wrong, so we need a way to be able to do it. If we cheat a little, if we go to a strip club or drool over a tight body at the beach or on television, if we argue with our neighbor or judge someone in our mind, Jesus is not here to tell us that we are doing something wrong. A man is not going to tell us, "you would be better if you didn't do that".
People cannot judge right and wrong without Christ. The ruler of the world has been judged. Exactly what Christ means by "the world" is ambiguous, but clearly, it does not refer to those who believe in him when they are acting from their belief. Whether you think the ruler of the world is Satan, or evil, or self-interest, or a natural tendency towards sin (such as lust or coveting), the Holy Spirit is the force on earth and within us that tells us "stop". He judges the world.
The most insidious force that pulls us away from God is rationalization of our sinful actions. Every one of us makes excuses all day, every day, for actions and thoughts that we know are wrong, deep in our heart. But we justify our actions, no matter how wrong they may be. It is human nature. It is "the world" acting in us.
The power that can defeat these rationalizations is the Holy Spirit. God will forgive us, but if we love and serve him, we will not shut out the voice of the Holy Spirit within us. We must have trust in God's forgiveness; otherwise, we will not be able to stand the guilt; we will rationalize our wrong acts instead of asking that we be forgiven for them.
Thus the Holy Spirit tells us right from wrong; he leads us away from self-justification, from blindness to our sin. And he comforts us, because only by knowing our sin can we be freed from it.