Daily Devotion for May 27, 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 of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day; when I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer to Live Christ's Word
Gracious God, Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child.
Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me. This I pray in Jesus’ name.
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted me as a living member of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have blessed me with the grace of forgiveness through the sacrifice He made for me and for all people. Send me now into the world in peace, and grant me strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
But he who refuses correction goes astray.
Acts 7:23-32 (KJV)
Stephen's Speech to the Sanhedrin 
And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.
Notes on the Scripture
This is a continuation of Stephen's defense of himself before the Sanhedrin, and there isn't much to say about it. Today's lesson is simply a summary of a passage from Exodus. If you missed the past few days, you might want to go back three days.
The short introductory verse, though, has a life lesson that is hard to learn. Many of us have difficulty taking instruction and correction. It may involve some childhood situation or even trauma, or it may seem to have been born with us; it may spring from rebelliousness, or from a simple lack of trust; but it always involves the sin of pride.
Our pride defeats us. For which of us would do worse, when we could do better? But we do not do as well as we can when we refuse instruction or rebel against correction. We either believe that we know better than our teacher, or even worse, simply cannot stand to be told what to do or how to do it.
In life, sometimes, a peculiar genius who does not accept instruction will have enormous success, because he sees something others do not. Even in the case of religion, rebellion against a church authority may be necessary. But in the case of God, we never have success through rebellion against the Word. Stiffening our necks (as the Hebrews used to put it) against instruction and correction about our sinfulness, in our morals, blocks our path to God.
Remember the story of the rich man and the camel passing through the eye of the needle? We never learned if he followed Christ's instructions to give away his money, but the text did tell us that the man was unhappy. We always feel rebellious when we try to stop sinful behavior. That's the nature of sin. We don't sin to insult God; we sin because we like the short-term consequences, even though the outcome is bad and possibly disastrous in the long-term.
It is important to pray to the Holy Spirit for correction, even if it means we are punished for our sin in our lives. It is a hard thing, but often, punishment is the only way we can stop sinful behavior, even if we want to stop. Alcoholics and drug addicts call this "hitting your bottom". If we are corrected and do not accept it, we get the pain without the benefit; criminals in prison most commonly refuse the benefit of the correction given. They blame others, or rationalize their conduct, and spend their lives returning to prison.
We must confess, we must ask for forgiveness; but we must also accept instruction and correction, which is the hard part. Otherwise, our pride will make it impossible for us to follow God's will.