Daily Devotion for July 5, 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.
Mehalia Jackson in her famous rendition of the classic spiritual, Troubles of the World
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Father, I thank you this morning for all that I have. Even if I have problems with my health, I am alive today. If I have money problems, I will eat today. I have clothes to wear, a roof to protect me, and air to breathe. Let me never take for granted these gifts of life, oh Lord, but always remember that they come from you; without you, no man could make the sun shine or the tree bear its fruit. I pray to live this day in joy and thankfulness for what I have, remembering always who made me and who keeps me. In the name of Christ I pray,
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
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 the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.
Acts 15:22-29 (NIV)
The Council's Letter to Gentile Believers
Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. With them they sent the following letter:
"The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings.
We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul — men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:
You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell."
Notes on the Scripture
The practices mentioned here, and in yesterday's daily devotional lesson, have an oddity: Two of them — eating the meat of strangled animals, and eating blood — are acts Christians (who are not vegetarians) generally do not equate with sin. Most people don't go around drinking blood, but this is not what the Jews are talking about here. Kosher laws require that all of the blood be drained from an animal, something we do not do. Kosher meat is thoroughly drained of blood and often soaked in water. And few of us would have any idea if we were eating meat from an animal that had been strangled, and would not consider it sinful to do so, if it were done humanely.
On the other hand, almost no Christian would countenance sexual immorality, and many of us might feel queasy about eating meat that had been sacrificed to an idol. One might definitely feel that any participation in a heathen ritual, where an animal is sacrificed to an idol, would be an extreme form of sin; both the ten commandments and Christ's sayings would lead us to avoid such practices.
So, if there were Gentile Christians engaged in this conduct, one can understand the Jews' objections, at least in part. Christ, whose message was primarily one of forgiveness, did not speak as fully about conduct as did the Old Testament, especially Moses. Thus, we see one reason the Old Testament is part of the Bible; it is not only an historical document to teach us about the coming of Christ, but it is also the source of much of the moral code we associate with Christianity.
The combination of Old and New Testament morality is rather odd, when you really think about it. First, there are Old Testament laws that all (or almost all) Christians follow as basic moral tenets (such as the Ten Commandments). Second, there are laws which we reject because they were directly contravened by Christ, such as the "eye for an eye" laws. Third, there are laws which we do not keep but try to follow in principle, such as keeping the Sabbath. And fourth, there are many laws which we simply ignore, such as kosher dietary laws.