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Daily Devotion for September 18, 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.
For those who can't get to church today. This week we go to Northallerton Methodist Church in Northallerton, England. The little choir sings a wonderful hymn most Americans associate with Thanksgiving.
Prayer for the Morning (written by Metropolitan Philaret)
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me.
Prayer for Help with Our Troubles
O God, my help and assistance, who is just and merciful, and who hears the supplications of your people; look down upon me, a miserable sinner. Have mercy upon me; deliver me from all the troubles and tribulations of life. Deal not with me after my sins, I pray, but according to your measureless mercy, for I am the work of your hands, and you know my weakness.
Grant me, I beseech you, your divine helping grace. Endow me with patience and strength to endure my tribulations with complete submission to your will. You know my misery and suffering. I flee to you, my only hope and refuge, for relief and comfort, trusting to your infinite love and compassion; that in due time, you will deliver me from all the trials of this life and turn my distress into comfort. I rejoice in your mercy. I exalt and praise your holy name, oh Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: now and forever.
The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this day and evermore.
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.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
Making a New Start
Though no-one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new end.
Matthew 5:23-24 (SEV)
Forgiveness  — Making Peace with Others
If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Notes on the Scripture
Yesterday we discussed the importance of forgiveness and how to overcome some of the difficulties when forgiveness seems impossible. The flip side of forgiveness is making amends, when you have done something that has caused someone to be angry with you — and very often, the two problems come in one basket.
This may be harder than it sounds, because nowhere does Christ limit our duty to make peace to situations where we think we have done something wrong. The issue, to Christ, is not who is "right" or "wrong"; the only issue is whether someone is angry with you for something you have said or done. Nor are we justified because the other person hurt us first. Christ tells us that if our brother slaps our cheek, we should turn our head so that he can slap the other cheek.
Critical words sound more hurtful to the target than to the person speaking them, and deeds that hurt another seem far more serious to the victim than the perpetrator. This is such a powerful truth that often, when we have hurt someone else deeply, we have no idea we have done so.
And especially if we are actually accused of doing something wrong, we generate a one-sided wall of defensiveness and self-righteousness like an attorney in court. We are champions at coloring a situation to make ourselves look good; and so, if we have an angry argument with someone, it will always seem to us as if we are in the right.
So we must set aside our attempts to judge who is "right" and "wrong" when we have offended someone, because our judgment will be warped by our self-interest. Our nature is to justify ourselves; our religion is to be justified through faith. Self-justification, and its big brother self-righteousness, are the path to hell. Shall we choose our own pride, or the will of God, when we believe in the righteousness of our dispute with our neighbor?
The teaching of Christ overcomes this. Christ has told us, flat out, that if we offend someone, we must apologize. And this duty is so strong that we may not come before God, we may not even worship before His alter, until we are reconciled.
If we have offended someone, we must apologize and make amends whether or not we think we have done something wrong. Our duty is to be reconciled, not to be vindicated.
And a true apology does not mean saying "I am sorry that you made the mistake of misinterpreting my (perfectly justified) words/actions and became unreasonably angry". A true apology admits error; it seeks to see a disagreement from the eyes of the other person. A true apology is "I am sorry I did what I did and said what I said." Not because we were wrong, but because we angered and hurt someone who, even if we don't like them very much, is God's beautiful and beloved child.