Daily Devotion for September 29, 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
May all I do today begin with you, O Lord. Plant dreams and hopes within my soul and revive my tired spirit: be with me today. Be at my side and walk with me; be my support, that your hand may be seen in every action I take, that your goodness may be in every word I speak, and that your spirit may inhabit my every thought. Make my thoughts, my work, and my very life blessings for your kingdom. In Christ's name I pray,
Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Christ Jesus, before ascending into heaven, You promised to send the Holy Spirit to Your apostles and disciples. Grant that the same Spirit may perfect in my life the work of Your grace and love. and that I may bear my cross with You and, with courage, overcome the obstacles that interfere with my salvation; Teach me to be Your faithful disciple and animate me in every way with Your 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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
Romans 1:24-27 (ESV)
Sexual Immorality of the Unrighteous
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Notes on the Scripture
It has often been said, "Virtue is its own reward." Here, Paul turns the aphorism on its head; one could summarize this passage as "sin is its own punishment."
In yesterday's devotional, Paul analyzed idolatry as a person's refusal to acknowledge and worship God as he has revealed himself; instead, the idolater worships and glorifies himself, making a god in his or her own image rather than vice versa.
In today's passage, Paul tells us that the punishment for this idolatry is sin. The idolater ultimately has no restraint on sinfulness. Sin is punishment. The sinner may think that it feels good, but he is in the position of an alcoholic who, deaf to truth, continues to drink until his liver fails and his body dies, believing all the while that the alcohol is good because he likes the way he feels.
Paul begins his examination of idolatrous sin with homosexuality. In Greek culture, homosexuality was not simply accepted; it was frequently honored. In one of Plato's dialogues (Phaedrus), the great Athenian Phaedrus goes so far as to argue that homosexual pederasty is morally and aesthetically superior to sexual intercourse with women. You will also remember that the Gentiles' sexual immorality was perhaps the greatest bar to the acceptance of Gentiles into early Christian churches. (See, for example, Acts 15:23-29.
Paul has a second reason for leading off with homosexuality: these activities (and the acceptance of them) manifestly contradict the natural purpose of sex. Earlier in the chapter, Paul made the point that Gentiles should have inferred God's existence from nature. They did not need Hebrew law to tell them that God existed, and there is no excuse for their failure to worship Him. Similarly, one does not need the law of Moses to be told that homosexual acts are wrong. It can be inferred from life.
Notice the phrase "dishonoring of their bodies". To be dishonored, something must have honor to begin with. Paul seems at odds with the periodic rise of prudishness, which we might call "puritanical" or "Victorian", where the human body was widely viewed as a distasteful necessity. Paul is moralistic, but he never sees the human body as anything less than God's creation.