Daily Devotion for October 2, 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 God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer for Freedom from Fear
O Lord, I beseech you to deliver me, and all of your children, from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, and fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Prayer for Unknown Needs
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on my weakness, and mercifully give me those things which for my unworthiness I dare not, and for my blindness I cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Prayer for Renewal
Lord, I am one of your people, the sheep of your flock. I pray for you to heal those who are wounded; touch those who are in pain; clean those who are soiled; warm those who are cold; help me to know the Father's love through Jesus the shepherd, and through the Spirit.
Help me to lift up that love, and show it all over this land. Help me to build love on justice and justice on love. Help me to believe mightily, hope joyfully, and love divinely. Renew me that I may help renew the face of the earth.
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.)
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.
God Shows no Partiality
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.
Notes on the Scripture
When reading this one must keep in mind, first and foremost, that salvation comes by faith, not by works. This is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity. Otherwise, no person could hope for heaven. We would all be condemned, for none of us can stand before God on our own merits. We sin. But we can find forgiveness for our sin, through our faith in Christ.
Forgiveness, however, is not a loophole. We cannot spend our lives pandering to evil, keeping Christ's forgiveness in our back pocket like a "Get Out of Jail Free" card tucked under our side of the Monopoly® board. Trying to manipulate God's forgiveness is not "faith"; it the gamesmanship of the Sunday Christian, a glib and poorly conceived strategy of hedging one's bets, rooted in agnoticism.
Looking on the bright side, though, Paul does not say that only people with perfect conduct will find eternal life; he says that those who seek God's glory will find eternal life. The opposite of seeking God is translated "self-seeking", but this term is somewhat misleading. Self-seeking, in its common sense, certainly refers to sinful behavior, such as greed and avarice. But here it is used in the more fundamental sense of seeking for truth within oneself, rather than from God's word.
A person with real faith in God will, in consequence of his faith, behave better than he or she would without such faith. In fact, the impact of faith on a person's actions is usually profound. But the man or woman of faith will still sin. It is our living faith, our seeking to find God's glory, which will trump this behavior and ultimately earn us total forgiveness.
That said, Paul's purpose in writing this passage was not to foment a discussion of faith vs. works. As one reads through Romans 2, it becomes increasingly clear that Paul is addressing Jewish Christians, to help them reconcile with Gentile Christians. The key phrase is "God shows no partiality". The Jews were steeped in a religion of race, law, and salvation by works. Paul's purpose in writing this passage was to convince them that Gentile and Jew would be judged exactly alike.