Daily Devotion for October 4, 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.
Hallelujah, Behold the Bridegroom, a superlative Russian Orthodox hymn, sung in the old style by an a cappella men's choir.
"Hallelujah. Behold, the bridegroom comes in the middle of the night. Blessed is the servant whom he shall find watching."
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.)
A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth — you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?
While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.
For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."
Notes on the Scripture
Well this is easy enough to understand! Substitute "Christ" for "God" and "Christian" for "Jew", and this could be a lecture to all who call themselves Christian in the world today. When you hear Christ defamed, it is usually based on the hypocrisy of people calling themselves Christians.
We certainly do not want to cause Christ's name to be blasphemed; and yet, none of us is perfect. If we identify ourselves as Christians, we run the risk of blasphemy, because others might discover we do not fully keep the commandments we espouse. And yet, Christ told us not to hide our light under a basket, but to put it on a stand. That is, to show His light forth to the world. What are we to do?
First and foremost, we must develop and deepen our own faith on a daily basis. As we saw in Romans 1, sin is punishment for lack of faith. Temptation to sin is terribly strong, but there is no temptation so great that faith cannot overcome it. As our faith deepens, our ability to resist temptation grows stronger.
One mistake many people make, who hold themselves to high standards but fall short, is trying to hide their mistakes. Forgiveness comes only through confession. Trying to cover up sin while espousing Christian principles — intentional hypocrisy — has damaged the name of Christ as much as the sin itself. To cover up sin is to seek the glory of men, not the glory of God. We do it only so that others will think better of us. When we hide our misdeeds, we show that we fear the judgment of men more than the judgment of God.
Christ told us in Matthew 5 to be reconciled with our brother before we come to His altar. But how can we be reconciled to our brother, when we have sinned against him and hidden it?
And what if we are the only victim of our sin? What if we have been looking at pornography, or have been filled with jealousy and anger because our friend has been bragging about her expensive new house, or constantly judge and curse other drivers when we are in traffic?
Often the hardest part of being forgiven for sin is admitting it to ourselves. Rationalization of our conduct is a talent we learn early and practice often. We blame the near-naked woman for our lust, our boasting neighbor for our jealousy, the guy who cut us off in traffic for our anger. We say, "everybody does it." We tell ourselves, "I am a Christian but I have to live in the real world."
So, certainly, the first step to avoiding hypocrisy is to examine our conduct every day and to admit our fault to ourselves and God. We will be freely forgiven, so why not?