Daily Devotion for October 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.
Prayer for the Morning
Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.
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.
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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.)
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lends;
And his descendants are blessed.
For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.
For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
Notes on the Scripture
The passages in Paul's epistles about circumcision can seem awfully alien and completely irrelevant to us. To us, circumcision is a minor health decision and something we do not really care to talk about.
In the early church, of course, it was a critical issue. The Jews had been born and raised in the belief that a man could not be blessed before God unless he was circumcised; it was the defining mark of obedience to God. Thus, the Gentile men's lack of it was an enormous barrier to reconciling Jewish and Gentile Christians.
Here, Paul uses circumcision as a symbol. He is speaking to the Jews about hypocrisy. A person does not become righteous before God by his outward appearance. The mark of circumcision is outward, where it can be seen by men. What matters to God is what is done and thought within, in one's heart and spirit.
The lesson is as important today as it was then, only we have replaced circumcision with speech and (sometimes) Christian jewelry, such as a cross or crucifix, or even an act such as attending church. These are good things. They build Christian community, they advertise our beliefs, they show that we believe our glory is in God.
They are, however, outward. In terms of actual belief and salvation, they mean nothing. Many a total hypocrite will attend church every Sunday, hoping for some advantage in life. Strippers and drug dealers often wear crosses. Frauds appear on television, earning a fat living by "talking the talk" of Christ to convince watchers to send them money.
We must always be careful that our outward self truly reflects what is going on within us. As we saw yesterday, trying to appear holy in public while sinning in private causes blasphemy among non-believers and discourages our brothers and sisters. Representing ourselves as holier than we are is a sin in itself, the sin of pride or vanity; for when we do it, we are seeking honor among men, not God's glory.