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Daily Devotion for October 24, 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.
This hymn is so beautiful that it must be heard, even though it's in German – a translation is provided below.
Holy God, we praise Thy Name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy scepter claim,
All in Heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.
Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.
Lo! the apostolic train
Join the sacred Name to hallow;
Prophets swell the loud refrain,
And the white robed martyrs follow;
And from morn to set of sun,
Through the Church the song goes on.
Prayer of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day; when I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for Personal Conduct (from 1 Timothy)
Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy, above reproach. May I be this day temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, and not violent, but gentle. May I never be quarrelsome, always seeking peace even in disagreement, and may my love be for you and my fellow man, not for money. I pray that I manage my own household well. If I have any children in my charge, I pray to that I may take the time to see that they are in control and behaving with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. This I pray through my Lord Christ, whose love and attention ever gave us an example of conduct,
Now the God of patience and consolation grant us to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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.)
But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.
The Wages of Sin
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notes on the Scripture
We discussed Paul's use of the "slave" imagery in yesterday's devotional, but it bears repeating. Quotes about Christians being "slaves of God" are repeatedly cited without Paul's caveat, to the effect that his slavery metaphor is not to be taken literally. In ancient Rome, slavery was widespread, often voluntary, and without the baleful overtones it has in the modern world. Many of Paul's Roman audience would have been slaves.
As he says, he uses it to try to find a human relationship that might make his words more understandable, but it is unfortunate. We are never God's slaves. Neither the God of the Old Testament, nor Christ, nor Paul seeks to rob us of our humanity. Christ simply gave us a free ticket home; he put a pair of ruby slippers on our feet, and all we need do is believe. We don't even need to click our heels together.
But we do need to make a change, and that change is not to give ourselves into slavery. It is more like quitting a job, when we discover that our wages are illusory in value and will result in death, and getting a new one where the wages are goodness and life. Even better, our new boss loves us. As long as we show up, he will never fire us or punish us. His forgiveness of error is limitless, as long as we believe.
Paul asks us, "what fruit were you getting"? If you have sex with your neighbor's spouse, where does it get you? What is a billion dollars earned by sin worth to a dead man? If you spend your time in covetous rapture over a shiny new Mercedes, what does it profit you? It is a four-wheeled trap, to keep your mind occupied by an illusion of greatness, while the truth goes unseen; it is like a shiny fishing lure that a brainless fish mistakes for real food.
There is nothing to say we shouldn't enjoy the pleasures of life, but we cannot let them fool us. If they become more important to us than goodness and truth, we will forsake what we know to be right and be willing to sin to get them. We will one day be ashamed of them. Our only pride in our past is to say that we loved God and tried to do his will, for the wages of faith are eternal and life-giving.