Daily Devotion for November 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
Heavenly Lord, you have brought me to the beginning of a new day. As the world is renewed fresh and clean, so I ask you to renew my heart with your strength and purpose. Forgive me the errors of yesterday and bless me to walk closer in your way today. This is the day I begin my life anew; shine through me so that every person I meet may feel your presence in my soul. Take my hand, precious Lord, for I cannot make it by myself. Through Christ I pray and live,
A Prayer of St. Basil the Great
I bless you, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who forever works great and mysterious deeds for me, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who provides me with sleep as a rest from my infirmities and as a repose for my body tired by labor. I thank you that you have not destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your love toward mankind you have raised me up, as I lay in despair, that I may glorify your majesty.
I entreat your infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of my understanding and raise up my mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open my mouth and fill it with your praise, that I may unceasingly sing and confess you, who is God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the only-begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
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 with the well-advised is wisdom.
Romans 9:1-5 (ESV)
Paul's Regret for Judaism
I am speaking the truth in Christ — I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit — that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
Notes on the Scripture
For once, a passage from Romans is easy to understand. Paul is in anguish over the plight of his people, the Jews. After thousands of years of strife, the Messiah has finally come to them — but many of them have failed to take advantage of the fulfillment of their effort. They had dropped the ball an inch short of the goal line.
Even worse, one must remember, "The chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death." (Matthew 27:1) And nobody bears more responsibility than Paul himself! In his early days, there was nobody more zealous in his persecution of Christ's followers than Paul (Saul). His anguish is made more heartbreaking by remembrance of his own guilt.
Paul traces the history of God and the Jews in a list of words: Adoption, i.e., God literally adopted the heirs of Abraham as his children; Glory: God glorified the Jews, making them the most important people on earth; Covenants: It was the Jews and nobody else who, for the preceding thousands of years had made covenants with God; Giving of the Law: it was the Jews who received the Ten Commandments and the law of Moses; the Worship: It was the Jews who had first worshipped God in their temples, and even at the birth of Christ almost all of the worship of God was centered on Judaism; and the Promises: God promised that the Jews would be redeemed, that they would be his children.
Why does Paul interrupt his discussion of Christian theology with such an abrupt and incongruous statement of personal emotion? For one thing, a large part of his audience was Jewish. Christianity has always had a direct personal element; Christ put his own body on the cross. The personal relationship, the totality of commitment of one person to another, is a defining aspect of Christianity.
Secondly, Paul is about to explain God's treatment of the Jews. The thousands of years during which the Jews single-handedly carried the torch of God were not in vain. Paul expresses a wish that he could magically bring Judaism to Christ, but of course, he cannot. But what he cannot do with magic, he can try to do with argument, by showing the Jews how they have been rewarded for their service.
And this is what he will do, in the remainder of Romans 9.