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Daily Devotion for November 27, 2011
First Sunday in Advent
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.
For our Virtual Church this Sunday, we will share a famous advent hymn with St. Luke's in Broughty Ferry, Scotland.
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.)
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
Romans 12:15 (ESV)
Keeping Our Spirits Up
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Notes on the Scripture
People who have their minds set on a great goal can undergo extraordinary hardships, for long periods, to reach it. A person who wants to become a surgeon, for example, might spend eight years of constant work, living on the bare essentials, just to get through school; and then another six or eight years of training, living with minimum comforts and often heavily in debt, before becoming certified. In fact, this kind of life is the rule for great achievers in life; two-thirds of the world's billionaires grew up in poverty.
To live with God is the greatest achievement any of us can conceive. Who would not rather have eternal life than a medical degree or a billion dollars? And many have given everything to reach this, the greatest goal imaginable. Francis of Assisi and countless others have given away fortunes and lived lives of intentional deprivation, just because such things were so paltry compared to the victory they hoped to achieve. Countless others have suffered prison, beatings, or death.
Most of us are not called upon to sacrifice so much. Christ tells us that his burden is light. Really, life as a Christian is sometimes not a "burden" at all. The joy we feel, the friends we meet, and the good choices we make, often allow us a better life on earth; and the burdens of the wicked can be heavy indeed.
Today, Paul gives us the formula to lighten our load. First, he tells us, remember to let the joy of the Holy Spirit out of your mental cage. Remind yourself of your goal, for it will sustain you.
Second, let God ease the pains we all feel in life. Patience is the state of mind of a person who knows that something good is on the way. Great things can come to those who wait. Almost everyone suffers. The agony of losing beloved family members, the pain of illness (especially with age), the desperate anxiety of money problems; life is full of pain. The pain is real; but the better we remember the virtue of patience, and the greater our hope and joy, the easier it becomes to bear the painful times.
And finally, pray. Our minds cannot hold but a few thoughts at a time. When we think about the tasks of this world, we cannot hold God fully in our minds. We cannot possibly remember the lessons we have learned, while we are watching tv or thinking about our troubles. Prayer is the time when we can empty our minds of the world, and remember hope and patience. We can remember how great is our goal, and this will give us comfort and joy.