Daily Devotion for November 30, 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
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.)
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.
Romans 12:15-16[a] (ESV)
Sharing Pain and Joy
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly [or, "give yourself to humble tasks"].
Notes on the Scripture
Paul seems to anticipate here a life that is centered around a church; and that is church with a small "c", because it is hard to imagine he would have approved of a diversity of denominations marked by mutual jealousy, division, and even enmity that was to occur. Unfortunately, as Christianity grew and became an official and often mandatory national religion, churches began to wield both economic and political power. As is often noted, power corrupts; the corruption of the church was profound and heartbreaking.
Most people in the United States think "separation of church and state" is a doctrine created for the good of the state, so that people will not forced to worship in a certain way. But it is the best thing that could happen to churches. If you doubt this, simply read a history of Europe from 1400 to 1800. Churches, which were intended as rather informal gatherings of faithful Christians to rejoice and weep with one another, to learn and to worship, were co-opted by unscrupulous men seeking wealth and power.
Take the phrase "live in harmony with one another", which is simple to understand but impossible to implement when church leadership interests itself in politics rather than salvation. The most devastating war ever fought, the Thirty Years' War in the early 1600s, was the sole product of church involvement in politics. Catholic and Protestant interests utterly devastated the many states that comprised what is now Germany. Often, every house was burned and every farm destroyed. Scholars estimate that the male population of the German States decreased by as much as 50%.
Consider: Were these people interested in following the teaching of the Bible? Or were their interests elsewhere?
We must always return to the Bible and keep its lessons at the forefront of our mind, especially the lessons that do not comport with our political views. Paul tells us to have empathy with our fellow Christians, to live in harmony, not to be haughty or arrogant. If we find ourselves saying "yes, but . . . " to these instructions, we must always remember that it is the "yes" part that is right, and the "but" part which needs examination and correction.