Daily Devotion for December 2, 2011
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,
Prayer for Purity of Thought
Almighty God, who alone gave me the breath of life, and alone can keep alive in me the holy desires your Spirit brings; I pray to you, in the name of your infinite compassion, to sanctify my thoughts and endeavors this day; that I may not begin to act without a pure intention or continue it without your blessing. And grant that, having the eyes of my mind opened to behold things invisible and unseen, I may in heart be inspired by your wisdom, and in work be upheld by your strength, and in the end be accepted by you as your faithful servant; through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
Better to Light a Candle . . .
"How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world."
~ William Shakespeare
Romans 13:1-7 (ESV)
Submission to the Authorities
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Notes on the Scripture
In a participatory democracy, today's passage creates complexities unknown at the time of Paul. We choose the government; they answer to us, not vice versa. And, egged on by the media who will excoriate government officials for many reasons — some fully justified, but some rather petty — we develop an attitude of disrespect.
Yet, Paul's message still stands, and it reflects the teaching of Christ. Keep in mind, first of all, that it is addressed to Christians; it is written in the context of the sacrifice of our body that we have made to God. God's grace is not a part-time blessing.
There is nothing in the Bible that tells us not to vote or support a political candidate. In fact, one could argue in good faith that voting is a duty. Not to vote actually smacks slightly of disobedience to the governing authority; follow Paul's admonitions would therefore tell us we should vote, as an act of obedience.
But becoming involved in politics is a slippery slope and it is easy to fall into a trap where earthly power takes the forefront and Christ takes second seat. Where churches or church leaders do it, their Christian beliefs are always warped by their politics. Their credibility is damaged in the eyes of others and their ability to bring people to Christ is lessened. Our lives have one crucial truth and one crucial aim; our salvation by the grace of God, brought about by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Shall we then spend our time vociferously fighting about divisive earthly conflicts?
We seek and know perfect truth, and there is no perfect truth in politics. We seek to love and live in harmony with all, and politics quickly becomes angry and divisive. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God."
Our duty as Christians is to obey and respect, not to control and attack, the government. So let us always pray for humility and remember, when we set out to change the world, that God is in charge. His will is going to be done.