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Daily Devotion for December 8, 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
Blessed are you, O Lord my God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids. I thank you for all that you have done while I was asleep, watching over me and all your children while we slept unaware, and I pray that my thoughts and acts this day may show forth my love and thanks for you and all you have done for me.
Help me through your Holy Spirit, that I may remember what you have taught me in the Bible and it may show forth in my every deed. Let me not wander into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, not into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, but steer my inclinations towards goodness and charity this morning and all the day. In the name of Christ I pray.
For the Human Family
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human race, O Lord; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
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.
Who is Driving?
"If God is your co-pilot, swap seats."
Jude 1:17-23 (ESV)
Perseverance in Hope
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions."
It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Notes on the Scripture
Doesn't it seem odd, that so many atheists and agnostics who openly denounce Christianity celebrate Christmas with so much zeal? Girlie magazines will have pictures of naked women wearing only a Santa hat and perhaps a red "Merry Christmas" ribbon, as if they are a gift to be opened: celebrate Christ's birthday with lust and fornication, I suppose is their subtext.
They are like people who crash a wedding reception, not knowing the bride or groom. Empty minded and reveling in their own ungodly passions, they just enjoy a good party. They want to make believe that life is all fun and Christmas presents.
There is much we simply have to accept, for the Bible tells us — as Jude does in today's Scripture — that Christ will not save all the people of earth. Paul and the prophets seem to indicate that salvation will always be the exception, not the rule.
And yet, we are obligated and full of desire to snatch others out of the fire (as Jude puts it). For most of us, we don't even know where to begin with this. We might serve at church and we might give to Christian charities, but we may not be willing, out of shyness or an unwillingness to alienate our backsliding friends, to bring the subject up in conversation.
One field upon which we can make progress, however, is Christmas. We can refuse to play along with the secularization of one of the two holiest days in the year, when we celebrate the birth of Christ. We can give children advent calendars. Santa Claus may be unavoidable to some degree, but we can minimize the kitschy world of Santa, reindeer, the North Pole, etc. We can decorate with crèches, stars, angels and candles instead of candy canes, Santa Claus, etc. We can play real Christmas carols instead of "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree".
This is our holiday. We don't need to criticize or judge others, but let's remember, in our own lives, that Christmas is purely a Christian holiday and celebrate it the way we want to.