Daily Devotion for January 6, 2012
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.
The "King" won four Grammy Awards for gospel music. (He never won a Grammy in any other category!)
Prayer for the Morning
May all I do today begin with you, O Lord. Plant dreams and hopes within my soul and revive my tired spirit: be with me today. Be at my side and walk with me; be my support, that your hand may be seen in every action I take, that your goodness may be in every word I speak, and that your spirit may inhabit my every thought. Make my thoughts, my work, and my very life blessings for your kingdom. In Christ's name I pray,
Prayer for Freedom from Fear
O Lord, I beseech you to deliver me, and all of your children, from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, and fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Prayer for Unknown Needs
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on my weakness, and mercifully give me those things which for my unworthiness I dare not, and for my blindness I cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
O Israel, if you will listen to Me!
There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god.
I am the LORD your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
The Example of Christ
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Notes on the Scripture
People, especially when they are young, tend to look upwards when they think about their future. The very phrase "look up" has come to have a second meaning of "respect" or "admire", as when we say we look up to a certain person. We concentrate our attention on people who are above us in some way — a skill or ability, education, a trait of character, respect of others, etc. We plan and strive to become more like them.
But no matter where we find ourselves in the hierarchies of life, we tend not to look very hard at the people behind us. Paul is telling us to do exactly that; for often we pay them little attention. We want to interact with people who are richer, more beautiful, more accomplished than us, or at least our equals. But we do not do this for them, or for God; we do this to please ourselves. We do it out of pride, to keep alive within ourselves our sense of our own status.
But Christ and Paul both lived and taught the opposite. Christ, stronger than any other human in history, placed himself between the weak and their punishment; he was like a man who lies on top of a person being beaten, so that the blows would fall on him rather than on the weaker person.
Nor did he say that we should only help those who "deserve it". There is a strong tendency in our nature to judge those in trouble, according to the degree they have caused their own problem. The British once called them the "deserving poor"; they would reserve their charity for those of whom they approved, and deny it to drunkards, criminals, the sexually immoral, etc. But Christ died for all sinners, and all of them caused their own problem. Our duty is one of love and acceptance, not one of judgment. It does not change if the person is obnoxious, or has illegitimate children, or has some other trait that we judge intolerable. Our obligation is to bear with them, "not to please ourselves."