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Daily Devotion for January 16, 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.
I know this won't appeal to everyone, but I couldn't resist. The Statesmen were an old gospel quartet, known for their antics and the amazing bass voice of "Big Chief". Here they remind us that, whether you did or didn't need the Lord before, "you sho do need Him now".
Prayer for the Morning
I call upon you, O Lord. In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.
I lift my heart to you, O Lord, to be strengthened for this day. Be with me in all I do, my God; guide me in all my ways.
I will carry some burdens today; some trials will be mine. So I wait for your help, Lord, lest I stumble and fall.
I will do my work, Father, the work begun by your Son. He lives in me and I in him; may his work today be done.
Prayer for Life
O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant me so to die daily to sin, that I may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Prayer for Peace
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live together in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
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.
But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.
1 John 4:1-6
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.
Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them. We are of God.
Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Notes on the Scripture
It is so often difficult to know what is right and wrong, especially when it comes to people who tell us that Christian doctrine says such-and-such. And our instincts so often lead us astray. Our sex drive makes us want to have sex; it doesn't distinguish between sexual acts ordained by God, and sexual acts that are sinful. Our drive to sustain ourselves does not distinguish between earning an honest living and stealing, or between making huge piles of money to spend on toys and making enough to live.
Almost every human instinct has a purpose ordained by God, but can be perverted into sin. If we study our Bible and pray, and listen to our mind and spirit instead of the "reptile brain" that controls our instincts, we avoid sin. Here, John warns us about the danger of a false spirit, and especially, a person who claims to have spiritual knowledge.
We must always work and study and meditate upon God's word, because false prophets abound. We must prepare our minds to distinguish between the true and the false. John warns us to only listen to spiritual advice that confesses Jesus as God, which we must always remind ourselves about.
We also face, however, people who will misrepresent and mischaracterize Jesus' very words. It is unfortunately easy to mischaracterize God's doctrine by quoting parts of the Bible out of context. The Bible tells us in numerous places, for example, that God wants us to prosper. There is an evangelist who has turned these passages into a message of "Jesus wants you to be rich!" and builds from it a false doctrine of greed and emphasis upon money, telling people to come to his church so that they can become millionaires.
The solution to being misled is to read the entire Bible, especially the New Testament, and not to skip sections that seem to disagree with what we want to believe. Using the same "Jesus wants you to be rich" doctrine as an example, it is impossible to read through any of the Gospels with an open mind and not realize that Jesus wants us to de-emphasize worldly riches, to pay less attention to them, not more. The same is true with any number of statements made by people claiming to preach Christian doctrine. We must know what the Bible actually says, or else we can never understand what God's will for us actually is.