Daily Devotion for April 28, 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.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, Lord God of my salvation, to you be praise and glory for ever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have delivered me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of your risen Son. May I, the fruit of your new creation, rejoice in this new day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
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.
It is possible to be happy without having perfect health . . . Thank goodness my happiness doesn't come from my joints, but from my heart.
~ Beverly LaHaye
2 Corinthians 4:6-12 (ESV)
Treasure in Jars of Clay
God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Notes on the Scripture
Paul was, at his best, a wonderful poet and writer, and nowhere is his power with words more evident than in his two epistles to the church in Corinth. Here, he describes the relationship of our saved souls to our earthly bodies as a "treasure in a jar of clay", a wonderful image. It describes an object of fantastic beauty and craftsmanship stored in a rather cheap, common vessel, a utilitarian storage vessel that will break into pieces and be forgotten, the shards thrown into a rubbish heap. And most of us are, truth be told, nothing great to look at. And even if we are, it will change. What beauty we have in our bodies is like the grass, lasting for only a short season before drying up and being blown away by the wind.
But this does not matter. No matter how we are packaged, the packaging is not the important part. Our bodies are like the wrapping paper for Christmas presents, to be admired for a short while before being taken away. Because what we keep, the true thing of value, is the present underneath the wrapping paper, which is what we truly value and something that we will keep forever.
So what does it matter, ultimately, the condition of the container? We know that we carry a great and eternal treasure inside of our bodies. And there is a reason we do not radiate terrible beauty, like the angels; because this beauty belongs to God and not to us. Our bodies, our selves while we live as people, are filled with sin and pride and cannot reflect the complete truth and beauty of God.
This is why Paul tells us, "we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed". For no matter what is done to our bodies, no matter how much we suffer physical pain, or blows to our pride, we can know that within, the treasure of our perfected soul is untarnished and unhurt. Our pain is real, just as the pain of Christ was real; but our salvation is also real. And so no matter how much we are called upon to endure in our body, we have the comfort of knowing that there is perfection, and peace, and joy beyond our ability to understand, that is incapable of harm.