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Daily Devotion for May 13, 2012
In honor of mothers everywhere. Mary and Angels (artist unknown).
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.
Our "Virtual Sunday Church" takes us to an ethereal Magnificat, sung in the (Catholic) Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it.
I want it to be gain, not loss; good, not evil; success, not failure; in order that I shall not regret wasting a day that will never return.
1 Peter 2:13-17 (ESV)
Submission to Authority
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Notes on the Scripture
Having shown us that we are a "royal priesthood and a holy nation" and should therefore live our lives as examples to non-believers, Peter begins a section of difficult lessons. Here he tells us to be subject to the laws of the civil authority. We do not need to do this for our own salvation, but rather, in our role as disciples. Specifically, to avoid giving foolish people — atheists, Wiccans, and all the varieties of people who have not found Christ — fuel to criticize us and thus bring Christ's name into bad repute.
This is fine and good, we think, when the government is good. But do we really have to obey a government that is evil, corrupt, immoral?
The answer to this question lies in the circumstances under which Peter wrote this epistle. The "emperor" whom Peter tells the exiled Christians to honor was one of the wickedest men who ever ruled: Nero. The emperors of Rome during this time exiled, suppressed, tortured, and murdered Jews and Christians by the thousands.
But nevertheless, we are free. We can live by our conscience (as long as we do not use our faith to cover up evil). To honor the emperor does not mean to act contrary to our morals.
The most shining example is our very profession of belief in Christ. At several times during this period, Roman authorities ordered Christians to stop worshipping, and to swear against their beliefs, on pain of death; and many disobeyed the law and were killed. They did not call the emperor foul names, curse the government of Rome, or start a revolution. They continued to honor the civil authority even as they refused to follow a wicked law.
This is the model for all Christians to follow. Hopefully we will not be called upon to die for our faith! But we can always live for our faith, and the kinds of disputes and pridefulness that come with too much faith in the governments of this world will always take away from our effectiveness as Christ's disciples. If we profess Christ openly, we must lead honorable lives and not make enemies in worldly disputes — in this case, political enemies. For if we do, they become enemies of Christ as well.