Daily Devotion for May 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.
An old interpretation of a famous spiritual, by the Golden Gate Quartet.
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 Personal Conduct (from 1 Timothy)
Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy, above reproach. May I be this day temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, and not violent, but gentle. May I never be quarrelsome, always seeking peace even in disagreement, and may my love be for you and my fellow man, not for money. I pray that I manage my own household well. If I have any children in my charge, I pray to that I may take the time to see that they are in control and behaving with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. This I pray through my Lord Christ, whose love and attention ever gave us an example of conduct,
The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this day and evermore.
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 the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.
1 Peter 3:3-5 (ESV)
Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear — but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves.
Notes on the Scripture
This passage is actually addressed to "wives" — it is extracted from the middle of yesterday's Scripture — but the principles would seem to apply to men and single women, also.
Peter's teachings are hard and widely ignored. Today's passage does not draw the same kind of vehement emotional opposition that yesterday's advice to wives can trigger. Most people find it inoffensive in theory. In practice, however, it is probably even harder for many people to take to heart and actually follow.
People want to look good. The positive feedback is immediate and feels warm and fuzzy. And to a degree, there is nothing sinful about it. Peter does not tell us to wear ugly or ragged clothes, not to bathe, not to brush our hair.
Like all aspects of the great sin of pride, self-adornment is a matter of degree. It can sneak into our lives by degree, so subtle that we hardly notice it in ourselves. Few of us follow it, for it is so easy to defend vanity, so simple to rationalize exceptions.
But those who follow this teaching are really none the worse for it. Consider the Amish. They are clean and well-groomed, but dress very plain, and the women wear no makeup or jewelry. Do Amish men pine after movie actresses and swimsuit models? No. The true beauty of these women is easy to see, even to an outsider.
To those in the shallow end of the pool, a man wearing a Rolex watch or a woman with a new dress from Nieman-Marcus are admired. But we must ask ourselves: Which lifestyle is Christian, and which lifestyle do we want to promote? Do we really support the atheistic ideal of judging others by the cost of their shoes? Or will we better serve Christ by showing true values, letting others see the "imperishable beauty of a gentle spirit" not camouflaged by a vain display of self-adornment?
Many people can find an opportunity for spiritual growth in this area. Peter's words are to be taken seriously and followed. The more difficult this lesson is for us to follow, the more we can benefit from study, prayer, discussion and meditation about the values we show the world in our lifestyle.