Daily Devotion for August 31, 2009
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.
This incredibly beautiful hymn was recorded too soft, so you might need to turn up your volume a little.
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
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.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.
And he will be like a tree planted by the river of water, that brings forth fruit in its season; his leaf will not wither, and whatever he does will prosper.
The ungodly are not so, but are like chaff carried away by the wind.
The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows those who follow the path of righteousness; but the path of the ungodly leads to death.
Thoughts on Psalm 1
One of the most wonderful things about Psalm 1 is the multiple meanings of the images in the first sentence. You can see a real person walking with a group who do not believe in God. Perhaps he is experiencing the natural human desire to be accepted by the group. Certainly, since he is walking in their "counsel", he is being influenced by them. The psalm reminds us of the power (and danger) of peer-pressure. Trying to fit into a group can lead us into terrible mistakes, and yet, the desire to be accepted can feel overpowering.
In a second, more poetic sense, "walk" can mean "act" or "live". The phrases "walk like a man" and "walk the walk" don't refer to the way someone puts one foot in front of the other; it refers to the way they act, the way they lead their lives. In this sense, the psalmist warns us not to live our lives based on the advice of the ungodly.
Next, we get a physical description of a man or woman standing in a certain way. You can almost see a gang of juvenile delinquents slouching in a doorway or a gaggle of sexy girls gossiping. The immediate message is: We will be blessed if we do not look like that. Today, the spectacle of sin on parade is more visible, more seductive, and more widely accepted than ever. Drunken teenagers in Cancun are convinced to strip nearly naked and simulate sex for the amusement of spectators. Dad salivates when he sees a new Mercedes, Mom "has to have" that outrageously expensive purse.
The advice not to "stand in the way of a sinner", however, mainly concerns a more abstract meaning of "stand". We say we "stand" somewhere when we take a position, as in: "where do you stand on that?" A common call to action based on our beliefs is the term, "stand and be counted" — this rarely means that we should stand up so that somebody can count heads, but it is a vivid image of taking action based on a moral principle. So when the psalm urges us not to stand with sinners, it reminds us not to compromise our moral stance, just because other people are doing it. The greatest example: Christ himself was so violently unpopular that his own people killed him. And know that God understands how powerful others' influence can be; even Peter could not stand with Christ.
The third phrase, "sits in the seat of the scornful", gives a sharp picture of a person sitting high in a chair with a sneer on his face. He is contemptuous and disdainful of somebody else -- a cynic. Such people often gain approval and even adulation for their wit, their cleverness, their sophistication. We must remember Paul's words in Ephesians 4: “As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people. Their minds are in the dark, and they are stubborn and ignorant and have missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right, and they are so greedy that they do all kinds of indecent things.”
A Coptic Cross, drawn by Egyptian student Andrew Fanous