Daily Devotion for December 22, 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.
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 the Nation
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; I humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people who remember your favor and are glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here from so many different lands and languages. Grant the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust with the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may demonstrate your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and days of trouble, do not let our trust in you fail; all which I ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.
The Truth of God and the Foolishness of the World
Preaching about the cross sounds like foolishness to those who are perishing; but to us who are saved, it is the power of God. As it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Who is this wise person spoken of? Where is the expert? where is the attorney who represents this world? Hasn't God made the wisdom of this world foolish?
It was God's wisdom that decided the world could not know Him by its intelligence; it pleased God to save those who believe by the irrationality of preaching. Unlike the Jews, who demand a sign, or the Greeks, who believe only in the holiness of logic, we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and Greeks — foolishness. But to them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men; and the weakness of God is stronger than the strength of men.
Comment on the Scripture
Historically, it is surprising how close Greek philosophers, using logic, came to realizing that the universe was created by a single god. Plato speculated that there had to be a single "divine worker" who formed the universe from chaos. His student, Aristotle, went much further, and Aristotle's concept of God gained the approval of many later Jewish theologians. But although they were the wisest men in the world, their wisdom was insufficient to find truth.
The Jews approached the same issue from an entirely different perspective; they believed in one true God, not because they logically arrived at a concept, but because they experienced God in their lives. Their belief lay in their hearts, not in their minds. God gave them laws and, if they followed these laws, they would be blessed in their lives.
Apparently, the Jews were closer to the ultimate truth than the Greeks. When God sent Christ into the world, he was not born into a great nation. He was not a Greek, or Roman, or Egyptian. Rather, he was born into a small nation in a poor part of the world, a Semitic tribe that very infrequently managed to control their parched little homeland. But although they were strong in the spirit, their strength and devotion were insufficient for salvation.
Christ was something greater than a merger of Greek intelligence and Jewish devotion. Paul tells us that it is not possible to know Christ by being smart; in fact, Christ confounds and confuses people who rely solely on their intelligence to find the truth. Nor did Christ come from the great Jewish religious establishment; he was constantly at odds with both the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and it was they who rejected and ultimately killed him.
Today's passage does not mean that Christ cannot be found in the great, the rich, the intelligent, or the "spiritual". But don't count on it. Even a very good and kind person, a person who speaks with great intelligence and makes perfect sense, a rich and successful person, may be "perishing". They do not represent the highest level of truth and good. It is our openness to hearing and believing the message of the cross that saves us. That and only that. And it may be found in persons and places of all kinds and conditions.