Daily Devotion for January 12, 2022
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.
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.
Music and Lyrics by Joseph Brackett (1848)
Prayer to Address God with My Heart (inspired by Jane Austen)
Give me grace Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address you with my heart, as with my lips. You are everywhere present, from you no secret can be hidden. May the knowledge of this, teach me to fix my thoughts on you, with reverence and devotion, that I may not pray in vain.
May I now, and on each return of morning, consider how I will spend the day ahead; what thoughts will prevail in my mind? What words will I speak? Will my actions reflect your will, or my own? How far can I acquit myself of evil, and live in the goodness and beauty of my Lord Christ?
Will I think irreverently of you? Will I disobey your commandments? Will I neglect and make excuses for any known duty, or willingly give pain to any human being? Incline me to ask my heart these questions oh! God, throughout the day, to save me from deceiving myself by pride or vanity.
And give me always a thankful sense of the blessings in which I live, of the many comforts of my lot; that I may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference. Hear me almighty God, for his sake who has redeemed me, and taught me thus to pray.
For Those Who Suffer from Prejudice
Holy God, teach me to treat every person with the pure love of Christ. Do not let me hate any person, but to forgive them when they sin, and to disregard every external attribute that prejudices one person against another. For we are all your children, equally loved, although we be sinners all.
And bless those who hate and those who are hated, especially from prejudices against attributes of birth, or appearance, or ability, or any other worldly feature that divides us from one another. Comfort and bless those who suffer such discrimination and do not let them fall into Satan’s trap, but give them always a spirit of sincere and pure forgiveness, as Christ forgave those who tortured and murdered Him.
And reform those who say words or commit acts that hurt others; if it be your will, let them see their sin and grow to hate it. Call them to your Spirit and let them be reborn in love and humility through the power of Christ, in whose name I pray,
May God the Father bless us; may Christ take care of us; the Holy Ghost enlighten us all the days of our life. The Lord be our defender and keeper of body and soul, both now and for ever, to the ages of ages.
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.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
What does 2 Timothy 3:16 tell us?
Psalm 103:8-12 (NKJV)
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Galatians 1:11-19 (ESV)
The Hope for a Lost Soul
or I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.
Notes on the Scripture
There are people who have done terrible things in this world. Human beings are capable of unspeakable atrocities. Can the soul of such a person be saved?
The quote from Galatians reminds us that the Christian religion was founded, in large part, by a person who had committed such atrocities. Before he received Christ’s grace and changed his name, Paul was known as Saul. He was a Roman citizen and a thug in the employ of the Sanhedrin, the Hebrew council in Jerusalem. His job was to travel around Israel, seek out people who taught the miracle of Christ’s life and word, and arrest them. He would then herd them back to Jerusalem, to be tried and perhaps imprisoned or executed. He was, in short, a mass murderer, little different from the Nazi SS who rounded up Jews for transport to Auschwitz.
This is worth remembering when we ponder the troubling question of Christ’s capacity to forgive a terrible criminal, and even more important for the person who has himself committed a terrible crime. God’s capacity to love and forgive is infinite; it is so great that it is unknowable to the human mind. To our eyes, every human being, no matter how depraved, is one of God’s beautiful and beloved children and is capable of salvation.
If we encountered Saul today, would we judge him and curse him? Probably. And yet, this was to become arguably the greatest teacher of Christianity, the greatest missionary of Christ, in history. When we are tempted to judge a very wicked person, we need to remember Saul.
God has a purpose in everything He does, although it is frequently impossible for us to know it. We can see at least some of His purpose, however, in choosing Paul to write so much of the Bible. It is a demonstration to us that even someone who is the most evil of people might be saved; and not simply saved, but become a person of tremendous positive influence in leading others to salvation.
Theologically, Christ will come to judge humanity and God, with perfect foresight, knows and has always known who will repent and be saved, and who will not; there are places in the Bible where this is presented as God intentionally hardening the heart of a person He does not intend should be saved. But this is a matter for God, not us.