I’ve posted this verse four or five times already but bear with me. I turned thirty yesterday. Typically on a birthday I take a little time to reflect. There are lots of measurables in life but this verse is the standard I hold myself to. Its probably not your birthday but how closely do you resemble this verse?
Reading about the church fathers and some of their prayers made me think of a simpler time, when faith and life seemed to merge in an amazingly seamless way, where words, conventions and practice seemed to live in one accord. One of those prayers has become my own challenges this week.
Here is a prayer by Clement bishop of Rome c.96 AD, a simple yet challenging prayer for today:
“We ask you, Master, be our helper and defender. Rescue those of our number in distress; raise up the fallen; assist the needy; heal the sick; turn back those of your people who stray; feed the hungry; release our captives; revive the weak; encourage those who lose heart. Let all the nations realize that you are the only God, that Jesus Christ is your Child, and that we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.”
Today’s Passage: “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:5-13, NRSV)
Devotional Thought: Today’s passage reminds me of a a prayer that comes from Mother Teresa of Calcutta: Make us worthy Lord, to serve our fellow-men; throughout the world who live and die in poverty or hunger. Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love give peace and joy.
We often use the words, “thy will be done” and understand it to be knowing that God indeed provides for each of us. But…how many times is God’s will also for us to do for others in need…not just to pray the words “thy will be done” but to be living examples of God’s will toward others…
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 (The Message Bible) “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”
Think about bringing out the very best in others today. What might you do this day to move your world closer to the Kingdom of God? What could you do to encourage someone else to love others and do what is good? Be inventive and creative in motivating someone else to be better and brighter for Jesus and others. I wonder what might happen today, if we bring out the very best in someone else?
For my past few blogs I had shared with you some prayers by St. Augustine of Hippo. Most days, I am not one that follows written prayers, but once in a while I find great strength in the wisdom and spirituality of those that walked before me. Their prayers, in a sense become their testimony where i find my strength or a source of inspiration. Today I am sharing one more of those prayers: A prayer for the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit, powerful Consoler, sacred Bond of the Father and the Son, Hope of the afflicted, descend into my heart and establish in it your loving dominion. Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of your Love so that I may be wholly subject to you. We believe that when you dwell in us, you also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son. Deign, therefore, to come to me, Consoler of abandoned souls, and Protector of the needy. Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering. Come and purify me. Let no evil desire take possession of me. You love the humble and resist the proud. Come to me, glory of the living, and hope of the dying. Lead me by your grace that I may always be pleasing to you. Amen.
Today’s Passage: “Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good. Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another. Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians, and open your homes to strangers. Ask God to bless those who persecute you – yes, ask him to bless, not to curse. Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep. Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise. If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it. For the scripture says, “I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord.” Instead, as the scripture says: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them a drink; for by doing this you will make them burn with shame.” Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21)
Devotional Thought: Many today are remembering exactly where they were on this day in 2001. When significant events in history have taken place, it is very easy to remember. I can remember seeing the first footage of the 2 planes crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center – it was around 12 hours after the actual event. I was the Duty Station Manager – we had no TVs…the only communication with the outside world was telephone and pagers…internet access was restricted. I can remember the emotions running very high that day. Working in a nuclear power plant at the time increased the anxiety as we were placed on heightened alert…not all planes were accounted for and all nuclear plants were targets. Non-essential personnel were sent home…we were planning for a disaster…it was a day that won’t be long forgotten.
There are many emotions still today. We all remember…is it possible to remember and ask God to bless those that persecute…to live without wanting revenge…to not let evil defeat us?
Do you need to lighten your load today?
Do you need to let go of some fears, failures, anxieties, sins, troubles, etc.?
Are you feeling overburdened, tired, worn out? Do you need to lighten your load? Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV) “Come to me me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life…Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)
Why not unburden your soul, heart, mind, spirit today and find rest? You can lighten your load and give it up to Jesus, anytime you wish.
“Learn [fresh and new today]the unforced rhythms of grace.” (MSG)
God bless and keep you this day and always.
I like to teach straight through a book of the Bible occasionally so I’ve been reading 1 Timothy in preparation for Youth Group this fall. This verse stood out. For me, money is a big stressor. I think a lot about saving.. retirement and what our financial needs will look like in the future. Truth be told, even if we lived in an RV in my parents back yard on one income we would have a great deal more than much of the world. Why is contentment such an issue with us even though we have so much?
Today’s Passage: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” (Hebrews 13:8-9a)
Devotional Thought: The context of the this passage is in the context of an author’s conclusion to the book of Hebrews. The chapter first has moral directions for how to live then religious directions. Specifically, the church’s teaching should about Jesus and that teaching is a compass for our lives. When you hear the words, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever…”, what does this mean in your life?