Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 51, Deuteronomy 28:58-29:1, and Acts 7:17-29

St. Stephen, defending himself before the Sanhedrin, is recalling how God worked through Abraham and Moses.  He gave a quick overview of the story of the Exodus, highlighting God’s role in Israel’s salvation.  Although his listeners knew the story well, Stephen was trying to make a point: That Jesus was the promise of whom their forefathers had dreamed for so very long.  Jesus was the one who was sent to bring them into full covenant relationship with God.  Yet the religious authorities had rejected and killed him.  With that, they all put their fingers in their ears, took Stephen outside the city, and stoned him.

We are occasionally guilty of stoning the one who tells us the ugly truth.  Even though we claim to be Christ-followers, we still get stuck in our own ways, and sometimes God will send someone to tell us what we need to change.  We have a choice: We can choose to hear God and change our ways, or we can choose to reject what the person is saying.  While we may not physically throw rocks at them, we can stone people with our words.  The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is patently false.  Words do hurt, and hurt very bad.  One sentence can erase years of hard work, ripping away someone’s self confidence and positive image.

Another point is that God works through the lives of people, whether they realize it or not, to affect many people.  Abraham never saw God’s promise come to fruit, but he was still faithful.  He never saw Israel as a huge nation of people, yet he still followed God.  Moses never saw the full promise, either – he led the people to the entrance of Canaan, but he could not enter in and never saw them living in their newly-won homes.

Just because you don’t see the results doesn’t mean it’s not doing good.  Sure, there should be some signs that you’re going in the right direction.  You should be able to see short-term results.  Sometimes, though, God will send you to do something that has far greater results than what you can see.  Abraham knew he was successful because God blessed him and made him rich, but Abraham didn’t see the full payment for his faithfulness.  Moses saw results in the giving of the law and getting the people through the wilderness to the entrance of the promised land, but he didn’t see the full payment for his faithfulness.  Some results are necessary, because they help us see we’re going in the right direction, but some of the effects won’t be seen for many years.

Don’t get discouraged when you don’t see the full effects of what God wants you to do.  Don’t get discouraged when it seems that the larger promise hasn’t come true yet.  Don’t let yourself get lost in the short-term, either with no results or with the wrong results.  Follow God in obedience and he will make sure it all ends up the way it should.

Take some time to pray about this.  Ask God to use you.  Ask him to give you the faith to hear and follow him and the grace to carry out his commands.  Write your own prayer.

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