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Daily Devotion for February 17, 2013
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.
Our "Virtual Sunday Church" this week takes us to some fancy digs - the venerable St. Paul's Cathedral in London - for a setting of Psalm 121.
This music will be a little stuffy for some people, but following it is an excellent way to read and reflect upon the psalm (which is printed to the right).
For the Spirit of Prayer
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord. Let your Holy Spirit guide me in my prayer and in thought, and grant me the grace to listen and hear your Word. Soften my heart, that I may be directed by your truth, and not the devices of my body and mind. In the name of Christ I ask this,
Prayer of Penitence
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against You whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with Your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In His name, my God, have mercy.
Prayer for All People
O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, I humbly pray to you for all sorts and conditions of humanity; that it might please you to make your Word known to them and bring your saving health to all nations. In particular I pray for the entirety of your church, in all of its many forms; that it may be guided and governed by your Holy Spirit, and that all who profess your name and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth. May all of us live in the unity of spirit our faith in Christ provides to us, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.
Finally, I commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are ill or in distress, in their mind, body, or circumstances. May it please you to comfort and relieve them in accordance with their needs, giving them patience during their suffering, and a fortunate outcome to all of their problems. And this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who was always pleased to relieve the suffering of those he encountered.
I dedicate this day to you, mighty God. I pray that your Spirit will lift me up this day, and that your face may shine upon me all the day long, that I might do your will and lead a new life in Christ, reborn in the Spirit.
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.
Psalm 121:5-8 (KJV)
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord,
which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper:
the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth,
and even for evermore.
Take Up Your Bed and Walk (ESV)
And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed."
He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, 'Take up your bed and walk.'"
Then they asked him, "Who is the Man who said to you, 'Take up your bed and walk'?" But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."
The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Notes on the Scripture
Mosaic Law (that is, the set of laws governing Jewish conduct that began with Moses) gives a wide range of laws that interpret the Ten Commandments. The fourth (or in many churches, third) commandment, "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy", is amplified into a long list of specific things that may or may not be done between sundown on Friday and sundown on Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath), with specific exceptions for specific circumstances.
Obviously, carrying a bed is work that is forbidden on the Sabbath. But Christ superseded the Laws of Moses, and he frequently ran afoul of Jewish religious leaders on that account. Remember, though, that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17)
Christians can certainly follow Mosaic Law almost entirely. A good Christian can practically live as an Orthodox Jew (from the person's perspective — the Jews would not appreciate him spouting off about Christ, as they believe the Messiah has not yet come). But not quite. For example, the law that forbids a Jew from eating a meal with a non-believer runs afoul of a specific Christian teaching. (1 Corinthians 10:27)
It is still God's will that we respect the general meaning of the Ten Commandments, for example, but Christianity often reinterprets the letter of them. The most common case is respecting the Sabbath. Very few Christians observe the Sabbath (and many do not even realize that the "Sabbath" falls on Saturday, not Sunday). On the other hand, the meaning of the commandment is reinterpreted, and it is followed in spirit by special devotion on Sunday and, often, putting aside work.
Most of us would be better off to pay more attention to keeping the Sabbath or Sundays holy. We absorb the atheism of the culture around us; very few nominal "Christians", being freed from literal compliance with the fourth commandment, make much effort to keep the day truly holy.
But the greater lesson in today's Word is our introduction to just how much authority Christ asserted; he can act and teach that the very word of God concerning how men conduct their lives, the law given by God himself to Moses, has been changed because of his arrival. In short, this is the point at which he asserts the authority of God himself.