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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Daily Devotion for July 25, 2013

<i>Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me</i> by Fritz von Uhde ca. 1884.
Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me by Fritz von Uhde ca. 1884.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

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.


This performance just gets better and better as it builds. It makes a fitting celebration of today's Scripture.

A Prayer of Entreaty by Jane Austen

Compassionate Lord, give me 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.

Be gracious to my Necessities, and guard me, and all I love, from Evil this day. May the sick and afflicted, be now, and ever thy care; and heartily do I pray for the safety of all that travel by Land or by Sea, for the comfort & protection of the Orphan and Widow and that thy pity may be shewn upon all Captives and Prisoners.

Above all other blessings Oh! God, for myself, and my fellow-creatures, I implore Thee to quicken our sense of thy Mercy in the redemption of the World, of the Value of that Holy Religion in which we have been brought up, that we may not, by our own neglect, throw away the salvation thou hast given us, nor be Christians only in name. Hear me Almighty God, for His sake who has redeemed me, and taught me thus to pray.


Prayer for Humility

Heavenly Father, who sent your Son to ride on an ass and to work as a simple carpenter: if you so humbled yourself to save me, how can I puff myself up with pride above others? Let me follow Christ's example, never to inflate myself with pride of status, of opinion, or of any of the gifts you have bestowed upon me.

Give me the grace to realize my ignorance, admit my mistakes, recognize my needs. Let me welcome good advice and sound rebuke, without defensiveness. Grant me always to praise rather than criticize, sympathize rather than discourage, build rather than destroy, and when I am angry at the ignorance of another, to recall my own ignorance and remember that we are all your beloved children. Let my hope and glory be ever in you, and not in my own vanity. This I ask in Christ's sake,


Blessing for the Day

Oh God, hold me in the palm of your hand. I pray that you will mold me into what you want me to be. May I joyfully fill the role you have given to me and feel your peace deep in my soul, today and always,


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

endless knot

Ezra 8:23 (ESV)

The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 4:12-17 (J.B. Phillips NT)

Jesus Begins His Ministry

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested he went back to Galilee. He left Nazareth and came to live in Capernaum, a lake-side town in the Zebulun-Naphtali territory.

In this way Isaiah’s prophecy came true:

‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned’.

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “You must change your hearts — for the kingdom of Heaven has arrived.”

Notes on the Scripture

Map 1 (simpler)   Map 2 (detailed)

The subsequent history of John the Baptist is a great story, but Matthew chooses to follow Jesus, rather than break his narrative at this point. (He will return to John's fate in a flashback in Chapter 14.)

Jesus hears John has been beheaded by Herod, so what does he do? He goes to the area where John was arrested and begins to preach. Even Christ's biggest detractor would have to admit - the guy had guts.

The prophesy is a paraphrase of Isaiah 9:1-2. If you look at a map delineating the lands of the tribes, you see that Naphtali border the west and northwest of Lake Galilee, including Capernaum; little Zebulun lies just to the west of Naphtali.

Matthew's invocation of Isaiah 9 is utterly convincing. This is perhaps Isaiah's greatest prophecy of a Messiah to come, the prophecy “for unto us a child is born”, and Isaiah's specification of Naphtali, Zebulun and Galilee in general as the lands into which darkness is filled with a great light, is without doubt an accurate prediction of Christ's coming.

Matthew then gives us a thrilling one-sentence summary of Christ's initial teaching. “Preach” is not a great translation of the Greek, for the Greek word refers to the proclamation of a king. This was not a speech relating one ordinary man's opinion. Christ's message had certainty. It had authority.

Most Bibles translate this verse, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand”, but J.B. Phillips (“You must change your hearts — for the kingdom of Heaven has arrived”) really captures Christ's message better, in two ways.

First, remember that John the Baptist had preached, “make clear the path, for the kingdom of God is coming”; Christ's meaning is that, “the kingdom of Heaven has arrived.” He is making a claim of divinity, to be the Messiah that John had heralded.

Secondly, “repent” is not as pointed as “change your hearts”, for this phrase puts its finger directly on Jesus' great criticism of the Jewish religious leaders. They claim righteousness by their outward conduct — their literal compliance with the law of Moses. But their hearts are corrupt; the veneer of righteousness conceals internal greed and pride that has made a mockery of God's law.

Jesus' message is one of internal change: faith, and love. And the message will be so powerful that our justification before God will be accomplished by our faith alone. The doctrine of justification by external works, which had led to hypocrisy and failure, will no longer be the primary mechanism by which we seek salvation.

Jesus preaching

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 3:16: As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

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“The mind of God is greater than all the minds of men, so let all men leave the gospel just as God has delivered it unto us.” ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon