Daily Devotion for September 16, 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.
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"
Prayer for the Morning
Father, as I face this new day, let me be aware of the work you have done for me as I slept. I praise you that your loving care never slumbers, but has been with me while I was least aware of it; and that you renew me and the whole world, fresh every day, preparing your plans for me.
I pray that I may seek your will this day, your plan for my life, and carry out your plan in my every action. I lay my hopes and fears on an altar before you, that your Holy Spirit may guide my hopes toward the light of your holiness, and may quiet my fears with the knowledge of your infinite peace, in total confidence that your grace will save me from the evils of this world. In Jesus' name I pray,
Prayer for One's Home (by Edgar Guest)
Peace, unto this house, I pray,
Keep terror and despair away;
Shield it from evil and let sin
Never find lodging room within.
May never in these walls be heard
The hateful or accusing word.
Grant that its warm and mellow light
May be to all a beacon bright,
A flaming symbol that shall stir
The beating pulse of him or her
Who finds this door and seems to say,
"Here end the trials of the day."
Hold us together, gentle Lord,
Who sit about this humble board;
May we be spared the cruel fate
Of those whom hatreds separate;
Here let love bind us fast, that we
May know the joys of unity.
Lord, this humble house we'd keep
Sweet with play and calm with sleep.
Help us so that we may give
Beauty to the lives we live.
Let Thy love and let Thy grace
Shine upon our dwelling place.
The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this day and evermore.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
A Way, and Ways, and a Way,
And the High Soul climbs the High Way,
And the Low Soul gropes the Low,
And in between, on the misty flats,
To rest drift to and fro.
A High Way, and a Low.
And every man decideth
The way his soul shall go.
The Way by John Oxenham
Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)
Sermon on the Mount - The Narrow Gate
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Notes on the Scripture
As late as the Renaissance, cities were protected by walls, and the gates were guarded. Great gates would exist for commercial traffic; and often, smaller secondary gates. But even smaller were postern gates, small doorways often hidden from view and closed to the public. They had several uses, but most important, if the city were besieged, they would allow the ruler to sneak messengers and spies in and out; and so they had to be very narrow, so that if the enemy discovered one, few could get through before the alarm was sounded.
Postern gate in
The analogy of postern gates to hidden knowledge, that the public could not grasp, was not unique to Jesus. A student of Socrates, named Cebes, wrote: “Dost thou see a little door, and a way in front of the door which is not much crowded, but the travellers are few? That is the way that leadeth to true instruction.” (Cebes, Tabula.)
The narrow gate represents true rebirth in Christ, actual faith; the wide one, popular culture. Those who enter the narrow gate take their values from the Bible, unlike the great population, which follow the urges of their body, the rule of their emotion, the culture of their parents and friends, the wisdom of the television. Their true god is themself. Their moral code is delusional and self-referential.
It is a hard lesson, for we are accustomed to the happy idea that the entire world might find Christ and be saved. Our illusion is the product of political and social Christianity: the adoption of outward Christian worship and speech, coerced by governments (beginning with Constantine) and, later, societal pressure. But faith cannot be coerced. Social Christianity is failing, and those who do not truly believe no longer will be constrained by pretense of it.
Not only is the gate narrow; but also, “the way is hard that leads to life”. This is one of the paradoxes of Christ, for He also tells us, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. (Matthew 11:30)
We will find rest from our labor in Christ, and a light burden. Yet, the way is hard; perhaps, like a diligent scholar eager to get to his lessons, this paradox comes from the joy and spirit we find from diligence in our prayer, study, and striving to lead Christian lives. But we must first remember this verse, for what are the characteristics of any great achievement?
- It is hard, not easy. What great pianist, or writer, or scientist, has not found his achievement only after thousands of hours of diligent application? Why should we think less of eternal life?
- It is found via a long road, not a short one. An “ordinary” doctor will train for seven to eleven years after graduation from college. Great achievement is made over decades, not days. A relationship with Christ is the work of a lifetime.
- It is disciplined, not self-indulgent. How many potentially great men and women have fallen short of their potential, while frittering their time away on passing fancy?
- It is thoughtful, not reactive. We must bring our minds to bear on what we want.