Daily Devotion for October 3, 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.
This very old hymn, a favorite of people from all denominations, is given a fresh sound by Francisco Ortega.
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how all thy longings have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
[Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.]
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
Music by Lobe den Herren (1665)
Lyrics by Joachim Neander (1680), English tr. Catherine Winworth (1863).
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God, who has created all things, seen and unseen, this day is your creation and I give thanks to live in it. I pray that I will not shut you out of the day you have made, blinded by the petty concerns of life, but that I may be always open to your presence.
I open my body to you and give thanks for your life that fills and warms every cell of it.
I open my eyes and ears to you and give thanks for the light of your Word, without which I would live in the shadow of ignorance.
I open my heart to you and give thanks for your love that fills me with compassion, understanding, and peace.
I open my soul to you and give thanks for your Spirit, who fills me with wisdom when I take a moment to listen.
All that I am, I open to you and I return to you, giving thanks every moment of my life for the blessings that fill this day. Through Christ I pray.
Prayer to Resist Carnal Temptation (by Jane Austen)
O ever watchful Shepherd, lead, guide, and tend me this day; without Your restraining rod I err and stray. Hedge up my path lest I wander into unwholesome pleasure, and drink its poisonous streams; direct my feet that I be not entangled in Satan's secret snares, nor fall into his hidden traps. Defend me from assailing foes, from evil circumstances, from myself.
My adversaries are part and parcel of my own nature; they cling to me as my very skin; I cannot escape their contact. In my rising up and sitting down they cause me pain; they entice with constant baits; my enemy is within the citadel. Come with almighty power and cast him out, pierce him to death, and abolish in me every particle of carnal life this day.
Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.
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.
Proverbs 27:1 (ESV)
for you do not know what a day may bring.
Matthew 9:9-13 (ESV)
Jesus Calls Matthew
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Notes on the Scripture
Everybody hates tax collectors; but there have never been tax collectors hated to equal Roman tax collectors in conquered territories. Some of them were private contractors: they would pay a set amount to Rome and then collect every penny they could, keeping the excess as profit. Taxes were very heavy and were not used for the benefit of JudeaJudea was the name given to the Roman colony consisting of the conquered kingdoms of Israel and Judah, with bits of other nations added.. The people of Judea were halfway to being slaves. And on top of that, Matthew was a Jew — a collaborator with the conquering Romans, a turncoat, a traitor.
Matthew's call is only the beginning of it. Jesus and his disciples go on to eat dinner with an entire array of sinners. This simply was not done by good Jews. The majority of Jews in Judea followed the law of Moses; it was a strictly orthodox religion, with fixed, prescribed rules covering most aspects of life. The Pharisees, Sadduccees, and other political-religious sects may have competed with each other, but all of them kept the law. And one very basic law was: they could not eat with unclean people.
There were also a great number of Jews who were not necessarily atheists or idolators, but who did not really keep the law, called “people of the land” by the stricter Jews. These are the people referred to as “sinners” in today's passage. While eating with them was not quite as horrifying to a religious Jew as eating with a Gentile, it was forbidden.
As we said in the last lesson, Matthew 9 revolves around the early accusations against Jesus. In the first section, he is accused of blasphemy. Here, he is accused of immorality. The Jews, primarily the Pharisees (who predominated in the north and more rural areas), were beginning to build a case against him. But in each instance when they make an accusation, Matthew shows us that it is Christ's goodness and mercy that underly the alleged sin.
Christ came into the world to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15-16) He uses the accusation, then, as a teaching opportunity, to reinforce this critical part of his message.
The concept was not, actually, unknown to the Jews: Jesus cites in his defense a passage from Hosea, “For I desire steadfast mercy [or love] and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6) Time and time again, Jesus fulfills the law of Moses, by bringing the spirit of the law into full view while breaking an empty, technical aspect of it.
An aged Matthew, apparently writing his gospel, is depicted by Rembrandt with a rather comely and intimate female angel as his Muse. (He is believed to have been unmarried, at least after his conversion.)