Daily Devotion for October 8, 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.
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 to Live Christ's Word
Gracious God, Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child.
Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me.
This I pray in Jesus' name.
I pray that I may be blessed every step of my path this day by the great God of light. May your sun shine upon me; as the moon moves the tide, may your Spirit move my emotions with every grace and magic; may my heart sing with the voice of your angels and my hearth be warm; and may this and every blessed day You have given me be filled with joy.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Courage to Change
As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their "right" place.
~Henri J.M. Nouwen
Matthew 9:27-34 (ESV)
Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute
And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”
When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.”
Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.
As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.”
But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”
Notes on the Scripture
The two healings we read yesterday both involved less-than-perfect faith; but the woman and girl involved were drawn to Christ by their imperfect faith and were healed. Here we see another example of this theme, for the blind men seem to be simply part of a crowd who shout out , “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”
They have not heard, or at least have not understood, Christ's message. By calling him the Son of David, they show that they comprehend Jesus as the temporal king, the return of a political/religious leader — in other words, the “expected” Messiah, not the unanticipated King of Peace who actually fulfilled the messianic prophecies.
The flaw in their faith is different from those flaws of the two women yesterday, but the result is the same: imperfect faith leads them to a perfect God. Matthew drives home the point that our faith does not need to be perfect. If we see Jesus as special and go to him in faith, he will take us to his bosom, forgive our imperfection, teach us, and heal us.
But they are not healed initially. Like a person going to church just because it is “what's happening” — because their friends and family go, or they grew up doing it, or one of a hundred other reasons — nothing indicates that the two men have any real faith. A person may find Christ with imperfect faith, but they must have a real desire to find him.
It is not their imperfect faith that leaves them unhealed initially, but their lack of personal commitment. Remember the woman with the bleeding disease? She struggled through a crowd to touch the hem of Jesus' robe, and was healed.
But the two men show their commitment by going to Christ in private. Just so, if we want to find Christ, we must go to him when we can be alone with him. He wants, he requires that we have a personal relationship with him.
This is a beautiful moment in Matthew. Two blind beggars, finding their way through a crowded city to the house where Jesus is staying. They knock, and he answers; and he touches their eyes, opening their physical eyes to the world and their spiritual eyes to his eternal truth. He is truly the embodiment of love, responding in perfection to an imperfect, but strong, desire to find him.
The second healing in today's Scripture develops the second theme of Matthew 9: the beginning of opposition to Jesus' ministry. He has already been accused of blasphemy and immorality. Now, he is accused of being in league with the devil.
These critics give away the real reason for their opposition when they say, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” They reject Christ because he is unprecedented. He is new. They are hidebound, blinded by their self-satisfaction. They have stopped seeking God — for seeking God's truth (like seeking any truth) requires always having an open mind. The Pharisees think they know it all; and as soon as we think this, we are doomed.
Defensiveness is the sinful child of pride; it comes when our ego is more important than the truth. If we genuinely want to learn and grow, we must accept criticism as help. We must listen to ideas that are not what we might have thought, or which we don't want to hear.