Daily Devotion for October 18, 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 isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the great Karl Richter playing the great Toccata and Fugue in D minor by the great J.S. Bach on the great 1766 Riepp organ at Ottobeuren Monastery, Germany, is just, well . . . great.
Prayer for This Day
Heavenly Father, let me do my work this day; and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me in the desolation of other times. May I still remember the bright hours that found me walking over the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming on the margin of a quiet river, when a light glowed within me, and I promised my early God to have courage amid the tempests of the changing years.
Spare me from bitterness and from the sharp passions of unguarded moments. May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit. Though the world knows me not, may my thoughts and actions be such as shall keep me friendly with myself.
Lift up my eyes from the earth, and let me not forget the uses of the stars. Forbid that I should judge others lest I condemn myself. Let me not follow the clamor of the world, but walk calmly in my path.
Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope.
And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life, and for time's olden memories that are good and sweet; and may the evening's twilight find me gentle still.
For the Needy
Dear Lord above, never let me forget about those who are hurting from guilt, shame and other afflictions I may not know about. Show me that I need to remember those who are: sick, imprisoned, lonely, confused, in need of a friend, dying, hungry, spiritually lost in their lives — wandering aimlessly through life. Teach me to comfort my brothers and sisters in their hours of need, wherever they may be. Guide me to look deeply into their hearts and understand.
Teach me to reach out my hands and help them up and feed their souls and hearts with your word, O Lord. Let me never forsake one of my hurting brothers or sisters along life's way. Grant me the strength to carry forth your will and your way in bringing all to you, dear Father. I pray this needful prayer through your blessed Son, Jesus Christ.
May I go in peace, with God and with his other children, and may we love one another as Christ taught us. May I follow the example of good men of old, and may God comfort and help me and all who believe in Him, both in this world and in the world which is to come.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Colossians 3:22, 4:1 (ESV)
Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. . . . Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
Matthew 10:17-22 (ESV)
Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.
When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Notes on the Scripture
Slavery and Christianity
We will be spending a couple of days on this part of Matthew 10, because it raises a number of interesting issues about Christian doctrine, the early church and the church today. Why would people become so violent in their objection to such a benign religion? For Christ had nothing to do with politics and his followers were well behaved.
Primarily, the Jews were offended because he said that their religious beliefs were wrong, inadequate, and they were not going to find righteousness before God. Because the Jews (using the word, as is often done, to refer to the Hebrew leadership) were a political force, a threat to belief in their religion had implications for money and political power; this is, in fact, what would cause Christ's execution.
But why would common Hebrews care? And why would the Romans care? Although there was some friction between Greco-Roman culture and Christianity simply over religion, it was surprisingly small. The Romans were lax about religion, and the observance of other religions upset them surprisingly little (unless it impinged on some financial or political interest),
But Christianity did threaten three institutions: slavery, marriage, and the family. Rome had very roughly 60 million slaves. A revolt by the slaves, being so numerous, was a constant fear of the ruling classes. The structure of the Empire depended on slavery to function, and any whiff of revolution was met with near panic.
The Christian Church made no attempt to free the slaves — to the contrary, Paul would teach that slaves should obey their masters — but they did treat slaves as equals. Clement of Alexandria pleaded that “slaves are like ourselves” and the Golden Rule applied to them. In about 350 A.D. a great Christian writer, Lactantius, would write down the position of slaves in the church: “Slaves are not slaves to us. We deem them brothers after the Spirit, in religion fellow servants.”
Worse than that, slave were eligible for high office in the Christian Church. Two early bishops of Rome — the highest position in the church, direct successors to Peter — had been slaves: Callistus (Pope Callixtus I) and Pius (Pope Pius I) in 147 A.D. And from the earliest times, deacons and elders in local churches were former or current slaves. By 220 A.D., the church had formally announced that slaves might marry aristocrats, a violation of Roman law.
There were practical problems with current, serving slaves joining churches; if their master were pagan, they would be forbidden, and if their master were a Christian, they would not want to be set above the master in the church. So, mostly, it was freed slaves who held office; but this is the result of the secular master-slave relationship, not the church.
Marriage of slaves and nobles aside, there was a greater impact on both Jewish and Gentile families, a problem we still see today and one specifically treated in today's Scripture. Marriage becomes very difficult when one spouse becomes a Christian, but not the other. Similarly, a child or parent becoming a Christian would, by Christ's direct authority, subordinate his duty to family in favor of his duty to God.