Daily Devotion for October 22, 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.
The beginning of this moving song is sung in Kituba, a language widely spoken in central Africa. The Kituba lyrics are (thankfully) translated onscreen, but we have supplied the English lyrics for It is Well with My Soul.
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
What ever my lot you have taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come,
Let this blessed assurance control;
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, with my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin not in part but the whole.
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul.
And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
And the clouds be rolled back as a scroll.
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1876
Lyrics by Horatio G. Spafford, 1873
Prayer to Dedicate Oneself to Christ This Day
Almighty God, as I cross the threshold of this day I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to Your care. Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me. Incline my heart to Your ways. Mold me completely into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay. May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Your praise.
Let those around see me living by Your Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconformed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clothed in the entire armor of God, shining as a never-dimmed light, showing holiness in all my doings. Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, and hands. May I travel swampy paths with a life pure from spot or stain.
In every transaction let my affection be in heaven, and my love soar upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities. May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth.
Order this day all my communications according to Your wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable. May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day. This I pray in the name of Christ, my Lord and Savior,
Prayer for Forgiveness
Heavenly Father, true God, who sent your beloved Son to seek the wandering sheep, I have sinned against heaven and before you; receive me like the Prodigal Son, and clothe me with the garment of innocence, of which I was deprived by sin. Have mercy upon your creatures and upon me, a great sinner, through the miracle of Christ's resurrection and your grace, I pray.
May the God who made me, the God who keeps me, and the God who will be my Lord through all eternity, shine down His blessings and wisdom upon me like the sun upon a field; and may I keep Him in the forefront of my every thought and deed, throughout this day, and evermore.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 139:1-6 (ESV)
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Matthew 10:28-33 (ESV)
The Hairs on Your Head Are Numbered
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Notes on the Scripture
The lesson on fear is a corollary to Christ's frequent admonitions that, for example, one cannot serve both God and mammon. He urges us to choose to serve God, because although the forces of this world can kill our body, it is only a temporary power; God rules eternity. There is something worse than death: Hell.
The next verse seems not to follow logically; there is no transition. What do sparrows have to do with choosing between God and mammon? It answers a question that has not been asked, something like, “I am willing to fear and love God, but there are countless millions of people on earth. Does He even know I exist? Why should God pay any attention to me?”
God's knowledge is so enormous that we cannot comprehend it. His mind is unlike ours and what we would call his “knowledge” consists of every atom in the universe. His knowledge is co-extensive with his creation.
About ten years ago, a certain form of speculative science fiction was popular, where the author would postulate that reality is a computer program and we live inside of it. (Two good examples would be the movies The Thirteenth Floor and The Matrix, but there were quite a few others.) While these are fictional, they unwittingly try to analogize something real, God's knowledge. For if a computer simulation exists, every detail of the virtual existence has to reside in the computer's “memory”. If God were a computer, every sparrow that falls and every hair on every head would have to be on a hard drive. It isn't a perfect analogy, but it might help us understand how God can know every tiny detail about our lives.
We were made in God's image, and He loves us. We are the most important thing in God's universe; so He not only knows everything about us, but we can be assured that He is paying attention to us. While it is mind-boggling that He could pay full attention to each of seven billion people, remember, the universe has a hundred billion galaxies each containing a hundred billion stars. Our minds are not built to handle, cannot really even conceive of something of such jaw-dropping magnitude. God's “size” is beyond our ability to grasp.
On top of that, Christ reassures us that He will acknowledge us to the Father. “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1) Even if God the Father did decide to ignore us, or forgot about us — which isn't going to happen — Jesus has our backs.