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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Daily Devotion for January 14, 2014

<i>Jesus and the Canaanite Woman</i> by Mattia Preti, c. 1660. | Matthew 15:21
Jesus and the Canaanite Woman by Mattia Preti, c. 1660. The improvements in figure painting of the late Baroque show clearly in the exceptional rendering of woman. Interestingly, most paintings of this story include a dog in the scene. Perhaps to identify it?



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

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.


From Israel, a song of exuberant praise to God. The lyrics are straight from the Bible: Deuteronomy 6:4, with a line from Zechariah 12:9, repeated three times. (The second verse is in English.)

Prayer for the Morning

Heavenly Father, I do not fear this day, for you are with me wherever I might go, your light to shine ahead, your footsteps to lead the way. I do not fear this day, for your word will be my guide. Your strength will sustain me and your love revive me, this day and all days. I do not fear this day, for you are with me. In the name of Christ, I call upon you.


Ancient Prayer for Those Who Govern

Lord God, I pray for all kings and others in authority. You, Master, have given them the power of sovereignty through your majestic and inexpressible might, so that we, acknowledging the glory and honor which you have given them, may be subject to them, resisting your will in nothing. Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, harmony, and stability, that they may blamelessly administer the government which you have given them.

For you, heavenly Master, King of the ages, give to the sons of men glory and honor and authority over those upon the earth. Lord, direct their plans according to what is good and pleasing in your sight, so that by devoutly administering in peace and gentleness the authority which you have given them they may experience your mercy. You, who alone are able to do these and even greater good things for us, we praise through the high priest and guardian of our souls, Jesus Christ, through whom be the glory and the majesty to you both now and for all generations and for ever and ever.



Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.


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.

<i>Christ Carrying the Cross</i> by Fra Angelico, c. 1438.
Christ Carrying the Cross by Fra Angelico, c. 1438.

Psalm 117 (KJV)

O praise the Lord, all ye nations:
praise him, all ye people.

For his merciful kindness is great toward us:
and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.
Praise ye the Lord.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 15:21-28 (ESV)

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”

And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.”

She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.”

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Notes on the Scripture

In today's Scripture, Christ travels across a national border into Phoenicia, part of the Roman colony of Syria. Tyre and Sidon are ancient cities which, although they lay in the land promised to Abraham and Moses (map) were never really conquered by the Hebrews. In the day of Joshua, Tyre (but not Sidon) was allotted to the Tribe of Asher (map), but it was not held. The littoralLittoral: of, relating to, or situated on the shore, especially a sea shore. strip where Lebanon lies today became the land of the powerful, sea-trading Phoenicians, and even the great Empire of Israel under David and Solomon ended just south of Tyre (map).

What, we may fairly wonder, was Jesus doing traveling outside Israel? For Sidon and Tyre were synonymous with idolatry and fornication (see Matthew 11:20-24); they were not only heathen, the land of the Hebrews’ dearest enemies (the Canaanites), but also ports filled with sailors, which have been dens of iniquity since time immemorial.

The Bible does not tell us “why”, but two motives seem reasonable. First, Christ is coming near the end of his ministry and has entered the phase when He will prepare for the crucifixion. He seeks a short time of solitude and quiet. He is safer in Phoenicia, away from the hand of the Herods, the Pharisees and scribes; and He is also insulated from the hoards of Jews who now follow him wherever he goes in Galilee and Judea.

But, perhaps a more important reason is that He has one more thing to accomplish in his ministry: A token to prove to the disciples that his grace will extend to the Gentiles. For this was the only time He ever ventured outside the land of the Jews (other than the flight to Egypt as an infant).

Most theologians will credit Christ with foreknowledge of the events told in today's passage. If so (and it makes perfect sense), his treatment of the woman is a bit of theater. When He says, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” He is playing devil's advocate. Indeed, it would be hard to think He was sincere, as the sentiment would contradict both his own words and the great body of prophecy, e.g., that He would be “a light to lighten the Gentiles.” (Luke 2:32) Also, see Psalm 117, above.

The key to the woman's approach is when she kneels before Christ and calls him simply Kyrie, “Lord”. A request to a great man had to be turned into a prayer to the Living God.

When Christ makes the remark about giving the children's food to dogs, it is not quite as harsh as it sounds to us, because the word He uses refers specifically to household pets. He might be teasing her a bit; one could reasonably imagine a slight smile in his tone. Or, if not, He is requiring her to show persistence or steadfastness, which is so often recommended to us in various epistles (e.g. Colossians 1:23).

endless knot

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James 1:19-21 (NIV): My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

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Comments (12)

Topic: Page Two | Devotion for Day of January 14, 2014 | Daily Prayer
Thomas Kraft (Hornell NY, US) says...
I'm always conflicted by "judgmentalism". It sometimes sounds like people want to give blanket acceptance to any behavior because we, too, are sinners. Are we to have no standards simply because we're sinners? How then are we to share the Gospel, to ask people to turn from their sinfulness but accept that sinfulness at the same time. Sounds like a dog chasing its tail.
14th January 2014 12:00pm
Mason says...
Yes that is a problem, isn't it? Since my natural inclination is to judge, I always default to "judge not". The line I draw is between telling a person they are sinning and stating, in public, that such-and-such behavior is in general a sin. Criticism sounds 100 times louder to the person on the receiving end. I had a number of words with a friend on Facebook over the Duck Dynasty hoopla, explaining why it wasn't judgmental for him to stand up and say he believed that ... Read More
14th January 2014 1:32pm
Jan Marra (La Salle, US) says...
What a challenge! We should try not to judge or be judgmental, but we also need to avoid temptation. To keeping yourself safe requires a judgement that may be based on looks alone. Choosing your friends and associates requires making a judgement of their character. In my opinion, the story of Adam and Eve is a story of peer pressure. The story has gone on through each of us. (IE; 'Here, try just a puff. It's great!'; 'Slip it in your pocket. Nobody's looking.'; 'So ... Read More
14th January 2014 11:22am
Mason says...
I'm not precisely sure which part you wanted a response to. Technically, if someone is trying to tempt you to steal, you should just refuse to hang out with them. I'm not sure you have to "judge" her to say, she's trying to get me to do things I don't want to do and I don't want to be around her. Assuming she isn't a sister in Christ. If she is, Christ gave specific instructions on what to do if a fellow Christian does something like this, i.e. telling to you ... Read More
14th January 2014 1:50pm
Margaret Flynn (Stanley, Canada) says...
Thank you for the insights of page 1 and the challange of page 2....Regarding page two I wonder if the problem with belief that some of us struggle with has something to do with todays way of not accepting objective truth as compatible with todays way of days past people were more naive.I struggle with accepting some of the basic tenants of faith that I at another level profess and believe.This is a problem for me that is regularly a subject of prayer.It's not that I think I ... Read More
14th January 2014 11:13am
Mason says...
Your comment didn't post right away because of a bug in the software. Sometimes it sees a "link" where there isn't one and therefore won't post it until an administrator approves it. I'll see if someone can fix it. As to the content of your post, well, you're not alone! You can be more specific if you like. Nobody's going to bite your head off But take, say, the Transfiguration (which we will hit in a couple of weeks). Peter doesn't mention it until after ... Read More
14th January 2014 1:59pm
Margaret Flynn (Stanley, Canada) says...
Thank You Mason for todays insights of page 1 and the challenge of page 2......Regarding page 2.I wonder if our tendency is to follow todays habit of not accepting the idea of objective truth .It seems so old fashioned!!!In todays world we are to clever for such simplistic naivety.I struggle with this faith problem every the point of finding it hard to accept some of the basic Christian tenants I proclaim as truth.Is there a solution ?I don't want to be such a doubter.I pray about ... Read More
14th January 2014 10:30am
mary Pregler (Glen Saint Mary, US) says...
Mathew 7:1-5 I followed your P.S. I don't think a day goes by that I am not challenged by this scripture. Thank You! it is worth many periods of meditation.
14th January 2014 8:09am
Sandra (Columbus, US) says...
Wow Mason, that give a person a lot to think about.

Thank you.
14th January 2014 7:50am
Mason says...
Yes, Sandra and Jay, the first time I ran into -- and I apologize for another $5 word -- "heuristics", which is the study of how people actually make decisions, it amazed and fascinated me. I personally am really thinking about confirmation bias, as I learn more about the Bible and see how obviously professed Biblical Christians ignore the parts they don't like. I'm in quite a bit of turmoil about it, actually, since there is so much in the NT about criticizing other people. I ... Read More
14th January 2014 8:40am
Suzanne (Indian River, US) says...
Mason, how we love to judge others! Believe it or not, this was my New Year's resolution. So far, so good! I will keep reading Matthew 7, 1-5 as a reminder and to keep me steadfast with my resolution.
Thank you!
14th January 2014 9:12am
Jay says...
Thought provoking. I will think more about this. Great point.
14th January 2014 7:07am
Jennifer Fulbright (central Texas, US) says...
Mason, thank you so much for this site...I've found it so inspiring its become part of my daily readings. God bless your work that all will know Jesus saves!
13th January 2014 8:20pm
Ann (AZ, US) says...
What a beautiful painting on Page 1. Thank you for sharing it with us.
13th January 2014 4:06pm
Micahel (Huntington, US) says...
During this rough period in my life, reading this page and the morning devotion has given me the courage and strength to help face the problems that lay ahead.
13th January 2014 11:51am
Jan Marra (La Salle, US) says...
Thank you for a wonderful site.
The Morning Prayer today reminded me not to take things for granted. I needed that reminder. So many things that I consider dull, tiring, or difficult; and people too, I need to consider blessings, not burdens.
13th January 2014 8:09am
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