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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Daily Devotion for January 16, 2014

<i>The Four Evangelists</i> by Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1614.
The Four Evangelists by Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1614. From left to right, Luke, Matthew, Mark, and John.



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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.


Prayer for the Morning

The night has passed, the sun shines its light upon us, and the day lies open before me. As I rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence fill me with love for you and my fellow man, holy God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Abide with me, I pray, now and forever.


Prayer to Love Others

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom you have taught us that love is the greatest good; defend me this day against all the instincts that tempt me away from love of my fellow man. Let me put aside every sort of prejudice and bias against other people who are different from me: those who have a different gender, or skin color, or accent, or who have different ideas about politics or how to drive a car or any of the thousand other differences that Satan uses to drive a wedge between me and all the other people of earth.

Let me accept others for who they are. Let me know that they are your creatures, and that you love them just as you love me. Let me not be stingy with my affection or my support of others out of jealousy, or greed, or pridefulness; but look upon the work of others, and their well-being, as I look upon my own.

I am weak, Lord, and I often stumble and let myself lapse into irritation or anger at others; but through your Holy Spirit, all things are possible; and I ask that today you be with me at every moment, and fill me with the capacity for love that only your Spirit can bring to me. In the name of my Lord Christ I ask this,



Walk with me, dear Lord, so that I may not be alone as I face this day, but always in your presence. Your joy is a lighthouse in a world often dark with sin, and I pray that I may reflect the light of your truth, to inspire others as I have been inspired. In the name of Christ, bless me this day, and all whom I may meet.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

Angel, Abbot Handerson Thayer
Abbot Handerson Thayer was known for his portraiture of young women as angels. Here he sets skin tones against popular colors of Art Nouveau, shades of olive green and turquoise, with great attention to shadow and texture.

Who Will We Imitate?

“We are most like beasts when we kill, most like men when we judge, most like God when we forgive.”

~ William A. Ward

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 15:29-39 (J.B. Phillips NT)

Jesus Heals Crowds and Feeds 4,000

Jesus left there, walked along the shore of the lake of Galilee, then climbed the hill and sat down. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them people who were lame, crippled, blind, dumb and many others. They simply put them down at his feet and he healed them. The result was that the people were astonished at seeing dumb men speak, crippled men healed, lame men walking about and blind men having recovered their sight. And they praised the God of Israel.

But Jesus quietly called his disciples to him. “My heart goes out to this crowd,” he said. “They’ve stayed with me three days now and have no more food. I don’t want to send them home without anything or they will collapse on the way.”

“Where could we find enough food to feed such a crowd in this deserted spot?” said the disciples.

“How many loaves have you?” asked Jesus. “Seven, and a few small fish,” they replied.

Then Jesus told the crowd to sit down comfortably on the ground. And when he had taken the seven loaves and the fish into his hands, he broke them with a prayer of thanksgiving and gave them to the disciples to pass on to the people. Everybody ate and was satisfied, and they picked up seven baskets full of the pieces left over. Those who ate numbered four thousand men apart from women and children. Then Jesus sent the crowds home, boarded the boat and arrived at the district of Magadan.

Notes on the Scripture

Think back to the first time we saw Jesus climbing onto a hill by Lake Galilee; it was in Chapter 5, the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. There, we were treated to three full chapters of discourse. (If you have a red letter Bible, notice that Chapters 5-7 are solid red, except for the first and last sentence. If you don't and want to see this, here you go!)

More than two years have passed since then. The Biblical narrative of those years is sporadic. In fact, by combining the timelines of the four Gospels, we can tell that roughly six months have passed since Jesus healed the Canaanite woman's daughter in the preceding verse! We can see, however, how Jesus' ministry has matured by comparing these verses to Chapter 5.

In today's lesson, Matthew describes Christ's love, exhibited in physical action. Christ heals countless severely disabled among the faithful. After three days of solid work, He realizes that they are hungry and will be distressed when the meeting is over, and so He performs the second miracle of feeding.

Matthew, a careful taker of notes when Christ taught, records no discourse during the event. Christ has taught — often sternly — but now, there are a cadre of believers who have already heard and accepted his teachings. Then was the time for teaching; now is the time for those who have heard and accepted the teaching to reap a benefit.

One can see a very broad lesson by stepping back to “see the big picture”. Christ teaches; those who have learned his teaching are now able to accept his love. As He promises in John 14:23, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” So in today's passage, He demonstrates the second part of his promise.

We have mentioned several times that Christ's miracles, during his life, were most often signs to the faithful. It doesn't seem that they were generally performed to convince people to follow him but as signs of his divinity for those who had already taken him into their hearts. (In fact, He says that He did little healing in Nazareth because of the lack of believers. Mark 6:5) They were a physical demonstration of the power of his love for those who would follow him; ultimately, He will show his power over death itself by his greatest sign, the Resurrection.

The miracles of physical healing He performed here and throughout his short ministry were preliminary or temporary in nature, for it was not the physical body God sent Christ to perfect. He will show a degree of disregard for earthly existence by giving his own body over to torture and execution. Healing bodies and minds is, one might say, the warm-up act, for He has something infinitely more important to give us: the healing of our very souls, which will give us eternal life.

Matthew does continue with discourse over the next few chapters, but nevertheless, we can follow the specific pattern of Christ's teaching by the general pattern of Matthew: Teaching, believing, repentance, obedience, love, salvation.

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Memory Verse

James 2:24, 26: You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. . . . For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

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