Daily Devotion for February 3, 2014
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.
Jessie Dixon looks forward to a better time, in one of his great compositions.
George Washington's Monday Morning Prayer
O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul.
Direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb, and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the ever lasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life. In the name of Holy Christ, I pray,
[Purge my mind, so that I can serve you with more freedom of will.]
For Those in Distress
I pray to you, Master, be our helper and defender. Rescue those of our number in distress; raise up the fallen; assist the needy; heal the sick; turn back those of your people who stray; feed the hungry; release our captives; revive the weak; encourage those who lose heart. Let all the nations realize that you are the only God, that Jesus Christ is your Child, and that we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.
Oh God Almighty, send me Your light and truth, to keep this day and all the days of my life. And may Your mighty hand protect me, and all my brothers and sisters who have joined me in prayer this day, blessing our homes and our lives.
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.
The Foundation of Virtue
Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.
~ (Saint) Augustine of Hippo
Matthew 18:1-4 (ESV)
Who Is the Greatest?
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Notes on the Scripture
With the Transfiguration, the story of Jesus turns a corner; He is headed for home, moving now towards the cross and his ultimate glorification. We have begun Act III of a four-act drama. He will do a considerable amount of teaching, still, but we see a subtle difference. Instead of shocking generalizations, the teachings become longer and more specific about human conduct. In Chapter 18, specifically, He deals with seven different areas of personal relationships.
And Item Number One on the list is humility. He tells the disciples not only that the humblest will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, but also, that unless they have such humility, they will not enter the kingdom of heaven at all!
Many of Christ's teachings are contrary to human nature — for our nature is to fall into sin — and none of them moreso than humility. By nature, we look not to the servant, but to the leader. We spend our lives, also, trying to become the leader. We want the respect of other people. We want power, we want money, we want to be the one who calls the shots. Human beings, like other advanced animal species, instinctively create a pecking order.
This is the line we must cross to follow Christ: to be willing to give up our animal instincts and adopt, as the rule of our lives, their exact opposite. Christ will lead by example: no doubt the most powerful man on earth, he allows the authorities to beat him and nail him to hang, in utter humiliation, on a cross, his execution a painful public spectacle. Stephen, the first martyr, as he was being bashed to death by stones wielded by members of the Jewish priesthood, did nothing except pray that God would forgive them. (Acts 7:54-60)
The powerful humility of Christ and the early Christians is a clarion call to each of us, to hold up beside the petty pridefulness of our everyday life. Christ uses a child as a metaphor for humility, and the greatest humility a child has is his openness to being taught, for the pride of ideas is the last and most destructive element of pride we develop.
Humility can be relearned, but we must recognize the need for humility, and there is a word for recognition of this need: Repentance. We must allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, even in our most basic and fundamental concepts. Christ teaches us, nay, commands us, to become a child, a tabula rasa to his holy word. This is what He is talking about when He says, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3)