Daily Devotion for February 4, 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.
Josh Garrels is a radical and provocative contemporary voice, who doesn't pull his punches about modern society.
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Prayer for the Morning
Good morning, dear Father; thank you for this day, Help me to follow you in every way. Let me speak as you speak, and do as you do; Let me help others, as you help them, too.
Help me to be honest, don't let me play games, Help me to grow, yet still stay the same. Help me not to be selfish, to give of my heart, my mind and my labor; Give all - not just part.
Help me to love others, my family, my friends, Bless all of my foes, help me make amends. Help me be kind, Father, where I am needed, let Me give warm attention, and see all needs are met.
Help keep me busy, to strive for the best, Help me not to be lazy, but find needed rest. Let me come to you, Father, throughout the day, Often to thank you, often to pray.
For Guidance in Bringing Others to Christ
Oh Heavenly Father, who has promised to send us a Spirit to lead us, if we but listen and hear his presence in the bustle of life, I pray for your direction and guidance in becoming a disciple of your word. Teach me to spread your truth, to anyone I might see who might be able to hear it. Let me always reach out and show your love to the world through my every action. I pray, Holy Spirit, show me your path in this wayward world. Mold me by the model of your Son, and let me every day approach nearer to his perfect service. Let me, too, be a fisher of men. Show me how; teach me to help guide others to you, both in my words and in my deeds. In the name of Christ, I pray,
Finally, may I go forth filled with the joy and confidence of your Spirit; and may everything I do this day, in word or deed, be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
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.
Proverbs 3:1-2 (ESV)
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
Matthew 18:5-6 (ESV)
Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Notes on the Scripture
The Hebrew idiom for causing another person to sin was a word (skandalizo) that meant “to put an object in a road” so that traffic would be impeded, or which would trip up a person on foot. There is no equivalent word in English. We often see “stumbling-block” as the translation in texts that try to be more literal, but “stumbling-block” is too specific as well as being anachronistic; “obstacle” might be a better way of conveying the literal meaning.
The stricture against intentionally making a road less safe goes back to a literal law of Moses. Leviticus 19:14 commands, “You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God.” Here we see Jesus talking about the innocent rather than the blind, but they are closely related; the meanings overlap. A blind person trying to make his way down a road is a perfect metaphor for a child learning right from wrong, a person who is new to Christ, or any person seeking to make a moral choice.
If we would follow Christ, we must follow Christ. We walk where He directs us to walk, not where we want to walk. We might as well close our eyes, because we obey Him, not our own mind. The human mind — or the voice of Satan, if you will — is full of tricks, arguments, and rationalizations trying to convince us, at every step, to turn to the left or right.
A Christian does not have a moral code: a Christian follows a moral code. And once we understand what Christ actually teaches, we can follow his direction not to mislead others.
A person who seeks to teach others about God should sweat bullets! The first thing anyone who wants to teach the Bible (or, say, write Bible commentary for a website!) is to read James 3, which begins: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3) As in all the epistles, James only expounds upon something brought to us by Christ and the Holy Spirit; in other words, he is giving a slightly more concrete and specific example of the teaching in Matthew 18:6.
Jesus, though, outdid his brother James in colorful language. Like the idea of a stumbling block, the picture of having a millstone tied about our neck and being drowned in the deep sea had more impact to a 1st century Jew than to us, many miles and many years distant. The Jews of Judea were the descendants of high country shepherds. They were frightened of the ocean and terrified of drowning. One need only look at the greatest extent of conquest under David and Solomon, when Israel held most of the land promised to Abraham and Moses. There was a notable omission: the coastline, which even David conceded to the Samaritans and Phoenicians. (Map)
The point being, Christ meant to terrify the listener. Being thrown in the deep ocean, tied to a 200-pound weight, would rank equal to being thrown into a fiery pit.