Daily Devotion for February 7, 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.
Prayer for the Day (inspired by Jane Austen)
Give me grace Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address you with my heart, as with my lips. You are everywhere present, from you no secret can be hidden. May the knowledge of this, teach me to fix my thoughts on you, with reverence and devotion, that I may not pray in vain.
May I now, and on each return of morning, consider how I will spend the day ahead; what thoughts will prevail in my mind? What words will I speak? Will my actions reflect your will, or my own? How far can I acquit myself of evil, and live in the goodness and beauty of my Lord Christ?
Will I think irreverently of you? Will I disobey your commandments? Will I neglect and make excuses for any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline me to ask my heart these questions oh! God, throughout the day, to save me from deceiving myself by pride or vanity.
And give me always a thankful sense of the blessings in which I live, of the many comforts of my lot; that I may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference. Hear me almighty God, for his sake who has redeemed me, and taught me thus to pray.
The little plans I tried to carry
O' Dear God.
But, I will not sorrow
I will pause a little while
And try again tomorrow.
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make me and all who confess your holy name people of this light. Make me faithful to your Word that I may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, deep relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry you through any and all turmoil. No matter what storms are raging all around, you'll stand firm if you stand on His love.
~ Charles Stanley
Matthew 18:10-14 (ESV)
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man came to save the lost.
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.
So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
Notes on the Scripture
The beginning of Matthew 18 has an elegant and sophisticated structure not common in the Gospels (which tend to be choppy in their sequence of thought). The chapter begins by saying that those with the humility of children are greatest in the kingdom of heaven. It then warns us that the most dire consequences await those who tempt the innocent into sin. And in today's verses, it transitions to a related topic, the importance of saving the lost soul, that illuminates the earlier ones. Really, one can see this as the flip side of the previous teaching (the severity of tempting an innocent into sin).
This is one of the most reassuring and comforting passages in the Bible, for we can feel lost in the crowd: at church, in the world, or even as a child in a large family. Our own husband or wife might not have time for us! But Christ — who has charge of billions of souls — will spend however much time it takes to give us his undivided, personal attention. He is a God of unlimited individual love.
He is also a God of patient love. The shepherd in the parable is not responsible for the stupid sheep wandering off and getting into trouble. But Christ does not mouth the words “tough love”; He does not say “that sheep needs to learn to take responsibility for his actions” or “I have no time for fools” or “you made your bed, now lie in it.” When we get ourselves into trouble, He is always ready to come to us.
He is a God of rejoicing love. There are no recriminations. When we accept Christ and repent our sins, they are forgotten. He is not like an angry father who curses his son while pulling him out of a mess. His concern is an absolute concern, that we be saved. He does not want to see us suffer the worst of fates, the death that comes from sin. It is a protective love. He was willing to protect the souls of mankind at any cost to himself.
He is a God of seeking love. He will come to us. This is one point of difference from Judaism. A Jew might say that God would forgive you if you come crawling back, wearing sackcloth and ashes. But Jesus is trying to find us. God wants us to be saved, and pretty badly. He was willing to undergo torture and death, just so we might open the door and let him in.
And so, let us think back for a minute to the preceding verses. The parable of the shepherd elaborates for us why Christ had been so condemnatory towards anyone who leads another person astray. Such conduct goes beyond simple sin; it is the antithesis of Christ. Temptation is the work of the Evil One and thus, one who would lead another person to become lost is the agent of Satan; not only a sinner, but an anti-Christ, so to speak. To lead another into sin is to hate him; God is love, and obedience to God necessitates that we love as He does.