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Daily Devotion for February 8, 2014




The Sunday School Walk by Albert Anker (Swiss), ca. 1872.

Prayers

Scripture

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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.

Amen.



To Keep God in Mind This Day

Lord, let me begin this day in devout meditations, in joy unspeakable, and in blessing and praising You, who has given me such good hope and everlasting consolation.

Lift up my mind above all these little things below, which are apt to distract my thoughts; and keep it above, until my heart is fully resolved to seek You every day, in the path where Jesus has trod before me.

Amen.

Meditation

[Living the day in the joy of knowing God.]


Prayer of Supplication

Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me, for I am poor and needy. Without you, I have nothing. I pray that this day I will have food, and shelter, and be free of pain and fear. If it is not your will for me to suffer, Lord, I pray that I will not. And above all, cleanse my soul of sin, that I might someday be free of all pain and evil; for, whatever I may bear in this life, I have faith and hope in the life to come, through your goodness and mercy. In Christ's name, I pray,

Amen.

Dedication

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the church and in the world, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.

Amen.


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.



St. Benedict and His Monks Eating in the Refectory, fresco by Luca Signorelli ca. 1505. Benedict renewed emphasis on the vow of poverty for monks.

Proverbs 30:5 (NIV)

Every word of God is flawless;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.


Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV)

If Your Brother Sins Against You

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”


Notes on the Scripture

This little section contains three important concepts:

The first seems straightforward enough. It is what an attorney would call a rule of procedure, telling us what to do when a brother has committed a sin against us. First, talk to him about it in private. If that doesn't work, take one or two other people with you and go talk to him a second time. If he still will not relent, involve the entire church. And if he is obdurate in his sin, “treat him like a Gentile”, i.e. banish him, consider him unclean, refuse to enter his house or take a meal with him.

(Notice the bit of irony in the gospel, written by Matthew, stating “let him be to you . . . as a tax collector”!)

Comparing the exclusion of a person to the treatment of Gentiles sounds a bit odd. Christ has already shown that his salvation will include the Gentiles, specifically when he traveled outside Judea to a Gentile country and healed the daughter of the Samaritan woman in Matthew 15:21-28. Not to mention, his destiny has been frequently prophesied to bring salvation to the entire world, e.g. Isaiah 42:1 or Isaiah 49:6. But He is talking to Jews here, as a Jew himself; referring to Gentiles in this manner is simply a shorthand expression that the listeners understood immediately. We should read this as saying, “let him be to you as a Gentile is to the (unconverted) Jews”.

The concept of saving the Gentiles is still in its infancy, though. Even though the word Jesus uses is translated as “church” here, the “church”, as we think of it, will not exist until after Christ has ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit comes upon the handful of true believers. We must understand, perhaps, that a church existed during Christ's life but would necessarily change after he ascended to heaven. The immanentImmanent is a theological term referring to God as being present in our world of time, space, etc., so that we can know Him directly.
The opposite term is transcendent, that is, completely beyond our ability to understand or experience.
Do not confuse it with “imminent”, meaning “about to occur”.
power of the church today rests with a different person of God, the Holy Spirit, and so underwent some transformation at the time of the Pentecost.

We actually have discussed the commission to Peter to “bind and loose” on earth in reading Matthew 16. Because of space limitation, we don't have room to flesh it out here; if you want to read about it, you might want to see the discussion there. In today's Scripture, Christ extends the power given to Peter to the other apostles, as well. And we will indeed see the apostles healing, casting out demons, etc., after Christ has ascended. (E.g., Acts 3:1-10)

The final promise, that where two agree and ask for something, God the Father will grant it, causes considerable embarrassment to churches, which must explain why parishioners who engage in group petitionary prayer do not get what they asked for. For the purposes of this verse, it is sufficient to say that the promise was made specifically to the twelve apostles. The promise that when two or three gather together in the name of Christ, He will be there among them, however, is made generally to all believers.

There is a long discussion to be had about God answering prayers, or not. So let us end with two quotes from the Epistle of James: The effective prayer [or supplication] of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:16) You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives [or wickedly]. (James 4:3)



endless knot

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Acts 2:40 (NET): “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!”



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