Daily Devotion for February 13, 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.
It's time for a dose of old-style country bluegrass gospel!
With my head bowed low,
In the darkness as black as could be.
And my heart felt alone
and I cried, oh Lord,
Don't hide your face from me.
Hold my hand all the way,
every hour every day,
From here to the great unknown.
Take my hand, let me stand,
Where no one stands alone.
Like a king I may live in a palace so tall,
With great riches to call my own;
But I don't know a thing
In this whole wide world
That's worse than being alone.
Music and Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong,
Frank E Wright, III, and Michael Pritchard.
Prayer of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day. When I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
[I walk before God.]
For Courage to Speak the Truth
Holy God, whenever I am in fear that someone will be angry with me for telling the truth, let me remember that Christ did not come bearing a sword to kill his enemies, but a cross upon which his enemies would kill him. Be with me, Holy Spirit, when I am afraid to speak up against falsehood, knowing that people will be angry with me, for to follow Christ means to carry the cross.
If I know that the powerful might hurt me, I also remember that the wounds of Christ were momentary. The power of this world will fade, but your truth will remain forever and will reward me for such good and truth as I can accomplish in my life, no matter what hostility it encounters from the evil of men. I pray you will imbue confidence in the depth of my heart, dear God, utter certainty that wounds suffered in your name will be healed forever, and rewarded in this life by the knowledge of your approval, and in the life to come by the peace of heaven. In Christ's name, I pray,
May I go in peace, with God and with his other children, and may we love one another as Christ taught us. May I follow the example of good men of old, and may God comfort and help me and all who believe in Him, both in this world and in the world which is to come.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
How to Become Wise
“By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.”
~ Socrates (who was notoriously “henpecked”)
The Joy of No Sex
[“And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”]
The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.”
But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are the sexually abstinent who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are the sexually abstinent who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also the sexually abstinent who made themselves abstinent for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
Notes on the Scripture
Both Jesus and Paul stop short of saying that a Christian should not marry. Jesus implies it in the mildest possible way. Being celibate might enable one to serve God better, but the people who give up sex for God are called to it; it is not forced upon them.
Nevertheless, the phrase “he who is able to accept it” reminds the reader of the many times Christ says “he who has ears to hear,” with special significance when he discusses his use of parables. When he says, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” in Matthew 13:9, it introduces a long discussion. Those who do not have ears to hear are those who are doomed by their inability to accept Christ's teachings. (Matthew 13:9-17)
So when Jesus says “he who is able to accept this”, we might infer some special holiness to a person called to be celibate in the service of God. This is interpretation or inference, not the inspired word of God. Yet, the inference is bolstered by our call to emulate Christ. We are reasonably certain that Christ never married and quite sure about Paul.
The virtue of celibacy is practical, not theological. Simply stated, single people do not have to worry about a spouse and can better focus on God's work. (1 Corinthians 7:32-35) At no point does the Bible condemn marriage between a manThere are some qualifications to this, as they must be single, not close relatives, etc. and a woman, or sexual relations between them, as sinful in any way. In fact, Paul encourages married couples to have sex! (1 Corinthians 7:1-5) But Paul comes off more pro-celibacy than Jesus, as he tells people to marry only if they cannot restrain themselves, while Jesus says that only one who can “accept” celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven should accept it.
We see in all of this a huge gap between Biblical teaching and contemporary society. Although marriage and sex within marriage are absolutely righteous in God's eyes, celibacy in the service of Christ is nevertheless a Christian virtue. It is a special calling, and must be honored as such.