Daily Devotion for February 14, 2014
St. Valentine’s Day
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.
This haunting Orthodox anthem comes from the Valaam Brethren, a monastery in northern Russia.
If you are feeling anxious or stressed, sit back, listen, and let your mind empty out.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For Forgiveness Among Fellow Christians
Teach me, O Lord, to act so that all my deeds will glorify your holy name and your wonderful creation. Take pity, O Lord, on all Christians. Hear the desires of all who cry out to you, and deliver them from evil. Send them comfort in distress, consolation in sorrows, and your holy mercy to forgive their misdeeds.
I especially pray for those who have in any way insulted, abused or aggrieved me. Do not punish them for the sake of me, a sinner; but pour your mercy upon them. I also pray to you for all those whom I, a sinner, have insulted or tempted in word, deed, thought, whether knowingly or without intending or realizing I had done so. O Lord God, forgive us our sins and offenses and insults against each other. Dispel from our hearts all indignation, suspicion, anger, remembrance of evil, quarrels, and all that might hinder and lessen brotherly love. Replace resentment with forgiveness, I pray, in the name of Christ.
And finally, may the grace of Christ our Savior, and the Father's boundless love, with the Holy Spirit's favor, rest upon me, and all of us, from above. Thus may we abide in union, with each other and the Lord, and possess, in sweet communion, joys which earth cannot afford.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
What Do Children Know?
It is a masterpiece of the devil to make us believe that children cannot understand religion. Would Christ have made a child the standard of faith if He had known that it was not capable of understanding His words?
~ D. L. Moody
Matthew 19:13-15 (KJV)
Jesus Blesses the Children
Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
But Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
Notes on the Scripture
At the beginning of Matthew 18, we read a long passage in which Jesus uses children as a metaphor, to explain the attitude that one needs to gain the kingdom of heaven. He then extended the metaphor to give a warning about the severity of tempting an innocent person into sin.
But here, He makes his metaphor literal. When He says “such is the kingdom of heaven”, He is not talking about people with the innocence of children; He is talking about actual children!
It is a beautiful moment, emotional and heartwarming to most people. Christ, although filled with love and driven by the sole desire to save humanity from an eternity of hell, can be very stern. He is not cuddly; He does not hesitate to tell people, in the bluntest terms imaginable, that they will be cast in a fiery pit. “I did not come to bring peace,” He says, “but a sword.”
But angry and dire predictions are the exception; Jesus is generally gentle and positive in his approach to salvation, and nowhere more than here. So, what are we to take away from this?
We might interpret it to mean that young children will not be held accountable for sin, until such time as they are able to distinguish good from evil; that when Christ says “those who have ears to hear” will be able to believe his message and be saved, children get a pass. Very devout parents often become concerned with this, and different churches have different dogma to deal with the concerns.
And we ourselves can find our lost innocence in Christ. He tells us that we must come to him as children, and we might assume that He would not tell us this if it were not to our benefit. There are, in fact, many aspects of Christ's teachings that teach us to become more childlike, not only in our attitude towards God, but in our daily lives.
Providing for the family, putting food on the table and a roof over the family's head, is the role of an adult. Yet Jesus tells us very plainly:
Moreover, we are to be obedient and “do what we are told”, so to speak — like children. We are not to care about money, or pride. We are to be humble, to seat ourselves at the bottom of the table. Although we should become wise with age, we are at the same time to understand many things as fools. In short, the perfect Christian life is one in which a person literally treats God as his father, not only in a theological sense but in a day-to-day practical sense, trusting that He will provide for us in every way that is important, knowing better than we do what is good for us in the long run.