Daily Devotion for March 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.
Heavy the weight on my shoulder.
I have discovered how great is the cost
Of trying alone to cross over.
I try and I try but the current's too strong;
It's pulling me under and my strength is gone.
Don't leave me stranded.
Rescue me, my God and my King,
Water is rising and I cannot breathe,
Wrap your arms all around me and
Carry me over (rescue me). . . .
There is a bridge that is easy to cross
While all of our burdens are lifted.
Peace is the land that is waiting for us;
Lord, give me faith to believe it,
Cause I'm in a storm but I'm willing to fight.
I'll overcome and I will not die with You by my side.
I will sail over the oceans and
High over the mountains and
Soar up to the Heavens.
Here is my hand is my heart and my soul and my mind.
Celtic Prayer for the Morning
I will kindle my fire this morning in the presence of the holy angels of heaven; Without malice, without jealousy, without envy, without fear; without terror of any one under the sun, but the Holy Son of God to shield me.
God, kindle thou in my heart within a flame of love to my neighbour, to my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all; To the brave, to the coward, to the man in the street, O Son of the loveliest Mary, from the lowliest thing that lives to the Name that is highest of all. In the name of Christ, I pray.
[Kindle a fire of love in my heart.]
Prayer for the Rich and Famous
Heavenly Father, I pray especially today for those who have great wealth, for those who hold great power; for the rich, the famous, the beautiful, the talented, the intelligent: for all who have been given an unusual abundance of earthly gifts and enjoy the accolades of their fellow man. Guide them in the use of their gifts, O Lord, but especially, have mercy on them, for with great blessings come great temptation to pride.
I pray especially for those who are so blinded by earthly gifts that they deny Your name, or if they believe, are blinded to their sin by their earthly glory and cannot find their way to the light. Grant them the blessing of your Holy Spirit, and lead them to salvation. Let me always forgive them when their pride or privilege irritates my own pride; give me understanding and not judgment; lead me to love them as you have taught us to love all men. For judgment is yours alone, and they deserve your mercy no less than I. In Christ's name, I pray,
Let me not forget my prayers as I go out into the world. Holy Spirit, be with me, and let me praise you and remember you in my every action and thought, for the entire day long. In Christ's name I ask this,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (ESV)
And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
Matthew 22:15-22 (ESV)
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.
And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar's.”
Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Notes on the Scripture
(If you need a refresher on who the Pharisees and Herodians were, see Page Two.)
The Pharisees, with typical hypocrisy, bring some Herodians with them because, if Jesus should happen to speak against Caesar, the Pharisees don't want to be the ones to tattle to the Romans. They are avowedly anti-Roman and supposedly support political activity against the Roman occupation. So although their corrupt hearts would love to see Jesus crucified for rebellion against Rome, their outward acts must appear faithful to their religious beliefs.
They think they have found the ultimate dilemma to pose to Christ, for he is in trouble no matter what he says. If he says “no, it is not lawful to pay the tax”, the Herodians will report him as a rebel and he will be punished — probably executed. If he says “yes, it is lawful to pay tax to Rome,” he will make himself the enemy of most of the Jews. They are an occupied theocracy; their king, in their minds, is not simply a political leader but the person anointed by God to rule them. This person must be a Jew, and not just any Jew, but a linear descendant of David. To pay taxes to Herod and the Romans is a double burden for the Jews, for they feel not only the financial burden of a conquered people, but also a slap in the face to their religious beliefs.
Jesus outwits them. Nobody could argue that it was sacrilegious, or even wrong, to return a Gentile's property to him.
His answer is not just a clever retort to evade a trap, but a teaching for all ages. Christianity teaches us, again and again, to conform to our earthly masters, to submit to those in authority, in everything that does not directly offend our primary obligation to God. Christ would have nothing to do with political life. His kingdom was not of earth. He teaches us to direct our energies and attention away from the constant power struggles of earth over things of the earth. “Our citizenship is in heaven,” Paul reminds us in Philippian 3:20.
While the Bible does not say it, we can conclude with confidence that if Jesus had been asked to fall down and worship a statue of Tiberius Caesar, or act in any way immoral, he would have refused. Not rebel, but refuse: an important distinction. For he actively avoided political activity of any sort, which we see in John after he had fed the 5,000: “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” (John 6:15)