Daily Devotion for March 18, 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.
I believe this ethereal soprano is Barbara Bonney.
The German Ave Maria is not a translation of the Latin, but a setting of a poem by Sir Walter Scott.
Ave Maria! Unbefleckt!
Ave Maria! Reine Magd!
To Take up the Shield of Faith
Heavenly Father, let me take up the shield of faith this morning and carry it before me throughout the day. For the darkness of the world attacks my soul from every direction.
The world wants me to hate myself and hate you, precious Lord, and tries at every turn to seduce me to the emptiness of lust and envy and pride, to love of money and power over others, to anger and vanity. Defend me against the constant assault of impurity that life in the world brings. Great and powerful God, I take up your shield, the only shield that can protect me: my hope and certainty that your love and promise to protect me, for all eternity, will be with me for the asking. For the only truth is yours, the only power is yours, and our only hope lies in you, our true and mighty and loving God. In Christ's name I pray,
To Treat Others as I Would Be Treated
Lord, while I pray for peace and goodwill in our world, I ask you to help me to change my own attitude for the better, so that peace and goodwill may start with the way I behave towards those who have hurt me. Inspire me to be as generous to others as I would like them to be with me.
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.
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.
1 John 1:5 (ESV)
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Matthew 23:1-7 (ESV)
Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
Notes on the Scripture
In Chapter 22, it seemed like the Pharisees and Christ were making some sort of tentative peace; the Pharisees were pleased with the shellacking Jesus gave the Sadducees, and on a subject that was a key tenet of Pharisee theology: resurrection of the body. They thought Jesus was going to gang up with them against the Sadducees.
This delusion did not last long. In today's verses, Jesus immediately stands up in the Temple and excoriatesExcoriate: To scold or criticize someone extremely harshly. It literally means “to take the skin off” someone, as if with a whip. the Pharisees. He begins by a denunciation of their hypocrisy.
He speaks as a Jew to other Jews, here. By all means, he tells the Temple crowd, listen to what they tell you to do. To follow the law of Moses is what God told the Jews to do, and Christ is not preaching the gospel here. He is preaching the bankruptcy of the old covenant. The Pharisees are hypocrites. They lay heavy burdens on the Jews with their hundreds of nit-picking oral laws, but they do not help them carry the heavy burden they impose.
God is on their tongues but not in their hearts. They preach but do not practice love of God. They serve their own pride. They do what they do, not to be righteous, but because they want to be powerful and admired by men. They want to be in charge, they want to be obeyed. They want what they say to be authoritative. They want to be honored in the community and nation.
We know, from earlier reading, that Christ preaches humility, service, and obedience. So today's Scripture is his own apologia,An apologia is a speech or writing that shows why a particular position is correct. It is a defense of a belief. Do not confuse it with the more common “apology”, for their is nothing apologetic about it. A person making an apologia is not saying “I am sorry”, but just the opposite. He is saying “this position is correct and here is why.” in a sense; he is demonstrating in practical terms why a religion based solely on works, rather than on humility and love in one's heart, has gone wrong. He is laying the groundwork for the Jews to accept the new covenant of faith and grace, abandoning the Pharisee's insistence on formal compliance with a set of rules.
The hypocrisy He preaches, unfortunately, transferred over into Christianity fairly quickly after His ascension. The epistles are full of warnings about false teachers. Today, it is one of the great criticisms nonbelievers have of “Christianity” and it drives many people away from the Gospel.
Pridefulness among clergy and teachers who just want to be bigwigs, all sorts of false teachings, money-grubbing televangelists — one could fill a page with all of the anti-Christian teaching and behavior masking as Christianity.
But it is not for us to judge them. Christ, who knows the secrets of all hearts, will judge them. Our concern is that He will also judge us! We should try to profit from bad examples, to see in others where we ourselves go astray. We can seek in our own lives to find the sincerity of belief that will lead us to humility and Godliness, to the true love of Christ. For if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. (John 14:15) Our first concern is to tend our own garden, not cluck over our neighbor's weeds, so that we might be ready for our Lord Jesus when He comes again.