Daily Devotion for March 25, 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.
A Puritan Prayer
Almighty God, as I cross the threshold of this day I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to Your care. Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me. Incline my heart to Your ways. Mold me completely into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay.
May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Your praise. Let those around see me living by Your Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconformed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clothed in the entire armour of God, shining as a never-dimmed light, showing holiness in all my doings. Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, and hands.
May I travel swampy paths with a life pure from spot or stain. In every transaction let my affection be in heaven, and my love soar upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities. May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth.
Order this day all my communications according to Your wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable. May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day. This I pray in the name of Christ, my Lord and Savior,
[Let those around see me living by Your Spirit.]
For Understanding Truth
Lord God, let me not put my trust in the words of men, for their minds are weak and their tongues are tainted by the world; but let me test everything having to do with faith against our only true teacher, Jesus Christ, and the true Word of God that He inspired the apostles to write in the Bible.
O good shepherd, seek me out, and bring me home to your fold again. Deal favourably with me according to your good pleasure, until I may dwell in your house all the days of my life, and praise you forever and ever with them that are there.
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.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Matthew 23:29-36 (ESV)
Hypocrisy: Seeing the Past through Rose Colored Glasses
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?
“Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Notes on the Scripture
The “fathers of the Pharisees” persecuted and sometimes murdered the prophets. Not necessarily each individual's literal, genealogical forebears; no doubt, some Pharisees could trace direct blood relation to, say, Manessah, the King of Judah who sawed Isaiah in half. But that is not what Jesus means.
The guilt for such deaths was first off, a collective one attributable to the Jewish leadership; and even more important, a theological one; the murder of God's prophets by whoever might be in charge, because the truth was intolerable to their wicked pride. Seen from the viewpoint of Israel's religious history, these Pharisees — who will soon kill Jesus — are the current generation in a long line of hypocritical religious leaders, who kill those openly preaching righteousness.
They mourn and honor the dead prophets of the past; but in the present, they act just like the people who killed those same prophets.
Christ's words are reiterated often in the early church; we see them in Acts and the Epistles several times. Perhaps the most notable case is the first martyr, Stephen, who was stoned to death by the members of the Sanhedrin. How did he enrage them so? For one thing, he told them that their crucifixion of Jesus was just like their forebears' murder of the prophets. He echoed the words of Christ in today's Scripture. (Acts 7:51-60)
This brings up a very painful question. If Christ were alive today (in His first incarnation, not in his second coming), how many “Christians” would reject and even hate Him? Most Christians and most churches seem to work pretty hard at ignoring or “interpreting” at least a few parts of the New Testament, including direct quotes from Christ's mouth; if not in the pulpit, at least in the consensus of the congregation. So what would happen if Jesus stood up in a service and said something roughly like today's Scripture?
Every Christian thinks the Pharisees were the bad guys and see themselves on the side of Christ. But we see Christ “through rose colored glasses,” just as the Pharisees saw the dead prophets of old. In truth, we ourselves sometimes resemble the Pharisees, honoring Christ as the Pharisees honored the prophets, yet reacting with denial, anger and indignation if we are criticized for not following Christ's teachings in the here-and-now.
We must always look to ourselves, first and often “only”. It is easy to see where other people have completely ignored some clear teaching in the Bible; but it is a lot harder for me to see where I am ignoring, overlooking, or explaining away something in the Bible I don't like. So here is the painful question: If Christ were to come today as He first did, how sure am I that I would not walk away from Him, seething in resentment?