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Daily Devotion for April 1, 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.
The great Shirley Verrett, late in her career. (From a Broadway revival of Carousel.)
Prayer to Live with Jesus
Dearest Jesus, work another miracle, a prodigy of grace. Make my soul a beautiful, living Tabernacle where You will ever dwell. Let me never leave You alone, but remind me to return hundreds of times in the day and have a word with You.
[My soul is a tabernacle for Christ.]
To Help Others with Their Faith
Lord, I am so full of doubt and sin that I sometimes forget: There is always someone weaker in their faith than I am, some brother or sister whom I can help, someone I can support and lift up in their journey. I pray that I might be aware that my fellow saints may need encouragement and that I be qualified to give it. Let me not be critical or judgmental, but supportive and helpful to those struggling.
And I pray, let me always remember that someone might be hiding a struggle, a fear, a sorrow; let me offer words of encouragement and support freely. Let me remember that there are people who hide their insecurity behind a wall of serenity, or defensiveness, or even antagonism, to whom a word of support might make a world of difference.
In Christ's name, I pray,
May God the Father bless us; may Christ take care of us; the Holy Ghost enlighten us all the days of our life. The Lord be our defender and keeper of body and soul, both now and for ever, to the ages of ages.
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.
Psalm 94:12-15 (ESV)
Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.
Matthew 24:32-36 (J.B. Phillips New Testament)
My Words Will Never Pass Away
“Learn what the fig-tree can teach you. As soon as its branches grow full of sap and produce leaves you know that summer is near. So when you see all these things happening you may know that he is near, at your very door! Believe me, this generation will not disappear till all this has taken place.
Earth and sky will pass away, but my words will never pass away!
But about that actual day and time no one knows—not even the angels of Heaven, nor the Son, only the Father. ”
Notes on the Scripture
Chapter 24 twists together different threads, and nowhere is that more obvious than here. Jesus makes two statements, one right after the other, that seem contradictory: “this generation will not disappear till all this has taken place” and “about that actual day and time no one knows”. But we understand, from reading the first part of the chapter, that He is making two parallel prophecies and comparing them: the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (which occurred less than 40 years later) and His second coming, which are bound up together in their significance, but happen at different times.
Once we understand the chapter, the apparent contradiction disappears. The destruction of the Temple did occur, as Christ predicted, in that same generation. But even He does not know when the second coming, and the devastation and destruction of the Earth, will occur.
In the first paragraph, Christ goes back to the fig tree. He established the metaphor earlier, in Matthew 21:18-22. Remember, the tree itself is a symbol of the world in general and life in Israel under Judaism, with its hypocrisy and Godlessness, in particular. The fruit of the fig tree is belief and salvation in Christ. But where a fig-tree does not bear fruit, Christ destroys it.
So it seems He is telling us that His second coming will occur when the world is like a fig tree in early summer, when the first crop of figs has been harvested and the tree itself is lush and green, but not bearing fruit. One might easily see this as a metaphor for a world that is rich in material goods, but the fruit of the spirit is sparse. And truly, this seems to be the direction in which we are headed.
The second paragraph is a one-liner, really. Word is a term that is used for Christ himself. The term here is logos — and if there is one Greek word a Christian should know, this is it. The Gospel of John starts with the sentence, “In the beginning was the logos” — the Word, i.e Christ. Christ's teaching are part of Christ himself. Christ existed before the earth was created — before the universe was created — and both He (the Word) and his teachings (the words) will not perish when the Earth is destroyed, but will be forever, and will be able to protect us forever.
The last sentence needs not a page, but a book, to discuss. Jesus Christ was God in a form that had imposed upon Himself limitations, so that He might be fully human; so that we might know and understand Him, and have complete confidence that He knows and understand us. Most importantly, He felt pain with the same agony we feel pain; and He could be killed, just like us. He was given powers beyond ours, not to be a superhero or a magician, but only so that we might know that He was God. His knowledge was also limited, primarily to the information needed to teach us, which He indicates in this passage. He does not know when the second coming will occur.