Daily Devotion for June 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.
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
for 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me.
To that old rugged cross I will ever be true,
its shame and reproach gladly bear;
then he'll call me some day to my home far away,
where his glory forever I'll share.
Music and Lyrics by George Bennard, 1910
Prayer of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day. When I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
To Hold Fast in a Changing World
Lord, when I see how the world is changing, sometimes I begin to feel unsure. Please help me not to embrace anything that is forbidden by you, but to measure all things by your divine yardstick. What used to be commonplace truth is frowned upon and new standards are being espoused, standards that you did not set out for us. Let me follow only your way. Let me hear only your voice, not the voices of those who do not believe in your teachings. Let me celebrate and rejoice with those who do believe in you.
Help me to stand firm always, and gain my strength through faith, prayer, study of your Word, and worship. Let me turn my head from things that destroy or weaken me. Let me say no to the forbidden that lasts for a short moment in time, looking ahead to the pleasures you have waiting for all who follow your path to eternal glory. Thank you, Lord, for the wisdom to say no to man’s constant, changing lifestyles that steal me away from you. Keep my eyes fixed on you. I ask this in the name your Son, Jesus Christ,
[Let me turn my head from things that weaken me.]
I pray that I may be blessed every step of my path this day by the great God of light. May your sun shine upon me; as the moon moves the tide, may your Spirit move my emotions with every grace and magic; may my heart sing with the voice of your angels and my hearth be warm; and may this and every blessed day You have given me be filled with joy.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Singing Mule?
Man with all his shrewdness is as stupid about understanding by himself the mysteries of God, as an ass is incapable of understanding musical harmony.
~ John Calvin
John 1:1-14 (KJV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
* * *
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Notes on the Scripture
Overview of the New Testament: (4) The Gospel of John
The Gospel of John was (most likely) written around 90 A.D., decades after the others, and it is noticeably different from them. Christ's divinity is presented in all of the gospels, but the Synoptics more fully present Christ's roles as King, Messiah, Healer, and Teacher, while John strongly emphasizes the divinity of Jesus and the promise of eternal life as a reflection of God's love.
This distinctive message appears immediately, in the powerful and poetic opening verses. For the first time, we learn that Christ existed before the creation and was, himself, the Creator. This is impossible to understand from the life of Jesus, because while He was human, he had partially separated himself from the power of the Godhead. In Paul's words, He “emptied” himself, giving up many attributes of his divinity,
(Philippians 2:5-8) While we understand Christ is the Son of God in all of the gospels, John drives home the point that Christ is God.
The Synoptics all begin with extensive narrative of Jesus' ministry in Galilee, turning towards Judea and Jerusalem just after the halfway mark. But John is set almost entirely in Jerusalem. It has comparatively few miracles, and those it does present are specifically symbolic; it relates seven miracles (pre-Resurrection), each of which constitutes a specific “sign” of Christ's divinity. The first, the marriage at Cana where Christ turns water into wine, is replete with symbolism of the new covenant. The last, raising Lazarus from the dead, prophesies Christ's own resurrection. (Both of these miracles are unique to John.)
John does have parables, miracles, and biography, but they are limited in number and secondary in importance to theological discourse. A single long discourse, Jesus' speech to the disciples on the night before his crucifixion, takes up almost a quarter of the book (Chapters 13-17).
A word count demonstrates the gospel's distinctiveness. The word “kingdom” appears 65 times in Matthew but only five times in John; on the other hand, the word “life” appears 36 times in John, more than twice as often as the other three gospels combined. Similarly, the word “love” occurs 53 times in John (by my count) and 27 times in the combined Synoptics; but the difference is far greater than the numbers, because John speaks mostly to the love of God for us, and our love for God, while the Synoptics generally use the word as a human trait, e.g. “love your neighbor as yourself”. This highlights one strong theme: God's love for humanity. Christ's ministry and passion are characterized as an expression of this love, a love that will bring us eternal life.
One would be justified in concluding that John wrote his gospel to fill a theological gap in the other three; or perhaps it would be better to say, to complete our understanding, for it does not stand as a single complete work any more than the other gospels.
John is most people's favorite gospel, but it is properly placed fourth; for reading John without first understanding the message of the Synoptics can lead to a lopsided theology of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls “cheap grace”.