Daily Devotion for August 15, 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.
This deep spiritual anthem is the finale of Rossini’s Stabat Mater
Prayer for the Morning
May all I do today begin with you, O Lord. Plant dreams and hopes within my soul and revive my tired spirit: be with me today. Be at my side and walk with me; be my support, that your hand may be seen in every action I take, that your goodness may be in every word I speak, and that your spirit may inhabit my every thought. Make my thoughts, my work, and my very life blessings for your kingdom. In Christ's name I pray,
For Those Who Are Struggling
Heavenly Father, I pray for all my Christian brothers and sisters and for each and every family member in their households. I pray for peace to come in their hearts; I pray for love and joy to abound in their homes; I pray that they might enjoy good health, that they are not in debt, and that all their needs are met.
I pray that every eye that reads this knows there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than you, Mighty God. Every battle is in your hands for you to fight, Lord. I pray that these words be received into the hearts of every eye that sees them and every mouth that confesses them. In Christ’s name,
[I pray for peace in the hearts of all my Christian brothers and sisters.]
Benediction (from the Epistle of Jude)
Now all glory to you, great God, who is able to keep us from falling away and will bring us with great joy into your glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to you who alone are God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are yours before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Proverbs 6:6-9 (The Message)
You lazy fool, look at an ant.
Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
Nobody has to tell it what to do.
All summer it stores up food;
at harvest it stockpiles provisions.
So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
How long before you get out of bed?
2 Kings 5 (ESV) (excerpts)
Israel after Solomon (14): Elisha Cures the Syrian Leper
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”
And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?”
But when Elisha the man of God heard, he sent to the king, saying, “ Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
So Naaman came and Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?”
But his servants said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? ” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Notes on the Scripture
We talked yesterday about how Elisha, unlike most of the prophets, prophesied Christ primarily by his actions: his miracles. He may have been the greatest “holy man” in Judaism, other than Moses. Not only were his miracles profound, they often directly foreshadowed the miracles by which Christ made his divinity known.
Healing the sick, and especially lepers, was one of Christ's greatest signs; for healing the sick not only showed his power over life and death, but also his love.
The story of the healing of Naaman is interesting; it has been abbreviated here, but you can read the whole story in 2 Kings 5, if you are so inclined.
More importantly, we get from Elisha another type of proto-Christian prophecy; for Naaman is a Gentile, and often an enemy to Israel. Elisha, like Christ, is using his spiritual gift not only to the benefit of the Jews, but to the Gentiles, as well. When we think about this, we must think of Christ and the Samaritan woman, for like Elisha, He demonstrated the prophecies that were spoken by prophets from David all the way until Simeon praised the infant Jesus in the Temple:
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples;
A light for revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:30-32)
It is no accident that Naaman is cured by immersion in the River Jordan, and emerges with skin like that of a child. It is a prophecy of baptism by water, when men might be born again.
The word comes to Naaman in Syria, in the form of the humblest of creatures, a Hebrew slave girl. But Naaman never quite gets the message, which is unfortunate but not surprising; if the kings of Israel in this period were worshipping Ba'al and Asherah, how was an Assyrian general supposed to know God?
We also get a direct message from 2 Kings 5, the importance of obedience to the inspired word of God, even when it doesn't make sense to us. It might amuse us somewhat, when Naaman says, in effect, “Why should I come all the way down here to wash in a river, when we have perfectly good rivers in Syria?” How many times have we heard, or said ourselves, “Why should I _________________?” “ Why should I make peace with so-and-so, he's the one who started it. He's the one who's in the wrong here.”
The short answer here is something kids hate to hear: “Because I told you to.” But when we became adults, we “set aside childish things.” (1 Corinthian 13:11) The importance of obedience — nay, the wisdom of obedience — becomes clearer and clearer as we progress in our faith.