Daily Devotion for August 31, 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.
It may not be at the battle’s front my Lord will have need of me;
But if by a still, small voice He calls to paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Yours,
I’ll go where You want me to go.
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
O’er mountain, or plain, or sea;
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord,
I’ll be what You want me to be.
Perhaps today there are loving words which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now, in the paths of sin, some wand’rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if You will be my Guide, though dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet,
I’ll say what You want me to say.
There’s surely somewhere a lowly place in earth’s harvest fields so wide,
Where I may labor through life’s short day for Jesus, the Crucified.
So, trusting my all unto Your care, I know You always love me!
I’ll do Your will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.
Music by Carrie E. Rounsefell (1894)
Lyrics by Mary Brown and Charles E. Prior (1898)
Prayer for Sunday Worship
O God, you make me glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son my Lord: Give me the peace to worship you with my whole heart and mind, forgetting the cares of the world, and dwelling with you for a short moment with my entire being. And give me this day such blessing through my worship of you, that the week to come may be spent in living knowledge of your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Saint Francis’ Prayer of Praise
You are holy, Lord, the only God,
and your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong;
You are great.
You are the Most High,
You are almighty,
You, holy Father, are
King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One,
Lord God, all good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good,
Lord God, living and true.
You are love,
You are wisdom,
You are humility,
You are endurance.
You are rest,
You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches,
And you suffice for us.
You are beauty,
You are gentleness.
You are our protector,
You are our guardian and defender,
You are courage.
You are our haven and our hope.
You are our faith,
Our great consolation.
You are our eternal life,
Great and wonderful Lord,
Prayer of Confession
Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbors as myself; and I sorrow for these wrongful acts and omissions from the bottom of my heart. I humbly and fully repent all of my misdeeds, and pray that for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, you will have mercy on me and forgive me, not by my merits, but by that grace that He has granted those who confess his name. And I pray that you will be in my heart and walk with me, that I might sin no more.
[God is my great consolation.]
As I travel through the rest of my week, may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 103:1-5, 20-22
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle\'s.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Luke 4:1-8 (ESV)
The Temptation of Jesus
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days.
And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
and him only shall you serve.’”
Notes on the Scripture
We live in a world that is lukewarm, tepid, people’s lives filled with complacency. Christians once fasted as a regular matter; Paul included sexual fasting in this, although it came as an exception to his teaching that married couples “should not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” (1 Cor. 7:5)
But very few people fast any more, at all. Until the late 20th century, Catholics and some others once abstained from meat on Fridays, as a symbolic fast to celebrate the day Christ died. (It was the big day of the week for fish markets. Everyone who knew what was what would go to the fish market on Thursday or Friday, because that was when they would get fresh fish, preparing for the Friday onslaught.) And today, we might give up some food for Lent, which is 40 days long in celebration of Christ's temptation. And most of us give up something that we are probably better off not having: alcohol and sugar — recreational food — are common.
But fasting in the Bible means eating nothing whatsoever, or else very little. It is often done as a penitential measure, but not always. Here, Christ does it to show his scorn for the world. He does it as a sign, that God is more important to him than food.
He is not trying to lose weight or improve his health. He is resisting temptation, for the pure sake of resisting temptation. We must eat, eventually, to live; but we must have God to live, also.
Satan telling Christ to turn stone to bread is full of irony. Christ's reply shows that his power does not lie in his dominion of the material; although he would later perform miracles, he has not come to perform magic tricks, empty of meaning. And the miracle here is that he will use his power to resist his very powerful urge to eat, to show his devotion.
The devil then ups the ante. He has, he tells Christ, been given authority over all the world, but he will give the world to Christ if he will worship him. But Christ will not give up his devotion for all the money and power on earth. Quite a statement.
There was a time when Christians would similarly give up everything to show their devotion. Many died, giving up the thing men value most, rather than renounce their faith. Many others gave up all worldly possessions. Francis of Assisi, the son of a rich Italian family, famously gave up his inheritance to live in poverty.
Christianity is not a "guilt trip"; we are not expected to feel bad because there is more we could do in service of our faith. But it is a good idea to read this passage, to read about people like John the Baptist, or Francis of Assisi, or Benedict of Nursia, and to try to hear what we are called to do in our devotion.