Daily Devotion for November 26, 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.
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away;
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life;
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom.
Music and Lyrics by Stuart Townend
Puritan Prayer to be Free of Carnal Sin
O ever watchful Shepherd, lead, guide, and tend me this day; without Your restraining rod I err and stray. Hedge up my path lest I wander into unwholesome pleasure, and drink its poisonous streams; direct my feet that I be not entangled in Satan's secret snares, nor fall into his hidden traps.
Defend me from assailing foes, from evil circumstances, from myself. My adversaries are part and parcel of my own nature; they cling to me as my very skin; I cannot escape their contact. In my rising up and sitting down they cause me pain; they entice with constant baits; my enemy is within the citadel. Come with almighty power and cast him out, pierce him to death, and abolish in me every particle of carnal life this day.
For Past Sins that Haunt Us
Gracious God, my sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what my lips tremble to name, what my heart can no longer bear, and what has become for me a consuming fire of judgment. Set me free from a past that I cannot change; open to me a future in which I can be changed; and grant me grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
[My enemy is within the citadel.]
I dedicate this day to you, mighty God. I pray that your Spirit will lift me up this day, and that your face may shine upon me all the day long, that I might do your will and lead a new life in Christ, reborn in the Spirit.
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.
Matthew 4:8-11 (DP)
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to Him, “All these I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Depart, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”
Matthew 21:5 (ESV)
Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.
Matthew 27:29 (NASB)
And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
John 6:15 (NASB)
So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.
John 18:36 (NASB)
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
Notes on the Scripture
Kings or Priests?
Many Christian churches have some degree of political involvement, either directly from the leadership, or indirectly by affinity of the congregation. It is a subject that I have wanted to address for a long time, so I thought I would take advantage of “Something Completely Different on Wednesday” just to trace the theme of Jesus' political involvement through the Gospels.
The Kingdom of Israel existed, in its entirety, under only two kings: David and Solomon. Over the thousand years between the death of Solomon and the birth of Christ, there were a few sporadic instances where part of it were re-established under Hebrew rule for short periods, particularly during the Maccabee revolt against the Seleucid Empire (legacy of Alexander the Great) between 164 B.C. and the conquest of Judea by the Roman general Pompey in 63 B.C.
Most Hebrews hated the Roman occupation and yearned for a king from the line of David, God's anointed bloodline, who had been foretold by many prophets, who would raise and army and cast off the Roman occupation. The Pharisees and Sadducees belonged to this rebellious majority, although they grudgingly cooperated with the Roman governor.
The Jews believed that this savior of Israel would enter Jerusalem with an army, mounted on a great stallion, radiant with the power of military might and the glory of conquest, to throw off the Roman yoke and restore the Kingdom of David, the true Israel. Instead, the king that the prophets foretold entered Jerusalem on a donkey colt. Instead of sitting on a throne, wearing the crown of a king to designate him as the person of highest rank, he would hang on a cross as a criminal, weak and helpless, wearing a crown of thorns, mocked and spat upon. That put him pretty much at the very bottom of the social scale.
Dominion over the world had been given to Satan. Jesus not only did not gain earthly power, but actively avoided it. He retreated when He thought the people wanted to declare Him as an earthly king. He paid tax to Caesar for the simple reason that it was meaningless, in terms of what He considered important. His kingdom was not of this world. The meek, the humble, the poor, the powerless — these, He declared, would be first in His kingdom, the kingdom of heaven. And thus, He was indeed the poorest and most powerless of all: last in earthly power, first among the suffering and weak.
But one must choose; Christ told us that we cannot straddle the fence (as almost all of us do). Love the world, or love God. We cannot serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) “If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
The greatest statement of the principle, though, comes not from a pithy one-liner, but from the entirety of the Gospels and the life of Christ Himself. Consider any of the Gospels as if it were a novel, and sort the characters by their political involvement. The bad guys are, to a man, political. They struggle against each other for control of the world. The good guys’ involvement in politics is zero. They try not to make waves; they pay their taxes.
When the Sanhedrin, ironically, tries to make Jesus out as a political revolutionary so that Pilate will execute Him, Pilate — a corrupt and vicious man who will kill a suspected Jewish troublemaker at the drop of a hat — is so unconvinced that he would let Jesus go free. But Pilate chooses political expediency over justice; he will execute Christ simply to keep peace with the Sanhedrin.
There are a few parts of the Bible that almost nobody wants to hear, and this is one of them. When people hear it, the first thing that pops into their mind and comes out of their mouth is “but”. Our nature teaches us to seek power; our eyes tell us that we should make the world “better” by taking power and using it for good. But there is no “but”. This is not what Christ did, and it is not what Christ taught. What He taught was, “take up your cross and follow me.”(Luke 9:23)