Daily Devotion for July 29, 2015
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.
Prayer to Walk with Christ Today
Dear Heavenly Father, I am learning to understand what your word says. Yet so often I simply hear it or read it and think about applying it, but get no further. I pray that you will help your word to sink into my mind and soul, for your word is life itself. Help me to focus my mind and open my spirit and my heart to your eternal truth.
I know that your word, when it is in my heart, will change me, improve me, bring me closer to the person created in your image, and fill my life with joy. I ask your assistance, O Holy Spirit, to make your word alive in my actions today. Help me to grow in goodness. Let me take at least one action today and change it, responding according to your word in my heart instead of by my instinct, my greed, vanity, and pride. Nudge me and remind me throughout my day. Let me focus on my feet as I walk so that I may set them on your holy stepping-stones. Help me to be intent on practicing what you reveal to me, in every step of my journey this day, and always. In the name of Jesus,
Hymn to Harsh Matter
Blessed be you, harsh matter, barren soil, stubborn rock: you who yield only to violence, you who force us to work if we would eat.
Blessed be you, perilous matter, violent sea, untameable passion: you who unless we fetter you will devour us.
Blessed be you, mighty matter, irresistible march of evolution, reality ever new-born; you who, by constantly shattering our mental categories, force us to go ever further and further in our pursuit of the truth.
Blessed be you, universal matter, unmeasurable time, boundless ether, triple abyss of stars and atoms and generations: you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards of measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God.
[How the universe gives us humility.]
May the God of hope fill me and all of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing, so that we may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
“Count Your Blessings”
Count your blessings, not your crosses;
Count your gains instead of losses.
Count your joys instead of woes;
Count your friends instead of foes.
Count your smiles instead of tears;
Count your courage, not your fears.
Count full years instead lean;
Count kind deeds instead of mean.
Count your health instead of wealth;
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)
The Sword of the Living Word
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
John 18:7-11 (NASB)
Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.”
Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”
Notes on the Scripture
The anecdote of Simon Peter cutting off the ear of the High Priest's slave primarily concerns issues of Jesus' passion narrative, but let's look at it in the context of Hebrews 4:12. God’s Word is repeatedly compared to a sword in the New Testament; another notable instance is Paul’s “whole armor of God” teaching, most fully realized in Ephesians 6:10-19.
There are several implications to the “living” Word. First and most simply, it is not “dead” in the sense of a “dead language”; that is, the Bible is as vibrant and relevant today as it was when it was written almost 2000 years ago. God, with timeless knowledge, give humanity a document that would be completely and profoundly true until the world ceases to be. It is not simply the best-selling book of all time: It was the best-selling book of 2014!
Secondly, “the Word” is used to represent Christ as well as the Bible, and in this sense, we know that Christ still lives, both in heaven and through the Holy Spirit in our lives today. The Bible one channel through which the living Christ speaks directly to us.
But perhaps most importantly, “living” describes a word that exists not only on a page, but also in our heart and soul. We do not know Christ intellectually, as a concept to be learned with out brain and regurgitated on a test. We know Him personally. He is part of us. “Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:19-21)
We can read a biography of Thomas Edison, but we do not know him just because we read a book about him. We know about him, but we do not know him. The words on the page of his biography are meaningful to our intellect, but they are lifeless. We can also read the Bible in the same way. The many atheist college professors who purport to teach the “New Testament” understand, and give their students to understand, words such as “I am the way and the life and the truth” or “God gave His only-begotten Son to the end that all who believe in Him . . .” They understand them intellectually; but the Word is dead to them.
But if we have been reborn in the Spirit, we know the Word beyond intellectual understanding. We know it when it becomes a part of us, when we absorb it in a way that surpasses intellectual understanding. It becomes alive inside of us, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is the Living Word. Not the sentence we understand, but the supernatural change that it creates within us. By the Living Word, we know the Living God; we broaden and deepen our relationship with Christ and we know Him, as we could never know Thomas Edison or any other dead person.
Now, return to the first thought: Peter cutting off the slave's ear with his sword. Peter had not yet fully come to know Christ, a process that we follow through the end of the Gospel and into the first chapters of Acts. He uses a sword just like the Pharisees used the Word of God. If the Word does not live in us, we use it as a weapon. And what does cutting off someone's ear symbolize? It makes the person deaf!
The Word of God is a sword with two edges. If we use it to attack people, we make them deaf to it. It is not a weapon to use against other people, but a weapon to use against Satan. When we come up against ignorance in other people, be they believers or not, we do not use the Word of God as a sword to attack them, because all that will accomplish is to “cut off their ears.” Our duty is rather to put the sword in their hands, to convince them that the Word will protect them as nothing else can do.