Daily Devotion for August 8, 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.
We have something special for “Oldies Saturday” — two of the greatest voices from the mid-20th-century singing one of the great hymns of all time.
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.
Prayer for Renewal
As I start this day, oh Lord, I wonder: How will this day be different from any other day? Has my faith in you grown into a stale routine, or will I grow this day, closer to you than I have ever been?
Shake me up, Holy God! Rattle the door of my cage, set off my smoke detector, ring my doorbell until I answer the door! Let me read your Word until something new sinks in; let me pray until I hear your voice, until all smugness has given way to gratitude. By the power of your Holy Spirit, renew me afresh in your Word and power, today and every day, energizing me in your great commission. In Christ's name, I pray.
For Patience in Time of Suffering
Heavenly Lord, who brings the rain upon the parched earth, that our crops might feed us, and in due time makes the sun to break through the raging storm: I pray for an end to my suffering; and until that day may come, I pray, teach me patience and fortitude in my affliction. Establish my heart in you, that your strength may sustain me through my trials. Comfort me with the knowledge of the glorious life to come, and fill me with confidence in the victory of your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray,
[Imperfect faith, perfect forgiveness.]
Lord, in utter humility I thank you and glorify you, that you might hear the prayer of one so small as myself, amidst the billions of souls among billions of stars in one of billions of galaxies in your universe. Let me go forth in your peace, keeping your Spirit always in my mind; and bless me, I pray, that I might always follow your will and live in the radiance of your blessing.
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.
The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones.
~ Henry Ward Beecher
Matthew 9:18-26 (ESV)
Imperfect Faith and Perfect Forgiveness
While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples.
And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.
And when Jesus came to the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him.
But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.
Notes on the Scripture
This is a little confusing, because two miracles are intertwined. The passage begins with a ruler asking Christ to heal his daughter. As he walks to the ruler's house, a woman suffering, apparently, from a gynecological problem, touches his hem and is cured. Then we return to the first story, as Jesus comes to the ruler's house and heals his daughter.
Both stories are told in more detail in the other Synoptic Gospels: Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56. The ruler's name is Jairus and he is a Pharisee, the head of the synagogue in (most likely) Capernaum — for Christ, remember, crossed the Sea of Galilee to cast out the demons into swine, and then returned whence he had come.
Thus, the man had more reason to oppose Jesus than almost anyone, at this point. His city has been the center of Christ's revolutionary teaching, and Jairus is the very man most responsible for maintenance of the orthodoxy.
But his faith saves his daughter. It is an imperfect faith; Jairus has not listened to Christ and cannot have been converted in his heart: his request is more the last resort of a desperate father. The bleeding woman, similarly, has not truly been converted; it is something closer to superstition that leads her to Christ. She has not taken his teachings to heart or become a follower, but touches the hem of his robe as if it is some sort of magic.
Imperfect faith but perfect forgiveness: that is the message. When our own faith waivers and we are critical of our own devotion, this passage teaches us that we can be led to Christ by even shaky or questionable beliefs.
There is also something to be said about the two people, a 12-year-old girl (one or two years from marriageable age) and a woman with chronic vaginal bleeding. Many modern feminists bristle at Christianity because of two teachings: that wives should be subject to their husbands, and that women should not teach in church. But the truth is that Christ, for the first time in history, treated women as 100% equal to men. The Bible does teach some gender differentiation in roles, but not in status.
To a Jew, a woman became unclean simply by menstruating. The wretched woman in the street would have been the equivalent of a leper. Christ, allowing himself to be touched by her, becomes her servant as much as when he will wash Peter's feet.
One could write a Ph.D. dissertation on Jairus' daughter, for there are several potent subtexts in the awakening of a 12-year-old Jewish girl. She is, for example, “asleep” in a religious sense, as the daughter of a Pharisee; Christ thus awakens her, not only to consciousness, but to the true and eternal life of salvation.
She is, furthermore, pubescent and thus at the age of sexual awakening; one could infer that Christ turns her, as a symbol of womankind, from a child to a woman. Like all girls of her day, her powers as a human being are “asleep” due to the status of women in ancient days (and, we should note, that Judaism itself was much enlightened compared to most other cultures of the time).
One might also tie this to the deeply rooted iconic myth of a prince awakening a sleeping princess. Christ often called himself the bridegroom (very much in a figurative sense); many nuns wear a wedding ring.