Daily Devotion for March 15, 2016
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.
Simple Gifts is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by a hardscrabble Maine farmer, Joseph Brackett. The Shakers would use it as a dance song as well as a hymn.
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.
Music and Lyrics by Joseph Brackett (1848)
Prayer for the Work of This Day
Almighty God, thank you for the work my hand may find this day. May I find gladness in all its toil and difficulty, its pleasure and success, and even in its failure and sorrow. I would look always away from myself, and behold the glory and the need of the world, that I may have the will and the strength to bring the gift of gladness to others; that with them I stand to bear the burden and heat of the day and offer you my work, as well as I may accomplish it, as praise.
To Live in God's Presence
Dear God, I know you are with me now. I know you are with me any time I call on you, or even think about you. Let me remember, every minute of every day, that you are with me, watching me, ready to help, protecting my soul even when the things of this world give me pain.
Let my every minute be lived in your presence. Let my every action be an offering of love to you. Let my every word be a prayer.
[God is with me right now.]
Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 134:1-2 (ESV)
Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the Lord!
Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV)
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.
Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.'
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Notes on the Scripture
The setting of the parable makes more sense when we understand how weddings were conducted in ancient Israel. (And, in fact, weddings in rural Palestine were held the same way well into the 20th century.)
The time was set to occur anytime within a week, and the bride would wait in the couple's new home. Nobody knew when it would occur; a bridegroom often played a game with the wedding party, trying to surprise them. He would, without warning, march to the bride (accompanied by men playing drums and shouting), and those who were in the party would have to scramble to join the parade. If he went at night, nobody could join the parade unless they had a light source. And when he arrived, the doors would soon be shut and locked until the ceremony and feast were complete.
Knowing this, the parable is easily understood. Christ is the bridegroom, and the virgins are the people of earth awaiting his coming like a wedding party. Those who prepare themselves for the coming of Christ will enter into the marriage feast, which is Christ's kingdom. But those who do not prepare themselves, Christ will deny.
Because we do not know when Christ will come, we must prepare ourselves now, with daily prayer and the reading of God's Word. We must at all times remember our belief in Christ and our faith in His resurrection, and we must honor Him with our praise. We must conform our hearts to the kingdom of heaven, and we must conform our actions to our hearts, “every day in every way”.
There are two separate lessons given about preparation. First, some things cannot be gotten at the last minute. Many of us, as students, discovered the hard way that learning all the material for a course becomes impossible if you wait too long.
Secondly, there are some things that cannot be borrowed. We cannot borrow a relationship with God. We conceive of grace and righteousness as things, because we need nouns to make sentences; but in truth, Christ's grace is not a matter of possessing some thing at all. It is a matter of who we have become, not what we have.