Daily Devotion for March 18, 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.
This catchy calypso song, based on Psalm 137, was a popular hit around 1980.
Prayer to do Good
If there be some weaker one,
Give me strength to help him on;
If a blinder soul there be
Let me guide him nearer thee;
Make my mortal dreams come true
With the work I fain would do;
Clothe with life the weak intent,
Let me be the thing I meant;
Let me find in Thy employ,
Peace that dearer is than joy;
Out of self to love be led,
And to Heaven acclimated,
Until all things sweet and good
Seem my natural habitude.
Prayer to Use Our Gifts Wisely
Lord, give me each day the wisdom to see which things are important, and which things are not. Show me how best to use the time and talents you have given me. Help me to use all my opportunities wisely, that I may share, through service to others, the good gifts I have received from you.
[Help me to bring to life my intentions to serve you, even if they are weak in me.]
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
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.
Psalm 137:1,3-4 (NAS)
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How can we sing the Lord’s song
In a strange land?
Matthew 25:24-30 (ESV)
The Parable of the Talents
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’
But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.
For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Notes on the Scripture[. . . cont'd from yesterday]
1) In this long parable, Christ indicates that something which God has given us will be taken away from those who do not use it and increase it. He does not tell us exactly what He is talking about; this is a parable and left for us to hear the meaning. So we have to interpret, which is often a red flag for reading something into the Bible that isn't there, indulging our preconceptions and bias. With a parable, however, the rules are different. Interpretation is invited, even required.
The servant is cast into the outer darkness, a consistent symbol of alienation from God. Christ is “the Light of men”. (John 1:4) So, it appears that the servant is removed from Christ's grace.
The controversy over whether a person who has been “saved” can forfeit his salvation is a heated topic of discussion among Christian theologians and is a major doctrinal issue in many denominations. There is no black-and-white answer. Many passages, especially in the epistles (e.g. Romans 11:28-29), can fairly be read to imply that there is one, permanent, and irrevocable forgiveness for our sins. But other passages (e.g. Revelation 3:16) can be fairly read to imply that salvation is a living relationship with Christ that can be lost; and this is one of them.
2) The discussion about the Master being “hard” and “reaping where he did not sow” is difficult to understand. One might conclude that the servant has the wrong idea and completely misunderstands his kind and honest Master. But the Master does not definitively state such; perhaps the characterization has a tiny bit of truth, for Christ did instruct his apostles to reap what they had not sown. (John 4:37-38)
But the servant's attitude is not the critical point of the parable. He is not punished for saying or believing that the Master is hard. The Master rather says, “That is no excuse. If that is what you think, it is just more reason why you should have invested my money.”
We cannot be timid in our witness of Christ. We cannot say, “I do not know what to do” or “I am afraid I might say the wrong thing.” The clearest message of the parable is that Christ is telling us, without any doubt, that He expects us to do something with our various resources to increase his kingdom.
3) The final lesson of the parable sounds harsh and foreign to us, but Christ repeats it in other contexts and we must take it as a firm teaching: those with much will gain even more, while those with little will lose what little they have. The servant with one talent must give it to the servant who already has ten talents. He is speaking about spiritual riches, of course. It does not matter how modest our talents are; whatever contribution we can make is valuable to Christ.