Daily Devotion for April 30, 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.
It is always a pleasure to remember Jim Reeves on our “Saturday Oldies” music. His golden voice and gentle spirit are practically forgotten today.
Just like a lamb that has strayed from the fold.
Across the barren waste of sin I roam.
Oh gentle shepherd hear my cry and lead me home.
The hours go by on frightened wings of flight,
While wolves of hell are waiting for the night.
You claim the soul that wandered from the fold.
Oh gentle shepherd hear my cry and save my soul.
Oh gentle shepherd hear my lonely cry,
And in Thy cool green pastures let me lie.
Beside the still clear waters lead Thou me,
Oh gentle shepherd safe forever more with Thee.
Prayer for God to Dwell with Us Today
Holy Jesus, who has promised that if we love you, you and the Father will love us and come to us and make your home with us, I give you my love without reservation. Your words are sacred and I aspire to live by them, this day and always, and I glorify you for your sacrifice of pain and death, made out of your love for us, that all who follow you might find salvation and eternal life.
Bless me this day to live with your Spirit, to resist temptation to evil, and to show your joy and love to all. Make your home with me, that I might be truly blessed, I pray,
Father, I ask you to help me to be generous when I think of the attitude and actions of others. Forgiving someone isn't an easy option, and I know that forgiveness isn't somehow pretending that something wrong hasn't happened. For what I have done wrong, forgive me Father, to the extent that I am generous in forgiving - or hoping to forgive - those who have done wrong to me.
[How can I possibly become “pure of heart”?]
Benediction (from Colossians 3)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within me all this day; and whatever I do in word or deed, may I do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
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 51:1-3, 7 (ESV)
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Matthew 5:8 (ESV)
The Beatitudes 
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Notes on the Scripture
The importance of purity of heart cannot be overstated, either in terms of Christ's mission or in terms of our own efforts to know God.
God gave the law to the Hebrews, so that they might know how one with purity of heart would act. By the time of Christ, it had devolved into hypocrisy. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and other sects prided themselves on being followers of the law, in their actions, and members of the covenant, by their birth. Their religion had become one entirely of show. They were like actors on a stage. If they said the right words and performed the correct actions, they might think whatever evil they liked, hold malice and pride and selfishness in their hearts.
We know what happens when goodness becomes outward. Inevitably, the person begins to act one way in public, and another in private. We cannot hide our true selves.
We know this is true of people who call themselves Christians today, and throughout history. By the 15th Century, the Church had become so corrupt that popes would celebrate Mass and preach chastity and poverty, then go home to have a rich supper served on bejeweled golden plates, with their mistress and children. Prominent preachers are caught stealing money and reading pornography. In the late 20th century, “televangelist” became synonymous with “moneygrubbing hypocrite”. The secret warped sex lives of a few Catholic priests destroyed entire Catholic dioceses.
But there have been no worse hypocrites than the Jewish establishment of Christ's day. They had become politicians, to whom hypocrisy is a way of life. Christ's message is a direct call for Judaism to reform.
But his message is positive; he brings forgiveness. He loves us and wants us to see God. “Pure” means without adulterants; it was the word used, for example, for wheat. The wheat harvest would be picked over time and again, until all of the husks, and insects, and stems and chaff were removed.
God expects us to work on our motives until all of the chaff is removed. Mixed motives, even when we do good, are difficult to avoid. When we give to charity, for example, we (almost) always do it with some pride mixed into our motive. We expect some adulation or at least acknowledgment, some feeling of inclusion. Even an anonymous gift gives us a sense of self-satisfaction. Picking the chaff out of the wheat of our motives is as hard as picking burrs out of a sheepdog's fur.
But we must be 100% pure. Ivory Snow, “99 and 44/100 percent pure,” is not good enough. Remember what God said to Moses. He would not let Moses see his face, because, He explained, it would kill him. (Ex 33:18-23) To be impure and see God means death.
So God will not allow us to see Him unless we are pure in heart, because He loves us and does not want to see us die. Christ thus explains the basis of his mission. He teaches us, here, that we need purity; He will later show us that it is not possible for us to accomplish it; and He will then sacrifice himself, so that we can become fully pure, ready to stand before God.