Daily Devotion for May 5, 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.
With my head bowed low,
In the darkness as black as could be.
And my heart felt alone
and I cried, oh Lord,
Don't hide your face from me.
Hold my hand all the way,
every hour every day,
From here to the great unknown.
Take my hand, let me stand,
Where no one stands alone.
Like a king I may live in a palace so tall,
With great riches to call my own;
But I don't know a thing
In this whole wide world
That's worse than being alone.
Music and Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong,
Frank E Wright, III, and Michael Pritchard.
Prayer to Follow God's Will Today (by Jane Austen)
O God, the author of all good, I come to You for the grace another day will require for its duties and events. I step out into a wicked world; I carry about with me an evil heart. I know that without You I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned, however harmless in itself, may prove an occasion of sin or folly, unless I am kept by Your power.
Hold me up O God and I shall be safe. Preserve my understanding from subtlety of error, my affections from love of idols, my character from stain of vice, my profession from every form of evil. May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Your blessing, and in which I cannot invite Your inspection. Prosper me in all lawful undertakings, or prepare me for disappointments.
Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food suitable for me, lest I be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or be poor, and steal, and take Your name in vain. May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Your will. Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, to walk in wisdom toward those without, and in kindness to those within, to do good to all men, and especially to my fellow Christians. And to You, O God, be the glory.
Prayer of Thanks
O Thou whose bounty fills my cup with every blessing meet! I give Thee thanks for every drop, the bitter and the sweet.
I praise Thee for the desert road, and for the riverside; for all Thy goodness hath bestowed, and all Thy grace denied.
I thank Thee for both smile and frown, and for the gain and loss; I praise Thee for the future crown and for the present cross.
I thank Thee for both wings of love which stirred my worldly nest; and for the stormy clouds which drove me, trembling, to Thy breast.
I bless Thee for the glad increase, and for the waning joy; and for this strange, this settled peace which nothing can destroy.
[How easy it is to relax God’s commandments.]
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Proverbs 1:5 (ESV)
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance.
Matthew 5:17-20 (ESV)
Sermon on the Mount - Fulfillment of the Law
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Notes on the Scripture
The general reaction to today's Scripture, simply stated, is that it bounces off the reader's mind. Some Christian sects, beginning shortly after Christ's death and continuing today, ignore it completely. With apologies for using a ten-dollar word, the general term for ignoring this passage is “antinomialism”.
Almost everyone agrees that Christ's message was one of “justification by faith”, as opposed to “justification by works”. We are not saved by our actions. We are saved by our faith, because if we have faith in Christ, our sins will be forgiven. It is the only way to get to heaven.
Spinning this out, we discover that no matter how grievous our sin, the power of Christ can erase it. It is then only a short logical step to antinomialism: We can commit any sin we want, because we will be saved by our faith.
Christ, however, did not abolish the law. He says so, right here, in black and white. That is fine with most Christians, but what comes next is downright scary: “not one iota, not one dot.” We have had some problems with idiomatic expressions, but this one is the same today as it was then, because we still dot the letter “i”, and this means, not one dot on an “i” has been changed. If that is not clear, Christ tells us that we must not relax the “least of these commandments.” Our starting point, in learning the lessons that Christ teaches, is that the law of Moses applies to us, down to the tiniest detail.
To fulfill means to complete. We fulfill a contract with a car dealer, for instance, by making the final payment on our loan. Contrast this with, say, the government passing a law that debts to car dealers are null and void, and you get the meaning of the difference between abolishing the law and fulfilling it. Christ's intention is to make us fully obedient to the law, even if he has to make some of the payments himself.
Any Christian will read the final paragraph with some sense of irony, for we know that trying to attain righteousness by compliance with the law is futile. Christ is not going to tell us, in the end, that we will find salvation by trying harder. But let us not lose the main point of today's Lesson.
Jesus Christ did not abolish the Old Testament or the moral law it contains. The Old Testament, and more materially the precepts of Moses and the later prophets, are the Word of God. That is our starting point. Where we do not follow a particular law to the letter, then, we must have a specific reason. The Christian tendency to regard the Old Testament as abolished wholesale, purely historical, not relevant to us, is a wide door for us to rationalize conduct contrary to Christ's intention, when we find obedience inconvenient.