Daily Devotion for June 3, 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.
Psalm 1, from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers. “Blessed be the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
(Very soft - you might want to turn up your volume.)
Prayer to Dedicate This Day to God
Holy God, as I face another day, I know I am going to face many challenges: to my faith, to my patience, to my love for others. I am going to have constant temptations to lapse into sin. Come to me now, Lord, and stay with me all day. Let your Spirit encompass my mind. Let me know your presence. Steer my hand, direct my words, guide my thoughts in everything I think and say and do. I resolve to live this day as a beacon of your glory, the best I can, with your help. I commit myself to give this day to you. In the name of Christ, be with me and help me.
For Strength and Peace
O Thou who art my quietness, my deep repose,
My rest from strife of tongues, my holy hill,
Fair is Thy pavilion, where I hold me still.
Back let them fall from me, my clamorous foes,
From crowding things of sense I flee, and Thee I hide.
Until this tyranny be overpast,
Thy hand will hold me fast;
What though the tumult of the storm increase,
Grant to Thy servant strength, O Lord, and bless with peace.
May the God of hope fill me and all of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing, so that we may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
~ C. S. Lewis
Matthew 6:19-24 (ESV)
Sermon on the Mount - Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money [or mammon].
Notes on the Scripture
The original text used the word mammon to stand for riches of the earth; it is broader than money and thus more accurate; however, it is a special “Bible word” and lacks the gut-level impact of “money”. So, there's something to be said for either translation.
Roman statue of
Plutus as a baby, held
by the goddess Fortuna.
“Mammon” did not originate as a common noun. Mammon was the Syrian statue-god of riches, who had come to be worshipped throughout Canaan. The Greeks had a similar god, Plutus (from which we get words like plutocracy, “government by the wealthy”) and the Chinese god of wealth was extremely important.
Christian writers often refer to overemphasis on things of this world, and especially luxury goods, as “idol-worship”; so, the analogy comes full circle here, since Christ's words have a double meaning: literally, do not commit idolatry by worshipping the god of riches, and figuratively, do not serve the temporary baubles of this world, for you cannot serve God if you serve them.
We must choose. If we are to be reborn in Christ, we must choose to serve God, and we must choose not to serve money. We must abandon our natural inclination to want earthly goods. Christ could not have been any clearer, or more specific.
But the choice is one we make in our spirit. Our body does not die and our body is not reborn when we accept Christ; we are reborn in the Spirit. Unfortunately, this means that our body and mind continue to fight. We all know how we struggle to follow Christ's message, to give our entire heart to God and simply abandon any attraction to the things of earth.
We cannot be discouraged when we fail; it does not mean we are bad Christians, or headed for hell. The meaning of Christ is forgiveness. But the Scripture does signify that, in our Spirit, we must love God above the things of this earth, and try our best to overcome temptation while we are in the world.
The teaching about the eye, being the lamp of the soul, gives us a hint on how to minimize our temptation. If we have a weakness for jewelry and do not want to lust after it, we shouldn't walk into Tiffany to look at all the diamonds. But more profoundly, Christ seeks to change our “eye” to match our heart. It is not seeing that hurts us; our eye is not just our physical eyeballs, but also the part of our mind that processes the information.
Light is a common metaphor for the wisdom of God and for Christ, e.g. John 1:1-4, and the meaning is present here. The more wisdom that we take in, through study, prayer and meditation, the more proof our eye is against temptation. We can see a beautiful necklace, we can even admire its beauty, without wanting it. Christ calls this a “healthy eye”.