Daily Devotion for July 26, 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 updated version of an old hymn, Have I Done Any Good?, inspires me for the entire day!
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.
There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.
’Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love’s labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.
Text and music: Will L. Thompson, 1887.
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 for Freedom from Fear
O Lord, I beseech you to deliver me, and all of your children, from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, and fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Prayer for Unknown Needs
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on my weakness, and mercifully give me those things which for my unworthiness I dare not, and for my blindness I cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Oh Heavenly Father, in whom I live and move and have my being, I humbly pray you so to guide and govern me by your Holy Spirit, that in all the joys, occupations, and cares of this day I may never forget you, but remember that I am ever walking in your sight. In Christ's name, I pray,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Dying Christian to His Soul
Heav’n opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring!
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O Grave! where is thy victory?
O Death! where is thy sting?
~ Alexander Pope (1712)
Matthew 11:1-6 (ESV)
Jesus Speaks about John the Baptist
When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Notes on the Scripture
Six Modes of Jesus' Speech
Matthew 11, in which Jesus speaks about his (and John's) ministry, demonstrates six somewhat different modes or styles in which Jesus speaks. Today's passage is spoken in a voice meant to demonstrate confidence or certainty. We can call it the “Tone of Confidence”. We see it fairly often, when Christ feels that he needs his audience to understand the certainty of what he says. Developing faith among a core of disciples was a primary, and difficult, task Christ needed to accomplish in the short time he was alive and active in his ministry.
The tone of discourse could not have a clearer example, because John's disciples ask him straight out if he is the Messiah. It is an odd question coming from John, who just a few months earlier baptized Jesus and declared him to be such. There are several possible reasons. Some have suggested that the question was for the benefit of John's disciples, not John himself.
We need to divert for a moment, to understand what had happened to John by now; his story is told piecemeal over the four Gospels. As we will see in Matthew 14, John has been imprisoned by Herod (“Herod Antipas”, the Herod who ruled Galilee at this time). Herod had visited his brother (also named Herod) in Jerusalem, seduced his brother's wife, and then divorced his own wife to marry the woman. John, not one to mince words, denounced Herod vitriolically, and Herod arrested him and threw him in prison to shut him up.
We must realize how painful life in a tiny, dark, windowless cell would be for John. He was the ultimate outdoorsman, a child of the open desert, living in the wilderness, eating locusts. It was like putting a wild bird in a shoebox. And he had little hope of ever seeing the sun again.
So, he had to make plans for his disciples, and very possibly, he was trying to steer them gently towards Christ. Or also possibly, he was in personal crisis; for although his faith was enormous, he was human. So perhaps he needed reassurance from Jesus, whom he could not visit, that his ministry had been fruitful. Or, perhaps, his faith was simply maturing as he looked towards oblivion.
Christ would often become demure, when asked if he were the Son of God, the Messiah; and his answer here is typically obliqueOblique: In rhetoric, a statement that proves a point indirectly; roundabout.. Instead of saying, “Yes, I am,” he recites the events that had surrounded his ministry. Matthew has taken pains to tie Jesus' miracles to ancient prophecies, and both John and John's disciples would know them and appreciate the significance of these acts.
Such a response would certainly build more confidence than a person proclaiming, “I am the Messiah.” People lie, and everyone knows that people lie. So Christ presents the facts; but he does add, gently and indirectly, a hint that those who have faith in him are blessed.