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Daily Devotion for August 31, 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.
An inventive song based on the Apostles' Creed, from Third Day.
For a New Day
Lord, the newness of this day
Call me to an untried way;
Let me gladly take the road,
Give me strength to bear my load.
Thou my guide and helper be —
I will travel through with Thee.
To Be Led by God’s Gifts
Heavenly Father, for the words of faith shared in devotionals, from the pulpit, in the sanctuary, in prayer, in song, that color my life so rich: I give thanks, and pray that they will enrich my journey of faith, sharing a bit of grace with other earlier saints.
For the sacrifice, the example, the gift of your Son; who came to earth and lived among us, who gave us words to guide us, who infused the law with Spirit and taught us the beauty of change within our hearts; for the loving way Christ showed us, I give thanks, and pray that His words may lead me to live life as your servant, as your disciple, today and forever.
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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 51:1-12 (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.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Matthew 13:31-33 (ESV)
The Parable of the Mustard Seed; The Parable of the Leaven
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
Notes on the Scripture
These two short parables are given together, and their lessons are connected. We might feel helpless to affect the world, sometimes; almost to the point of utter despair, we feel like our voices are wasted in the air and seem to have no effect.
Imagine how Jesus' little band of disciples felt. They were supposed to go out in pairs, in a hostile ancient world where food was scarce, with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, and convince the world to follow Christ? There were fewer people on earth by a large margin, but still — even little Judea had a population in the millions.
ut just as the littlest seed can become the greatest plant in the garden, so a single humble carpenter from a second-rate Roman colony would be the seed of the greatest religious and moral movement in world history. In an earlier teaching, Christ taught us to be harvesters of souls; now, He asks that we be planters; for who has not seen a little seed, hardly more than a bit of inanimate rubbish, become something wonderful? A great oak tree, a stalk of corn, a plant full of beautiful flowers or tomatoes or strawberries?
Primarily, though, Jesus meant this parable to apply more specifically: He is the mustard seed, born and raised a person probably of equal or less apparent significance than you or I; but He will be put in the ground (buried) like a seed, and will then become the greatest “tree” ever known; and “birds” will come to nest in his branches by the millions and billions.
The second parable also deals with transformation, but this time not a radical transformation of appearance and importance, but a transformation of quality. Flour does expand somewhat when leavened, but that is not the point: it is the quality of an internal change that He is getting at. When we internalize Christ and receive the Holy Spirit, we do not grow enormously taller or completely change appearance. But that little pinch of yeast changes has the power to transform a thousand times its weight of unappetizing flour into the “staff of life.”