Daily Devotion for October 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.
Prayer to Hear God’s Word
Dear God, There is only one voice that is perfect truth, and that is yours: the voice of your Spirit and the voice of your Word. Help me, I pray, to hear your voice clearly. For I tend to lose it in the cacophony. I am filled with the sound of my own voice, with the sense my importance and the correctness of my thought; and on top of that, I am besieged by dozens and hundreds and thousands of words and voices telling me all kinds of things.
Lead me to read your Word without listening to any voice but yours. Let me hear your truth and read your Word without adding to it or subtracting from it, without twisting it to meet the demands of my own preconceptions. Let me not deny your Word because it is inconvenient for me; even if I cannot follow it today, let me know the truth. Where your teaching and my thoughts conflict, help me to change. Help me to set aside my prejudice, my illusions of knowledge, my rationalizations, so that I can learn; and even if I do not follow your Word perfectly, let me know where to ask forgiveness. This I ask in the name of my only Savior, Jesus Christ,
[Lead me to read your Word without listening to any voice but yours. ]
Prayer for Unity Among Christians
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; Give us grace to take to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, support me all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and my work is done. Then of Thy mercy, grant me a safe lodging, and a holy rest and a peace at last through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
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.
Don't Get Sour
Men are like wine — some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.
~ Pope John XXIII
Matthew 17:9-13 (ESV)
The Transfiguration 
And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
Notes on the Scripture
e see Jesus, time and time again, charge those who witnessed miracles or teachings not to tell anyone about it. He does not give a reason for this, but one obvious explanation is that He does not want the Jewish people to widely proclaim the coming of the Messiah before they (or at least some of them) understand what the Messiah is. Jesus is very different from what they expect. Most Jews expect a beefed-up version of David, a military and political leader, probably of high birth, who would drive the Romans from the Promised Land and reinstitute the integrated Kingdom of Israel. fnMost Sadducees thought the Messiah had actually already come! They saw the Messiah not as a man, but as a process, that had started with Judas Maccabeus.
We have seen, and continue to see today, how difficult it is for people to hear the actual message of Christ. People will say and do all kinds of crazy and unchristian things in his name. Even with Peter beginning to comprehend the full meaning of his existence, Christ anticipated the difficulties the church would face, once He had ascended.
God would not force salvation on us. But if a Christ Movement arose as an armed rebellion, not only would Christ's message of a new covenant (and therefore the salvation he brought) be drowned out, but any Christian who understood the message would be slaughtered along with the rest of the “rebels”. As it was, Christ intervened directly by converting Paul; but that was as far as God intended to go, in using force to spread repentance and the acceptance of the Holy Spirit.
The idea that Elijah would reappear in advance of the Messiah is complex. It was a doctrine widely held among the Jews. John the Baptist did act as a forerunner of Christ, and here Jesus speaks of John as fulfilling the expected role of Elijah; but John the Baptist, himself, denied he was Elijah. (John 1:21) And indeed, he was not, for Elijah was a specific individual and had not died.
As we see in the first chapters of Acts, this gives a practical aspect to the Transfiguration. People will make any argument they can, to obfuscate the truth. So, God has given Peter a retort to anyone who will argue, “Christ could not be the Messiah, because Elijah did not return to earth to precede him.” (Malachi had made multiple prophecies, one of which did indeed predict the return of Elijah, but that prophecy seems to refer to the Second Coming.)
So essentially, Christ is saying, if you would have Elijah before the Messiah, you have John. But God also gives Peter an ironclad fallback; he and two other Jews have personally witnessed Elijah's return. Yes, the entire business of John and Elijah (and the multiple prophecies of Malachi) is complicated to us. But the Transfiguration actually simplified the acceptance of Christ, and the proof of his divinity, for Peter and the apostles. If there were any confusion about the return of Elijah — he had returned and they had seen him!