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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Daily Devotion for October 5, 2016


<i>The Evangelist Matthew</i> by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1534.
The Evangelist Matthew by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1534. This woodcut is one of Cranach's illustrations for Martin Luther's first Bible.

Prayers

Scripture

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Lord's Prayer

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.

Amen.

Elizabeth Goodine's great gospel song, When Jesus Lifts the Load, performed here by the Christ’s Church Choir with the Gaither Vocal Band.



Prayer to Live this Day with God

Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank you that I can see or hear your Word this morning. Let me give thanks all day for what I have, especially your eternal love, and forgive me this day when I go astray, by my thoughts or actions; my only aim is to please you, to know and do your will. Guide my every step.

Help me to live this day with wisdom and discretion so that I may not fall short of your glory. Protect me from danger, both in the world and in my attitude. Give me the gift of a clear mind, that I might hear the quiet voice of your Spirit. Help to massage away resentments and blame for things gone by, that would eat my energy and poison my mind; but instead, help me to look to the moment, to what I can do, to work for the future. And let me never become frustrated where I lack control of events, for you are in charge, not me; and I put my entire faith in your power, your knowledge, your plan for humanity.

Your are my leader and my coach, Lord. I am on your team. Help me to keep this in mind for just today, in Christ's name I pray,

Amen.

Prayer of St. Augustine

Look upon me, O Lord, and let all the darkness of my soul vanish before the beams of thy brightness. Fill me with holy love, and open to me the treasures of thy wisdom. All my desire is known unto thee; therefore perfect what thou hast begun, and what thy Spirit has awakened me to ask in prayer.

I seek thy face. Turn thy face unto me and show me thy glory. Then shall my longing be satisfied, and my peace shall be perfect.

Amen.

Blessing of Mark

O  Sovereign and almighty Lord, bless all your people, and all your flock. Give your peace, your help, and your love unto us your servants, the sheep of your fold, that we may be united in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one hope of our calling, in your divine and boundless love.

Amen.


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.




And they shall confess their sin | Leviticus 26

Proverbs 2:9-10 (ESV)

Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;

for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;


Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 17:14-21 (J.B. Phillips N.T.)

Jesus Heals an Epileptic Boy

When they returned to the crowds again a man came and knelt in front of Jesus. “Lord, do have pity on my son,” he said, “for he is a lunatic and is in a terrible state. He is always falling into the fire or into the water. I did bring him to your disciples but they couldn’t cure him.”

“You really are an unbelieving and difficult people,” Jesus returned. “How long must I be with you, and how long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me!”

Then Jesus reprimanded the evil spirit and it went out of the boy, who was cured from that moment.

Afterwards the disciples approached Jesus privately and asked, “Why weren’t we able to get rid of it?”

“Because you have so little faith,” replied Jesus. “I assure you that if you have as much faith as a grain of mustard-seed you can say to this hill, ‘Up you get and move over there!’ and it will move — you will find nothing is impossible. [However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.]”

Note: The sentence in brackets at the end of the passage is included in some texts of Matthew but not others. Scholars argue over whether it is original to the Gospel of Matthew.


Notes on the Scripture

W

ay back in Chapter 10, when Jesus first sent the apostles out on the road, in pairs, to preach the gospel, He gave them the authority to case out demons and heal. Now, we discover that their power is not co-extensive with that of Christ, because their faith is not perfect. We will see this repeatedly until the end of Matthew and the other three Gospels, as well. Most notably, we know that Peter — the most advanced of the twelve — will both attempt to defend Christ with a sword, and then deny Him three times on the night of His arrest.

In fact, the apostles will not become complete in their faith until a much later time, after Christ has left earth: The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is not so simple a matter as a person not generating sufficient faith in himself, for the perfection of faith must come from God, in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The apostles will, after receiving the full gift of the Spirit, be able to heal and cast out demons. The Book of Acts of the Apostles is filled with accounts of signs and wonders performed by Peter and others.

Which brings up one of the knottiest problems in Christianity: What happened? Why are we not able to perform such healing today? The only time we even see “demons cast out” and people “healed by faith”, it seems, is by professional pseudo-Christian hucksters who prey on the gullible. (There are genuine healing services in many church communities, but despite their frequent and great success at comforting the soul, they do not expect to produce the immediate miraculous cures that the apostles were able to effect.)

Elijah calls down fire on Baal priests | 1 Kings 18

Jesus explains our problem in today's Scripture. We do not see true miracles from the church today, because our faith is insufficient. We need only look at the faith and the power of the Holy Spirit in the early church, and compare it to our own, to see it.

In the church of the first two or three centuries, faith in Christ was absolute. Stephen, the first martyr, fell to his knees as he was being bashed to death with stones, looked to heaven, and asked God to forgive the people murdering him. (Acts 7:54-60.) He was not, mind you, one of the apostles, not a person who ever himself worked a miracle; the faith of the “clergy” at the time, who were the apostles, was a magnitude greater.

The greatest of our faithful living today has less of the Holy Spirit than the least of the first church. Mother Theresa, world famous for her charity and life of dedicated service, admitted to the torture she felt at her lapses in faith; at times, she could not even bring herself to pray.

So, we should not look for miracles; we should look to our own growth in the Holy Spirit. The process of coming to God is not one of guilt and pain, but simply finding the Spirit in prayer and study, and letting Him do his work in us!

Repentance and remorse are very different things. Remorse is painful; Repentance is pain-relieving. Christians are not driven; we are called. So let us turn our hearts to God this year, letting go of the world of power politics and money and self-aggrandizement, and answering the call of faith and love and humility. The Holy Spirit wants to have a full relationship with us.



endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Hebrews 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.


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