Daily Devotion for February 18, 2018
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.
For our “Virtual Sunday Church”, we join the Fron Choir in Wales. The lyrics are on-screen, if you want to sing along.
Prayer for Sunday Worship
O God, you make me glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son my Lord: Give me the peace to worship you with my whole heart and mind, forgetting the cares of the world, and dwelling with you for a short moment with my entire being. And give me this day such blessing through my worship of you, that the week to come may be spent in living knowledge of your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A Prayer for Fasting
Holy Lord God, who by your word reminds us of all who have offered you the gift of fasting as a symbol of contrition; Guide me in my denial of worldly pleasure during this season of repentance, that I may always be reminded of the sin that Christ died to overcome; and accept, I pray, the offering I give you with my body in memory of Christ’s suffering.
Prayer for the Power of the Holy Spirit
O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.
Oh Holy God, look down upon me, a miserable sinner, and forgive me for the terrible things that I do, against your love for us and against the love that you have commanded us to show for our brothers and sisters. The people of the world are your holy and beautiful children, oh Lord, and I am one of them also. I pray that you will fill me so full of your might and love that I will not sin against myself or anybody else, this day, or ever; but if I do, I plead with you, give me that undeserved grace you showed by the life and sacrifice of your Son, my Lord, Jesus Christ.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip me with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in me what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
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.
“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, kindles the true light of chastity.”
~ (Saint) Augustine of Hippo
Mark 1:1-15 (ESV)
The Good News
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Notes on the Scripture
The beliefs and practices concerning baptism vary widely among Christian denominations. Several — notably the Quakers and the Salvation Army — neither believe it is necessary nor practice the ritual. A great many (such as the Catholic and Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist communions) believe that baptism is necessary to salvation and that an actual transformation takes place. Others, notably Baptists, do not believe it to be a sacrament, but practice it as an act of Christian obedience.
aptism, basically, means a cleansing. It derives from a Greek word meaning “to immerse,” and indeed, many Christians perform baptism by totally immersing the person in water. The Greek word also applied to less dramatic cleansing by water, such as dipping one’s hands in water to clean them before a meal. So when a person is baptized, he is generally cleansed with water to correlate with the cleansing of the soul from sin by Christ’s grace. It represents the moment when a person is reborn in Christ’s grace, either symbolically or sacramentally (that is, an outward and visible sign of an actual simultaneous spiritual event).
Jesus’ baptism by a non-divine human (John the Baptist) has agitated theologians for two thousand years. How can Christ, who was born without sin, be baptized at all, much less by a mortal man “not worthy to untie His sandals”?
Well, I don’t know; but, fortunately, I have very little need for logic when it comes to Christian teachings. Logic is, in a sense, a limitation of the human mind. Clearly, the event marked a milestone in Christ’s life; it was the point at which he emerges from his youth and begins his full-time mission of teaching, a three-year journey ending in His death, resurrection, and ascension. Equally clearly, Christ’s baptism demonstrates that the three persons of God are acting in harmony.
But note, Christ acts throughout the New Testament with an often odd-seeming humility before God the Father. In many respects, He acts like a normal, mortal, but perfect Jew. When He is accused of violating the law of Moses, He takes the accusations seriously and speaks in His own defence. Paul explains to us, in Philippians 2, that Christ “emptied himself” of divinity when He was born as a human. In light of Christ’s apparent mission to live as a fully mortal man, as a model for others (both the living and those to come), it makes some sense that He would be baptized as a human.