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Daily Devotion for April 9, 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.
A pretty version of Down in the River to Pray, sung by Susan Isaacs and friends.
Morning Prayer (George Washington)
O Lord our God, most mighty and merciful father, I, your unworthy creation and servant, once more approach your presence. Though not worthy to appear before you, because of the many sins and transgressions which I have committed against your divine majesty; yet I pray you, for the sake of him in whom you are well pleased, the Lord Jesus Christ, to let me give you thanks and praise for your many and varied mercies extended toward me, for the quiet rest and repose of the past night, for food, clothing, health, peace, liberty, and the hopes of a better life through the merits of your dear son's bitter passion.
And O kind Father, continue your mercy and favor to me this day, and always; give resolution to all my lawful undertakings; let me have all my directions from your Holy Spirit; and success from your bountiful hand. Let the bright beams of your light so shine into my heart, and enlighten my mind in understanding your blessed word, that I may be enabled to perform your will in all things, and effectively resist all temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. Preserve and defend our rulers in church and state. Bless the people of this land, be a father to the fatherless, a comforter to the comfortless, a deliverer to the captives, and a physician to the sick. Let your blessings guide me and all of us, this day and forever, through Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray.
Love for Christ
O Lord, let me rest the ladder of gratitude against your cross and, mounting up, kiss your feet.
[Kissing the feet of Christ.]
All through this day, O Lord, by the power of your quickening Spirit, let me touch the lives of others for good, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I speak, or the life I live.
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.
Advice on Interpreting the Bible
God’s words are not for me to edit and tinker with, but to believe and obey.
~ A. W. Tozer
John 1:32-34 (ESV)
The Holy Spirit descends on Christ
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Notes on the Scripture
he parents of John the Baptist knew that he was to be a special person, long before his birth. He had a destiny given by God. Elizabeth, his mother, was visited by an angel who announced the pregnancy to her and informed her of the child’s special purpose. In today’s scripture, we learn that John himself has some sort of first-hand knowledge; God has spoken to him. This revelation is not described in the Bible, but John says that he has received instructions and knowledge from God first-hand. It is, indeed, the only way he could know about his mission.
Although John has baptized many people with water by now, his mission is not simply to baptize Jews in a river. It is the means by which God has promised to reveal the identity of his son, the Christ. So when John baptizes Jesus and actually sees the Holy Spirit descend upon him, he knows that Jesus is the Christ for whom he has been waiting.
The passage doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit took the actual form of a dove; there is a difference of opinion about this (although most of the iconography shows a white dove just above Jesus’ head). Did an actual dove descend? Or perhaps, did a soft white ball of light descend, that reminded John of a dove? We are not sure. But the Spirit that came from heaven was, somehow, like a dove, and the symbolism is important.
When Julius Caesar was vying for political authority, he was empowered by the appearance of an eagle, the greatest and most powerful bird of prey, the very symbol of military might carried on Roman standards. A dove, by contrast, is the most peaceful of birds. It is preyed upon by falcons and eagles. It harms nobody. Its song is a soft and comforting cooing sound. It is beautiful, a symbol of love throughout the ages. It represents peace.
So a dove-like apparition presages the great surprise that will characterize Jesus’ life and ministry. The savior of the Jews does not come with a sword to kill the enemies of Israel, but carrying a cross that he will be killed upon, to defeat the real enemies of all humanity. He will not bring death; he will defeat death.