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Daily Devotion for February 22, 2011
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.
Satchmo shows his gospel roots.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.
For length of days, and years of life, And peace, will they add to thee.
Let not kindness and truth forsake thee: Bind them about thy neck; Write them upon the tablet of thy heart:
So shalt thou find favor and good understanding In the sight of God and man.
John 6:52-59 (NCV)
Bread of Life (4)Then the evil people began to argue among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, you must eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood. Otherwise, you won't have real life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day. My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them. The living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father. So whoever eats me will live because of me. I am not like the bread your ancestors ate. They ate that bread and still died. I am the bread that came down from heaven, and whoever eats this bread will live forever."
Jesus said all these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Notes on the Scripture
Jesus gives us the foundation for the sacrament or ritual of Holy Communion, which most denominations celebrate in one form or another. The more ritual churches (especially Catholic and Orthodox) place more emphasis upon it, while the more evangelical denominations place less. Holy Communion services usually recite the more familiar words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, but here, in the middle of his teaching years, he supplies the same argument.
One can imagined some people going bug-eyed when Christ said that people were going to need to eat his flesh. They certainly worried that He was going to make some sort of cannibalistic sacrifice. He doesn't explain it, but instead, continues to speak in the same metaphor.
This adds a physical element to the teachings that have gone just before. Jesus has spent John 6 teaching that he brings living water that, unlike the water from a well, will give eternal life; unlike the water from a well, which one drinks and then must drink again, his spirit will quench spiritual thirst forever.
In this passage, he turns the metaphor slightly from his teachings to himself, his physical life. His body is part of the miracle. He lets the people know that He will be the last sacrifice that will have to be made. The Jews at the time killed animals as a sacrifice to God for a number of different reasons, one of which was a "sin offering". The people who might eat sacrificial meat was precisely controlled. But he is telling us, here, that we all may participate in the physical offering of his own body, as the sacrifice for our sins. Everyone will be allowed to participate in the sacrifice He will make of himself. It is the last such sacrifice that will ever need to be made -- in other words, it was "sufficient" to cleanse the sins of the whole world, forever.
Most churches celebrate the sacrifice in Holy Communion. Some denominations believe that the bread and wine (or grape juice) of communion literally and mystically become Christ's flesh and blood, while others view it more symbolically, but this is one of those questions that does not need to divide us. Religious practice is a very personal matter. Belief in Christ should not be -- it should be a public matter, because He has charged us with letting the world know his message and loving one another like brothers. We should keep this in mind if we are ever tempted to start dickering about how we worship.