Daily Devotion for February 23, 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.
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.
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,
And you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For He commanded and they were created.
John 6:60-71 (NKJV)
Many Disciples Turn Away
Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"
When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe."
For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.
Notes on the Scripture
The reference in the first sentence is to Christ stating that his disciples would "eat his flesh" and "drink his blood". This drives away many of his disciples. ("Disciples" is used here in the broaders sense, to indicate the people who had followed Him across the Sea of Galilee from the place where He fed the 5,000. The twelves apostles are unfazed, and Peter speaks for them.) Indeed, you can see how sorely such a statement, which appears to border on cannibalism, would be difficult to accept. We know that He meant a symbolic feast, but they didn't. Only those who had completely abandoned themselves to belief in Him were able to accept, on faith, that such a saying would prove to be righteous.
We also learn that Christ was aware, from the first, that Judas was destined to betray Him. John, more than the other gospels, concentrates on Christ's early knowledge of his fate, and how his death and resurrection would eventually happen.
We at Daily Prayer often bemoan the marked decline in Christian belief in the Western world, especially the aggressive and angry atheism so often evident in the media. But the decline in faith also appears among those who consider themselves Christians. We must look to ourselves, for it is there we have the most control.
Building faith is difficult and time-consuming. We have to do it every day if we want to come closer to Christ, and specifically, read and reread passage such as that from John, above, taking time to understand and reflect upon it.
When people are shocked by their misinterpretation of Christ's words, He does not assuage their fear by saying, "I am only speaking symbolically." Rather, if they think He is talking about actually eating Him, He lets them think it. Instead, His argument is: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing."