Daily Devotion for March 6, 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
O Master and holy God, who is beyond my understanding: at your word, light came forth out of darkness. In your mercy, you gave me rest through sleep, and let me awake to the light of your glory out of the darkness of night.
Now, in your own tender love, accept me and all who adore you and give thanks to you with all of their heart. In the abundance of your mercies, O Lord, remember all your people; all those who pray with me; all my brethren on land, at sea, or in the air, in every place of your domain, who call upon your love for mankind. Upon all of us who pray to you this morning, pour down your great mercy, that we, saved in body and in soul, may persevere unfailingly; and that, in our confidence, we may extol your exalted and blessed name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, always, now and forever.
Prayer for Those Who Have Turned Away
Grant, O Lord, peace, love and speedy reconciliation to your people whom You have redeemed with your precious blood. Make your presence known to those who have turned away from You and do not seek You, so that none of them may be lost, but all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, so that everyone, in true love and harmony, O long-suffering Lord, may praise your all holy Name.
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Words to Live By
"I never knew any man in my life who could not bear another's misfortunes perfectly like a Christian."
~ Alexander Pope
John 8:31-41 (CEB)
Children of Abraham 
Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
They responded, "We are Abraham's children; we've never been anyone's slaves. How can you say that we will be set free?"
Jesus answered, "I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave isn't a permanent member of the household, but a son is. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you really will be free. I know that you are Abraham's children, yet you want to kill me because you don't welcome my teaching. I'm telling you what I've seen when I am with the Father, but you are doing what you've heard from your father."
They replied, "Our father is Abraham."
Jesus responded, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do Abraham's works. Instead, you want to kill me, though I am the one who has spoken the truth I heard from God. Abraham didn't do this. You are doing your father's works."
Notes on the Scripture
In this passage, the group of listeners is restricted to those who have come to believe in Christ. Thus, although the questions may seem penetrating or even challenging, they are not; they are rather questions posed by people who are truly struggling to understand Christ, against their lifelong background of Mosaic teaching in the Old Testament.
The Jews had frequently been bodily enslaved in the past. Yet, through all the dispersals and conquests, they had held onto their identity by their race -- the children of Abraham -- and their faith in the One True God. They had never been fully enslaved, because they had never given up their identity or their faith.
So they are puzzled when Christ tells them they shall be "set free". But he repeats to them a mystery that is first recorded when he was 12 years old. (Remember how he puzzled the company on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem by saying that he needed to do "my Father's business", e.g. Luke 2:49.) They understand that "father" may have two meanings: their biological father, for one, and Abraham the father of their race, as the other. But now Christ must lead them to understand that God is changing the covenant between them. God himself is the father and Christ is his Son; and through the greatest miracle in history, they too are about to become the children of God.
He is gently leading them to understand that the source of their freedom -- in a word, Abraham -- has not really freed them from sin. Instead, through the law, it has only taught them the difference between right and wrong. None of them (and none of us) has been able to attain complete freedom from sin. This is why Jesus says "if you were Abraham's children, you would do Abraham's works".
He then gives them a nearly indecipherable circumlocution. Possibly the message has been garbled by being passed down, or possibly Christ knew that they were not yet ready to know the entire and perfect truth his message would bring.
But it is safe to say that he left his audience hungry to know more about God. For many of his followers, this would have been the first time in their lives that they had been deeply disturbed about their faith. Christ is preparing them for what is to follow, because it will be so miraculous that it will be difficult to believe.