Daily Devotion for November 1, 2009
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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Gospel of Matthew 16:13-20
Upon This Rock I Will Build My Church
When Jesus came into the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?"
They told him, "Some say John the Baptist; some say Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."
"But who do you say that I am?", he asked.
Simon Peter answered: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
And Jesus said to him, "You are blessed, Simon Bar-jonah; for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; and whatever you loosen on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Then he instructed the disciples to tell nobody that he was the Christ.
Comment on the Scripture
This monumental passage contains three of the most galvanizing statements in the Bible. Jesus implicitly acknowledges that he is the Messiah; he states that Peter has been given knowledge directly from the Father; and he states that Peter will be given extraordinary authority.
Jesus makes a bit of a pun when he tells Peter, "upon this rock I will build my church". Simon, son-of-Jonah, was a simple married fisherman in Bethsaida when he was called. He was given the name (you might call it a "nickname") "Cephas", which in Aramaic meant a rock or stone. Unlike most Biblical names, his name was translated by its meaning rather than literally; the Greeks called him Petros, meaning "stone", rather than Cephas. Thus, the pun works as well in Greek as in Aramaic, and even in most languages with Greek roots. For example, the French equivalent for the name Peter is "Pierre", which also means "stone" in French. Even in modern English, although we do not use "peter" as a direct synonym of rock or stone, it is used to indicate stone in many combinations (e.g. petroleum, saltpeter).
The more important meaning of Christ's words about Peter are simply too controversial to discuss here. Men's pride created controversy over apostolic sucession, which became a death sentence for thousands, if not millions, of Christians. Anybody who feels self-righteous about civil slaughter by Sunni and Shiite Moslems needs to read a little about the history of the Church before they pass judgment. Just within England, the blood of Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and most Protestant denominations once flowed copiously into the gutters of human self-righteousness, while Satan laughed.
I think most people have experienced this version of pride, getting angry when some personal point of view about religion is contradicted. It is a very personal and emotional subject. When it happens to me, I pray for forgiveness and try to pull my mind out of the trap of self-righteousness, praying for God's assistance in helping me do so.