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Daily Devotion for October 15, 2013

<i>The Stoning of Stephen</i> by Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1348. At the Vatican Museum.
The Stoning of Stephen by Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1348. Stephen was the first martyr for Christ, put to death by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. At the Vatican Museum.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

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

Heavenly Father, I do not fear this day, for you are with me wherever I might go, your light to shine ahead, your footsteps to lead the way. I do not fear this day, for your word will be my guide. Your strength will sustain me and your love revive me, this day and all days. I do not fear this day, for you are with me. In the name of Christ, I call upon you.


Prayer to Know God's Will

And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But, no, Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.

I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire -
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging -
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.


To Appreciate God's Creation

Lord God, may all of your creation - from the vastness of mighty planets and stars to the lowliness of the smallest living creature I can see - remind me to live in wonder and appreciation of all that is around me.



Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the church and in the world, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.


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.

An Orthodox icon of Silas (or Silvanus).
An Orthodox icon of Silas (or Silvanus). He was not one of the twelve apostles, but was important in the early church, and accompanied Paul on his first and second journeys. He is shown with chains, to commemorate his escape from prison in Philippi.

2 Baruch 70:3-5 (Apocrypha)

And they will hate one another and provoke one another to fight. And the despised will rule over the honorable, and the unworthy will raise themselves over the illustrious.

And many will be delivered to the few, those who were nothing will rule over the strong, the poor will be greater in number than the rich, and the impious will exalt themselves over the brave. The wise will be silent, and the foolish will speak.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 10:16-20 (ESV)

The Chronology of Matthew

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.

When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake.

Notes on the Scripture

As we read along in Matthew, we notice that some passages appear out of place, because they do not make sense chronologically. One notable example is that he gives a long account of the Sermon on the Mount; and yet, he was not present, for he relates his own calling as an apostle afterward.

Today's passage gives another type of apparent inconsistency in timing. In verse 5, remember, Jesus told his apostles “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans.” Yet here, suddenly, we find him speaking of things that will not occur (for the most part) until after his Ascension, including bearing witness to the Gentiles.

Besides the inconsistency about preaching to Gentiles, there is a greater anachronismAnachronism: Something that appears to be out of place in time, occurring in a time period where it does not belong.. The missions in Judea that the apostles are about to embark upon will not occasion any great floggings or civil disruption, or people turning family members over to the authorities to be executed. Christ's words appear to change their time frame in the middle of his speech; but it could just as well be Matthew's doing. He seems to have changed gears, from chronological history to a thematic collection of teachings about missionary work.

The other Gospels are more strictly chronological. One characteristic of Matthew is that he was a great collector of Jesus' teachings. Rather than attempting to present them piecemeal, when he reaches a point in the narrative where a theme arises, he will treat the theme with sayings that appear to be taken from other times and places. Matthew is more interested in treating specific themes comprehensively than in getting the timing right. His Gospel is a history, like all of the Gospels; but of the four, Matthew's is the most apt to group teachings by theme.

Matthew 10 is such an essay or collection of teachings: “advice to disciples” or “converting people to Christianity”. One cannot say with certainty whether Christ, when he gathered the apostles to prepare them for their first mission without him, taught them the entirety of what Matthew relates in Chapter 10. He might have done; or Matthew might have added appropriate teachings that he heard at other times, or that he heard second-hand.

But one can say with certainty that the advice is, at points, more appropriate to later disciples and missionaries than to the twelve apostles at this time. Christ foresees a great and sometimes violent division between those who believe in him and those who oppose him, a division that will not occur until after his death and, primarily, after his Ascension.

He is speaking to his apostles; but he is also speaking to history, because many of the problems he addresses will not occur while he is alive. To our knowledge, Christ was the first to die in his own name; so certainly, such predictions as “[b]rother will deliver brother over to death” apply, not to the mission the apostles are about to undertake, but to future disciples, who will come later.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 7:7-8:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

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