Daily Devotion for April 4, 2014
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.
You are still beside me,
Or in death's dark shadows lie,
You will stay close by me.
If I flee on morning wings
Far across the gray sea,
Even there your hand will lead,
Your right hand will guide me.
Words and music by Fernando Ortega
Prayer for the Morning
May all I do today begin with you, O Lord. Plant dreams and hopes within my soul and revive my tired spirit: be with me today. Be at my side and walk with me; be my support, that your hand may be seen in every action I take, that your goodness may be in every word I speak, and that your spirit may inhabit my every thought. Make my thoughts, my work, and my very life blessings for your kingdom. In Christ's name I pray,
[Plant dreams in my soul.]
For a Blessing on the Families of the Land
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who sets the solitary person in the comfort of families; I commend to your continual care the homes in which your people dwell. Put far from them, I beseech you, every root of bitterness, the desire of boastful vanity, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh; turn the heart of the parents to the children, and the heart of the children to the parents; and fill us all with true love and charity, so that we put aside petty differences and act with kind affection and the sympathy of brotherly love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, support me all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and my work is done. Then of Thy mercy, grant me a safe lodging, and a holy rest and a peace at last through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
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.
Song of Solomon 2:3-4 (ESV)
As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the hall of wine,
and his banner over me was love.
Matthew 24:45-51 (ESV)
The Good and Wicked Servants
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.
But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Notes on the Scripture
This, and the paragraph just before (Matthew 24:43-44), are incomplete bits of two parables. Luke fleshes out the teaching much more fully, for they are part of an extended metaphor of a servant waiting for the master to return. (Luke 12:32-48)
But the point is clear enough. The context is a discourse on His second coming, made in private to the eleven apostles. The parable fragment makes the most sense as an instruction about their conduct until He will come again. They have a special role to play. Not only must they be always ready for Christ to return, but also, they must care for the master's household. In his absence, it is their responsibility to create a church and feed the members with the spiritual food of Christ's words and mysteries.
He seems to presuppose, or at least account for the possibility, that there might be a long delay before his second coming. He has already told us that He does not know when He will return; nobody knows this except the Father. (Matthew 24:36) So he must prepare the apostles, and the world, to find salvation and heed his words in his absence. In short, He is preparing them, and us, for the age of the church.
Many early Christians were under the impression that Christ's return was imminent. And, perhaps it was in terms of “God time”. For as Peter reminds us, “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)
If this interpretation is correct, Christ would have much to say to many church leaders, today. He would not be pleased with the misbehavior among clergy tolerated in some (if not most) churches, for He holds them to a different standard. “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1) Even those who would teach Bible study (or write commentary for web sites!) should be mindful: