Daily Devotion for April 22, 2016
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.
This piece is known simply as “The Vivaldi Gloria” due to its outstanding popularity. The only lyrics to the First Movement are Gloria in excelsis Deo - “Glory to God in the highest.”
It is performed here by an ad hoc chorus (in Madrid), “Voices for Peace,” who are slightly unpolished but sing it with enormous heart and conviction. Glory to God, indeed!
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Father, let me live this day as the gift it is, for You have truly blessed me to live it. And if I may suffer, I will carry with me the certainty that one day I will see You face to face, a day when all things will become clear and my pain will be made whole through the grace of Christ, my God. Blessed be you, oh Lord my God, and blessed be the day you have given me.
For Those in Need of Strength
I pray, Lord, for all who will need strength and courage in the day ahead: For those who face danger. For those who risk themselves for others. For those who must make an important decision today. For people who are seriously ill. For those facing persecution or torture. I ask you, Lord, to give them the power of your Spirit,
[Where in my life do I see God’s provision for me?]
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep me from falling away and will bring me with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time,
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.
Psalm 119:1-3, 101-105 (ESV)
Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
Matthew 4:18-22 (ESV)
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Notes on the Scripture
All of us hear some sort of call to Christ. Most often when we read about it in the Bible, it is dramatic. Picture Saul on the Road to Damascus, being knocked from his horse and stricken blind, or Jonah being swallowed by a great fish and disgorged on a beach.
The call to the first four apostles is almost as dramatic. Peter and Andrew, fishermen at work, immediately leave their nets to follow Jesus. Being a fisherman is honest labor but a hard life with little reward, and back then even moreso than today. It was literally a earning a living, and a risky one at that — for coming up empty-handed after a days' work is always a risk for fishermen, and injury is common. Christ's first call, a call that will determine the people he will leave in charge of his church, is not to the educated, wealthy, influential; these are not people who have shown any intimation of greatness.
And what do they do when they hear the call? They quit their job on the spot. We call someone taking great risk without any backup “jumping without a net”, figuratively; but they do so, literally. They abandon their slim source of sustenance.
James and John are in a similar position, but notice the difference. They are said to leave their boat and their father, emphasizing that they have left behind their home and family. We see people in the two primary spheres of life — at work and at home — dropping everything.
Such calls continue to happen today; a man or woman, in a sudden flash of insight, will repent of their sin and follow Christ. Often dramatic conversions occur to prisoners, addicts, people whose lives are truly a mess. But for most of us the call comes more subtly, more gradually, often to the point where we hardly notice it. We do not need to experience our rebirth in Christ as a great moment of epiphany. Although theologians will tell us that there is a moment when the miracle occurs and we answer our call, we may hardly know when it was.
Growing gradually in faith is the rule; it is the sudden dramatic call that is the exception. God gives us a lifetime to find him, and our growth in faith may happen in such small stages, with so many small steps backwards, that we hardly notice how much we change. We should, none of us, doubt our call! Nor should we fear to drop our nets and follow Christ in stages. We come to Christ as we are called, and if the realization of our salvation comes slowly, it is none the less real and eternal.