Daily Devotion for July 23, 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.
Jesus Met the Woman at the Well, as it would have been performed by black slaves.
Praise and Thanks this Morning
Hallelujah! The sun has risen again and it is morning! And I have awoken into it, alive, breathing, thinking, knowing that the Son will rise again and I will be saved. What did I do to deserve this day? It is a gift from you. Glory and praise to you, my God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for filling me with life to live another day, for it is you who made me and not me myself.
I resolve to spend this day in the presence of the Holy Spirit, filled with his joy and energy, that I might accomplish your will, my God, and do what I can to deserve the joys of the day, for I know my time here is short. Be with me, oh Holy Spirit, to fill me with the energy and positivity and comfort that only you can bring. In Christ's name I pray that thy will be done,
For Faithfulness in the Use of this World's Goods
Almighty God, whose loving hand has given me all that I possess; Grant me grace that I may honor you with my substance, and remembering the account which I must one day give, may be a faithful steward of your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To Treat Others with Love and Understanding
Heavenly Lord, you have commanded us to love one another, but sometimes even when I am pleasant to another person it is not sincere. Help me, I pray, to be sincere in choosing good over evil. Let my love and concern for others not be a sham. When I work for you, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I might be committed and enthusiastic in your service. Let me live in your presence, and not get so wrapped up in my life that I forget about you.
And may I be patient when difficulties arise and not give way to frustration and anger, knowing always that the result belongs to you. Let me not take offense at others, let me not be thin-skinned, but shielded by the power of your Spirit, let me shrug off insults, whether real, or unintentional, or perceived. In Christ's name, I pray this.
Finally, let me go forth in thanks for the victory I have been given through our Lord Jesus Christ. May I be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, and always remembering that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.
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.
“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”
~ G. K. Chesterton
Matthew 10:34-38 (ESV)
Not Peace, but a Sword
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Notes on the Scripture
Wow. This powerful passage could not be any more direct. But as clear as the words are in their immediate meaning, it creates a very difficult dichotomyDichotomy: Something with seemingly contradictory qualities. of ideas within the framework of Christ's teachings.
It is by no means an isolated teaching. Many passages echo the same idea, or related concepts that seem difficult to reconcile with teachings on peace and love. E.g., “If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
arlier in Chapter 10 we read the corollary of this; in verse 21, Jesus warned the apostles to expect hostility from their friends and family: “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death.” We are at war, in other words, with all nonbelievers. And at war with our own life!
But then, we have the Christian teachings that seem to be the exact contradiction: Love thy neighbor; use your gifts to serve other; even the Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve; etc. And we see Jesus enjoying life, and even, for a moment, regretting that he must die: “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? ” (John 12:27)
First off, there is a cardinal principle of reading Scripture we must always hold foremost, when a paradox troubles us: We cannot understand God. We are, at times, like children who have been told not to stick our finger in the light socket. Our minds are not always sufficient to understand the “why” of God's actions or commandments.
We must love Christ, first, foremost, and even only. When something stands between us and our love and obedience to Christ, that something must be dealt with; it cannot be chosen in preference. And the “somethings” that might stand between us and Christ include some things very painful to oppose: our natural love for our family; our appetites and comfort; even our own life.
When Jesus tells us we must hate our own life, he does not mean hate in the sense of actively attempting to destroy it. We do not “hate” our family or our life in the same way we “hate” evil: language is a clumsy tool, here.
Rather, we must be willing to give it up, to the degree it forms an insoluble barrier between us and God. Christ does not mean we should call our family members ugly names. In fact, in Chapter 5, he told us, “Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
This passage essentially develops specifics of the general rule of Christ's primacy in our lives, if we would find salvation: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24) Christ does not mean we will feel the emotion of hatred against our own parents; but that we might be called upon to endure their hatred, to refuse to accede to their wishes no matter how angry it makes them at us.