Daily Devotion for September 14, 2021
This darkly symbolic comment on modern society was voted Finland’s “National Painting” in 2006.
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.
The profundity of J.J. Heller’s songs often amazes me.
This song speaks immediately to a very small group, almost impossible for most of us to understand: people, primarily teenage and young adult women, who cut themselves with glass or razor blades, to relieve emotional pain.
But it speaks generally to all of us, in our attempts to solve our own problems of imperfection: “A fight I never win.”
The cut is deep, but never deep enough for me.
It doesn't hurt enough to make me forget.
One moment of relief is never long enough
To keep the voices in my head
From stealing my peace.
Oh, control -
It's time, time to let you go.
Perfection has a price,
But I cannot afford to live that life.
It always ends the same; a fight I never win.
I'm letting go of the illusion;
I'm letting go of the confusion;
I can't carry it another step.
I close my eyes and take a breath;
I'm letting go, letting go.
There were scars before my scars,
Love written on the hands that hung the stars;
Hope living in the blood that was spilled for me.
Music and Lyrics by JJ Heller
For a Day Filled with Joy
Oh Father God in heaven: What a great day! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this and every day when I have woken up, with my heart beating and my mind able to read and think.
Whatever physical limitations I may have, whatever aches and pains or illnesses I have this day, they can never diminish the greatness of life itself and the great world in which I have found myself. For I know, I did not earn the millions of little blessings that a human life requires: every cell, every strand of DNA, every bone and every muscle in my body is a gift. I did not make them, nor the air or water or sunshine that keeps them alive.
By the power of your Holy Spirit, fill my heart with joy for all that I have been given. Help me to shoulder the burdens of my life with strength and courage, finding my solace in your promise of eternal life. I look forward in absolute faith to the glorious new body that all of Christ’s children have been promised; but I pray to enjoy this not-so-glorious body, to see all of its wonders and remember that, being a gift, I am in no position to complain about its imperfections. Let me enjoy my life while I have it, great Lord. Let me celebrate all the little things I take for granted.
Bless also all the other people of this earth, O Lord, that they may be filled with the joy of life, and especially know the life eternal which can come only from your Son, Jesus Christ.
Prayer of Thanks
O Thou whose bounty fills my cup with every blessing meet! I give Thee thanks for every drop, the bitter and the sweet.
I praise Thee for the desert road, and for the riverside; for all Thy goodness hath bestowed, and all Thy grace denied.
I thank Thee for both smile and frown, and for the gain and loss; I praise Thee for the future crown and for the present cross.
I thank Thee for both wings of love which stirred my worldly nest; and for the stormy clouds which drove me, trembling, to Thy breast.
I bless Thee for the glad increase, and for the waning joy; and for this strange, this settled peace which nothing can destroy.
If you try to obey Christ without loving Him, it becomes a duty and a chore.
Good shepherd, seek me out, and bring me home to your fold again. Deal favourably with me according to your good pleasure, until I may dwell in your house all the days of my life, and praise you forever and ever with them that are there.
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.
Proverbs 28:9 (The Message)
God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t listen to him.
Matthew 4:8-11 (NKJV)
Get Thee Behind Me, Satan
gain, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Notes on the Scripture
As we mentioned yesterday, there are two valid ways to interpret the physical events of the temptation: That Satan physically flew Jesus to several places, or that the battle took place internally in Jesus’ human mind.
This second idea is not “modernist” theology, which feels free to rewrite the Bible. Even the more conservative theologians agree that Christ was fully human and had a human mind, which would have been as broken down as his body after his long fast in the desert. It is this very humanity that makes him so incredible, because it allowed him to be as fully tempted as you or I.
The emphasis on Christ’s internal struggle highlights the power of the Spirit within him. He is fully human but can remain sinless, can resist temptation, no matter how badly he is tortured; even if his brain is rendered “broken” — and the purpose of torture is usually to do precisely that, to break down a person’s mind so that their resistance to temptation is destroyed — Christ will not give in. He is incapable of sin.
The third temptation is very different from the first two, for Satan did not tempt Christ to clear sinfulness, or offer Christ a reward, in the first two. In the third temptation, however, he dangles the ultimate bait: He offers to give Christ complete ownership of the world. This highlights Satan’s power on earth, for one must own something to offer it as a gift. And indeed, Satan has dominion over the riches and lands of the world. Giving in to temptation and sin can bring us these very things: earthly power over other people, wealth, status, ownership.
Why did the covenant of Moses fail? God offered the Hebrews what Satan offers Christ, complete dominion over (part of) the world, if they would worship Him. But they did not — the could not — hold up their end of the bargain. They could not resist sin, could not resist Satan’s relentless, powerful gift of persuasiveness.
The third temptation is a paradigm for what every one of us faces every day. Satan tries to convince us that we can better our life on earth by giving in to him. Perhaps William Jennings Bryan overstated the point when he said, “No one can earn a million dollars honestly,” but he makes the same point as today’s Scripture. We might commit a small theft by omitting to include $100 cash payment on our income taxes; small sin, small reward. What might we do for $100 billion and absolute political control of the world? To have every man and woman do our bidding?
Christ will not compromise with evil for anything this world has to offer. So the practical lesson of today’s Scripture is: Refuse to compromise. “Put on the helmet of salvation and grasp the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) We will be forgiven for our sins, but we must not wink at them, pretend they do not exist. We may compromise where Christ did not, but we should not fool ourselves.