Daily Devotion for September 16, 2021
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.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end...
Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Music by Jean Sibelius
Lyrics by Catharina von Schlegel, @ 1740
Prayer to Abide with God
Dear Lord, as I come before you this morning, my spirit is filled with thanks that you have given me a life and filled it with meaning. Knowing that you have a purpose for me is such a gift as I cannot express; even when the world or my own thoughts fill me with feelings of worthlessness, I can turn to you and know, fully certain, that you are in charge and have filled my existence with meaning and purpose I cannot fully understand.
Lord Christ, you promised that if we love you and obey your teaching, you and the Father will make your home with us; I declare my love for you; and there is nothing I want more than to have you live with me, present in my life. Help me to follow your teaching in every way; for you have given us grace, that by your death and resurrection, we may be perfect before you. Accept my love and be with me, today and always, I pray; not by my merit, but by your grace, oh Christ, oh one true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Lead Me Into Your Way
How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God; How great is the sum of them. If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I go to sleep and when I awake, Your Word is ever with me.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me from it, into the way everlasting.
“Avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.”
~ Titus 3:9
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now 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.
Ezra 8:23 (ESV)
The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.
Matthew 4:12-17 (J.B. Phillips NT)
Jesus Begins His Ministry
ow when Jesus heard that John had been arrested he went back to Galilee. He left Nazareth and came to live in Capernaum, a lake-side town in the Zebulun-Naphtali territory. In this way Isaiah’s prophecy came true:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “You must change your hearts — for the kingdom of Heaven has arrived.”
Notes on the Scripture
The subsequent history of John the Baptist is a great story, but Matthew chooses to follow Jesus, rather than break his narrative at this point. (He will return to John’s fate in a flashback in Chapter 14.)
Jesus hears John has been imprisoned by Herod, so what does he do? He goes to the area where John was arrested and begins to preach. Even Christ’s biggest detractor would have to admit - the guy had guts.
The prophesy is a paraphrase of Isaiah 9:1-2. If you look at a map delineating the lands of the tribes, you see that Naphtali borders the west and northwest of Lake Galilee, including Capernaum; little Zebulun lies just to the west of Naphtali.
Matthew’s invocation of Isaiah 9 is utterly convincing. This is perhaps Isaiah’s greatest prophecy of a Messiah to come, the prophecy “for unto us a child is born,” and Isaiah’s specification of Naphtali, Zebulun, and Galilee in general, as the lands into which darkness is filled with a great light, is without doubt an accurate prediction of Christ’s coming.
Matthew then gives us a thrilling one-sentence summary of Christ’s initial teaching. “Preach” is not a great translation of the Greek, for the Greek word refers to the proclamation of a king. This was not a speech relating one ordinary man’s opinion. Christ’s message had certainty. It had authority.
Most Bibles translate this verse, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand,” but J.B. Phillips (“You must change your hearts — for the kingdom of Heaven has arrived”) really captures Christ’s message better, in two ways.
First, remember that John the Baptist had preached, “make clear the path, for the kingdom of God is coming”; Christ’s meaning is that, “the kingdom of Heaven has arrived.” He is making a claim of divinity, to be the Messiah that John had heralded.
Secondly, “repent” is not as pointed as “change your hearts,” for this phrase puts its finger directly on Jesus’ great criticism of the Jewish religious leaders. They claim righteousness by their outward conduct — their literal compliance with the law of Moses. But their hearts are corrupt; the veneer of righteousness conceals internal greed and pride that has made a mockery of God’s law.
Jesus’ message is one of internal change: faith, and love. And the message will be so powerful that our justification before God will be accomplished by our faith alone. The doctrine of justification by external works, which had led to hypocrisy and failure, will no longer be the primary mechanism by which we seek salvation.