Daily Devotion for January 22, 2023
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.
Our “Virtual Sunday Church” this week takes us to Wales, with an old favorite hymn performed by the Fron Choir.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Lyrics by Isaac Watts, 1707
Tune “Hamburg” by Lowell Mason, 1824
For the Spirit of Prayer
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord. Let your Holy Spirit guide me in my prayer and in thought, and grant me the grace to listen and hear your Word. Soften my heart, that I may be directed by your truth, and not the devices of my body and mind. In the name of Christ I ask this,
Penitential Prayer of St. Ambrose of Milan
O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ’s sake,
Holy Lord, why is it that on a Feast Day the whole of nature mysteriously smiles? Why is it that then a heavenly gladness fills our hearts; a gladness far beyond that of earth and the very air in church and in the altar becomes luminous? It is the breath of Thy gracious love. It is the reflection of the glory of Mount Tabor. Then do heaven and earth sing Thy praise: Alleluia!
Glory to Thee, transfiguring our lives with deeds of love;
Glory to Thee, making Thyself known where man shows mercy on his neighbour;
Glory to Thee, sending us failure and misfortune that we may understand the sorrows of others;
Glory to Thee, rewarding us so well for the good we do;
Glory to Thee, welcoming the impulse of our heart's love;
Glory to Thee, raising to the heights of heaven every act of love in earth and sky;
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age.
Prayer to Inspire Others
Lord, I ask you to inspire me to encourage others by what I say and do, today and in the week to come. God and Father of all people, never let me look down on others or make anyone feel inferior, but live in kindness and humility with others.
Teach me how to live this week with genuine concern for others. In expressing my care, may I show people that they are valued, loved and appreciated for who they are.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever 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.
Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.
~ Billy Graham
Mark 1:1-15 (ESV)
The Good News
he beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The symbol of St. Mark
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Notes on the Scripture
The beliefs and practices concerning baptism vary widely among Christian denominations. Several — notably the Quakers and the Salvation Army — neither believe it is necessary nor practice the ritual. A great many (such as the Catholic and Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist communions) believe that baptism is necessary to salvation and that an actual transformation takes place. Others, notably Baptists, do not believe it to be a sacrament, but practice it as an act of Christian obedience.
Baptism comes from the Greek verb baptizo, referring to ritual cleansing, which the Jews did quite a bit of. It derives from the Greek word bapto meaning “to immerse”, and indeed, many Christians perform baptism by totally immersing the person in water. But baptizo also applied to less dramatic cleansing by water, such as washing one’s hands before a meal.
So when a person is baptized, he is generally cleansed with water to correlate with the cleansing of the soul from sin by Christ’s grace. It represents the moment when a person is shown to be reborn in Christ’s grace, either symbolically (as a discipline to show that one has been reborn) or sacramentally (that is, an outward and visible sign of an actual simultaneous spiritual event).
Jesus’ baptism by a non-divine human (John the Baptist) has agitated theologians for two thousand years. How can Christ, who was born without sin, be baptized at all, much less by a mortal man “not worthy to untie His sandals”?
Well, who knows? God is not limited by human logic and cannot be understood by it. Logic is a limitation of the human mind. Clearly, the event marked a milestone in Christ’s life; it was the point at which he emerges from his youth and begins his full-time mission of teaching, a three-year journey ending in His death, resurrection, and ascension. Equally clearly, Christ’s baptism demonstrates that the three persons of God are acting in harmony.