Almighty and everlasting God, you who are always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and are willing to give more than either we deserve or desire: Pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things that cause guilt within us, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.
2 Corinthians 3 : 4 - 9
Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant - not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
Mark 7 : 31 - 37
Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.
After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
I believe the miracles; but I believe in the miracles on account of Christ, instead of believing in Christ on account of the miracles.
If you dispense with the miraculous, there is a whole period of History (that of the Jewish nation), and a single transcendent Life (that of Jesus Christ), and one majestic Story (that of Christendom), which you’ve got to account for without it and you cannot. These three are inexplicable without miracle.
John “Rabbi” Duncan
A CLUSTER OF COMMENTS
Collects, these brief weekly prayers adapted and arranged by Thomas Cranmer in the period of the English Reformation, constitute a treasury of doctrinal and devotional thought. They are choice nuggets of Christian desire and Scriptural understanding. They advise theological conviction and encapsulate reverent requests offered to God through the name of our Advocate Jesus Christ.
Collects express the yearning of our hearts corporately and individually in a manner and style that edifies our minds. Collects concisely summarize our approach to God on various occasions. If they were collated and compiled, literally collected together, they would provide us with a poetic systematic theology of great truth and beauty.
This week’s special prayer reminds us of the enormous generosity of the Lord who is ‘more willing to hear than we are to pray; more willing to give than we deserve or desire”. Our slackness and lack of expectancy in prayer ought to be dismissed by the belief of this amazing truth. We do not receive because we do not ask - certainly not with due faithfulness and fervor.
Unbelief and unresolved issues of conscience hinder and dampen our prayer. Our genuine unworthiness dissolves before the throne of grace when we approach our Father through the merits of Christ. He lays our petitions in the lap of the Lord.
Paul’s Thoughts on Confidence and Competence.
Apostolic ministry, and all subsequent ministry, is grounded in and performed through the power and enabling of divine grace. Licensed or lay, the service of the cause of Christ and his gospel should never be praised as human accomplishment. Anything of benefit is always the result of God with us and in us, as Paul often states. “Not that we are competent in ourselves.” That is the admission of the people of God. “He has made us competent.” That is the confession of the true believer and sincere servant. There is no room for the self-congratulatory spirit among Christians. John Calvin is right to opine that the praise of men is theft of the glory of God. Paul was by nature an inveterate boaster. It is evidence of great grace at work within him that he could wholeheartedly expresses entire reliance on the enabling and upholding of the Lord in his gospel endeavors.
Some folk of a wild disposition diminish the authority of Scripture by claiming that it is the dead letter, while their whims and hysterical action is of the Spirit. The fact is that the Spirit as author of the word will never contradict that word by creating uncontrolled excitement, self-will, personal display, and immoral action in any individual. The life of the Spirit is in the grasp of the meaning of Scripture and the obedience accorded to the book of the Lord. Paul is not attacking the literature of the Lord but the inability to listen to it in a vital and responsible way.
The Healing of the Man Who Was Deaf.
It was an act of kindness on the part of the people who brought the deaf man to Jesus for healing, and a demonstration of a degree of faith, certainly in the Lord’s power to heal. But the overriding expression of compassion, divine compassion, was exhibited by the Saviour. It is the close and direct concern and care of the Lord in dealing so personally with this unfortunate individual. He is taken aside from the crowd. Jesus’ interest in us is specific.
Jesus is not attracting attention as some sort of egotistical wonder worker. He even discourages publicity. Jesus’ concentration is upon the victim of serious handicaps in life. The man’s hearing is non-existent. Jesus places his fingers in the non-operative ears of the man for whom he feels genuine sympathy. Jesus touches the point of urgent need.
When Jesus aims to cure or console his aim is accurate.
The description of Jesus’ loosening of the tongue and the removal of the poor man’s speech impediment is graphic in relating the very committed involvement of the great Physician of human ills. With his own spit he moistens the invalid’s tied and almost silent organ of speech. This is an intimate gift of the capacity to vocalize from the Redeemer to a very frustrated human being.
The God-man looks upward to the source of his remarkable miraculous power: “He looked up to heaven.” His concern to heal is so intense that he emits a deep sigh. The Man of Sorrows identifies with the sufferer before him and who is looking to him. He issues the command of deliverance from infirmity. “Be opened!” The dysfunctional ears are opened and the tongue was released “so that he began to speak plainly”. The gracious action of the Lord is complete. The 1662 version of the narrative is striking: “The string of his tongue was loosed.” It causes you to feel the reality of what had occurred so wonderfully.
All our physical faculties are gifts from our marvelous Maker, thus with our senses we are equipped for awareness of God’s creation around us. We are able to make adventurous discoveries in the realm of the Lord’s material and visible handiwork. But our stock of means of perception betoken something even more profound - the faculties of mind and spirit that are meant to perceive divine messages and meaning as he communicates them in his self-disclosure and the revelation of his mind. We have the eyes and ears of the heart, the taste for knowledge, we inhale the perfume of beauty as it wafts toward us, and we sense the sources of pleasure.
Our mental and spiritual functions correspond to physical functions, and through them we register experience more profound and intense than bodily sensation. That is why the word of God exhorts us to hear the truth it conveys, see the glory of the Lord it portrays, taste of his goodness that it describes, smell his proximity, and feel his love. and translate all awareness and experience to sweet communion with our Triune Maker and Redeemer.