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Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Daily Devotion for April 24, 2014



Denial of Saint Peter by Caravaggio, ca. 1610.

Prayers

Scripture

Lord's Prayer

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.

Amen.

Gospel legend Milton Biggham performs his signature song, The Lord is Blessing Me.


Prayer for the Morning

Heavenly Father, let me live this day as the gift it is, for You have truly blessed me to live it. And if I may suffer, I will carry with me the certainty that one day I will see You face to face, a day when all things will become clear and my pain will be made whole through the grace of Christ, my God. Blessed be you, oh Lord my God, and blessed be the day you have given me.

Amen.

Meditation

[This blessed day.]


Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.

Amen.

Benediction

And finally, may the grace of Christ our Savior, and the Father's boundless love, with the Holy Spirit's favor, rest upon me, and all of us, from above. Thus may we abide in union, with each other and the Lord, and possess, in sweet communion, joys which earth cannot afford.

Amen.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.


Devotional Carving of St. Peter

Behind the Lines

“Remember, you are in enemy territory.”

~ C.S. Lewis


Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 26:69-75 (ESV)

Peter Denies Jesus

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.”

And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.”

After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.”

And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.


Notes on the Scripture

Matthew nicely intersperses the narrative of Christ's arrest and trial with descriptions of Peter's activities. When Jesus was first arrested, the apostles ran away. Their fear was well-grounded: standing before them was a large force of armed men whose sole intention was to stop Christ; and with them was Judas, who knew all of the apostles by sight and was acting as their spotter.

Rooster from illuminated Tanakh

But Peter doesn't go far; he follows the arrest party and eventually decides to get as close as he can, sitting in the courtyard of the high priest with the soldiers. The moment of decision comes with his first denial. Once he has made up his mind to deny his closeness to Christ, he does so with vigor. Each denial is stronger than the one before.

The people who discuss Peter's “cowardice” miss the point. Peter was no coward. He had shown his willingness to fight and die for Jesus; yet Jesus stopped him. Peter and the other apostles did not fully comprehend the chain of events that God had ordained for our salvation; it is still extraordinary today. Christ foresees and God intends their confusion, e.g. John 14:17.

Thinking of Peter in terms of bravery and cowardice ignores the critical fact: It was not part of God's plan that the apostles should die with Christ; they were intended to live, to receive the Holy Spirit and spread the Gospel to the world.

Their conduct during these events points up the difference between a man who believes in God, and a man in whom God dwells. From the time Christ is arrested and taken from them, until the Pentecost, they are without God's direct presence. They scatter and hide, in fear of their lives. There is no shame in their self-preservation; It is God's plan.

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25-26)

The Bible does not inform us why Christ told Peter that he would deny him three times. But we might infer that Christ, who loved Peter, was preparing him for an emotional ordeal, so that Peter would not feel so guilty about the denial when it happened. Both Peter and we are intended to understand the difference between what we accomplish with our natural gifts, and what we accomplish with the power of God. For when the Holy Spirit does come, Peter is transformed into utter fearlessness; he will stand before the Sanhedrin, just as Christ did, testifying to Christ's divinity and calling them a pack of murderers and hypocrites to their very faces. (Acts 4:5-12; Acts 5:27-33)



endless knot

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By Mason Barge