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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Daily Devotion for September 16, 2013

Christian reaches the wicket gate, Pilgrims Progress
Christian at the Narrow Gate. This is a restoration of a panel from the Moving Panorama of A Pilgrim's Progress, a project to illustrate John Bunyan's famous allegory, carried out by Frederic Edwin Church, Jasper Cropsey, Daniel Huntington, and others connected to the Hudson River School, ca. 1851. The full work of 42 panels is 8 feet high and 800 feet wide; it was restored and displayed by the Dyer Library/Saco Museum, Saco, Maine.



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lessons and 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.


Prayer for the Morning

Father, as I face this new day, let me be aware of the work you have done for me as I slept. I praise you that your loving care never slumbers, but has been with me while I was least aware of it; and that you renew me and the whole world, fresh every day, preparing your plans for me.

I pray that I may seek your will this day, your plan for my life, and carry out your plan in my every action. I lay my hopes and fears on an altar before you, that your Holy Spirit may guide my hopes toward the light of your holiness, and may quiet my fears with the knowledge of your infinite peace, in total confidence that your grace will save me from the evils of this world. In Jesus' name I pray,


Prayer for One's Home (by Edgar Guest)

Peace, unto this house, I pray,
Keep terror and despair away;
Shield it from evil and let sin
Never find lodging room within.
May never in these walls be heard
The hateful or accusing word.

Grant that its warm and mellow light
May be to all a beacon bright,
A flaming symbol that shall stir
The beating pulse of him or her
Who finds this door and seems to say,
"Here end the trials of the day."

Hold us together, gentle Lord,
Who sit about this humble board;
May we be spared the cruel fate
Of those whom hatreds separate;
Here let love bind us fast, that we
May know the joys of unity.

Lord, this humble house we'd keep
Sweet with play and calm with sleep.
Help us so that we may give
Beauty to the lives we live.
Let Thy love and let Thy grace
Shine upon our dwelling place.



The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this day and evermore.


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.

Rafael putti, vatican

The Way

To every man there openeth
A Way, and Ways, and a Way,
And the High Soul climbs the High Way,
And the Low Soul gropes the Low,
And in between, on the misty flats,
To rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth
A High Way, and a Low.
And every man decideth
The way his soul shall go.

The Way by John Oxenham

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)

Sermon on the Mount - The Narrow Gate

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Notes on the Scripture

As late as the Renaissance, cities were protected by walls, and the gates were guarded. Great gates would exist for commercial traffic; and often, smaller secondary gates. But even smaller were postern gates, small doorways often hidden from view and closed to the public. They had several uses, but most important, if the city were besieged, they would allow the ruler to sneak messengers and spies in and out; and so they had to be very narrow, so that if the enemy discovered one, few could get through before the alarm was sounded.

Postern gate, Mycaenea
Postern gate in
ancient Mycenae.

The analogy of postern gates to hidden knowledge, that the public could not grasp, was not unique to Jesus. A student of Socrates, named Cebes, wrote: “Dost thou see a little door, and a way in front of the door which is not much crowded, but the travellers are few? That is the way that leadeth to true instruction.” (Cebes, Tabula.)

The narrow gate represents true rebirth in Christ, actual faith; the wide one, popular culture. Those who enter the narrow gate take their values from the Bible, unlike the great population, which follow the urges of their body, the rule of their emotion, the culture of their parents and friends, the wisdom of the television. Their true god is themself. Their moral code is delusional and self-referential.

It is a hard lesson, for we are accustomed to the happy idea that the entire world might find Christ and be saved. Our illusion is the product of political and social Christianity: the adoption of outward Christian worship and speech, coerced by governments (beginning with Constantine) and, later, societal pressure. But faith cannot be coerced. Social Christianity is failing, and those who do not truly believe no longer will be constrained by pretense of it.

Not only is the gate narrow; but also, “the way is hard that leads to life”. This is one of the paradoxes of Christ, for He also tells us, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. (Matthew 11:30)

We will find rest from our labor in Christ, and a light burden. Yet, the way is hard; perhaps, like a diligent scholar eager to get to his lessons, this paradox comes from the joy and spirit we find from diligence in our prayer, study, and striving to lead Christian lives. But we must first remember this verse, for what are the characteristics of any great achievement?

  1. It is hard, not easy. What great pianist, or writer, or scientist, has not found his achievement only after thousands of hours of diligent application? Why should we think less of eternal life?
  2. It is found via a long road, not a short one. An “ordinary” doctor will train for seven to eleven years after graduation from college. Great achievement is made over decades, not days. A relationship with Christ is the work of a lifetime.
  3. It is disciplined, not self-indulgent. How many potentially great men and women have fallen short of their potential, while frittering their time away on passing fancy?
  4. It is thoughtful, not reactive. We must bring our minds to bear on what we want.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 6:24 (NKJV): No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

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