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Monday, October 24, 2016

Daily Devotion for January 22, 2014

Matthew 5:8 | Blessed are the pure in heart



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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.


This song by Laura Story is truly superb.

Prayer for the Morning (Jane Austen)

Compassionate Lord, Your mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day. Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace, increase in knowledge; ripen for spiritual harvest. Let me this day know You as You are, love You supremely, serve You completely, admire You fully.

Through grace let my will respond to You, knowing that power to obey is not in me, but that Your free love alone enables me to serve You. Here then is my empty heart, overflow it with Your choice gifts; here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.



[Let us close our eyes for a minute and meditate on how wasted [or vain] the gift of a day will be unless we grow in grace.]

A Prayer of St. Basil the Great

I  bless you, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who forever works great and mysterious deeds for me, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who provides me with sleep as a rest from my infirmities and as a repose for my body tired by labor. I thank you that you have not destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your love toward mankind you have raised me up, as I lay in despair, that I may glorify your majesty.

I entreat your infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of my understanding and raise up my mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open my mouth and fill it with your praise, that I may unceasingly sing and confess you, who is God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the only-begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages.



Now the God of patience and consolation grant to me, and to all who pray in the name of Christ, to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


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

endless knot

Proverbs 13:13 (NKJV)

He who despises the word will be destroyed,
But he who fears the commandment will be rewarded.

Blue Latin Cross

Romans 10:1-4 (ESV)

Paul’s Prayer for the Jews

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Notes on the Scripture

The “them” about whom Paul is speaking is those Jews who have not accepted Christ, their own Messiah. They seek the righteousness of God diligently, but without knowledge. They thought they had knowledge. Jerusalem was the center of Jewish learning; the scribes, who were the rabbis or professors of the Jews, had picked apart and combed through the Talmud (Pentateuch) with a microscope, and they had formulated the most abstruse and esoteric interpretations.

The same could be said for non-Christians, then and now. Greek philosophers were full of learning, but they could not have true knowledge; because no matter how much genius is applied to understanding, if you begin with a false precept, you will never arrive at truth. And the minute Christ's ministry began — arguably, the moment when the Spirit entered him, at his baptism by John — the fundamental truth of God's relationship with humanity changed. Unless one knows the precept that Christ was God, one can never find truth.

The first half of Romans has some very hard edges to it. There will be a time of death and there will be a day of judgment; and much of what seems easy to sweep under the carpet, today, will become the source of extreme regret. And the source of Paul's regret is people who try to be righteous without first finding Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit. If you decided to do something you knew nothing about, what is the first thing you would do? If you are wise, you would read the best book on the subject, or at least ask someone who knows.

To build a house, you must first lay the foundation correctly; to build a corporation, you must first file proper articles of incorporation; if you want to grow an orange grove, you must first graft the seedlings correctly. If you do not, no matter how much zeal and energy and good intentions you may have, you will one day have a moment of terrible realization, that all you have done is for naught.

The Jews were not ignorant of the importance of first principles, in theory. Consider the first lesson of Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:1-7). But their minds are closed to the coming of God's only son, despite the repeated promises of their own prophets, from Moses to Malachi. And this is the one truth we must know: That Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Messiah.

Christ is, in one sense, the end of God's road to salvation, His final act to save humanity. One who truly fears the Lord will find Christ, and the act of salvation is accomplished. In another sense, though, finding Christ is a second starting point for our journey on earth; when we change our road, when we die and are born again in the Spirit, we begin to lead a second life.

Seeking to do good and find God's righteousness without first finding Christ is as futile and ultimately disappointing as building a house without a proper foundation. Failure is inevitable. We start with Christ, so that we may live under grace, filled with His Holy Spirit; because to follow the law, to live a life of goodness and charitable works without Christ, is futile. But to live with him and in him, our success is assured.

Maiden Meditation by Charles West Cope, ca. 1861.
Maiden Meditation by Charles West Cope, ca. 1861.

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Memory Verse

James 2:24, 26: You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. . . . For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

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