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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Daily Devotion for February 22, 2014

<i>The Angel Releases Peter from Prison</i> by Mattia Preti, ca. 1680.
The Angel Releases Peter from Prison by Mattia Preti, ca. 1680. Notice the iconic key in Peter’s hand, with a double meaning in this context. (Acts 5:17-24)



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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 sweet Christian song was a surprising pop hit for Kris Kristofferson in 1973, and became the best-selling song of his career.

Prayer for the Morning

I  call upon you, O Lord. In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.

I lift my heart to you, O Lord, to be strengthened for this day. Be with me in all I do, my God; guide me in all my ways.

I will carry some burdens today; some trials will be mine. So I wait for your help, Lord, lest I stumble and fall.

I will do my work, Father, the work begun by your Son. He lives in me and I in him; may his work today be done.



[May the work of Jesus Christ be done in me today.]

For Those in Financial Difficulty

Lord God, I remember and pray for all those suffering severe financial problems; the unemployed, the homeless, the bankrupt, the hungry, and those in desperate fear of such problems; people who are deep in debt, not to be able to pay bills, who are losing or have lost possessions to foreclosure, or who have to watch their dependents go without things they need. I open my heart to them. I pray that your Holy Spirit will be with them, that they find comfort in utter trust and faith in you, and that their anxieties be alleviated by certainty of your love. And if it is your will, I pray that they can find a way out of their difficulties, into financial stability.

And finally, I pray that I not close my eyes to them; and that I not judge those in pain, however they might have acted; but instead, that I might love them as your have loved me, despite my faults. And if it is your will, that I might do what I can to ease their pain. In the name of Christ, who loved us so perfectly, I pray,



Oh Heavenly Father, in whom I live and move and have my being, I humbly pray you so to guide and govern me by your Holy Spirit, that in all the joys, occupations, and cares of this day I may never forget you, but remember that I am ever walking in your sight. In Christ's name, I pray,


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

Devotional painting of
Ruth and Naomi by Ari Scheffer ca. 1870. Ruth was the very embodiment of humility and service. Anyone (male or female) wanting a life to emulate would do well to choose her.

Greatness and Pride

It is no great thing to be humble when you are brought low; but to be humble when you are praised is a great and rare attainment.

~ (Saint) Bernard of Clairvaux

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 20:20-28 (ESV)

Church Leaders

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?”

She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.”

He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Notes on the Scripture

The sons of Zebedee are James and John. Their mother, who was present at the crucifixion and apparently a follower of Christ herself, was probably named Salome or perhaps Mary; it is a little hard to tell. Matthew tells us, “Among them [at the crucifixion] were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” (Matthew 27:56) To avoid filling this page with charts and names, let us just say that there were a lot of women named Mary involved in Jesus' life, and that it is impossible to sort out all the names and family connections. There is, in fact, a very good argument that the woman in this passage is the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus, and that James and John are therefore his first cousins; this would help explain their boldness.

Women at Jesus tomb | Three Marys | Bouguereau
Three Marys

It sounds at first as if we just have a pushy mother, trying to raise her sons to a position above the other apostles; but when Jesus asks them, they tacitly concede that she speaks for them. They want to become subordinate leaders among the apostles, Jesus' lieutenants and the first ministers of the King. The other ten naturally take umbrageUmbrage: offense and resentment at something someone has said or done..

While we cannot help but see that this is offensive to the spirit of humility, the fundamental underpinning of Jesus' teachings, there is a positive aspect. He has just announced for the third time that he is headed for arrest and crucifixion. James and John sound ambitious, which seems to be a fault, but we must also remember: their ambition is to die with Christ, “to drink from his cup”.

Christ sets them straight: one can almost hear him thinking, “How many times am I going to have to explain this to them?” He will eventually wash their feet to drive home his point: in the kingdom of heaven, the most humble and lowliest are the most holy. The teacher, the preacher, the elder, is a slave. The goal of Christianity is servitude.

It is hard to square Jesus' teaching with the behavior of many religious leaders. Those who feel a sharp sense of servanthood have a difficult task, reconciling the humility that is so paramount in Christ's teaching, with an internal, earthly desire to lead, to correct the conduct of wayward sheep, to operate as the CEO on an organizational chart.

Paul, the most fierce and demanding of leaders, one who would chastise errant conduct in the harshest terms, handled the problem by trying to balance his bossiness with constant reminders and protests of his humility. “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Cor. 15:9) “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints . . . .” (Eph. 3:8) He is sincere in his protestations. It is an attitude that many Christian leaders would do well to give more emphasis.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

1 Corinthians 13:9-10: For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

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