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Daily Devotion for January 23, 2015



Christian Got Up to the Gate, illustration for The Pilgrim’s Progress, from Fisher’s Drawing Room Scrap-Book, 1835. In this striking allegory, Christian — beset by confusion and problems — finds a small gate hidden on a hillside; when he walks through it, he finds the answers he was seeking.

Prayers

Scripture

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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.




Prayer to Live Christ's Word Today

Gracious God, Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child.

Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me.
This I pray in Jesus' name.

Amen.

Prayer of Repentance (from Psalm 51)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. I am full of shame at my sin, and my heart lies heavy.

Purge me and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Meditation

[How can I commit myself to Christ's call to discipleship?]


Benediction

I  pray that I may be blessed every step of my path this day by the great God of light. May your sun shine upon me; as the moon moves the tide, may your Spirit move my emotions with every grace and magic; may my heart sing with the voice of your angels and my hearth be warm; and may this and every blessed day You have given me be filled with joy.

Amen.


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.



1 Thessalonians 5 | Test everything

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NASB)

The word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.


Blue Latin Cross

1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 (DP)

Hold Fast to the Good

16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in everything you do: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

17-22You must test everything against the Gospel, but if it passes the test, do not discourage the Spirit or disdain prophecy. Hold fast to the good. Abstain from evil in every form.

Verbatim Bible

16 Always rejoice,

17 unceasingly pray,

18 in everything give thanks; for this is will of god in Christ Jesus for you.

19 The spirit do not quench [p]Or hinder. ,

20 prophecy do not disdain [q]Possibly reject, reject disdainfully. ;

21 but everything test, the good hold fast,

22 from every form of evil abstain.

Footnotes v. 19 – [p] or hinder.
v. 20 – [q] poss. reject, reject disdainfully.

DP Parallel Bible (3-Column) - 1 Thess. 5


Notes on the Scripture

These are the final verses of content in 1 Thessalonians, a series of short exhortations. Stylistically, Paul uses a technique that we use today. As a transition from the complex and deep content of his main text, he gives a short summary before making a formal closing.

I

t may seem odd that verses 16-18 are the most quoted and best known words from 1 Thessalonians; but short, aphoristic sentences tend to be more quotable. And it is a lovely sentence, full of hope and encouragement. The overstatement is characteristically Pauline. Nobody “prays without ceasing,” literally. But if we try, we reap the benefit of constant prayer and do not get pulled away too far from the Spirit by the distractions of worldly life.

I know a man who wears a copper bracelet with a small cross on it; and he says that, every time his eye fall on it, it reminds him to say a prayer, rejoice, and give thanks. It is not a bad idea, and I might try it myself. This is what Paul seems to be getting at: that when we focus our attention too long on the affairs of the world, we create cracks through which evil may penetrate.

The second paragraph — the advice to “test everything” — is less well known, but just as important. Paul does not mean that we should hold up words, thoughts, deeds, ideas, proposals, etc. against the image of religious thought within our mind. The theological system in our brain is faulty and easily manipulated by rationalization and compromise. He means, test it against the true Word of God. Not what we infer from the Bible, but what the Bible states in unambiguous terms.

What he means by “do not quench the Spirit” and “do not reject prophesy” (once it has been tested against Scripture) is harder to understand. They seem unconnected, but when we read through the epistle a few times, we see that Paul always groups “like with like”; teachings that appear together are connected. Paul does not want us to stifle people who express Christian messages, if the message is in harmony with Scripture. No matter how nutty they may sound, they should be given the respect of our attention and time.

We do not hear the more flamboyant version of prophecy very often, today. But:

The early Christian prophet was an immediately-inspired spokesman for God, the risen Jesus, of the Spirit who received intelligible oracles that he or she felt impelled to deliver to the Christian community . . . . (M.E. Boring, Prophecy: Early Christian)

Most people today would react somewhere between snickering and trying to shut up anyone who prophesied like that. But we know better!



endless knot

Daily Inspiration

“Calling the Unqualified”

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Jude 1:17-18: But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”



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