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Daily Devotion for February 19, 2018
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.
For the Day Ahead
Oh Lord God, I come to you in the morning, full of hope that the day to come might be filled with joy and energy. Grant that I may do my work with a light and happy heart; and if there are tasks that I do not look forward to, or even dread, let me undertake them with courage and resolve. For this day could be perfect, if I can only live it in You and with You and for You.
Where I face frustration today, let me handle it with acceptance and faith that the outcome is in Your hands. Lead me away from anger or judgment of other people. Let me tend to my own garden instead of looking over the fence. If my neighbor's yard is filled with weeds, help me not to criticize, and keep me from envy of those whose tree bears more fruit.
And let everything I attempt be filled with the knowledge and guidance of Your Holy Spirit. I pray that the Spirit will be with me at every moment, and that I will always be aware of Him, and live every moment of this day in Your presence. In Christ’s name, I pray,
For Those Mired in Crime
O Mighty God, who spares us when we deserve punishment, and in your wrath remembers mercy; I humbly implore you, of your goodness, to comfort and enlighten all who suffer in prison, deserved though their punishment may be. Bring your light into their lives, O Lord, that they may know your only Son and find repentance and forgiveness in his name, leaving aside the guilt of past sins and the yearning for the darkness within which they committed them. And trusting in your truth and mercy, that they not place their hope anywhere except in the holiness, which only you can give them.
And awaken all criminals, whether convicted or free, to the light of conscience and self-knowledge, that they may learn to serve you and their fellow man, and so find their place at your side when they leave this earth. In Christ’s name I beseech you on their behalf,
[Compassion for those who suffer the consequences of an evil deed.]
Benediction (from Colossians 3)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within me all this day; and whatever I do in word or deed, may I do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
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.
As we trust God to give us wisdom for today’s decisions, He will lead us a step at a time into what He wants us to be doing in the future.
~ Theodore Epp
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (ESV)
Paul’s Odd Ministry
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.
On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Notes on the Scripture
ollow, for a minute, what Paul is saying here. He is reminding the church of Corinth — and us — of how they (and we) came to receive the good news of Christ. After Christ was resurrected, He appeared to a number of people, so that they could directly witness the fact of His resurrection and testify about it to others. Paul actually recounts an incident not in the Gospels, where Christ appeared to a large group of followers — more than 500.
But Paul was the odd man out; Christ appeared to him (although not in His human form) when Paul was still a heretic. Perhaps even worse than merely a heretic; Paul was a member of the faction that actually killed Christ. He was in the very process of rounding up Christ’s followers for persecution at the time of his conversion. Unlike the other witnesses to the resurrection, Paul was not a believer — far from it. He, and only he, was converted by Christ Himself after His death.
Having an oddball or black sheep picked by God for a special purpose happens often in the Bible. In fact, those chosen by God for a special purpose in advancing His message are rarely those one would expect: a younger son, the youngest of twelve sons, a widowed daughter-in-law, a baby abandoned in a basket on the Nile, children born to barren old women. Like them, Paul is the unexpected choice, the “untimely born” whom Christ recruits as his greatest missionary, speaker, and writer.
So why him, and not one of the apostles or many disciples who followed Christ in His lifetime? Because Paul is like us. He received the Word from a Christ he never saw in the flesh.