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Daily Devotion for August 13, 2010
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.
A pretty contemporary song by Third Day
Prayer of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day; when I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for Freedom from Fear
O Lord, I beseech you to deliver me, and all of your children, from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, and fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Prayer for Unknown Needs
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
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.
Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Heaven and Hell
Jesus said, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.
So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all this?"
They answered,"Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."
Notes on the Scripture
Christ loved to illustrate and explain his teachings with different kinds of metaphors and parables. In today's example (technically called a "simile"), he likens his work to that of a fisherman who has thrown his net into the sea. The net is Christ's word, and the fish are the people that hear His words.
Some of the fish are good, which stand for the people who hear Christ's words and believe in Him; like good fish, which are saved by being put into a basket, the believers will be saved by angels who will take them to heaven. Like bad fish, which are discarded or destroyed, those who hear but do not follow will be thrown by the angels into a furnace of fire.
It is not often that Christ speaks of the horrors of hell. The current cartoon version of hell always involves fire, and this passage is one source of that depiction. But it is not a cartoon. Rather, it is a direct statement that those who do not accept Christ will suffer terribly, as if they were put into a furnace of fire.
This teaching has been lost in today's humanistic, "culturally sensitive" version of what happens after death. Movies, television, and those who comfort mourners tell terrible lies about the status of those who have died. They say that the deceased is "in a better place" because he has led a "good life". They never speak the truth about what has become of those who die outside Christ's grace: that they are damned to suffer torment for eternity. Fear of God has become politically incorrect.
I'm not suggesting that one walk up to a widow at a funeral and say, "too bad he was an atheist and is going to spend his eternal life in torment", or "if you think the struggle with cancer was bad, just think about what he's going through in hell." But it is important that we always recall, with clarity and precision, the fate of the unredeemed. We need to remember what is at stake.
First page of the Gospel of John, from the Book of Kells