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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Daily Devotion for February 12, 2020


4th century stone etching of Peter and Paul, with a Chi Rho.
4th century stone etching of Peter and Paul, with a Chi Rho.

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.

When we feel like nobody wants us, Orphans of God (sung here by Avalon) points us toward a solution.




“A Little Prayer”

singing bird left

Let us be thankful, Lord, for little things
The song of birds, the rapture of the rose;
Cloud-dappled skies, the laugh of limpid springs,
Drowned sunbeams and the perfume April blows;
Bronze wheat a-shimmer, purple shade of trees -
Let us be thankful, Lord of Life, for these!

Let us be grateful, God, for health serene,
The hope to do a kindly deed each day;
The faith of fellowship, a conscience clean,
The will to worship and the gift to pray;
For all of worth in us, of You a part,
Let us be grateful, God, with humble heart.

Amen.

Prayer for the Holy Spirit’s Guidance

Gracious God,
Send your Holy Spirit to deepen my worship life.
Open my heart to the gifts and cultures which surround my church.
Open my heart to the people who are different from me.
In Jesus’ name, I pray.

Amen.

Meditation

“We seldom realize fully that we are sent to fulfill God-given tasks. We act as if we were simply dropped down in creation and have to decide to entertain ourselves until we die. But we were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was. Once we start living our lives with that conviction, we will soon know what we were sent to do.”

~ Henri J. M. Nouwen


Benediction

Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted me as a living member of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have blessed me with the grace of forgiveness through the sacrifice He made for me and for all people. Send me now into the world in peace, and grant me strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.

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.



endless knot


Blue Latin Cross

Philippians 1:15-18 (NASB)

Motives

ome, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.


Notes on the Scripture

Remember from the previous verses, that Paul’s imprisonment has actually increased the preaching of Christ in Rome.

Here he tells us that while many of the people preaching the Gospel do so from pure motives, some do not. It is really a bit hard to understand how someone might preach Christ from a motive of envy and strife, or why they think it will cause Paul distress for them to do so.

Let's look at the definition of strife: “Exertion or contention for superiority.” What has happened in Rome, is that some people are trying to use Paul’s imprisonment as an opportunity for advancement in the church. Paul has become, inadvertently, famous. Human groups, because of human nature, engender organization (and eventually politics). Members look up to leaders; and with human nature, the leaders take on more glory than they need.

Psychologists call this the “halo” effect, our tendency to ascribe greater authority in a field to a person who has excelled in some other field. Why do people care what Gwyneth Paltrow thinks about political or health issues, or what Stephen Hawking thinks about religious issues (or, to be fair, what the Pope thinks about scientific theories or evangelical pastors think about global warming)?

It is this fame that underlies Paul’s comments. Preachers in 62 A.D. saw an opportunity to share in what they perceived to be Paul’s glory. They wanted a halo.

Saint Paul traveling

We should note that Paul, of all the great figures of the New Testament, has no official “position.” In ways, his life resembled that of Christ. He traveled about, with “no place to rest his head” (see Luke 9:58), preaching, teaching, and healing. James would become the head of the Council of Jerusalem; Peter, the Bishop of Rome; and John likely the “overseer” of the great churches of Antioch and/or Ephesus. Yet, without any official position, we see Paul guiding James (and the entire church) in the Council of Jerusalem, and Paul correcting Peter when he strays (Galatians 2:11-21).

Peter and Paul did not strive with one another for preeminence. Their brotherhood in faith always stood foremost. They looked steadfastly to Christ, not their own glory. We will see, over the course of history, men amplifying the tension between preacher and bishop, evangelicalism and organization, until churches are fighting wars with each other. Why? Because human beings cannot divest themselves of pride.

And this issue appears as soon as Paul is imprisoned. Men began to try to attract followers to their preaching, enjoying the growth of their reputation and fame. But notice the difference between these men and those described in Galatians: The preachers Paul criticizes so vehemently in Galatians are preaching a false gospel; those described here are preaching the true gospel, only with mixed motives.

So we learn from Paul’s reaction: he rejoices that prideful men are preaching the true Gospel of Christ. He reacts to what is being said, not who is saying it. Teaching truth is a blessed activity, no matter the motive in the teacher’s heart. Teaching falsehood, even with the purest motive, is cursed. “[W]hether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.”

In the second paragraph, Paul returns to his earlier point: He has given his entire being, including his body, to Christ. He rejoices in his imprisonment, even if it means his death, because “circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.”



Devotional painting of the farewell of Saint Paul and Saint Peter, Rodriguez, the kiss of peace
Farewell of Paul and Peter, by Alonzo Rodriguez (16th century).

Daily Inspiration

“The Sabbath”

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Deuteronomy 10:17-19: The Lord your God . . . loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.



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Daily Quiz

Top score(s) on the Daily Quiz for Feb 11, 2020 were:
Sylvia Banda (12)
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Tom Kraft (12)
Margaret Entwistle (11)
Joseph Johnson (11)
randall martin (11)

Top score(s) on Match-a-Verse:
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Kathryn Halfman (9 out of 9)
Sylvia Banda (9 out of 9)
Norman Daniels (9 out of 9)
randall martin (9 out of 9)

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