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Saturday, September 26, 2020
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Daily Devotion for February 14, 2020


<i>Christ at Calvary</i> by Bartolome Esteban Murillo ca. 1660.
Christ at Calvary, by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, ca. 1660. I have always considered Murillo something of a technically-accomplished lightweight, but there is a touch of greatness in his depiction of Christ on the way to His death. Mary‘s eyes are upon Him, while Christ‘s unfocused gaze is upon the Father.

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 for the Day

Lord, may I always remember that no matter the day and whatever hardship I face, you are with me, extending your hand in love. Help me to be open to your guidance, knowing that you want what is best for me, only asking in return sorrow for my sins and my willingness to do good. In Christ’s name I pray,

Amen.

A Prayer of Abandonment to the Holy Spirit:

Holy Spirit as a red dove

Holy Spirit, God of Love, be present to me; accept the offering of myself which I make to you. Receive these hands, these feet, these eyes, this tongue, and all my senses. Receive my memory, my will, my understanding, my desires, my sighs, the longings and the aspirations of my soul. Receive my every hour, my every moment, and all the happenings of my life. Holy Spirit, God of Love, knit my soul to you. Let your love possess my whole being - my senses, my powers, my affections, my very life. Let your love rule my labor and my rest, my going and my staying, and move me as it pleases. Let your love disquiet or comfort me, humble or exalt me, and burn away all my faults.

Holy Spirit, God of Love, draw me to yourself. Do with me what you will. Nothing will cause me fear if only your love enfolds me. I ask confidently because your desire to give is greater than mine to receive. Transform me into yourself, so that I may no longer know myself, nor find myself, except in you.

Amen.

Meditation

“The Christian faith is meant to be lived moment by moment. It isn't some broad, general outline—it’s a long walk with a real Person. Details count: passing thoughts, small sacrifices, a few encouraging words, little acts of kindness, brief victories over nagging sins. ”

~ Joni Eareckson Tada


Benediction

May the Passion of Christ be ever in my heart. May your law and your goodness guide my every thought, O Lord. And may the power of your Holy Spirit flow through my words and my actions today, and always.

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.



Moses before the burning bush, inside an initial “N”, from a Bible illuminated in a Bohemian monastery, ca. 1507.

Psalm 77:16, 18-20 (NKJV)

The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were afraid; . . .

The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook. Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known.

You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron.


Blue Latin Cross

Philippians 1:18-24 (ESV)

To Live and Die in Christ
Y

es, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose [or which I would prefer] I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two.

My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.


Notes on the Scripture

In the previous verses, Paul elaborated on his continued joy despite two apparent hardships: His imprisonment, and others seeking to supplant him in worldly stature by preaching the gospel, in order to further their own fame, while he was confined. Now he turns to a greater hardship: The real possibility that he would be executed by the Romans.

He debates the advantages of living and dying! Paul has had a hard life, filled with poverty, constant travel in difficult circumstances, public mockery, repeated imprisonment, and severe beatings. Some unknown condition(s) or diseases(s) plague him; he says only that he has “a thorn in his side.” So, on the one hand, he is ready to lay his burden down and be with Christ.

Yet Paul sees advantage in continuing to live. His work has been enormously fruitful, both in the founding of churches and in steering them away from false teachers, all through the vast lands of Galatia (Turkey) and Greece, from Antioch to Rome.

The phrase “which I shall choose I cannot tell,” is probably a poor translation, for it sounds like Paul can make the decision. The Greek can be read “which I would prefer,” and that makes the most sense.

Head of Christ|Crown of Thorns by Cranach

Paul knows that God will guide the decision. He is not speculating about the mind of God. Rather, he is showing that whether he lives or dies, we can understand that it is for the best. It might seem to the human mind like having him live and preach would be wisest course, for his is the most powerful human voice of his time in the spread of the Gospel. But we can understand that having him martyred might be God’s greater wisdom at work. And to make the scenario even hazier, we are not 100% sure what the outcome was! Most likely, he was executed in Rome; but it is possible that he was freed and sailed on to Spain, perhaps banished by the court.

The ambiguity surrounding Paul’s trial and sentence highlight the certainty of his message: His only great desire is that he not be ashamed, but that his body will honor Christ, whether he lives or dies. If he is to be martyred, he wants to face his death like Stephen and Jesus, without complaint, but singing the praises of God and brimming with confidence that He will live again, in perfect joy, by the power of the cross.

I wring my hands and worry anxiously about all sorts of things. Yet here is Paul, whose issue is life or death, confident that God’s will must provide the superior outcome — even if it means his execution! His faith, his demonstration that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” should be a beacon to all of us in our petty anxieties. When we pray “thy will be done,” let us bring it comfort in our suffering. Our joy in our salvation is complete, no matter our circumstances! Praise God!



endless knot

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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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LANA OAKLEY (11)
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