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Sunday, September 20, 2020
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Daily Devotion for May 21, 2020

Feast of the Ascension (most denominations)

<i>Woman Kneeling in Prayer</i> by George Henry Broughton, ca. 1860.
Woman Kneeling in Prayer, by George Henry Broughton, ca. 1860.



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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.


Martin Luther’s Prayer for Morning

I  give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me.


Prayer for Physical Renewal

Lord, I come before you today in need of your healing hand. In you, all things are possible. Hold my heart within yours, and renew my mind, body, and soul.

I am lost, but I am singing. You gave me life, and you also give me the gift of infinite joy. Give me the strength to move forward on the path you’ve laid out for me. Guide me towards better health, and give me the wisdom to identify those you’ve placed around me to help me get better. In your name I pray,



Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.


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.

Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question

What critical message do we get in John 14:6?

Answer: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”

Seventh Angel, from “Days of Creation”by Edward Burne Jones, ca. 1890.
The model for this angel, representing the seventh day (He rested), was Burne Jones’ 14-year-old daughter, May.

“Cheap Grace”

Christ said, “I came to bring a sword,” not “I came to bring novocaine.” People turn to the Bible for comfort and there is indeed a great comfort to be had in it. But that comfort requires faith and we must always keep James’ admonition in mind: Faith, if it have not works, is dead (James 2:14-26).

Blue Latin Cross

1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 (DP)

The Faithfulness of the Church

e always remember you in our prayers, giving thanks to God for every one of you, and especially recalling the steadfastness of your hope in Jesus Christ and the many good works that have flowed out of your faith and love. We think of you as our brothers and sisters, called by God to a Gospel not made of words alone, but a Gospel that came to you by the power and certainty of the Holy Spirit.

DP Literal Translation

2 We give thanks to god always concerning each (or all) of you remembrance making in the prayers of us without fail (or unceasingly)

3 remembering of you the work of faith and of the labor of love and the persistence of the hope of the

4 knowing, brothers being loved by God the selection of you

5 that (or because) the gospel of us not was created in you in word only but also in power and in spirit holy and in certainty much just as you know what kind we were among you for you.

Notes on the Scripture

What a wonderful way to start a letter! We can see, right off the bat, why Paul was so successful at bringing people to Christ. The opening verses of 1 Thess. are positive and powerful. Paul's assurance that he and the other named authors remember the Thessalonians in their prayers is not polite jargon. It is a realistic and meaningful portrayal of how both the Pauline group and the Thessalonians entered the presence of God every day, concerned with each others’ welfare, trusting that He would hear their words, and filled with certainty and hope that, if it were His will, He would respond to them.

There is a point to make from Greek grammar, so bear with us. (You can skip this and the next paragraph if language doesn't interest you!) English has an active and a passive voice, e.g. “I threw the ball” (active), and “The ball was thrown” (passive). In active voice, the subject does something; in the passive voice, something is done to the subject.

Christ preaching

Ancient Greek had a third voice, called the middle voice, halfway in-between. “Pontius Pilate washed his hands” is a perfect example of how the middle voice was used in Classical GreekThe dialect in which the Bible was written is called Koine Greek. (Koine means “common”.) It is a less refined language than Classical Greek and the middle voice was greatly corrupted in Koine. But Paul uses the middle voice here with the refined inference that it had had in its classical days, 300 years earlier.; Pilate actively washes, but at the same time, a part of him is passively washed.

In our passage today, Paul writes “we remember you” in this middle voice. The prayers to remember the Thessalonians are not only meant for God, but also for the people praying. He is saying that they themselves recall, with warmth and thanks, the great works and faith of the addressees, and implies that he considers these memories to be helpful to himself.

Some translations read “we remember without ceasing”; this comes across even stronger in 5:17, the famous words “pray without ceasing.” This must be taken as hyperbole, to some degree, and certainly as regards Paul’s remembering the Thessalonians. We cannot pray without ceasing; even a cloistered monk must sleep. So, as I think most people recognize, by “unceasing” Paul means something like “regular, heartfelt, and at some length”.

In the words “called by God,” we immediately run up against an unavoidable issue in Paul, that of predestination. There is a lot of support for the doctrine in Paul and it will come up repeatedly, for he describes the church members as “chosen” or “selected.” It is a topic that demands study, so we will reserve it for the future.

For now, just hold the thought that you don't have to be a Calvinist or “Reformed” to be a Biblical Christian. (Consider how meaningless the issue is. If you have found Christ, what does it matter whether you had any active choice? If you are looking at God rather than your own self-image, your own ego, it will become a frivolous issue.)

The good works and steadfastness of the Thessalonians are tied to the manner in which they received the Gospel. The fact that the Holy Spirit came to dwell in them, the power of the Spirit, and their ability to endure hardships are all tied together. Receiving Christ is a transformative experience, where the reborn Christian loves Christ with his full heart; they have not simply altered their behavior after coming to believe in a religion; they have been entirely changed.

endless knot

Daily Inspiration


Current Memory Verse     Remember the Bible

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Today in Daily Prayer

Ascension Day

The Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ, also called Ascension Day, Ascension Thursday, or sometimes Holy Thursday, commemorates the Christian belief of the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven. It is one of the ecumenical (i.e., universally celebrated) feasts of Christian churches, ranking with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter, and Pentecost. Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day of Easter (following the accounts given in Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:2), although some Christian denominations have moved the observance to the following Sunday.


Just to give you an idea of what goes into Daily Prayer, I spent over an hour getting that gorgeous angel onto the site. And it was well-worth it! 99% of the artwork requires mild to intensive work in Photoshop, not to mention finding it, researching it, etc. But I love it so much, and I especially love the Pre-Raphaelites and other 19th and early 20th century art.

Memory Verse

Mark 9:40: He who is not against us is for us. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.

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Daily Quiz

Top score(s) on the Daily Quiz for May 21, 2020 were:
Keith Langley (12)
Tom Kraft (12)
randall martin (12)
Margaret Entwistle (11)
Kathryn Halfman (11)
Norman Daniels (11)
Donna Williams (11)

Top score(s) on Match-a-Verse:
Keith Langley (9 out of 9)
Kathryn Halfman (9 out of 9)
Greg Flippin (9 out of 9)
Norman Daniels (9 out of 9)
randall martin (9 out of 9)

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