The Evangelist Matthew, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1534. This is a woodcut from Cranach’s illustrations for Martin Luther's first Bible.
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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.
What a Great Morning
Holy God, thank you for giving me another morning! I am lucky to be alive on your beautiful planet, so full of marvelous things and the beautiful plants and animals and all the people you have created in your image. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, now and all day long, until I go to sleep, because I want to live with you every minute of this day. The time and opportunities I have right now will never return, so help me make the best of it, Lord.
And let me remember this one thing: You know what you are doing, whether I can see it or not; so I will try to remember today that you are in charge, that you put me here for a reason and that, by your grace, things will turn out with your triumph and the Kingdom of Heaven, for all those who live by your grace. All praise to you forever,
by Mason Barge 7/13
Prayer of Appreciation
O Lord, how lovely it is to be Thy guest. Breeze full of scents; mountains reaching to the skies; waters like boundless mirrors, reflecting the sun’s golden rays and the scudding clouds. All nature murmurs mysteriously, breathing the depth of tenderness. Birds and beasts of the forest bear the imprint of Thy love.
Blessed art thou, mother earth, in thy fleeting loveliness, which wakens our yearning for happiness that will last for ever, in the land where, amid beauty that grows not old, the cry rings out: Alleluia!
Akathist, Gregory Petrov 1940 6//2017
Walk with me, dear Lord, so that I may not be alone as I face this day, but always in your presence. Your joy is a lighthouse in a world often dark with sin, and I pray that I may reflect the light of your truth, to inspire others as I have been inspired. In the name of Christ, bless me this day, and all whom I may meet.
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
In what verse does the Bible assure us that it is the Word of God?
But I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.
To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my defense,
My God of mercy.
2 Timothy 1:6-14 (ESV)
Hold to the Standard of Sound Teaching
or this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do.
But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
Notes on the Scripture
We are often faced with conflict between two different principles and must make a choice, a decision, according to which principle we choose. Sometimes, the choice is more obviously one between our Christian beliefs and our human nature. Do we gossip maliciously about someone whose teenage child has been arrested for selling drugs, or do we pray for them to know Christ's forgiveness and try to help them overcome their obstacles? If we need money and we find a fat wallet, do we take out the money before returning it anonymously to the owner (or even throw it in the trash)?
But sometimes the line between ethical and selfish behavior is not so clear-cut. If we are short of money and can barely meet our bills, do we give money to a beggar on the street who doesn't seem, to us, to even try to be earning his own living? If our neighbor insists on parking broken-down old pickup trucks in his driveway (or yard), what do we do? If the popular crowd at our school is wearing an expensive new item of clothing that we can afford, which becomes an earmark of higher status, do we buy one?
Paul gives us, in his Epistle to Timothy, an anchor point to help us out. "Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are Jesus Christ."
The Bible is filled with wisdom to help us make difficult choices. It gives us a bedrock of standards against which we can test our decisions and actions. If we make these standards our primary focus, our lives will follow a straight and focused path. We will not feel so much confusion every time our situation changes.
The more we study and learn, the better we are able to subordinate quick or transient solutions to our long-term goals. As we internalize these standards, we will feed less anxiety when we are unwilling to compromise them. And without doubt, the more we keep in mind our long-term goals, the better off we are, not only in terms of our eternal relationship with God, but also in terms of the contentment and peace of mind we enjoy during our lives.
I hope all of us will let the music, art, Bible, and prayers given to the glory of God, strengthen our resolve to turn to God in our daily decisions.