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Daily Devotional Prayer

Daily Devotion for August 9, 2020


<i>Pietà</i> by Michelangelo, ca. 1499
Pietà by Michelangelo, ca. 1499, perhaps the most-loved statue in Christendom. It rests in an alcove of St. Peter’s Cathedral. (See full-size)

Prayers

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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.

For a Heart Open to God’s Word

God, as you gave us the sun to lighten our days, so you have given us your Word to lighten our minds and our souls. I pray that you will pour out on me your Spirit as I pray today, that my heart and mind may be opened to your Word, and that I may learn and accept your will for my life.

Shine within my heart, loving God, the pure light of your divine knowledge; open the eyes of my mind and the ears of my heart to receive your Word, this day and always,

Amen.

Forgiveness

Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world.

Amen.

Prayer for Eternal Life

William Blake, <i>Resurrection</i>
Resurrection
by William Blake

Almighty God, with whom abide the spirits of those who depart hence in the love of Christ, and with whom the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity; I give you hearty thanks for the good examples of all your servants, who, having finished their course in faith, now rest from their labors. And I pray to you that I, with all those who are departed in the true faith of your holy Name, may have my own perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in your eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Blessing of Mark

O  Sovereign and almighty Lord, bless all your people, and all your flock. Give your peace, your help, and your love unto us your servants, the sheep of your fold, that we may be united in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one hope of our calling, in your divine and boundless love.

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.


The words of our Sunday anthem are Psalm 67, reproduced to the right. (The translation is different in places; sorry, we could not find the one used by the Westminster Abbey Choir.)



Scripture

Psalm 67 (KJV)

God be merciful unto us, and bless us;
and cause his face to shine upon us.
That thy way may be known upon earth,
thy saving health among all nations.

Let the people praise thee, O God;
let all the people praise thee.
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy:
for thou shalt judge the people righteously,
and govern the nations upon earth.

Let the people praise thee, O God;
let all the people praise thee.
Then shall the earth yield her increase;
and God, even our own God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.


Blue Latin Cross

John 3:22-30 (ESV)

The Humility of John the Baptist

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison).

Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness — look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”

John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Notes on the Scripture

T

he accounts of Jesus' ministry in Galilee, in the three Synoptic Gospels, begin after John the Baptist has been arrested. (E.g. Mark 1:14) John’s Gospel, however, gives us important views and accounts of Christ that are omitted from the Synoptics (no doubt one of the reasons he felt impelled to write it), and this passage is one of them.

A perpetual problem that arises at the intersection of Christian doctrine and human nature is pride in the size of one’s church; for preachers and teachers, pride of followers; for Christian writers, pride of readers. Jesus tells us that we have no teacher except Him, we should call no man teacher except Him. (Matthew 23:8-11) But what church has no ambition to grow? What preacher does not glory in finding ever greater crowds to hear him, what writer does not yearn to find his book on the best-seller list?

Is their joy in their success purely a celebration that the glory of God is abounding? No — there is almost always sinful pride involved. It may be just a speck, but even for a successful preacher with a true sense of humility, it presents constant temptation. We have, let’s face it, celebrity preachers whose celebrity seems as important to them as their message. There is something in every religious leader that wants to be the head of a megachurch or the author of a bestselling book.

And the antidote God has provided is right here, in John 3. John’s disciples, just like the vestry of a church that wants to grow, is jealous because Jesus is stealing John’s parishioners!

But John is pure humility before Christ. His happiness could not be more genuine. “Therefore this joy of mine is now complete,” he says. He does not want to gain “members” — he wants to lose them to a better teacher!

John’s Gospel gives us this vignette that we might always remember: When we witness to Christ, it is to the glory of God, not the glory of ourselves. Our reward is from God: a treasure laid up in heaven for us; not a sense of importance on earth. We do not measure our service by our personal success, but by our humility. If we feel God’s pleasure, it is enough. If we know we have served Him faithfully, it is everything.



Daily Inspiration

“Do You Love God?”


Village church in Reid, Alsace, France.
Village church in Reid, Alsace, France.

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Matthew 6:25: Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. . . . But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.



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Daily Quiz


Top score(s) on Match-a-Verse:
Keith Langley (9 out of 9)
Pam Carpenter (9 out of 9)
Norman Daniels (9 out of 9)
randall martin (9 out of 9)