The Temptation of Christ by Iliya Efimovich Repin, ca. 1871.
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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.
All provident Lord, place Your holy fear as a guard before my eyes so they may not look lustfully; before my ears so that they may not delight in hearing evil words; before my mouth so that it may not speak any falsehoods; before my heart so that it may not think evil; before my hands so that they may not do injustice; before my feet, that they may not walk in the paths of injustice; but so direct them, that they may always be according to all Your commandments. Have mercy upon Your Creatures and upon me, a great sinner, I pray in the Name of Christ,
~ (St.) Nersess the Gracious, 12th century
For our restful sleep at night,
for the rain and sunshine bright,
For the love that Thou dost send,
For our homes and for each friend,
For the day and all its pleasures,
Grateful thanks I render now.
May our lives pass on the blessings,
None can give to us, but Thou.
[Have I taken any pleasure in “hearing evil words”?]
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.
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.
Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
~ C. S. Lewis
Romans 15:14-21 (ESV)
Paul the Minister to the Gentiles
myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written,
“Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.”
Notes on the Scripture
As Paul winds up his letter, he realizes that his long lecture might sound presumptuous to a group of people he has never, for the most part, met. His tone has been one of instruction, and people being people, there were no doubt members of the church in Rome who might say, “Who is this Paul guy to be telling us what to do?”
So, he show some interpersonal skills. First he gives them credit for their accomplishments, telling them he is satisfied how good and knowledgeable they are, “able to instruct one another.” Then, he gives them some credentials: He has preached and started churches from Jerusalem to Greece, always traveling to places nobody else has been, and performing miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. He says it very nicely. One might be tempted to think he’s bragging a bit, but we must remember, it serves Christ that Paul establish his credentials and authority.
Most likely, he needn’t have done so, since surely the Roman church would know well who he was; he had many friends and acquaintances in Rome, whom he had gotten to know in his lengthy travels throughout Turkey and Greece.
The quote is from Isaiah 52 (Isaiah 52:15) and is fairly quoted in context, for Isaiah was speaking of Gentile kings when he said “those who have never been told of him will see.” Paul, who is the instrument of God and is fulfilling a prophecy made 800 years before, cannot help but sound somewhat boastful if he speaks of what he has done; he had indeed “fulfilled the ministry of the Gospel of Christ,” by leaving the comforts of his home and his people, to bring knowledge of salvation to all the people of earth.
It is today as it has always been, since Paul wrote these words. If we live in developed world, we might perceive that Christianity is in decline. But to think so is mistaken.
Fewer people in the Western world call themselves Christians today than a few decades ago, and even fewer will be found in churches on a given Sunday. But this is God’s concern, not ours.
We must conduct our own affairs as the Bible teaches us, and we must make the gospel available, bringing those to Christ who will come; but we cannot count our success by numbers. Being too anxious to get people into church, so that we feel successful and vindicated, indulges our own vanity and leads us to pander to the pre-existing opinions of a potential convert.
What must concern us is not how many people follow us, but rather, that it is Christ to whom we are leading them. We seek to preach the incontrovertible truths of God, not the fickle opinions of humanity, or we have accomplished nothing. “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience.”