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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.
Prayer to Live Christ’s Word Today
Gracious God, Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child.
Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me.
This I pray in Jesus' name.
To Use My Leisure Time Fruitfully
I pray, Lord, that you will fill me with discernment, so that I can use my leisure time wisely and well, that I might have some recreation and rest in my life; let me not become stressed-out, but neither let me fritter away my hours in activities that help neither myself nor others. Send me the strength to combat obsession. Send me your Spirit to see the vanity of excessive self-indulgence. Let me know the true joy of time well-spent. In Christ’s name, I pray,
Mason Barge 2/14/2015
Now the God of patience and consolation grant to me, and to all who pray in the name of Christ, to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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 verse indicates that we need no power in life, except for that given to us by God’s grace?
Back in 1983, the Georgia Mass Choir was founded in Macon, Georgia. They specialized in pepping up sedate old hymns, and our “Saturday Oldie” is one of them. You’ve never heard By and By quite like this!
Verse 15 reminds us of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. . . . Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:39, 44)
But where Jesus taught the principles, Paul acts as His executive to bring the teaching into action. Here, there are three parties involved: Someone who has wronged another, the person who is wronged, and a church member who intervenes. “See that” implies that someone is keeping watch for when this occurs, and that he is ready to insert himself into the argument to bring peace, to remind the injured party that retaliation is contrary to Christ’s teaching.
St. Paul, by El Greco
It is not meddling to remind someone not to retaliate for a wrong; chiding a person who has retaliated is not punishment. Following Paul’s instructions are, rather, an act of love towards both people involved. Hating one’s neighbor and seeking revenge is Satan’s breeding ground. To take revenge only ensures that the injured party will be injured a second time; he will compound his worldly injury by adding to it a self-inflicted spiritual injury.
There is another short phrase, at the end of verse 15, that answers an enormous question: “and for all.” It is comparatively easy to make peace within a small community, for one might expect a benefit — one’s own forgiveness in the future. Secular societies have civil laws to ensure peace within a closed set of people living under the same rules. The most atheist of rulers does not want blood feuds erupting in his jurisdiction.
But Paul does not say “each other.” He says, “to each other and to all.” The word “all” is not qualified: it means 100% of everyone who exists. (The Greek word is pantas, which has a root recognizable to English speakers, “pan-”. We use it to indicate universality, e.g. Pan-American, meaning all countries in the New World, or panacea, originally meaning something that cures all diseases.)
One of the major hypocrisies we see in many churches today is militaristic anger and demands for revenge against Arab or Islamic nations. Churches worship the Prince of Peace at one point, and the next minute demand that their nation rain death from the sky on others. The hypocrisy is doubly compounded when the same people insist that their country is a “Christian nation.”
Christ taught us, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24-26) Somehow, the meaning of His words seems to bounce off peoples’ minds. Taking up a cross does not mean paying lip-service to a symbol. It means preparing to accept physical death in preference to committing sin. In real terms, we might not be ready to do this, but at least it serves as a point towards which we must try to grow in our faith.
Paul, like Christ, leaves no wiggle room concerning our duty to forgive others and to forgo retaliation, both inside and outside our church,. If we find it impossible to follow the rule, we must at least recognize it and confess it as sin. To preach retaliation inside a church is a curse on the teacher. (Gal. 1:8-9.) The Greek word Paul uses for the preacher of false gospel is “anathema”.
Ghent Altar (detail), by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, ca. 1432.
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Today in Daily Prayer
Matthew 5:40: If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
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