Daily Devotion for May 24, 2022
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 for Renewal
God stir the soil
Run the ploughshare deep,
Cut the furrows round and round,
Overturn the hard, dry ground,
Spare no strength nor toil,
Even though I weep.
In the loose, fresh mangled earth
Sow new seed.
Free of withered vine and weed
Bring fair flowers to birth.
For the Holiness of the Church
Oh God my Father, who has always loved and protected your universal church, I pray that your Holy Spirit may fall upon all ministers, priests, pastors, bishops, and all who lead in churches; and upon all teachers of your holy Word.
Make them good and faithful stewards of your Holy Word, dear Lord. Bless them to lead us closer to you every day. Let them not be hypocrites in their actions, nor blinded by their personal bias to the truth of your teaching. Let them be strong against the pressures of the secular world, without compromise. Let them always strive for unity with all Christians, not pridefully dividing themselves from one another by the fallible doctrines of man. Raise them up, to peace and love and utter humility, that by their example your flock may be guided into the way of truth.
“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.”
~ Robert Alden
The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant; Make me perfect in every good work to do your will, working in me that which is well pleasing in your sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
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.
This wonderful Baroque treatment of Samson slaying the lion is probably mid-18th-century Italian. An allegorical sheep beneath the lion give it a Christological tone.
It is puzzling how the name of the artist, with so much talent, went unrecorded.
Don't let your situation discourage you. Everyone who got where they are, started where they were.
~ John Maxwell
Matthew 16:24-28 (J.B. Holman N.T.)
Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me 
Then Jesus said to his disciples,
f anyone wants to follow in my footsteps he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it; but the man who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What could a man offer to buy back his soul once he had lost it?
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father and in the company of his angels and then he will repay every man for what he has done. Believe me, there are some standing here today who will know nothing of death till they have seen the Son of Man coming as a king.”
Notes on the Scripture
The entire passage from yesterday is repeated as today’s Scripture (in a different translation: the very fine loose or “dynamic equivalent” translation by J.B. Holman), to provide context for the sentence ending “he will repay every man for what he has done”; for this is so fraught with significance that we need to concentrate on it.
The passage reads, “what he has done.” The original Greek used the word praxis, which has survived as a (somewhat obscure) modern English word that means exactly what it did in Greek 2000 years ago!
“Praxis” is the process by which a theory or lesson is put into practice. Aristotle divided human knowledge into three categories: theoretical, which has a goal of truth; imaginative, which has a goal of creation; and praxis, which has a goal of action.
So this passage tells us that when Christ returns, he will judge us, not by our thoughts, but by our actions. This fits with our recent memory verse, James 2:16 (KJV): “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead.” (See James 2 generally). Christ is telling us that we will be judged according to our conduct.
We are justified by faith, and faith alone: but how much faith in Christ can a man have who is sleeping with someone else’s wife, or a woman who steals money from her employer? If we have actual faith, we have repented our sins and strive, from our love for Christ, not to repeat them. It is not that Christ will punish us for sinning; punishment for sin from a just God was already a certainty when Jesus was born. Rather, Christ will redeem us from our sins. He will save us from punishment that was previously a certainty. He will reward us with forgiveness and wonderful blessings if we have faith.
But how is He going to judge the sincerity and depth of our faith? By how strong we think our faith is? By ecstatic feelings of oneness with the Creator? By protestations of our love and obedience?
We can let Christ himself answer this question: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. ” (Matthew 7:21)
We cannot be saved by works without faith; repentance and baptism in the name of Christ are the formal prerequisite (and only prerequisite) of salvation. But if our faith is real, our works will demonstrate it. If our works are not consistent with our faith, then we are kidding ourselves; our “faith” is a fantasy, a meaningless hodgepodge of reassuring thoughts and feelings without any true significance to our salvation.
Most of us feel it acutely when we have fallen short and, thus, today’s Scripture might have an ominous overtone. But if we have real faith, our worries are nil. If we are trying, and learning, and fighting sinfulness, we can be confident in our victory, even if we fall short on occasion.