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May the peace of God reign in this place
and the love of God forever hold you tight,
May the Spirit of God flow through your life
and the joy of God uphold you day and night.


Daily Devotion for March 4, 2024


Tree of Jesse Cope
The Tree of Jesse Cope was made in London some 700 years ago, between about 1310 and 1325, and is one of the most striking extant examples of a medieval cope (a ceremonial cloak worn in church services and processions).
Its silk twill background was probably imported from Italy, and the embroidery work carried out in England with threads of gilded silver and different colours of silk. Jesse, the root, lies at the bottom, and from him ultimately spring Mary holding the infant Jesus (top center).

Prayers

Scripture

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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.

Audrey Assad’s beautiful and comforting song brings the peace of Christ into our ears and hearts.




Prayer to Conform to God’s Will

O  Lord God, I am so lukewarm towards you so much of the time, in so much of my life. I try not to admit it to myself, but I read your Word and I can see the gap between what you want for me and what I do. I make excuses. You tell us to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, imitating Him in all we do, but the lure of property, politics, entertainment — all of the matters of this world — is powerful. I concern myself with them constantly, ignoring the plain and simple message of the Bible. I live too much in the secular world, anxious for status and concerned about my future.

young Americans praising in church

Have patience with me, mighty God, and forgive me. Do not spew me out, as you have warned you might do with the lukewarm. Fill my soul with the fire of your Word and help me grow, to put more and more confidence in you and less and less in the world before me; forgive me my sins and help me to live in them less and less today, and every day, that I might more perfectly follow your commandments. In Christ’s name I pray,

Amen.

For God’s Peace

Drop thy still dews of quietness till all our strivings cease,
Take from our souls the strain and stress
and let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.

Amen.

Meditation

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

~ Mark 9:35

Benediction

May the Almighty and merciful Lord graciously hear me, pardon and deliver me from all my sins, confirm and strengthen me in all goodness, and bring me to everlasting life; through my Savior, Jesus Christ,

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.



endless knot

Proverbs 12:13-14, 17-18 (The Message)

The gossip of bad people gets them in trouble;
the conversation of good people keeps them out of it.
Well-spoken words bring satisfaction;
well-done work has its own reward.

Truthful witness by a good person clears the air,
but liars lay down a smoke screen of deceit.
Rash language cuts and maims,
but there is healing in the words of the wise.


Blue Latin Cross

Romans 3:1-8 (ESV)

God’s Righteousness Upheld
T

hen what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

“That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.


Notes on the Scripture

Paul can be nearly incomprehensible without close study. What is he talking about?!? We do not need elaboration of what he says here, so much as simply grasping what he is saying!

Having spent an entire chapter scolding the Jews for hypocrisy, Paul begins Chapter 3 by carefully giving them some credit, because we must honor the Old Testament. He first simply acknowledges their special status as God’s chosen people. The prophets (“oracles”) were Jewish. The Jews were given the words of God, so this is one thing to their credit. And if they are hypocrites, a hypocrite—who speaks truth but acts evil—is better than someone who both speak and acts evil!

Abraham, by Joseph Schonmann, mosaic in Vienna +
Abraham

Then he poses a question. Since the Jews had a “covenant” — which is to say, a contract — that they would be faithful to the law and God would be faithful to them, have their many acts of faithlessness breached the contract? Will God, like the Jews, no longer honor His obligation of faithfulness to them? The answer is no. (Although Paul does not say it plainly here, there is irrefutable proof of God’s continued faithfulness to the Jews: Christ, the Jewish Messiah He promised to send.)

There was, apparently, some line of “reason” being discussed among the Jews, that God had set them up to fail. He wanted to show his wrath; and sinners were doing Him some sort of odd favor by sinning, because the punishment demonstrated his power. This absurd logic resulted in an even more absurd contention: sin is good, because punishment for sin shows the truth of God’s law, and forgiveness of sin shows his mercy. It gives God a chance to forgive us and show how wonderful he is.

So why condemn sin, if the result is the glorification of God via His forgiveness? Why not “do evil that good may come”? And how could God judge the Jews, if their disobedience illustrated His glory?

The answer, of course, lies in a simple statement, which Paul will expound in the rest of Chapter 3: God is pure good. People — not so much. We are made in God’s image, but our free will leads us astray. Religion in general, and the history of the Jews in particular, is based on God’s efforts to teach us goodness, both in our minds and our hearts.



<i>Annunciation</i> by Maurice Denis, ca. 1898.
Annunciation by Maurice Denis, ca. 1898.

Daily Inspiration

“Suffering”

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Romans 8:18: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.



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