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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 September 22, 2012

Christians and lions in Rome: Christians last prayer in Roman arena before being fed to lions.
The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer by Jean Leon Gerome, c. 1883.



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lessons and scripture
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.


An early Statler Brothers gospel recording of He Is There.

Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian (350 A.D.)

O Lord and Master of my life, this day, give me not the spirit of laziness, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of sobriety, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.


Prayer for Holiness

Holy God, no one can put together what has crumbled into dust, but you can restore a conscience turned to ashes. You can restore to its former beauty a soul lost and without hope. With you, there is nothing that cannot be redeemed. You are love; You are Creator and Redeemer. I praise you with my every ounce.

Remember, my God, the fall of Lucifer full of pride, keep me safe with the power of your Grace; save me from falling away from You. Save me from doubt. Incline my heart to hear your mysterious voice every moment of my life. Incline my heart to call upon you, present in everything.



Finally, may everything I do this day, in word or deed, be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.


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.

Saint Telemachus protests gladiator games
A monk named Telemachus (Saint Telemachus), moments before he is killed for protesting Roman gladiatorial games.

Hold On
Hold on to what is good,
even if it's a handful of earth.

Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.

Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.

Hold on to my hand,
Even if I've gone away from you.

~ Pueblo Indian Prayer

Blue Latin Cross

Colossians 1:15-23 (ESV)

The Preeminence of Christ

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Notes on the Scripture

There is a television series on the History Channel (actually "H2", a subsidiary) called Roman Vice, which documents the degeneracy of Rome during the time of the early emperors, from Tiberius through Nero.

Rome's moral code was hardly vigorous to begin with. Every form of vice was accepted and commonplace. Torture, slavery, slaughter, adultery, monumental vanity in clothing and jewelry, and gambling were considered normal. Tiberius kept a stable of little boys, called his "Minnows". The one great sport was to gather in huge arenas (the Circus Maximus held 250,000 people) to watch men do violence to one another.

I'll stop my description there because, although it is tempting to talk about how Western morals have moved continually in a direction towards ancient Rome over the past century, the really interesting part of the show came after Rome burned and Nero needed a scapegoat to blame for it. The show described Christians as they were perceived by Nero.

To the Romans, Christians were outright weirdos. They gathered in secret and kept to themselves. They eschewed what Romans considered the normal pleasures of life. They worshipped, as their only god, a petty working-class criminal who had been executed in a distant province some years earlier, and claimed he had come back to life. They had dinners where they ate this criminal's flesh and drank his blood. They had even been known to interrupt gladiatorial games, bizarrely claiming that a defeated gladiator should not be killed, for some unknown reason.

And so, Nero picked them to persecute, for they were even nice enough not to even fight back. He rounded them up and slaughtered them in various gruesome ways. And yes, he sometimes fed them to lions in the arena.

How, then, could Christianity have spread? It was because Nero offered to spare the lives of anyone who would recant his belief in Christ, but many chose death. This really impressed a lot of Romans. How could this Jesus be so powerful that people would die rather than forswear their allegiance to him?

If you see a faded version of Roman morals in modern society, there is also a faded version of Roman persecution. Sin is powerful, and those trapped in its clutches lash out in hostility towards Christian morals, which declare that the conduct is evil.

But the answer to such hostility is now as it was then: faith, hope, and love. By continuing steadfast in the faith, we are the means by which Christ will call people to His joy and salvation.

endless knot

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1 Corinthians 15:52: For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

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“The mind of God is greater than all the minds of men, so let all men leave the gospel just as God has delivered it unto us.” ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon


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