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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 July 8, 2013

Christ the Redeemer
The famous statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



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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.


A beautiful arrangement of this classic hymn by Fernando Ortega to remind us of the creativity of God. (With Marsha Skidmore.)

Prayer for the Morning

Father, as I face this new day, let me be aware of the work you have done for me as I slept. I praise you that your loving care never slumbers, but has been with me while I was least aware of it; and that you renew me and the whole world, fresh every day, preparing your plans for me.

I pray that I may seek your will this day, your plan for my life, and carry out your plan in my every action. I lay my hopes and fears on an altar before you, that your Holy Spirit may guide my hopes toward the light of your holiness, and may quiet my fears with the knowledge of your infinite peace, in total confidence that your grace will save me from the evils of this world. In Jesus' name I pray,


Prayer to Treat Others Well

Father, thank you for bringing me into your family. May I never disappoint you in the way I treat others. Teach me to show love, patience, and acceptance to all who come to me; let me show peace of soul and firm conviction that your will governs all. And I pray that others may see in me the qualities of character that can only be attributed to your presence in my life. Make my life a window for your light to shine through and a mirror to reflect your love to all I meet. To you be the glory and the honor, forever and ever, through Jesus my Lord.



As I travel through the rest of my day, may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.


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.

<i>The Inspiration of St. Matthew</i> by Caravaggio, ca. 1602.
The Inspiration of St. Matthew by Caravaggio, ca. 1602.

2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Blue Latin Cross

Introduction to The Gospel According to Matthew

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are similar in many respects and are called the Synoptic Gospels, synoptic being a Greek word meaning “able to be seen together”. Some passages of the three are identical, down to the tiniest detail. Traditionally, scholars believe that Mark, by far the shortest, was the first, and that Matthew either simply copied parts of Mark rather than starting from scratch, or that all three copied a common source that has been lost to us. (There is also a lost work, separate from Mark, which is commonly called “Q” by Bible scholars; all three of the Synoptic Gospels draw some of their material from it.)

Matthew has 1,068 verses, of which 606, or well over half, are reproduced from Mark. But all of these verses are third-person accounts of the life of Jesus. What Matthew most notably adds is actual quotations, words directly from the mouth of Christ; and this makes Matthew's Gospel, in many ways, pre-eminent. If you had to go forth to teach Christianity and could take with you only one book from the Bible, you would do well to pick Matthew.

<i>St. Matthew </i><br>by Guido Reni
St. Matthew by Guido Reni

Matthew did not “write” the gospel. He might have written parts of it, and he actually might have written none of it. But what he did do is write down things he heard other people (primarily Jesus) say. We are indebted, in our constant battle against skeptics, to an early historian called “Papias”, who tossed off one line of tremendous significance: “Matthew collected the sayings of Jesus in the Hebrew tongue.” Thus, Mark is primarily responsible for transmitting the events of Jesus' life to us, but Matthew is primarily responsible for transmitting Jesus' teachings to us.

In fact, most scholars believe that Matthew wrote the original version of his gospel in Hebrew and/or Aramaic, although only the Greek translation remains to us. This testifies to his transcribing Jesus' speech contemporaneously, because his gospel is the only book in the New Testament not written originally in Greek.

Who was this man? We know little about him, other than he was an odd bird among the apostles. For he was a tax collector for the Romans, a publican, despised by his fellow Jews — quite different from the humble and honest fishermen and laborers that made up most of the Jesus movement. Yet, he had an advantage; for as a tax collector, he had to be adept at reading and writing. The apostles left everything behind and followed Jesus; but Matthew brought along his pen.

Matthew's writings were certainly collated, edited, and fleshed out from other sources after Matthew's death. It is misleading, however, to say (as some people do) that Matthew did not “write” the gospel that bears his name; because, as we have seen, what he wrote down is the most important part of his gospel — and arguably, the entire Bible.

In addition, there are matters other than the quotes of Christ that set Matthew apart from the other gospels, matters that give the Gospel of Matthew its own character. We simply have no way of knowing how much of this is Matthew's work and how much comes from a later, anonymous editor. But it makes little difference, other than human interest, for Matthew's Gospel says what it says, and is what it is. Whoever set the words to paper was acting as God's vehicle to transmit knowledge of His Word.

First off, Matthew is written for Jews. This may be true of all the Gospels, but none so much as Matthew. The great theme of Matthew is Christ's role as the fulfillment of Judaic prophesy. And he isn't subtle about it. Time after time in Matthew, we will read “this was done to fulfill what the Lord spake through the prophet . . . ,” or something to that effect.

Another aspect of Jewishness is the importance of the Mosaic Law to Matthew. Of the four gospels, Matthew is both the most insistent that followers of Christ must continue to follow the law, and at the same time, the most harshly critical of the Jewish authorities and empty legalisms of the day. Matthew 23 is practically a diatribe against the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Secondly, Matthew emphasize the importance of the Church. In fact, it is the only Synoptic Gospel that even uses the word “church.”

Third, of all the gospels, Matthew is the most concerned with the second coming, the return of Christ to judge the earth; it is the most “apocalyptic” of the gospels. The only account of several apocalyptic parables, such as the “wise and foolish virgins” and the “sheep and goats”, occurs in Matthew 25. Matthew immerses the reader in Christ's later days, and we strongly sense Matthew's presence with Him.

Finally, the overarching theme of Matthew is Jesus as King. Matthew's intention is to show the royalty of Christ. We all learned in school to start our essays with a topic sentence, and Matthew apparently took the class, for we will see this theme introduced right off the bat — in Matthew 1:1.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 5:1-10 (“The Beatitudes”) (NKJV):

    And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

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