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Welcome back, Friend.

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 August 8, 2013


The Seventh Bowl by Mathis Gerung|Revelation Bible 16
The Seventh Bowl by Mathis Gerung, ca. 1532, depicting Revelation 16:17-21.

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.

Ashley Cleveland reinterprets the old spiritual, Keep Your Lamps Trimmed, in Texas blues-rock style.




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.

praise God children

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 Those in Financial Difficulty

Lord God, I remember and pray for all those suffering severe financial problems; the unemployed, the homeless, the bankrupt, the hungry, and those in desperate fear of such problems. If it is your will, I pray that they can find a way out of their difficulties, into financial stability.

May I never close my eyes to them. And may your Holy Spirit be with them, to comfort and lift them up in Spirit, that they might never despair, but find total joy in the promise of the life to come.

Amen.

Meditation

“Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked.”

~ (Saint) Augustine of Hippo


Dedication

Lord, in utter humility I thank you and glorify you, that you might hear the prayer of one so small as myself, amidst the billions of souls among billions of stars in one of billions of galaxies in your universe. Let me go forth in your peace, keeping your Spirit always in my mind; and bless me, I pray, that I might always follow your will and live in the radiance of your blessing.

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

Praise for Nature

Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

~ Francis of Assisi, The Canticle of Brother Sun


Blue Latin Cross

1 Corinthians 1:10-17 (ESV)

Divisions in the Church
I

appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.

What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.


Notes on the Scripture

What a wonderful way Paul finds to skewer the pride of church leaders who cause divisions in Christ’s church. He says, “Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” We can admire church leaders; we can venerate Mother Theresa, or Billy Graham, or our minister or priest, or whoever speaks to our heart; but religious leaders are just people, filled with sin and error.

Christian unity

We read and learn from Peter, Paul, John; we worship Christ. We worship at a specific church and we call ourselves Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics; but we are baptized in the name of Christ. No matter what denomination and secondary beliefs we may have, Paul redirects our attention to the important fact: nobody but Jesus was the son of God.

The Communists, who had a sort of “religion without God,” were possibly the most adept at dealing with this phenomenon, because they did not want to see a repeat of Josef Stalin after he died. They coined the phrase “cult of personality.” A cult of personality is a group of people who become so accustomed to seeing a leader as the embodiment of a philosophy or religion that, when he begins to say or do things at odds with their beliefs, they still follow him.

The phenomenon of the cult of personality is important to understand, as it operates within ourselves. If you have ever been asked about your religious beliefs and have said (as most of us have), “I am Methodist/Greek Orthodox/etc.,” you can see in yourself what Paul talks about in today’s Scripture. A church or denomination is a vehicle for worshipping Christ. To be asked about your religion, and say “I am an Episcopalian,” is like being asked where you are traveling and answering “Delta Airlines.”

We must be careful not to mistake an earthly institution or religious leader for the true subject of our faith, “lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

We seek somebody we can believe in, whom we can trust. But there is only one such person, Christ Jesus our Savior. All others will disappoint us. And so, we must always remember that we follow, first and foremost, Christ. We are not Lutherans or Baptists or Catholics. We are Christians. Our only true authority is the Bible itself. The leader we follow is Christ. The living person we follow is the Holy Spirit.



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