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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 18, 2013

The Sistine Madonna (detail) by Raphael, ca. 1514.



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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.


Prayer of Resolve

Blessed Jesus, my Savior and Master, model of all perfection, I resolve — and will try this day with my full heart — to imitate Your example, to be like You: mild, humble, chaste, zealous, charitable, and kind. I will redouble my efforts to see Your image in all those I meet and deal with this day — not only people I like — and to be as helpful to them as I would be to You. I resolve to avoid this day all those sins which I have committed heretofore and which I now sincerely desire to give up forever.


Prayer for The Unsaved

O  God, the everlasting Creator of all things, I pray for the souls of unbelievers, for they were made by you and formed in your image. Jesus, your Son, endured a most bitter death for their salvation. Permit not, I beseech you, Holy Lord, that your Son should be any longer despised by unbelievers, but accept the prayers of those who remember them and be mindful of your mercy. I pray you to forgive their idolatry and blasphemy, in the hopes that they too may some day know Him whom you have sent, the Lord Jesus Christ, that they may yet be redeemed and delivered, as was always the deep desire of your Son.


For a Sense of Wonder at God's Creation

Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Delight me to see how your Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not His, to be the father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.



Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns 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.

woman praying in church

The Golden Age on Earth

“[Various Sects] dream that there will be a golden age on earth before the Day of Judgment, and that the pious, having subdued all their godless enemies, will possess all the kingdoms of the earth. [The words of the Bible] present something quite different.”

~ The Second Helvetic Confession, XI

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)

Sermon on the Mount - By Their Fruits You Will Know Them

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.

Notes on the Scripture

(. . . continued from yesterday.

Christ tells us that we can tell a false prophet from a true one by his fruits. Yesterday, we examined the idea that one of the fruits of a person's life is his obedience, in his own life, to God's Word.

The second kind of “fruit” is the words a teacher or prophet speaks, and for this job, we have a measuring stick right at hand: the Bible. We must read the Bible itself, so that we can tell good fruit from bad. Obedience to the Bible is the fundamental discipline of Christianity. It is our anchor against a thousand false teachings from a thousand false teachers, and even against our own personal bias.

Perhaps the most critical danger comes when a modern-day prophet tells us what we want to hear. “Jesus wants you to be rich.” “Jesus wants you to vote for So-and-so.” In the Middle Ages, “Jesus wants you to pick up your sword and conquer the Holy Land.”

It is hard, when a “Christian” teacher plays into our preconceptions or personal desires, to realize that he is perverting the Gospel. For example, if we hear a sermon that is actually a political speech — just for example, a sermon exhorting us that the U.S. government should send more or less fighter planes to Israel — our initial reaction depends largely on whether we agree with what is said.

If we think the government should be giving more support to Israel, and that is what we hear preached, we are tempted to think, “Didn't he preach well.” If we think the government is spending too much on Israel, and that is what is preached, we will say, “There is wise priest.”

But a minister, who preaches politics of any kind, becomes a politician pretending to be a servant of God: a false prophet. A wolf in sheep's clothing. Christ very pointedly had nothing to do with governments or politics; even Pontius Pilate recognized this. The entire New Testament, from Matthew 1 to Revelation 22, avoids political entanglement. It tells us to bring individuals to Christ, and to lead our own lives by God's will, not to take over goverments and coerce the actions of others.

“Slaves obey your masters” (e.g. Colossians 3:22) has nothing to do with slavery, either for or against. It is, rather, a statement that we should place no importance on our worldly situation, and instead, lead our lives in holiness to prepare for the Kingdom of God. Looking up the page in Colossians, we find the real meaning: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3)

Politics is just one example of “bad fruit”. The point is, it takes time and study to learn what the Bible truly says and means. But we must do it, or the allure of a false prophet telling us something we want to hear, rather than the will of God, will deceive us.

endless knot

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Proverbs 3:5 (ESV): Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;

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