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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 20, 2013

Bible, Matthew 7:25, house built on rock or stone
Painting by Pieter Mieler II, ca. 1680.



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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.


Bach’s thrilling Gloria, from the Mass in B Minor, comes from The Church of St. Thomas in Leipzig, Germany; performing are the church choir and the Leipzig Orchestra.

Lord of All Hopefulness

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy, whose trust, ever child-like, no cares can destroy, be there at my waking, and give me, I pray, your bliss in my heart, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith, whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe, be there at my labors, and give me, I pray, your strength in my heart, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace, your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace, be there at my homing, and give me, I pray, your love in my heart, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm, whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm, be there at my sleeping, and give me, I pray, your peace in my heart, Lord, at the end of the day.

(Jan Struther, 1931)

Prayer to Gain and Share Wisdom

Lord, there is so much that I don't know, and I ask you to inspire me with a thirst for knowledge. I pray, too, for wisdom and understanding that I may use my knowledge well. I give thanks for many people I have never met whose knowledge and understanding have been passed on to me. I ask that I may benefit from their work and experience and may contribute, in turn, to the well-being of others.


Benediction (from Colossians 3)

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within me all this day; and whatever I do in word or deed, may I do all 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.

A charming Madonna and Child, ca. 1440, by Luca della Robbia
A charming Madonna and Child, ca. 1440, by Luca della Robbia, a pioneer in glazed terracotta figures.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 7:21-27 (ESV)

Sermon on the Mount - I Never Knew You

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Notes on the Scripture

“The Lord Jesus winds up The Sermon on The Mount by a passage of heart piercing application. He turns from false prophets to false professors, from unsound teachers to unsound hearers.” (J. C. Ryle, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (1890)) It is not only false prophets who can mislead us; we can deceive our own selves into believing we're Christians when the fact is, we're not.

The passage addresses many people who might call themselves Christians; we can be baptized, we can go to church, we can pray: yet, Christ quite frighteningly tells us that he “does not know” some such people. Even though they both profess godliness and perform acts of faith, they will not enter heaven. Only those who do the will of the Father will share in Christ's salvation.

Bible in light

Modern theology comes down firmly on the side of “justification by faith”, as opposed to “justification by works”. All we need for salvation, theologians tell us, is faith in Christ. We are saved by what we believe, not what we do. And there is much in the Bible to support this view.

But theology is the product of the human mind. Very smart, educated, and pious minds; but neverthess, the fallible minds of human beings.

The Bible transcends theology. As Paul put it, “ ‘[T]he intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate’. . . . Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

The passage is quite hard to understand: What on earth is Paul talking about? Just this: the Bible, and especially the teachings of Christ, cannot be reduced to miracles, on the one hand, or logical principles, on the other. We have to attach ourselves to the straight, bare, raw text of His teachings, not to theological principles or church doctrine.

In short, we cannot understand God; we can only do what He tells us to do.

The point of all this, is that Christ declares in today's Scripture that anyone who “hears these words of mine and does not do them” will be lost, which sounds very much like salvation based on our actions. And yet, Christ came into the world to save sinners; He will by His sacrifice and mercy grant forgiveness to those who believe in Him.

Logic cannot reconcile the mystery of salvation. We can make a rather tortured logical composite, such as “those who have faith will always do good works out of love for God”, or “the act of becoming sincerely faithful is the action Christ requires”, but feeling that we need to formulate a logical framework is, as Paul puts it, the foolishness of the Greeks.

We cannot become complacent simply because we think we have “faith”. To be saved, we must at least try to do what God commands. We must fight to give our lives over to Christ completely.

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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