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May the Spirit of God flow through your life
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Daily Devotion for January 25, 2014

Matthew 16



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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 to Follow God's Will Today (by Jane Austen)

O  God, the author of all good, I come to You for the grace another day will require for its duties and events. I step out into a wicked world; I carry about with me an evil heart. I know that without You I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned, however harmless in itself, may prove an occasion of sin or folly, unless I am kept by Your power.

Hold me up O God and I shall be safe. Preserve my understanding from subtlety of error, my affections from love of idols, my character from stain of vice, my profession from every form of evil. May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Your blessing, and in which I cannot invite Your inspection. Prosper me in all lawful undertakings, or prepare me for disappointments.

Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food suitable for me, lest I be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or be poor, and steal, and take Your name in vain. May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Your will. Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, to walk in wisdom toward those without, and in kindness to those within, to do good to all men, and especially to my fellow Christians. And to You, O God, be the glory.



[Let us close our eyes for a minute and meditate on what it means to be a “warrior for the Lord”.]

For Those Who Are Struggling

Heavenly Father, I pray for all my Christian brothers and sisters and for each and every family member in their households. I pray for peace to come in their hearts; I pray for love and joy to abound in their homes; I pray that they might enjoy good health, that they are not in debt, and that all their needs are met.

I pray that every eye that reads this knows there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than you, Mighty God. Every battle is in your hands for you to fight, Lord. I pray that these words be received into the hearts of every eye that sees them and every mouth that confesses them. In Christ’s name,



Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.


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.

Coptic Cross

Starting Point

Don't let your situation discourage you. Everyone who got where they are, started where they were.

~ John Maxwell

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 16:24-28 (J.B. Holman N.T.)

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus [2]

Then Jesus said to his disciples,

“If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it; but the man who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What could a man offer to buy back his soul once he had lost it?

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father and in the company of his angels and then he will repay every man for what he has done. Believe me, there are some standing here today who will know nothing of death till they have seen the Son of Man coming as a king.”

Notes on the Scripture

The entire passage from yesterday is repeated as today's Scripture (in a different translation: the very fine loose or “dynamic equivalent” translation by J.B. Holman), to provide context for the sentence ending “he will repay every man for what he has done”; for this is so fraught with significance that we need to concentrate on it.

The passage reads, “what he has done.” The original Greek used the word praxis, which has survived as a (somewhat obscure) modern English word that means exactly what it did in Greek 2000 years ago!

“Praxis” is the process by which a theory or lesson is put into practice. Aristotle divided human knowledge into three categories: theoretical, which has a goal of truth; imaginative, which has a goal of creation; and praxis, which has a goal of action.

So this passage tells us that when Christ returns, he will judge us, not by our thoughts, but by our actions. This fits with our recent Memory Quote, James 2:16 (KJV): “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead.” (See James 2 generally). Christ is telling us that we will be judged according to our conduct.

We are justified by faith, and faith alone: but how much faith in Christ can a man have who is sleeping with someone else's wife, or a woman who steals money from her employer? If we have actual faith, we have repented our sins and strive, from our love for Christ, not to repeat them. It is not that Christ will punish us for sinning; punishment for sin from a just God was already a certainty when Jesus was born. Rather, Christ will redeem us from our sins. He will save us from punishment that was previously a certainty. He will reward us with forgiveness and wonderful blessings if we have faith.

But how is He going to judge the sincerity and depth of our faith? By how strong we think our faith is? By ecstatic feelings of oneness with the Creator? By protestations of our love and obedience?

We can let Christ himself answer this question: “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. ” (Matthew 7:21)

We cannot be saved by works without faith; repentance and baptism in the name of Christ are the formal prerequisite (and only prerequisite) of salvation. But if our faith is real, our works will demonstrate it. If our works are not consistent with our faith, then we are kidding ourselves; our “faith” is a fantasy, a meaningless hodgepodge of reassuring thoughts and feelings without any true significance to our salvation.

Most of us feel it acutely when we have fallen short and, thus, today's Scripture might have an ominous overtone. But if we have real faith, our worries are nil. If we are trying, and learning, and fighting sinfulness, we can be confident in our victory, even if we fall short on occasion.

<i>Samson Slays the Lion</i>, anon., ca. 1750?
Samson Slays the Lion, anon., ca.1750? This wonderful Baroque treatment of Samson slaying the lion is probably mid-18th-century Italian. An allegorical sheep beneath the lion give it a Christological tone. It is puzzling how the name of such a great talent went unrecorded.

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Memory Verse

James 2:24, 26: You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. . . . For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

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