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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 May 20, 2014

Saint Paul in Prison, Rembrandt c. 1627
Saint Paul in Prison, Rembrandt c. 1627.



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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 for the Morning (Jane Austen)

Compassionate Lord, Your mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day. Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace, increase in knowledge; ripen for spiritual harvest. Let me this day know You as You are, love You supremely, serve You completely, admire You fully.

Through grace let my will respond to You, knowing that power to obey is not in me, but that Your free love alone enables me to serve You. Here then is my empty heart, overflow it with Your choice gifts; here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.



[Let me love You supremely.]

Thanks to God for Coming to Us

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace. I bless and thank you for finding me, Lord; may I never more take a breath without a heart filled with your Spirit .



Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.


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.

Stained glass arched window.

“No further would I read, nor had I any need; instantly, at the end of this sentence, a clear light flooded my heart and all the darkness of doubt vanished away.”

~ St. Augustine, describing his conversion after reading Romans 3:13-14.

Blue Latin Cross

Romans 3:20-26, 5:18-21 (ESV)

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

         *         *         *

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Notes on the Scripture

Overview of the New Testament: The Epistles
1. Paul's Epistle to the Romans

In the decades after Christ's ascension, fake booksThe phony books were called pseudepigrapha, “fake signatures”, because they were forged under the name of an actual disciple of Christ. E.g., The Gospel of Thomas. and false teachers with forged credentials began to spring up, claiming knowledge or credentials they did not have, and teaching fabricated nonsense.

The authentic epistles, those that were eventually included in the Biblical canon, were letters written by apostles who were directly inspired by God. These were carried to mission churches established in the crescent between Judea and Rome (primarily in Syria, Turkey, and Greece), to help them know the true Christian faith and keep them from being misled by false prophets.

Hand of Jesus

Paul wrote his letter to the Roman church around 58 A.D., while he was in Corinth on his third missionary journey. He had never been to Rome and was concerned that the Christians there have a reliable guide, to help them understand the true doctrine of Christ. What he wrote became the pre-eminent statement of Christian theology, a document against which errant teaching has been tested for 2000 years.

Most scholars divide Romans into three sections. In Ch. 1-8, Paul explains the fundamentals and foundations of the Christian faith. All people are sinful by nature, a state that separates them from God and leads to the death of the soul. The law of Moses could not bridge this separation, because humanity will always fall short of perfect compliance, and God requires absolute purity to admit anyone into His presence. In fact, God knew that men could not follow the Law; it was not given that it should be sufficient for salvation, but so that we could understand what God required and see, by holding our lives up to the standard of the Law, how sinful we really are.

The fulfillment of the Law's purpose was Christ. Knowing our sinfulness, we were prepared to realize that we could not be saved by our actions; only God could overcome sin. But sin cannot simply be forgotten; it requires redemption by blood, a sacrifice. And the only sacrifice that might be sufficient for all time was for God to come in person, in the form of a man, to shed His own blood for us.

To benefit from God's gift, however, we must have faith in Christ. Thus, only if we repent of our sin and have confidence that Christ's sacrifice will justify us before God, and confidence in His power over death as shown by His resurrection, may we be forgiven for our sins and find eternal life. We must have faith in God's power and love, His grace as embodied by Christ; our own works, no matter how “good” we are in human terms, cannot justify us before God. This is called “justification by faith” and is the primary tenet of Christianity.

Chapters 9-11 deal specifically with the failure of Judaism. The new covenant God created between himself and humanity fulfilled the old covenant. Both Jews and Gentiles could find salvation in Christ and only in Christ.

Chapters 12-16 show us how to live under this new covenant. It might be summed up by Romans 12:9, “Let us have no imitation Christian love. Let us have a genuine break with evil and a real devotion to good.” Much of these chapters are reminders of Christ's teachings about how God wants us to live in relation to this world and one another.

endless knot

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Proverbs 30:5-6 (ESV): Every word of God is flawless. Do not add to his words or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

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