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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 26, 2014

Memorial Day (U.S.)

Adam and Eve, with a very scary-looking Satan after them.
From the Montauban Book of Hours (a sort of prayer book), ca. 1430.



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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.


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, in limbs and 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.



[Seeing Christ in other people.]

Prayer to Be Filled with Christ’s Love (from Ephesians 14)

Heavenly Father, when I think of the wonder of your great plan for our salvation, I fall on my knees before you, who has named every name in heaven or on earth, and I pray that out of your richness of your glory, you will strengthen me in my inner being with your Spirit, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I may be rooted and grounded in love, that I may have strength to comprehend with all the saints the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ Jesus, the love that surpasses knowledge, and be filled with the fullness that only you can give. In the name of Christ, I pray,


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.

The Annunciation by Marianne Stokes, ca. 1893. Stokes was a well-known Austrian-English painter; this early work shows a wonderful primitivism. She was just beginning to be influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, which shows in the olive and turquoise palette .

Psalm 43:3-4 (ESV)

Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!

Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

Blue Latin Cross

Philippians 2:5-8, 4:6-8, 4:13 (ESV)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

         *         *         *

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

         *         *         *

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Notes on the Scripture

Overview of the New Testament: The Epistles
6. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians

The church at Philippi was founded by Paul during his second missionary journey. (Acts 16:1-40) It was a member state of the Roman Empire, as opposed to a colony, and its tax burden was light; so although it was not terribly large, it was comparatively wealthy. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, a prison epistle, is primarily a thank-you note; they were able to send him money, allowing him to maintain a decent household during his imprisonment (house arrest) and thus facilitate his continued ministry.

funeral procession from illuminated hymnal, ca. 1350
Illuminated “R”
French hymnal ca. 1350

Even more than Ephesians, Philippians is absent the criticism and urgent attempts to stop erroneous doctrine and practice found in the early letters. It overflows with praise, affection, and Paul's personal feelings about his own situation. Because Philippi did not need extensive correction, the epistle is one of the shortest of the church epistles. It has four chapters.

Paul begins with a prayer of thanks. He praises the Philippians for their faith, praying that their church might continue in its progress and holiness. He then shares his own joy of Christ with them. In this, he treats them more as fellow believers than as students; although he exhorts them to steadfastness in the face of tribulation and opposition, Paul himself has more trouble than they; so he gives himself as an example, not by boasting, but simply by discussing his feelings in the face of possible execution. He is hard-pressed, he tells them, to decide whether he would rather live or die; for to die would mean being with Christ; but to live would mean he could continue his work for Christ.

He makes one very important theological statement in the epistle, the first paragraph of today's Scripture. It is written in Paul's customary oblique style and is difficult to grasp. But the key point is to emphasize and explain what it meant for Christ to be a human being. God, in becoming human, became truly human and voluntarily gave up the limitless powers of divinity. The ESV reads, “[H]e became nothing”; but the phrase literally means “he emptied himself”; that is, he gave up his divine power at birth and thereafter exercised only the power and knowledge given to him by the Father.

For a random example, we can deduce that Jesus had to learn how to walk and talk just like any other child. Luke gives us a hint of this in Luke 2:40, “The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom.” He could be tempted to sin and, notably, could be killed. He even knew fear, for he sweated blood in Gethsemane just before his arrest. By being human, his perfect faith and obedience mean so much more to us, because he felt the same emotions, desires, and pain that we do.

Philippians is a joyful letter and full of pithy quotes. It speaks to Paul's character that he was joyful addressing a faithful church when he was facing death; whereas, he seemed less happy in writing the troubled churches in Corinth and Galatia, even though he was a free man.

endless knot

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Psalm 37:8 (NKJV): Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret — it only causes harm.

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