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Daily Devotion for May 29, 2014

Ascension Day

<i>St. Paul’s Cathedral</i>, Canaletto ca. 1754.
St. Paul’s Cathedral, Canaletto ca. 1754. Although he is strongly associated with Venice, Canaletto fled to London for a few years to escape a local war.



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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.


We rarely show dancing, but the Bible tells us repeatedly to dance in praise of God. This setting of Michael W. Smith’s Agnus Dei by the Paradosi Christian Ballet Company is lovely.

Prayer to Live this Day with God

Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank you that I can see or hear your Word this morning. Let me give thanks all day for what I have, especially your eternal love, and forgive me this day when I go astray, by my thoughts or actions; my only aim is to please you, to know and do your will. Guide my every step.

Help me to live this day with wisdom and discretion so that I may not fall short of your glory. Protect me from danger, both in the world and in my attitude. Give me the gift of a clear mind, that I might hear the quiet voice of your Spirit. Help to massage away resentments and blame for things gone by, that would eat my energy and poison my mind; but instead, help me to look to the moment, to what I can do, to work for the future. And let me never become frustrated where I lack control of events, for you are in charge, not me; and I put my entire faith in your power, your knowledge, your plan for humanity.

Your are my leader and my coach, Lord. I am on your team. Help me to keep this in mind for just today, in Christ's name I pray,



[The quiet voice of the Spirit.]

For All Who Serve Others

O  Lord our heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; I pray for your blessing on all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of their fellow men. Endue them with wisdom, patience, and courage, that they may strengthen the weak and raise up those who fall; and, being inspired by your love, may worthily minister in your name to the suffering, the friendless, the lost, and the needy.

Inspire them with perseverance; when they feel unappreciated, comfort them in knowledge of the blessing they earn by their service; and to those who teach, let your Holy Spirit guide them in their teaching, that they always know and speak the truth of your Word. For the sake of him who laid down his life for us, the same thy Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, I pray,



God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and Spirit of God amidst us, direct our way unto you. Make us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, even our Father, 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.

endless knot

Proverbs 3:3-4 (NIV)

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

Blue Latin Cross

2 Thessalonians 1:5-7, 2:1-3, 3:10-11 (ESV)

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering — since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

         *         *         *

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, . . .

         *         *         *

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.

Notes on the Scripture

Overview of the New Testament: The Epistles
9. Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians is a follow-up to 1 Thessalonians; it was written only a few months later, while Paul was in Corinth, to answer difficulties that the church continued to have, even though the first letter was apparently well-received. It is both the last of the “church epistles” and the shortest of them (three brief chapters), although many of the pastoral and general epistles following are shorter.

rider with harp on dragon
from Catherine of Cleves'
Book of Hours (1440)

We haven't really talked about the order of the epistles. Paul's nine church epistles are grouped together following Acts; then come his four pastoral epistles. Then Hebrews, a general epistle that was once thought to be Paul's (perhaps because it is so hard to read!). It is a work of enormous significance, but nobody today knows who wrote it. Then follow the general epistles written by other apostles (James, Peter, John, and Jude).

Getting back to 2 Thess., one can get the gist of it from the short quotes in today's Scripture. The Jews and Greeks of Thessalonica were particularly hostile to the church, and the Thessalonians endured much persecution. Chapter 1 encourages them to stay faithful in the promise of Christ's eventual judgment.

Chapter 2 reflects a somewhat hysterical reaction of the church in the face of this persecution. They were anxious for the second coming of Christ and, like so many since, began to predict that it would happen any day (or had already come). Paul again sets them straight, giving additional information about the second coming — that it had not come (with an implication that it might not come for a long time) and that it would be preceded by the rise to prominence of a wicked and deceptive man, a great deceiver who would rise to power and bedazzle those who did not have Christ in their hearts. Paul calls him the “lawless man”; it is John who will coin the term “antichrist”. (1 John 2:18)

In the last chapter, Paul deals with an odd repercussion of those thinking the last days had arrived: many people simply ceased working, sure that they would not starve in the few days before Christ arrived! Paul gives them permission, in effect, to create an exemption from the general sharing that characterized early Christian churches; those who refused to work might be refused food from the common store.

<i>Saint Paul</i>, Roman-style mosaic by Matvei Vasilyev, ca. 1769.
Saint Paul, Roman-style mosaic by Matvei Vasilyev, ca. 1769.

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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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