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Daily Devotion for May 31, 2014

<i>Jonah Being Thrown to the Whale</i> by Matthieu van Plattenberg, ca. 1648.
Jonah Being Thrown to the Whale by Matthieu van Plattenberg, ca. 1648.



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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.


Mahalia Jackson in her famous rendition of the classic spiritual, Trouble of the World.

Prayer to Hear God’s Word

Dear God, There is only one voice that is perfect truth, and that is yours: the voice of your Spirit and the voice of your Word. Help me, I pray, to hear your voice clearly. For I tend to lose it in the cacophony. I am filled with the sound of my own voice, with the sense of my importance and the correctness of my thought; and on top of that, I am besieged by dozens and hundreds and thousands of words and voices telling me all kinds of things.

Lead me to read your Word without listening to any voice but yours. Let me hear your truth and read your Word without adding to it or subtracting from it, without twisting it to meet the demands of my own preconceptions. Let me not deny your Word because it is inconvenient for me; even if I cannot follow it today, let me know the truth. Where your teaching and my thoughts conflict, help me to change. Help me to set aside my prejudice, my illusions of knowledge, my rationalizations, so that I can learn; and even if I do not follow your Word perfectly, let me know where to ask forgiveness. This I ask in the name of my only Savior, Jesus Christ,



[I drown out the voice of God with my own.]

For the Human Family

O  God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human race, O Lord; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth.

That, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord.



May the God of peace, who declared victory over death by the resurrection of His only Son, Jesus Christ, make me perfect in every thought and act through His grace, that my life might be pleasing in His sight and that I might share the perfect peace that is only possible through Him, to whom be glory for ever and ever.


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.

Saint Paul, mosaic, Bible
Mosaic of St. Paul, Ravenna, Italy (ca. 800 A.D.)

Proverbs 18:1-2 (ESV)

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.

Blue Latin Cross

2 Timothy 3:1-5, 3:14-17, 4:2-7 (ESV)

Overview of the New Testament: The Epistles
11. Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

         *         *         *

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

         *         *         *

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Notes on the Scripture

Overview of the New Testament: The Epistles
11. Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy

2 Timothy is only four chapters long, but proof that great things come in small packages. From it, we get rare tidbits of information about Paul; for it is a prison epistle written at the end of his career. There are several non-Biblical sources of information about Paul's life after the end of Acts and 2 Timothy, but we have no way to gauge their reliability.

Paul recites in it that he has had his “first defense”, and his case had not yet been decided, but the last paragraph of today's Scripture shows that he is preparing for the possibility of death.

Holy Bible

Aside from the references to his own life and personal notes, many gems of Paul's poetic theology are scattered throughout the epistle. It is not a well-structured essay like the church epistles, intended to be read as instructional material by groups of people, but more akin to a personal letter. In Ch. 1, Paul recites his own fate and encourages Timothy to follow him, without fear of earthly persecution, to “share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling.” (2 Tim. 1:8-9)

Chapters 2, 3, and the beginning of 4, form a single great body of personal encouragement and guidance for Timothy. The primary message is that he (and we) should concentrate his life on what is important: preaching the peace and salvation of Christ, the true central issues of Christianity, without fear of the world. Part of this involves not being distracted by the peripheral squabbles that have accompanied Christian organizations from the beginning, and are still with us: Most prominently, quarreling over silly ideas and words that are not central to salvation and Christian living.

At the end of Ch. 3, Paul hits upon a concept that will become central to keeping Christianity on the right path: the importance of Scripture as a guide. First, he affirms that Scripture is inspired by God. That is, it is God's teaching, not that of the men who wrote it down. Secondly, Paul tell us that it is “profitable”, that it will make the reader “wise”. For without it, people will find teachers “to suit their own passion” — that is, people who will tell them what they want to hear, rather than God's truth.

They will thus “wander off into myths.” Paul comes to realize, as he faces death, that when the original disciples of Christ pass away, nobody will be left with first-hand knowledge of Christian truth; and thus, the Scripture will become the unique irreproachable source of knowledge about God's plan for us, an indispensable asset to anyone who would know Christ.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

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

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