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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 July 16, 2014

<i>Saint Sebastian being Tended by Saintly Women</i>, Gustav Moreau ca. 1869.
Saint Sebastian being Tended by Saintly Women, Gustav Moreau ca. 1869.



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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.


An introduction about adoption adds a dimension to this song by Third Day.

Prayer for Personal Conduct (from 1 Timothy)

Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy: Above reproach. May I be this day temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, and not violent, but gentle. May I never be quarrelsome, always seeking peace even in disagreement, and may my love be for you and my fellow man, not for money. I pray that I manage my own household well. If I have any children in my charge, I pray to that I may take the time to see that they are in control and behaving with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. This I pray through my Lord Christ, whose love and attention ever gave us an example of conduct,


Confession and Repentance

Almighty and most merciful Father, I have erred and strayed from Your ways like a lost sheep. I have followed too much the devices and desires of my own heart. I have offended against Your holy laws. I have left undone those things which I ought to have done; and I have done those things which I ought not to have done; and there is nothing good in me. O Lord, have mercy upon me, miserable offender. Spare those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore those who are penitent; according to Your promises declared unto men in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant that I may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life; to the glory of His name.


Prayer to Inspire Others

Lord, I ask you to inspire me to encourage others by what I say and do today. God and Father of all people, never let me look down on others or make anyone feel inferior.

Lord, show me how to live today with genuine concern for others. In expressing my care, may I show people that they are valued, loved and appreciated for who they are.



[Inspiring others by my acts.]


Lord, in utter humility I thank you and glorify you, that you might hear the prayer of one so small as myself, amidst the billions of souls among billions of stars in one of billions of galaxies in your universe. Let me go forth in your peace, keeping your Spirit always in my mind; and bless me, I pray, that I might always follow your will and live in the radiance of your blessing.


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

Cheap Grace

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Blue Latin Cross

Luke 9:1-6, 23-25 (ESV)

Take Up Your Cross

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

         *         *         *

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses himself?”

Notes on the Scripture

We have talked in the past about parts of the Bible that people don't want to hear. We sometimes simply do not absorb what we read or hear; or we develop a carefully-constructed reason why a passage means something other than its clear, unambiguous meaning. People read the Bible with a black magic marker in hand, mentally marking out the parts they don't like.

Different people have different parts they want to ignore or eliminate: Gay people want to change the parts about the sinfulness of homosexuality; people invested in some political party or cause want to ignore the admonitions against politics and worldliness; young single men and women, the warnings against fornication; Christian leaders, the blandishments against pride. The list is long.

But today, we have a teaching that almost everybody ignores. It bounces off our minds like rain off rubber. With apologies for sounding cynical, if there is one thing that unifies Christianity, it is the universal determination to not absorb the full meaning of “let him deny himself and take up his cross.”

When Christ tells us to take up our cross, He means that we be willing to die. He means that we be willing to give up our home, our family, our opinions, and the resources of the physical world beyond the minimum necessary to sustain life. “To be perfect,” He tells the rich young man, “sell what you have and give to the poor, . . . and come, follow Me.”

Everyone agrees that the Christian aims to emulate Christ. What, then, is our target lifestyle? We get solid direction in His instructions to the disciples. Note that this does not include only the twelve apostles; His instructions to the 72 (or 70) disciples are practically identical. (Luke 10:1-12)

Jesus himself was homeless: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58) He denied his mother and brothers, and claimed as his family those who believe in him. He took no part in politics. He allowed himself to be arrested on false charges without resistance, to be subjected to an illegal trial, torture, and execution.

Is owning a house or renting an apartment a sin? Having a spouse? Owning two sets of clothes? Apparently not, at least not per se. As we read through the entirety of the New Testament, there appears a wide area of lifestyle between sharply prohibited conduct and perfect obedience to Christ. Most churches and Christian teachers seem to seize upon some “minimum possible standard” for salvation. But we cannot just ignore Christ's crystal-clear teachings of what He wants from us, just because we think we can be saved without adhering to them.

Growth in Christ means understanding what He wants for us, admitting it, and then moving towards it. What we must seek is sufficient faith to actually pick up our cross. We might not achieve it; but by no means may we ignore it.

<i>Adam and Eve Expelled</i> by Pierre le Mangeur, illustrated Bible ca. 1350.
Adam and Eve Expelled by Pierre le Mangeur, illustrated Bible ca. 1350.

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Galatians 5:26 (J.B. Phillips NT): Let us not be ambitious for our own reputations, for that only means making each other jealous.

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