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Daily Devotion for August 27, 2014

Christians and lions in Rome: Christians last prayer in Roman arena before being fed to lions.
The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer by Jean Leon Gerome, c. 1883.



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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.


The Anabaptists, who taught that adults must be baptized even if they had been baptized as infants, were hideously persecuted in the 1700s. This Anabaptist hymn is thus especially poignant.

Song of Praise (based on Psalm 8)

O  Lord my God, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, who am I that you are mindful of me, who are any of us that you should guide and protect us?

Yet you have made us in your image, a little lower than the angels, and crowned us with glory and honor we do not deserve. You have given us dominion over the works of your hands and put the earth beneath our feet; you have given us dominion over the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea. O Lord my God, I praise you for your gifts to me. How majestic is your name in all the earth!


For Those in Distress

I  pray to you, Master, be our helper and defender. Rescue those of our number in distress; raise up the fallen; assist the needy; heal the sick; turn back those of your people who stray; feed the hungry; release our captives; revive the weak; encourage those who lose heart. Let all the nations realize that you are the only God, that Jesus Christ is your Child, and that we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.



[Encourage those who lose heart.]

Parting Prayer

Oh Lord as I face creation
Let me see with eyes made clear
By Your promise of salvation,
Never to return to fear.


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.

Telemachus stops the gladiator
A monk named Telemachus (Saint Telemachus), moments before he is killed for protesting Roman gladiatorial games.


Doubt sees the obstacles,
Faith sees the way.

Doubt sees the darkest night,
Faith sees the day.

Doubt dreads to take a step,
Faith soars on high.

Doubt questions, “Who believes?”
Faith answers, “I”.

Blue Latin Cross

Colossians 1:15-23 (ESV)

The Preeminence of Christ

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Notes on the Scripture

There is a television series on the History Channel (actually “H2”, a subsidiary) called Roman Vice, which documents the degeneracy of Rome during the time of the early emperors, from Tiberius through Nero.

Rome's moral code was hardly vigorous to begin with. Every form of vice was accepted and commonplace. Torture, slavery, slaughter, adultery, monumental vanity in clothing and jewelry, and gambling were considered normal. Tiberius kept a stable of little boys, called his “Minnows”. The one great sport was to gather in huge arenas (the Circus Maximus held 250,000 people) to watch men do violence to one another.

If you see something familiar in this, you aren't alone; contemporary trends to acceptance of fornication, homosexual conduct, and pornography will have consequences to secular society unforeseen by people who see it as some sort of human “liberation”. I'll stop my description there because, although it is tempting to talk about how Western morals have moved continually in a direction towards ancient Rome over the past century, the really interesting part of the show came after Rome burned and Nero needed a scapegoat to blame for it. The show described Christians as they were perceived by Nero.

To the Romans, Christians were outright weirdos. They gathered in secret and kept to themselves. They eschewed what Romans considered the normal pleasures of life. They worshipped, as their only god, a petty working-class criminal who had been executed in a distant province some years earlier, and claimed he had come back to life. They had dinners where they ate this criminal's flesh and drank his blood. They had even been known to interrupt gladiatorial games, bizarrely claiming that a defeated gladiator should not be killed, for some unknown reason.

And so, Nero picked them to persecute, for they were even nice enough not to even fight back. He rounded them up and slaughtered them in various gruesome ways. And yes, he sometimes fed them to lions in the arena.

How, then, could Christianity have spread? It was because Nero offered to spare the lives of anyone who would recant his belief in Christ, but many chose death. This really impressed a lot of Romans. How could this Jesus be so powerful that people would die rather than forswear their allegiance to him?

If you see a faded version of Roman morals in modern society, there is also a faded version of Roman persecution. Sin is powerful, and those trapped in its clutches lash out in hostility towards Christian morals, which declare that the conduct is evil.

But the answer to such hostility is now as it was then: faith, hope, and love. By continuing steadfast in the faith, we are the means by which Christ will call people to His joy and salvation.

endless knot

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1 John 1:7: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

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