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Daily Devotion for January 8, 2015

<i>The Last Judgment</i> by Michelangelo (detail), ca. 1541.
The Last Judgment by Michelangelo (detail), ca. 1541.



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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.


Morning Praise

Blessed are you, Lord God: Blessed are you for ever. Holy is your name: Blessed are you for ever. Great is your mercy for your people. In the morning I cry out to you: Blessed are you for ever.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I praise you and give you glory: I bless you for calling me to be one of your holy people. Remain in my heart, and guide me in my love and service all of this day. Help me to shine your light before others and lead them to the way of faith. Holy Trinity of love, I praise you now and for ever.


To Help Everyone I Meet

Holy God, I pray that today the love I show to my fellow man will not be a sham, but fashioned in a sincere heart. May your Holy Spirit be powerful in me, blinding me to annoyances and putting aside selfish greed, so that I may lift up the people I meet, showing them warm affection and leaving them filled with good spirits and confidence. If they are sorrowful, lead me to console them. If they are lost, let me show them the path. Help me always to seek after good rather than evil, and to display, for the whole world to see, the miracle you have worked in my soul.

In the name of Christ, who was always ready to teach and heal and save, I pray,



[The greatness of God's mercy.]

Prayer of Penitence

Almighty God, who does freely pardon all who repent and turn to Him, now fulfill in my contrite heart the promise of redeeming grace; forgiving all my sins, and cleansing me from an evil conscience; through the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus our Lord. And turn my heart to your will at every moment, I pray.


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.

<i>The Recording Angels</i> by Sidney Harold Meteyard, ca. 1910.
The Recording Angels by Sidney Harold Meteyard, ca. 1910.

Matthew 24:30-31 (ESV)

“Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Blue Latin Cross

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (DP)

The Trumpet Will Sound

15 This we tell you as the Word of the Lord, that when the Lord comes, we the living who have been left behind to await Him, will certainly not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. 16 The Lord Himself, with a great cry in the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God, will descend from Heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise up first. 17 Then those of us who remain, still alive, will be taken up into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, together with them; and thus we will be with the Lord forever.

18 So, comfort one another in this knowledge.


15 For this to you we say as word of lord, that we the being-left-behind living in the coming of the lord not not8Idiom, definitely not, an emphatic negative. will precede the having-gone-to-sleep;

16 because himself the lord with 9Or at. cry of command, in voice of archangel and in trumpet of god, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise up first,

17 then we the being-left-behind living together with them will be snatched up in clouds to meeting 10Meeting is a true noun, “act of meeting with”. of the lord in air; and thus forever with lord we will be.

18 Therefore comfort one another in the words these.



v15 - 8 Idiom, definitely not, an emphatic negative.
v16 - 9 Or at.
v17 – 10 meeting is a noun, “act of meeting with”.

DP Parallel Bible (3-Column) - 1 Thess. 4

Notes on the Scripture

Some critics of Christianity, especially the grotesque atheist “professors of religion” in universities, claim that Paul knew nothing about the life or teachings of Jesus and had a theology divorced from, and often contradictory to, the teachings of Christ. We will, during the course of studying Paul's epistles, examine this issue closely. And we will start today: For here, in the very first letter Paul wrote, we see evidence to the contrary. Somehow, the details Paul gives of the Second Coming in 1 Thessalonians are remarkably consistent with the words of Christ, which were reported independently by Matthew some years later.

As one can see immediately from comparing Matthew 24 and 1 Thess. 4, Paul and Christ are talking (somehow) about the same event. They seem to share the same knowledge of how the Second Coming will occur. They are discussing different topics, but the incidental information given by Paul in this letter is either a remarkable coincidence in its overlap with Matthew, or else it is evidence of Paul's direct spiritual revelation. (The Gospel of Matthew had not yet been written.)

Atheist scholars — and when we hear the term “the historical Jesus”, we know we are listening to one of these fools — try to show that Paul could not have read a gospel before he began preaching, by tracing missing documents and making up dates and creating scenarios. But, since their spirits are dead, they cannot face the actual truth: Paul received information first-hand, from Christ Himself. Christ's “direct revelation” to Paul is recounted in Acts 9 and throughout Paul's epistles.

Paul's focus is on an issue that is not addressed in the Gospels we have — specific facts about how the dead and living will be raised — so his overlap with Matthew is incidental. His purpose is to comfort to the Thessalonians about God's love for those who had died. As discussed yesterday, when Paul and his companions were run out of Macedonia, the young Thessalonian Christians were left without any writings or a knowledgeable teacher to answer their questions or give them guidance. Because they expected Christ to return any day, and sweep them up while they were alive, they became most concerned about those who died. This section of 1 Thessalonians informed them and comforted them.

Paul's words live on today. One might take this completely literally, or give some room for metaphorical understanding of an event we cannot grasp, such as whether there will be actual trumpets or instead a great sound similar to a trumpet.

But it is critical to Christian faith that we draw strict limits on understanding any Biblical passage as metaphorical. The Greek philosophers understood the accounts of their gods as metaphor and myth; and much of modern theology has headed down the same logical cul-de-sac.

Not Paul! His writings gave us the literal Word of God, which is at its basis concrete truth, not metaphor and certainly not myth. If any part of the Bible seems foolish, it is because it is supposed to: we receive our salvation by faith, not logic. As Paul will write later:

“‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”

(1 Corinthians 1:18-24)

endless knot

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2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

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