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Daily Devotion for January 13, 2015


<i>In the Church</i></div> by Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky, ca. 1898.
In the Church by Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky, ca. 1898.

Prayers

Scripture

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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.

Amen.




“St. Patrick's Breastplate”

I  rise today with the power of God to pilot me,
God's strength to sustain me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look ahead for me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to protect me,
God's way before me,
God's shield to defend me,
God's host to deliver me,
from snares of devils,
from evil temptations,
from nature's failings,
from all who wish to harm me,
far or near,
alone and in a crowd.

Amen.

Prayer to Be Filled with Christ’s Love (from Ephesians 14)

Heavenly Father, when I think of the wonder of your great plan for our salvation, I fall on my knees before you, who has named every name in heaven or on earth, and I pray that out of your richness of your glory, you will strengthen me in my inner being with your Spirit, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I may be rooted and grounded in love, that I may have strength to comprehend with all the saints the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ Jesus, the love that surpasses knowledge, and be filled with the fullness that only you can give. In the name of Christ, I pray,

Amen.

Meditation

[Being rooted in love.]


Doxology

Now to him who is able to keep us from stumbling and to present ourselves blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.

Amen.

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 Temptation of Christ (detail)</i> by Duccio, ca. 1310.
The Temptation of Christ (detail) by Duccio, ca. 1310. The first inklings of Renaissance painting can be seen in Duccio's work, some of which dates to the 1200s.

Psalm 52:6-7 (NKJV)

The righteous also shall see and fear,
And shall laugh at him, saying,

“Here is the man who did not make God his strength,
But trusted in the abundance of his riches,
And strengthened himself in his wickedness.”


Blue Latin Cross

1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 (DP)

Prepare for The Day of the Lord

It is pointless to speculate about when the Day of the Lord will come — It could come tomorrow or a thousand years from now. But there is one thing for certain: nobody will expect it. It will come as abruptly as labor comes to a pregnant woman, and as unexpected as a thief in the night. While people are talking about how much peace and security they have, it will fall upon them.

So ask yourself: Who does a thief take by surprise? Those who are in darkness. And who lives in darkness? The very children of darkness, those who drink the wine of night and sleep in drunken stupor – it is they who will be caught unprepared. They will have no chance of escaping God’s wrath.

But we are children of light, standing in the sunshine of our Lord. God has not destined us to suffer His wrath, but to attain salvation through Christ Jesus. Christ died for us, the living and the dead, that we might live with Him for eternity. So stand always in the daylight of Christ, sober and alert, wearing your faith and love like a suit of armor, and the hope of your salvation like a helmet.

(For our Literal Bible version, see yesterday's Devotion or DP Parallel Bible (3-Column) - 1 Thess. 5.)


Notes on the Scripture

Although we had a basic discussion of this text yesterday, there is a point here about Paul and Christian ethics that is difficult to express, but rather important. Unlike the Old Testament law, neither Paul nor Jesus ever propounded a comprehensive set of ethical or moral rules to live by. Christ sought to change our hearts; then, from the love for God and our neighbor that this change wrought, and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, moral conduct should flow naturally.

Yet, the points at which Christ (or Paul) presents a specific example give us a touchstone, a guidepost. If we reject these example, we can tell we have wandered off the path. They are like lighthouses. If we find we are not doing or following one of these teachings, it warns us that we are sailing into the rocks and need to change our heading.

Monkeys battling snails from Illuminated Hymnal

Drunkenness is a good example. Neither Paul nor Christ calls drunkenness a “sinPaul does say that Christian ministers should not be given to drunkenness.”. But do you think the lifestyle of an alcohol inebriate is the product of the Holy Spirit? Of course it isn't. While Paul does not say “don't get drunk” in this passage, does he really need to?

Paul tells us we must be alert. Otherwise — if we relax our faith — we drift into sin as surely as an untended garden sprouts weeds. It is our natural inclination. That is the direct message of today's Scripture. But there is also a secondary message, to be moderate in our personal lives, for how else can we remain alert?

Paul drank wine, and so did Christ. In fact, Paul recommended it. (1 Timothy 5:23) But the effects of excessive alcohol on self-discipline and behavior are known to all.

Tomorrow or a Thousand Years

Looking at the excerpt as a whole, the modern reader will hear the message in a slightly different way than did the original recipients. Paul depicts living in the Spirit as a means to be ready for a Judgment Day which might come at any time, to the dismay and destruction of the unprepared. But since 2,000 years have passed, and Christ has not yet returned, few of us look for the event tomorrow, or next week, or even during our lifetime.

Instead, we see a lifetime of faithful living as a goal in and of itself, rather than a means to be prepared for the imminent return of Christ. We see ever-increasing faith, growth, and continuing obedience to Christ's teachings as a result of salvation, a gift of the Holy Spirit. We try to live as God wants us to live, because of love for Christ, rather than fear of punishment.

But there is still truth in Paul's advice, “Be prepared.” We might die at any moment; death may come when we least expect it. Few people expect to die on the morning of their last day. So, in this sense, we do need to prepare ourselves for judgment. If we are judged by the state in which we die, our death might as well be the last day of earth, as far as we personally are concerned.



endless knot

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“Eternity”

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Hebrews 10:25: We must not forsake our meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another . . . .



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