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Daily Devotion for March 18, 2015

Jesus Cleansing the Temple
Jesus Cleansing the Temple by Carl Heinrich Bloch, ca. 1869.



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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.


For people who like “a real hymn”, this Gaither-sponsored version of Revive Us Again is straight out of an old Church of Christ - no musical instruments allowed!

Ancient Prayer of Praise

Holy is God, the Father of all;
Holy is God, whose will is accomplished by his own powers;
Holy is God, who wills to be known and is known by his own.

Holy art thou, who by Logos has constituted all existing things;
Holy art thou, of whom all nature was born as the image;
Holy art thou, whom nature has not formed;
Holy art thou, who art more mighty than all power;
Holy art thou, who art greater than all eminence;
Holy art thou, who art superior to all praises.


Prayer to Cast Aside Bad Habits

Mighty Holy Spirit, face of the one true God, help me, for I have slipped into bad habits. Something in me defies my attempts to change, and I feel compelled to do that which I do not want to do. I feel weak and ashamed, and I turn to you for help. Help me, dear God. Help me to resist this temptation. Lend me your mighty power to cast it aside.

You have graciously promised that you would not let us be tempted beyond our ability, but instead, would provide an escape for any temptation we pray to resist. Holy Spirit, show me my escape from my bad habit. Let me resolve to work on it, to pray on it, to turn it into a habit of good; for I know how you love righteous conduct, and my love for you longs to please you. Work your power to help me please you, mighty God; for I know that with your help, I can overcome any evil. In Christ's name, I pray,



[Help me not to deceive myself. (See today's Notes.)]

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>Christ with Staff</i>  by Carl Heinrich Bloch, ca. 1864.
Christ with Staff by Carl Heinrich Bloch, ca. 1864.

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

Revelation 3:14-22 (ESV)

Message to Laodicea

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”

Notes on the Scripture

The quote from Soren Kierkegaard a few weeks back brought a number of comments: “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”

His insight connects directly to the angel's letter to the Church of Laodicea. For those who have not studied Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3 concern seven letters dictated by Christ (through an angel) to seven churches, each of them an actual church of the time (80-100 A.D.).

Many commentators claim that these seven letters correspond to seven ages of the church, ages the world would live through prior to the return of Christ. Furthermore, the first six ages have already passed. In the middle of the 20th century (roughly 1960) we moved into the final age. Christ's church on earth has become the Church of Laodicea; and one would have to say, at least as regards the Western world, it is a frighteningly accurate characterization of Christianity in the U.S. and Europe.

According to this analysis, Christ will reject those who are “lukewarm.” Translations say that He will “spit us out,” but this is a euphemism; the Greek words mean “vomit you from my mouth.”

Before we go pointing fingers at other people, we must examine ourselves; for the Christian’s first realm of responsibility is always one’s own life. Would I describe my own thoughts, words, and deeds as a boiling cauldron of love for Christ? Not hardly!


hat do lukewarm people do? They go to church once a week, sing whatever hymn is to be sung, pray the prayers, and . . . go home to watch football on television. In the words of Isaiah, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isa. 29:13).

Do we give to the church, to the poor? If we are lukewarm we do give some . . . as long as it does not affect our lifestyle too seriously. (Luke 21:1-4)

Do we hold our tongues so that people will like us better? “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26).

We do not hate our sin; we want to avoid being penalized for our sin! We want to be able to tell ourselves that we are going to heaven when we die; we are saved, we are sealed in the Spirit. What we don't want to do is change our lives.

It is easy enough to sit and write this; plenty of commentators make the observation. It is a lot harder to do something about it. So, here is a two-part proposal to at least move in the right direction:

First, honestly appreciate the enormity of the actual gulf between the conduct Christ demanded of His followers and our own lives. Which parts of the Bible do I discount for some secular reason — some theology or hermeneutic that tells us that a part of it is wrong — when in reality, I just don't like what it says?

Second, take one step closer to Christ this week, this day, this hour. Resolve to do one thing to become more like Christ, and do it! We are not going to completely bridge this gap; ultimately, God will have to help us, as He has promised to do. But we don't have to simply wring our hands; we do not have to be lukewarm about being lukewarm.

It takes time to boil a pot of water; we have to turn the stove knob to High and let the heat do its work over time. Just so, we need to turn up the Holy Spirit in our mind to High, and have faith that it (or He, if you prefer) will transform us from lukewarm to hot.

“For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:18-20).

endless knot

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Memory Verse

Isaiah 26:5: The Lord humbles those who dwell on high and lays the lofty city low; He levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust.

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