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If we are reading straight through a Bible book (currently Matthew), we take days off (usually Wednesdays and Sundays) for a more general Christian message.

Daily Devotion for May 18, 2016

<i>Triumph of Faith</i> by  Eugene Romain Thirion, ca. 1880.
Triumph of Faith by Eugene Romain Thirion, ca. 1880.



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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.


Prayer for the Day

Mighty Father God, I thank You for this day — that it even exists, and especially, that I can live in it, that I can know it through the sense you gave me and breathe the air you have made. Your bounty and goodness to me is beyond understanding. I worship and praise you above all things, because you are above all things. Your hand has made them and your love has forgiven me and blessed me.

Keep me and those I love from danger, sickness, accident this day, I pray. Help me to turn my back on evil in all of its myriad forms, to turn aside from the temptation that besets me from within myself and from my reaction to the world outside. Broaden my mind and give me the gift of hearing truth even when I do not want to hear it, when a false thought is embedded in my mind and the truth disagrees with my preconceptions.

Fill me with gratitude. Give me the courage to change the things that are contrary to your Word, even when they are ingrained and it is painful for me to give them up. Let me realize my sin and give me the grace to repent it and seek your forgiveness. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior,


To Cast Off the World

Give me thy grace, good Lord:
To set the world at nought;
To set my mind fast upon thee,
And not to hang upon the blast of men's mouths;
To be content to be solitary,
Not to long for the world's company;
Little and little to utterly cast off the world,
And rid my mind of all the business thereof.


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.

Jesus crucifixion street art
Crucifixion, by an anonymous street artist.

Psalm 90:15-17 (NKJV)

Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.

Blue Latin Cross

John 16:3 (ESV)

“You will have suffering in this world.”

Notes on the Scripture

One of the most difficult passages in the Bible to understand and accept is Romans 5, when Paul says, “[W]e rejoice in our sufferings . . . because God's love has been poured into our hearts.”

The old saw says that the only things certain in life are death and taxes, but I am waving my hand at the back of the classroom, to put suffering ahead of taxes. If you get stranded on a desert island, you might never pay taxes again. It’s not impossible. There have got to be people in the Amazon Basin and New Guinea who pay no taxes.

For that matter, suffering is more certain than death. The best we can tell from the Bible, at least two people never died: Enoch and Elijah, both of whom were apparently taken up directly by God, still breathing. But I bet they suffered. How long does it take a (healthy) newborn baby to start screaming bloody murder?


ven worse, Christ imposed upon us a duty to suffer. Christians are commanded to suffer more, in many circumstances, than the godless. This is not a popular sentiment among preachers; the people sitting in the pews — us — don't want to hear how we are supposed to suffer. We want to hear that Christ suffered, to feel awed and to be deeply affected that His suffering made forgiveness of our sins possible. Then we head out to Denny’s for a Grand Slam. Who can blame us?

But what exactly should we think Christ meant when He told us, “Take up your cross and follow me”? He wasn't talking about a pretty silver cross to wear around one’s neck. He wasn’t telling us to follow Him to the Last Supper and then go about our own business. He was telling us to join Him on the road to Calvary.

“Gospel” means “good news”, and this doesn’t sound like good news. There is, of course, very good news to follow: the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life. But there is a smaller item of good news that we often overlook; no matter how much we suffer, if we are walking up the road to Calvary, Christ is walking with us. All we have to do is give our pain to Him.

It causes us unnecessary grief, to think that we should not be suffering, when we are in pain. The pain is bad enough. Illness, divorce, betrayal, grief, injuries, disappointment, heartache, crime and death are real and they are awful. But do you know how to make them even worse? Just think, “This is not supposed to happen to me.” Believe that you are entitled to be free of adversity. Envy those who are younger, richer, healthier. Fill yourself with anger at your misfortune. Turn your back on Calvary and try to outrun the human condition.

If instead, we know Christ and do as He commanded, facing our tribulation in the fullness of faith, our envy and anger and entitlement fade away, and we take our suffering in stride. Our pain diminishes. For with true faith, the joy of Christ is greater than the worst the world can inflict upon us.

No illustration could be more explicit than the account of Stephen’s death, especially his death scene in Acts 7:54-60. I hope none of us will suffer as he did; yet, even at the moment he died his gruesome death, he did not bemoan his ordeal. It is here that the Bible gives us, the common people, the nameless saints of Christ’s holy church, a model for how joy may overcome the pain of even the worst suffering. For as his body was being crushed by stones, he lifted his eyes to Christ and begged forgiveness for those in the process of cruelly murdering him.

“And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

endless knot

Daily Inspiration

“Eternal Life”

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Memory Verse

Matthew 5:17: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

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“The mind of God is greater than all the minds of men, so let all men leave the gospel just as God has delivered it unto us.” ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon


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