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St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

The Blessing Right Outside Your DoorstepBy: Noelle Kirchner

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1-2

It had been a particularly rough morning getting my children into the car for school. My middle son had been dawdling all morning, oblivious to the time. My older son had been frantically hunting things down for school that weren’t packed the night before. Plus, I woke the baby out of a dreamy sleep to make the drive.

When mornings go down like this, and despite my best effort they sometimes do, I try to take a deep breath as I begin my drive. Maybe I turn on the seat warmer and some relaxing music, despite the unavoidable noise coming from the backseat. Amidst the sounds of baby coos or fusses, and jokes or games of finger chopsticks between my older two boys, I feel a nudge to look up.

As I peer through my windshield, I see a flock of geese flying in a “V” across the sky. They pump their wings so effortlessly. The air around them is lit with winter hues—striking pink and orange due to the sun angle, which makes the scenery appear in high definition. It’s clear and cold and somehow glowing all around me. I can sense God, and my whole body relaxes in this beautifully orchestrated moment of peace.

That peace meets me despite the chaos around me, not in the absence of it. Nature offers the same release even to my infant. I marvel at the fact that my baby can be quite fussy, but if I walk outside, he will often calm right down. He observes the temperature difference on his skin, feels the wind against his cheek, hears a bird calling, and tracks a playful squirrel with his eyes. His little body knows the retreat and calm of nature, which we as adults can sometimes forget.

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Experiences like these make me believe that we’re hardwired by the Creator to seek him in creation. The psalmist’s words demonstrate faith in a personal and cosmic God—God is both “my help” and the Maker of heaven and earth, respectively. Through creation, God exercises both roles. Nature offers us the chance to remember and learn about him and receive his blessing and peace. Observing the work of his hands allows him to somehow pull us close.

While everyone can benefit from time spent in nature, for some this experience is vital to their intimacy with God. My husband, for instance, feels closer to God in the quiet of the rolling hills than in a crowded worship service. Maybe you do too.

Worship as a body in church is important, but worship can happen anywhere, anytime we open our hearts in reverence to the Lord. When is the last time you took a deep breath and allowed God to meet you in the quiet of the world around you? Sometimes intimacy can come as naturally as opening your eyes and receiving God’s goodness in the moment that he has handcrafted for you right outside your doorstep.

Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or none of these versions could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question.  Whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

General Order Number 3

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

@www.juneteenth.com

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former ‘masters’ – attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territories. The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.

Daily Devotional 4/15/2021

“Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”

—Matthew 6:11–12

Let’s imagine for a moment that you loaned something valuable to someone, and they ended up destroying it. If you said, “I want you to get me a brand-new one,” that would be justice.

But let’s say that you dealt with them in mercy instead. You said, “You don’t have to get me a brand-new one. I forgive you.”

Then again, let’s say that you dealt with them in grace. You wouldn’t insist they give you a new one. Rather, you’d buy them their own and then take them out for dinner, too. That’s an example of grace, which is God’s unmerited favor.

The Bible tells us, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8–9 NLT).

Why do we need God’s grace? Because we sin every day. We sin more than we think we do. In fact, the Bible says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth” (1 John 1:8 NLT).

Yes, sin is when we think a lustful thought or we lose our temper. But sin also can be when we say no to the Lord’s promptings to read His Word or pray or share the gospel with someone. It’s knowing what we should do but not doing it.

So we need God’s grace every day. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:11–12 NLT).

Just as surely as we need daily bread or provision from God, we need daily forgiveness as well. That’s where grace comes in.

Pastor Greg Laurie

What does it mean to be “blessed”?

Devotional by Greg Laurie

It isn’t about what you have; it’s about the One you know.

Greg laurie

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

—Luke 12:32

When I’m with my grandchildren, I love to do things for them. I like taking them out for ice cream or buying a little toy for each of them.

In the same way, God loves to bless us, and He wants to bless us. Isn’t that a great thing to know? Jesus said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 NKJV).

However, we throw the word blessing around a lot. We might say, “You’re such a blessing” or “Wasn’t that a blessing”? Sometimes we even use it to end a conversation that has gone too long, as in, “Okay, I’ve got to go. God bless you!”

Even our secular culture may try to hijack the word, but non-Christians really have no idea of what it means. It’s something that only the child of God can experience, because blessing is a spiritual word.

It’s worth noting that Jesus loved to bless people. Even the beautiful Beatitudes, part of His Sermon on the Mount, begin with the word blessed.

We sometimes describe these statements of Jesus as the “be happy attitudes” because another way to translate blessed is “happy,” which comes from the Greek word makários.

God wants you to be blessed and happy. In the opening chapter of Genesis, we read that God created man in His own image. And the next verse begins, “Then God blessed them . . .” (Genesis 1:28 NKJV).

This blessing that God gives to us is something He wants us to experience. It’s also independent of our circumstances.

You might be going through a time of struggle, but you still can be happy. It isn’t about where you are geographically; it’s about where you are spiritually. It isn’t about what you have; it’s about the One you know.

Daily Devotional

Today’s devotional from Proverbs 31 ministries, is a good read, and a good reminder for ALL of us.

“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!” Psalm 57:7 (ESV)

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Lysa Terkeurst

I trust God. Until I don’t.

That doesn’t feel like a very Christian thing to say. But if I don’t acknowledge this struggle, I can’t address it. And I don’t think I’m the only one.

So many of us raise our hands high as we proclaim our God is a “good, good Father,” but then we find ourselves lying in our beds at night with tear-stained pillows, facing realities that don’t feel very good at all.

It’s hard not to feel suspicious of God when our circumstances don’t seem to line up with His promises. And it’s difficult not to doubt the light of His Truth when everything around us looks dark.

Which brings us to Psalm 57 — a passage penned by David in the midst of a season when his circumstances and God’s promises appeared to be in complete and total opposition.

At this point, David had already been anointed as the future king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13) and had faithfully served King Saul. Sadly, though, Saul “rewarded” David for his service and obedience with persecution and death threats. David was left to run for his life and then hide out in a cave.

Scripture also reveals David wasn’t hiding alone. This anointed but not-yet-appointed king was leading a pretty discouraging group of men. First Samuel 22:1-2 describes these 400 men as in distress, debt-ridden and discontented. Not exactly the positive, resourceful and hopeful type of people you want to have with you during one of the darkest seasons of your life.

I wouldn’t judge David for one second if he had cried out to God in total frustration, saying, “I don’t understand any of this. I’m leading a bunch of unsettled and unstable people. We are hiding in a cave. And I’m feeling utterly defeated and completely hopeless!”

But the words he wrote in Psalm 57 are neither exclusively a psalm of lament nor a psalm of thanksgiving. David didn’t deny the darkness of his situation, but he also refused to allow his soul to get stuck in a place of despair. Instead, David chose to declare praises about the true nature and character of God. He reminded his soul of who God is — a God who fulfills His purposes (v. 2), a God who saves (v. 3), a God known for His faithfulness and steadfast love (vv. 3, 10).

Even though David’s soul was “bowed down” by his circumstances (v. 6), he allowed what he knew to be true about God to steady him. This enabled David to declare in our key verse for today: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!” (v. 7).

I love knowing the story behind this psalm. In a cave that surely felt like an end to all he hoped and dreamed, David acknowledged his distress, but he also lifted his eyes to praise God. David’s praise wasn’t in vain. It steadied his heart. And his painful circumstances weren’t wasted. God used those hardships to mature David. Yes, David had already been anointed to eventually become king. But it was in the womb of the earth where God met him and birthed in him a heart ready to lead.

Darkness was the perfect training ground for David’s destiny. And those difficult places we so desperately want to be done with can become good training ground for us as well. But we have some choices to make. Will we see this dark time as a womb or a tomb? Is it a birth of something new or the death of what we thought should be? Will we fix our eyes on the Truth of God’s goodness, or will we give in to hopelessness and despair?

Oh, friend. I know the dark places are scary. But let’s choose to believe there is purpose in every season, even the ones that don’t seem to make any sense. Let’s ask God to birth something new inside of us, allowing Him to do a work in us that will better prepare us to walk out His promises. And instead of being suspicious of Him, let’s lift up our praises to Him.

Praise may not shift our circumstances, but it will definitely begin to change our hearts. We don’t always get to choose our situations, but we can choose how we live through them.

Father God, thank You so much for reminding me I am never forsaken nor forgotten. You see me in this dark place, and You promise there is purpose here. Bring Your life and light where all hope seems lost, Lord. Show me how to live authentically today, making room for both sorrow and praise to coexist together. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.