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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Daily Devotion for November 20, 2012

Solomon and Sheba, painting by Poynter
The personification of wisdom, King Solomon, in The Visit of the Queen of Sheba by Edward John Poynter, c. 1890.



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lessons and scripture

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 of Thanks

Heavenly Father, I thank you for my life and everything you have bestowed upon me and upon all people, this day and every day. I thank you for the good and bad, the understanding of forgiveness, and your holy power, without which we would have nothing. I thank you this day for all your blessings, your gifts, your never ending love for us.

Although we all are sinners, I ask you to forgive me every day for what I might have done wrong, that I might not have noticed. Even though we all come short of the glory of God, I thank you for the sacrifice of your only son Jesus Christ for all our sins. You and only you know us Father and you know if our hearts are true. So once again, I thank you with all my heart and soul. In the name of Christ I pray,


Prayer for the Holy Spirit's Guidance

Gracious God,
Send your Holy Spirit to deepen my worship life.
Open my heart to the gifts and cultures which surround my church.
Open my heart to the people who are different from me.
In Jesus' name, I pray.



Now the God of patience and consolation grant to me, and to all who pray in the name of Christ, to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

Quod es veritas (what is truth), painting of Jesus and Pilate, Nikolai Ge c. 1890
Quod es veritas? ("What is Truth?") Pilate poses a philosophical question to Christ. Painting by Nikolai Ge, c. 1890

Psalm 94:7-10

They say, "The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed."

Take heed, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise?

Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?

Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?

Blue Latin Cross

Wisdom 7:15-22

Human Knowledge

May God grant me to speak with judgment, and to have thoughts worthy of what I have received;
for he is the guide even of wisdom
and the corrector of the wise.

For both we and our words are in his hand,
as are all understanding and skill in crafts.

For it is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists,
to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements;
the beginning and end and middle of times,
the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons,
the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars,
the natures of animals and the tempers of wild animals,
the powers of spirits and the thoughts of human beings,
the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots;

I learned both what is secret and what is manifest,
for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.

There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy,
unique, manifold, subtle,
mobile, clear, unpolluted,
distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen,

Notes on the Scripture

The Book of Wisdom is part of the Apocrypha, a collection of 14 books written before the time of Christ but which have been separated from the Old Testament. The authority of the Apocrypha is controversial, and different denominations have different views about it.

The Catholic and Orthodox churches accept the Apocrypha as part of the divinely-inspired Bible; that is, they consider it Scripture in the full sense. Protestant churches generally accept the Apocrypha as acceptable religious reading, but do not consider it "canonical", that is, inspired by God, to be read as part of His holy Word. Certainly the early radical protestant leaders, such as Calvin, Luther and Zwingli were comfortable with the books being included in the Bible. In fact, the Apocrypha was included as part of all Bibles before the 1880's.

It should not be confused with the scores of mystical books which pretend to be secret, lost, or suppressed accounts of God's interaction with humanity, false and even evil inventions which undermine the Bible. Many of these are pseudepigraphical, a ten-dollar word that means a forgery pretending to have been written by somebody of significance. The Jews have their Kaballah and we have our Gnostic Gospels, as two notable examples.

The Apocrypha has never been so much rejected as simply ignored and slowly forgotten. Given the decline in reading the core canonical books of the Bible, it is hardly remarkable that few people read the Apocrypha. And it is our loss, for it is full of interesting and valuable religious and historical instruction.

The books of the Apocrypha are not a cohesive work; they are very different from one another. What they share is that they were written before the birth of Christ but were not written in Hebrew, and do not claim to be the Word of God. Some of them contain valuable history (such as 1 and 2 Maccabees); some of them are astonishingly beautiful religious poetry (such as Ecclesiasticus); some of them are generally considered fictional and should be read as one would read, say, "Amahl and the Night Visitors".

Today's reading is a perfect example of the value to be found in the Apocrypha. It develops a theme not treated in the Old or New Testaments, which might be helpful to many Christians: God gave us our intelligence to understand science and history. And it is Wisdom, "the fashioner of all things," which teaches us the difference between science — the "manifest" — and the spiritual, or "secret".

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

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John 14:23-24: Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

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