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Monday, October 24, 2016

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Daily Devotion for April 16, 2013

art nouveau angel praying
Angel praying, art nouveau illustration by Richard Lauda, c. 1904.
(The text read, "Peace on earth, good will to men.")



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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 for the Morning

Dear Lord, please give me the patience to make it through this busy day with all the hustle, demands and distractions of modern life. Let me find the quiet time to hear your voice and feel your calming presence. I ask this in your son's name.


Prayers for Those Torn by Alcohol and Drugs

I  pray, O God of hope, for all persons and families whose lives are torn and disrupted by drugs and alcohol. Enable them to identify the illness. Strengthen them to seek help. Bless them with the power of your love, which imparts transformation and wholeness to those who trust in your name. Grant that as they walk this tortured road, they may journey together, bound close together in the bond of love. Shine your light upon them, Lord Christ, that they may see the path out of their misery, and give them the strength to follow it.



Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.


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

Devotional stained glass, Ruth and Miriam, St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
Ruth and Miriam, St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh

Psalm 43:1-4 (NKJV)

Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!

For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.

Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 20:7 (NKJV)

The Third Commandment

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Notes on the Scripture

This is one place where older translations serve us badly. Who knows what "in vain" means? It is not a term we use or understand today. The Voice does a good job of translating this imprecisely, but in a way that gives us the full impact: " You are not to use My name for your own idle purposes, for the Eternal will punish anyone who treats His name as anything less than sacred."

There is, in every language, words or expressions that are considered coarse, vulgar, unmentionable in polite speech; they are reserved for sailors and criminals. (And, it seems, college students.) But this is just a means of distinguishing class. It's basically a socioeconomic device.

Abusing God's name — blasphemy — is an entirely different matter. If we believe in God and fear Him, we do not speak His name idly. Of course, we no longer use the "name" of God the Father at all: we simply refer to Him as "God" or "the Lord". But idle use of this term is covered by the injunction of the commandment.

A word representing God is a symbol. Think of it as a statue; it signifies God Himself. It's proper use is only to address the deity or to discuss, to teach and learn, about Him.

swearing an oath on the Bible

What practices does this proscribe? First, certainly, the use of God as part of a curse. We don't want to say "Holy Jesus!" as an indication of shock, or "Goddamn you" as a light curse. Do we really expect that God is going to take our wishes into account when He decides the eternal fate of another person's soul? No. What these expressions do is to cheapen the name of God. We might say "I'll kill you if you take my cookie," and we know it is a joke, because the person does not fear that we will kill him. But do we live in fear of God? Or is eternal life, and the possibility of eternal judgment, a joke?

But there is a use of God's name even more serious, and that is using God's name to assist in fraud: that is, swearing a false oath and invoking God to strengthen the fraud. God has never offered to act as the guarantor of our truthfulness.

Christ taught us that we should not swear an oath at all, much less using God's name, for we do not have dominion over God to make Him our guarantor. (Matthew 5:33-37) To swear an oath at all is a presumption that we have dominion over that which we swear upon. If we swear an oath on God's name, we arrogate God's righteousness to ourselves, which is an enormous sin of pride. We do not somehow magically become righteous in our lives by Christ's mercy; rather, we are made righteous by forgiveness. Shall we presume to have God's righteousness in what we say?

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 22:37-40: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

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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