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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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Daily Devotion for April 18, 2013

<i>Going to Church</i> by William H. Johnson, ca. 1939
Going to Church by William H. Johnson, ca. 1939. Johnson was a remarkably talented primitive artist, whose difficult life bears some resemblance to Van Gogh’s. (See full-size)



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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

Heavenly Father, I do not fear this day, for you are with me wherever I might go, your light to shine ahead, your footsteps to lead the way. I do not fear this day, for your word will be my guide. Your strength will sustain me and your love revive me, this day and all days. I do not fear this day, for you are with me. In the name of Christ, I call upon you.


Prayer to Resist Temptation

Holy God, You know the temptations that I am facing today. But your Word promises that I will not be tempted beyond what I can bear.

Help me, heavenly Father, to stand up against sin, to resist whatever temptation I may encounter this day, in whatever form it may come. Your Word promises that you will provide a way out of any temptation, and I pray to be able to find it and to have the wisdom to use it, and to walk away when temptation arises. All thanks be to you, O Lord, for you are a faithful deliverer; and I can count on your help in my time of need.



Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.


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

Devotional painting by Brownscombe, First Thanksgiving
Detail from The First Thanksgivingby Brownscombe, c. 1914.

"Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand."

~ Mark Twain

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 20:8-11 (The Voice)

The Fourth Directive (Commandment)
Eternal One:

You and your family are to remember the Sabbath Day; set it apart, and keep it holy. You have six days to do all your work, but the seventh day is to be different; it is the Sabbath of the Eternal your God. Keep it holy by not doing any work — not you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, or any outsiders living among you.

For the Eternal made the heavens above, the earth below, the seas, and all the creatures in them in six days. Then, on the seventh day, He rested. That is why He blessed the Sabbath Day and made it sacred.

Notes on the Scripture

The Voice

The Voice, published in 2011-2012, is one of the more successful new translations meant to present the Bible in modern vernacular, to make it more accessible to the 21st century reader. It emphasizes the storytelling aspect of the Bible. Perhaps its oddest formatting choice is that dialogue is punctuated as if it is a screenplay. Thus, today's passage has the name of the character (God, whom The Voice calls "Eternal One" in this passage) followed by a colon, and then the quote without quotation marks. It also calls the commandments "directives"; this may not be a great choice of words, but actually, neither was "commandments".

The Sabbath

Since we have just had long discussions about keeping the Sabbath (see March 18, March 21), we don't need to cover the same ground here. Suffice it to say, few of us make even a really good-faith effort to follow the spirit of this "directive". We allow secular society undermine our obedience to God; it is the path of least resistance. Are we out of milk? I'll just run to the store real quick.

We have a very different attitude about, say, committing murder. And yet, the commandment to keep the Sabbath came before the commandment not to kill or steal or commit adultery; and not just higher up in the Ten Commandments. God imposed the obligation on the Israelites by force, long before they reached Mount Sinai. Exodus 16:22-30 We might well conclude that God's priorities are different than those of the secular society we live in; who knows God's mind? He might take as much umbrage at a person going into the office on Sunday as He does at a person committing murder. The idea sounds as shocking and unlikely to me as it does to you; but at the very least, we must realize that the commandment is written in clear and unambiguous language, repeatedly, throughout the Bible. God means us to take it seriously.

The Hebrews certainly followed the commandment with extreme particularity (and some still do). It is our chance to show God that we sincerely love Him "with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind." Do we love God more than our lawn? Then why do we mow the grass on Sunday? Do we love God more than our car? Then why do we wash our car on Sunday?

Right now, while the subject is fresh in our mind, is a good chance to make a resolution on this subject. Am I going to live in faith, or am I going to live in convenience? For when we begin to refuse to do things on Sunday (or the Sabbath, either one will do) that conflict with this very central commandment from God, we cannot help but increase our life in the Spirit.

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