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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Daily Devotion for April 27, 2013

Joshua altar uncut stone
A very early Hebrew altar uncovered on the West Bank, believed to be the altar built by Joshua
at Moses’ direction.



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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.


For a Sense of Wonder at God's Creation

Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Delight me to see how your Christ plays in ten thousand places, in limbs and eyes not His, to be the father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.


For Each of Us in Our Work

Almighty God, heavenly Father, who makes it possible for me to work and who gives every creature its food, declaring your glory and showing your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver me, I pray, in my work, from coveting material goods, from falling into the temptation of serving mammon and putting money in the forefront of my life. Help me to perform the work which you have put at my hand, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as your servant, and to the benefit of my fellow men as well as myself; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lived and died only to serve us.



May I go in peace, with God and with his other children, and may we love one another as Christ taught us. May I follow the example of good men of old, and may God comfort and help me and all who believe in Him, both in this world and in the world which is to come.


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

Illuminated Bible, Gospel
Evangelarium from the Lindisfarne Gospels, created around 700 A.D. at the island monastary of Lindasfarne, off the northeast coast of England.

Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.

~ Margaret Stunt

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 20:22-26 (ESV)

How to Worship

And the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have talked with you from heaven. You shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold. An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen.

In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.

If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it. And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.’”

Notes on the Scripture

The repetition or elaboration on the second commandment seems to clarify it some. There was a huge historical debate about depicting people, saints, God, and even the cross in churches; wars were fought and people killed over this question. Catholic and Orthodox worshippers, at one extreme, worship in front of paintings and statues of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and various saints.

Amish Church
An Amish church.

At the opposite extreme, very "protestant" Protestants, such as Anabaptists and Puritans, refuse to have any physical representation of a person or God in church. No stained glass windows, and often not even a cross on the wall; their worship is to the invisible God.

One cannot fault a congregation which doesn't have any paintings or statues; there is surely nothing in the Bible that says "put a cross on an altar and depict Christ's life in stained glass windows." On the other hand, the meaning of the second commandment, taken along with today's verses (and other verses), seem to show that such depictions fall outside the intended prohibition of "graven images".

The ancient Jews (and Orthodox Jews today) would have sided with the Puritans on this; they were and remain very strict about not having paintings or statues of any person in their temples and synagogues. But the primary prohibition intended by the stricture is to prevent syncretism (adding other gods) and polytheism (worship of multiple gods). An idol worshipper believes that the idol itself magical, that is contains a special spiritual pathway to the god being worshipped.

But the main point is to suppress worship of unrelated heathen gods, figments of mythological imagination separate from Yahweh Himself.

The first form of worship defined by God is also interesting. He wants an altar of stones piled in the desert which have not even been cut into rectangles, so that it will not be profaned by the tools used to cut it; and, He demands that it sit at ground level so that the people — possibly sitting, kneeling, or prostrate — won't be able to see up the priests' garments!

This passage is interesting in its insistence on extreme primitivism in worship. Nobody worships like this today. In the coming verses and books, God will require the building of a fairly nice temple (with minutely detailed specifications), so even the most Orthodox Jews do not pile rocks in a field and kill sheep and goats to burn upon it.

We do continue, however, to sacrifice in our worship services. The communion service, which is followed in some fashion by almost every Christian sect, recreates the sacrifice of flesh and blood made by Christ. So, as strange as the rituals of the Pentateuch may sound to us today, we retain a direct connection to them in modern worship.

endless knot

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Memory Verse

Proverbs 20:3: It is an honor for a man to cease from strife,
Since any fool can start a quarrel.

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