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Monday, October 24, 2016

Daily Devotion for May 6, 2013

The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci ca. 1498. One of the most famous paintings in the world, the sheer size of Da Vinci’s Last Supper shocks most people who see it in person for the first time; it is about 30 feet wide and 15 feet high.



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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 Submission

Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.


Prayer of Abandonment

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all Your creatures — I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence,
For you are my Father.



May the God of hope fill me and all of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing, so that we may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.


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

Devotional painting of
Tithe in Kind by Edward Robert Hughes, ca. 1895. This unabashed sentimentalist portrait shows a young woman bringing the first fruits of her apple orchard as an offering to a parsonage.

Proverbs 22:9 (The Message)

Generous hands are blessed hands
because they give bread to the poor.

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 34: 25-29 (ESV)

The Four Versions of the Ten Commandments [7]

“You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover remain until the morning.

The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.

You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk.”

Notes on the Scripture

Although we have gone over this several times, it might bear repeating here: In a nutshell, as Christians, we are not obligated to follow the letter of the law; but we are obligated to discern the spirit of the law and follow it.

To divide the laws of Exodus 34 into ten "commandments" — the Hebrew word used to describe them is actually "ten words" or "ten matters" — the most logical scheme (or at least, one logical scheme) is to separate these three as commandments 8, 9 and 10. These look very odd to us, accustomed as we are to hearing "thou shalt not steal". But just because they are difficult for us to understand and apply to our modern lives does not make them less important.

If you think of the crucifixion, you will remember that Christ's body was not allowed to hang on the cross. He was the ultimate Passover sacrifice and was, in accordance with the first of the laws stated in today's Scripture, consumed (by being put into a sealed tomb) at sundown on Passover.

Protestant communion bread and wine

In our worship today, we must not become sloppy or casual about our modern-day symbolic ritual sacrifice, holy communion. Those wafers most people eat with their wine or grape juice are unleavened for a very specific reason: we remember, and keep holy, God's commandments concerning Passover. There really is no reason not to. We celebrate God's creation of a saving relationship with humanity in the very specific way prescribed by God Himself.

In fact, many churches will take pains that the "blood of my sacrifice" — the wine or grape juice consecrated or designated for communion — is consumed in its entirety before the service is over. In, say, a Lutheran church, you might notice that the celebrant of a communion service will drain the cup at the end of communion and then cleanse it. If you ever wondered why: now you know!

But more generally, holy communion is a solemn event, no matter what church we might attend. We must never just go through the motions. We must remember and reflect on the Last Supper and the crucifixion whenever we do it, for that is its purpose. It is like an alarm clock, telling us "remember the sacrifice now". It is a discipline to make sure that we reflect upon Christ's sacrifice on a regular basis. And we cannot think that Hebrew sacrificial practices are so utterly foreign to us; reflect upon what it means, that we actually eat and drink, in church, in the heart of our worship service.

The second of today's law, the First Fruits Commandment, is much easier to translate into modern practice: When we pay the bills, we must pay God first. Our sacrifice or offering to God is our number one priority. It is the first check (or checks) we write, literally, when we get our paycheck.

Answer this question: Do you serve God, or do you serve mammon? Because Christ told us, in no uncertain terms, that we cannot serve both. (Matthew 6:24) If we serve God, why should it cause us pain to do as Paul suggests, and set aside our offering at the beginning of the week? (1 Corinthians 16:2)

Continued tomorrow . . .

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

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