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Monday, October 24, 2016

Daily Devotion for June 6, 2013

Elijah Taken up into Heaven from the workshop of Lucas Cranach. This is one of a remarkable series of woodcuts Cranach did for Martin Luther’s 1534 Bible. The scene here is from 2 Kings 2.



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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.


This traditional Zulu Song asks, “Are you going to heaven” (Noyana Phelezu?)

Prayer for the Morning

The night has passed, the sun shines its light upon us, and the day lies open before me. As I rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence fill me with love for you and my fellow man, holy God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Abide with me, I pray, now and forever.


Prayer for Those Who Have Served in War

God of compassion, God of dignity and strength, watch over the veterans of our blessed nation who have served with loyalty and at great sacrifice. Bless them with wholeness and love. Shelter those who are in want, heal those who bear wounds, comfort the hearts of those who have lost friends and family, and bring peace to all who are haunted by the terrible memories of war.

Protect them and their families from loneliness and want. Grant them lives of joy and bounty. And may their dedication and honor, which have shielded us from tyranny, be remembered as a blessing from generation to generation.


Dedication (from St. Teresa of Avila)

May it please you, my good Lord, that there may come a day when I can repay a little of my great debt to you. O Jesus, strengthen my soul, you who are good above all good; and since you have inclined my soul in this way, show me how I may act for you, whatever it may cost, O Lord. Here is my life, my honor and my will; I have given them all to you and they are yours: use me to do whatever you want.


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

Devotional painting of
Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder ca. 1532.

Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages are your most effective ministry.

~ Rich Warren, from The Purpose Driven Life

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 29 (ESV)

Consecration of the Priests

[Excerpts are given here. If you want to read all of Exodus 29, click the link or go to your own Bible.]

“Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. Take one bull of the herd and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil. You shall make them of fine wheat flour. You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, and bring the bull and the two rams.

You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. Then you shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the coat and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod. And you shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. You shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him. Then you shall bring his sons and put coats on them, and you shall gird Aaron and his sons with sashes and bind caps on them.

And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.”

Notes on the Scripture

Israel was a partial theocracy: an established (and in this case, hereditary) priesthood was central to society and government. Secular government would not evolve into monarchy for well over a thousand years; Moses would be followed by judges, and Joshua by great generals. It was rather like the government of Iran today, in many ways.

Where priests exercise political power, the priesthood seems inevitably to become corrupted by it. We will see this already occurring as early as 1 Samuel and, by the time of Jesus, the Hebrew priesthood is heavily entangled with the Herodian dynasty.

To stray into general speculation, one might say that this endemic corruption, rather than genuine theological issues, lay at the base of the Reformation, for much of what reformers and Protestants found truly intolerable was not the fundamental theology of the Catholic Church, but rather the Church leaders' abuse of theology in grasping for personal power and wealth.

For example, around 1500, one of the greatest sources of money for Rome was the selling of divorces. Few people, at least at that time, objected to the Church's refusal to dissolve a marriage and its power to investigate and find if there were grounds for annulment. What was intolerable was that the investigations' outcomes were fraudulent; rich aristocrats and royalty would pay huge sums (partially pocketed by individuals) to have grounds for annulment of an unsatisfactory marriage fabricated by Church powers.

Once the revolution of the Reformation began, it ran to extremes, and the pomp and glitter of Catholic worship was rejected along with the rest of Catholic and Orthodox doctrine. The Anabaptists (today's Amish and Mennonites) and Puritans formed their churches at the opposite extreme. In fact, some Old Order Amish today will pick preachers by drawing lots and have no church buildings at all; and when a community has a church, it will contain no altar or ornament, not even a cross on the wall.

Given the life and teachings of Christ, it is impossible to find fault with such an approach. But the more liturgical approach cannot be faulted, either, when one reads God's will for worship presented in Exodus. God Himself ordained a priesthood for the Hebrews, to stand as ordained and sanctified men to perform the rituals required for their worship.

But why would God ordain an institution that would fail? This is the message of Christ: the endemic corruption of mortal man and, thus, the futility of justification by works. As human beings, we cannot become perfect. It is only by the sacrifice of Christ and the grace of God that we can become flawless and stand, one day, before God's full glory.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

1 Corinthians 1:21-25: For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

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