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Monday, October 24, 2016

Daily Devotion for September 17, 2013

Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan, Christian setting out and meditating
Christian Meditating, panel from the Moving Panorama of A Pilgrim's Progress, ca. 1851 (see notes from yesterday). Here, Christian leaves his cozy home in the City of Destruction, to find the Celestial City. He is disturbed by an unnamed "book in his hand" (the Bible). Notice what appears to be an idol, looking rather like the Venus de Milo, about which the people in the City of Destruction congregate and worship. (The image has been extensively modified for this site. See the full-size original.)



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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.


JJ Heller is wonderful.

A Puritan Prayer

Almighty God, as I cross the threshold of this day I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to Your care. Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me. Incline my heart to Your ways. Mold me completely into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay.

May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Your praise. Let those around see me living by Your Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconformed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clothed in the entire armour of God, shining as a never-dimmed light, showing holiness in all my doings. Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, and hands.

May I travel swampy paths with a life pure from spot or stain. In every transaction let my affection be in heaven, and my love soar upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities. May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth.

Order this day all my communications according to Your wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable. May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day. This I pray in the name of Christ, my Lord and Savior,


For Those in Financial Difficulty

Lord God, I remember and pray for all those suffering severe financial problems; the unemployed, the homeless, the bankrupt, the hungry, and those in desperate fear of such problems; people who are deep in debt, not to be able to pay bills, who are losing or have lost possessions to foreclosure, or who have to watch their dependents go without things they need. I open my my heart to them. I pray that your Holy Spirit will be with them, that they find comfort in utter trust and faith in you, and that their anxieties be alleviated by certainty of your love. And if it is your will, I pray that they can find a way out of their difficulties, into financial stability.

And finally, I pray that I not close my eyes to them; and that I not judge those in pain, however they might have acted; but instead, that I might love them as your have loved me, despite my faults. And if it is your will, that I might do what I can to ease their pain. In the name of Christ, who loved us so perfectly, I pray,



Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.


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

endless knot

Ezekiel 22: 27 (NIV)

Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)

Sermon on the Mount - False Prophets

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.

Notes on the Scripture

A false prophet is a teacher of incorrect doctrine, or one falsely and unjustly laying claims to divine inspiration. They were a plague upon the Jews; they were a plague upon the early church; and they are a plague among us still. Jesus coins the phrase, “wolves in sheeps' clothing,” to describe them.

Comparing false prophets to wolves was common in the Old Testament, e.g. Zephania said of Israel,

Her princes in her midst are roaring lions;
Her judges are evening wolves
That leave not a bone till morning. (Zeph 3:3)

The dress of a shepherd was a sheepskin, and the prophets of Israel had adopted sheepskin or hair garments as a sign of their ministry. While many wore the hair of other animals — John the Baptist wore a robe of camel hair — Jesus' play on words had a second level of meaning to the people of the day; for false prophets might literally be wearing “sheep's clothing”.

Wolves kill and eat sheep, and the metaphor is widely known and clearly understood: hypocrites who pretend to serve as teachers of God, but actually seek to profit off those they teach.

We get two famous quotes in one short passage here, for it ends with the advice: “By their fruits you shall know them.” You can't tell a bad tree or vine by looking at it; it is good if it produces good apples or sweet grapes. Just so, a false prophet may look and sound attractive and convincing. But how to tell a wolf from a saint?

By their fruits, of course. We can look at the idea of “fruits” in two ways. First, by integrity of his life: Does he practice what he preaches?

It is difficult to admit that a teacher you have grown to depend upon, even to love, is corrupt; but con men are superb at seeming to be what they are not. Paul gives guidelines for church leaders in several epistles, which can be applied effectively to this point, e.g. 1 Timothy 3:1-13

An overseer [bishop, elder, church official] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, . . .

Continued tomorrow . . .

The Evanelist Points the Way, from A Pilgrim's Progress (see notes to top picture). Christian meets the Evangelist on his path, who tells him to go through the Wicket Gate.

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 6:24 (NKJV): No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

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