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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Daily Devotion for October 5, 2013

<i>Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery</i> by Pieter Brueghel ca. 1565.
Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery by Pieter Brueghel ca. 1565.



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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.


In this wonderful old tv clip, the Delta Rhythm Boys — known for their sense of humor — tell us what happened to some famous walls.

prayer for morning (e. e. cummings)

i thank God for most this
day; for the leaping greenly
spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything
which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes


Prayer to Receive God's True Word

Holy Lord, who has given me the facility to hear and understand, let me receive your Word with an open mind and clear eye. Whenever I read your Scripture, let your Holy Spirit guide me to the truth, setting aside my preconception and self-justification.

I pray to hear what you intend for me to hear. Lead me to remember that, where we disagree, You are right and I am wrong. And help me always to an attitude of humility in my study, keeping in mind always to use your Word as a guide that will lead me on the path to salvation, never as a tool to justify my faulty and selfish thought; for I am justified by faith.


Benediction (from the Epistle of Jude)

Now all glory to you, great God, who is able to keep us from falling away and will bring us with great joy into your glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to you who alone are God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are yours before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!


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

<i>Moses and the Ten Commandments</i>, window in the Cathedral of St. Paul, Pittsburgh, by Franz Mayer.
Moses and the Ten Commandments, window in the Cathedral of St. Paul, Pittsburgh, by Franz Mayer.


When humans should have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.

~ C.S. Lewis

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 9:14-17 (ESV)

The Question of Fasting [2] - New Wine in Old Skins

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast [often], but your disciples do not fast?”

And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

Notes on the Scripture

The danger in patching an old weathered garment with a piece of new, unshrunk cloth is obvious. The new wine analogy is perhaps a little harder to follow, and richer in meaning.

Like many ancient peoples, the common Israelite did not make wine in bottles, but in watertight skins. When grape juice ferments, it gives off carbon dioxide and expands. Fresh leather is supple and can expand; and so vintners learned quickly to ferment wine in new leather skins, because as leather ages it becomes hard and rigid; it cannot expand, and will explode like an unpierced baked potato if one tries to ferment wine in it.

Jesus creates this analogy in response to criticism from the scribes; he has apparently transgressed the law by eating with sinners. This seems to be a self-contradiction, for shortly before he stated:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)

This apparent contradiction confuses many Christians (and practically all non-Christians) terribly. What exactly does the Old Testament mean to us? Do its many laws apply to us or not; and if so, which ones, and especially: why?

Part of the answer lies in the words, “new wine cannot be made in old skins”. The law is fully functional; Christ said this specifically. But it had become rigid in its practice, as hidebound as an old wineskin. To try to fit Christ's teachings into it simply would not work. The old wineskin, the law of Moses as practiced by the Jews, would be destroyed by the expansion of the new wine of Christ's word.

But the “new wineskin” is still the law of Moses, for the law of Moses is the law of God. The fundamental meaning of every single law, even the ones that sound utterly ridiculous to us today, is still with us. Not “one iota” of them has been abolished. But the way in which the law is practiced changes. In Christ, the law transforms into what we call “morality” rather than an elaborate set of literal rules of conduct.

This is why reading and understanding the Old Testament thoroughly, and understanding how it interrelates with the New, is so important. For anyone who is new to this, and feels thoroughly confused, here is one very quick example: Exodus tells us that both parties to adultery must be stoned, i.e. executed. E.g., Deuteronomy 22:22. The law remains in full effect. Adultery transgresses a specific law of God, and the penalty is death. So why do Christians not stone adulterers?

Because judgment of the sin has been taken away from us and made the sole province of Christ. We, as sinners, will not be allowed to judge. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:7) Judgment has been co-opted by Christ, who will judge all people, living and dead, in the Last Days. And, of course, it is also within the province of Christ to forgive the sin.

Coptic Cross

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Memory Verse

Proverbs 4:18-19: The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

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