Daily Devotion for October 20, 2013
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.
Our “Virtual Sunday Church” this week takes us to Morriston Chapel in Swansea, Wales.
pilgrim though this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven,
feed me now and evermore.
Open now the crystal fountain,
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fiery cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through;
be thou still my Strength and Shield.
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
bear me through the swelling current,
land me safe on Canaan's side;
songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee.
Music by John Hughes (1907)
Lyrics by William Williams (1771)
Prayer for Sunday Worship
O God, who makes us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ; Give me this day such blessings through my worship of you, that the days to come may be spent in your service; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sunday Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
O Lord Jesus Christ, before ascending into heaven you did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of your grace and your love. Grant me:
- the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal,
- the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth,
- the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven,
- the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation,
- the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in imitation of the Saints,
- the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and
- the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him.
Mark me, dear Lord with the sign of your true disciples, and animate me in all things with your Spirit. In Christ's name, I pray that the Spirit may be with me and fill me, today and throughout the week to come.
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted me as a living member of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have blessed me with the grace of forgiveness through the sacrifice He made for me and for all people. Send me now into the world in peace, and grant me strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Psalm 94:7-11 (NKJV)
Yet they say, “The Lord does not see,
Nor does the God of Jacob understand.”
Understand, you senseless among the people;
And you fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?
He who formed the eye, shall He not see?
He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct,
He who teaches man knowledge?
The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
That they are futile.
Wisdom of Solomon 7:15-22 (NRSV)
and to have thoughts worthy of what I have received;
for he is the guide even of wisdom
and the corrector of the wise.
For both we and our words are in his hand,
as are all understanding and skill in crafts.
For it is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists,
to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements:
- the beginning and end and middle of times,
- the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons,
- the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars,
- the natures of animals and the tempers of wild animals,
- the powers of spirits and the thoughts of human beings,
- the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots;
for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.
There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy,
unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted,
distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen,
Notes on the Scripture
The Book of Wisdom (of Solomon) is part of the canonical Catholic and Orthodox Bibles (technically, they are called “Deuterocanonical”), but part of the Apocrypha in the Protestant Bible. These 7 books (plus another 7 considered apocryphalApocryphal: Of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true. in both Protestant and Catholic Bibles) were written before the time of Christ, but have been separated from the Old Testament.
The Catholic and Orthodox churches accept the Apocrypha as part of the divinely-inspired Bible; that is, they consider it Scripture in the full sense. Protestant churches generally accept the Apocrypha as sound (and recommended) religious reading, but do not consider it "canonical", that is, inspired by God, to be read as part of His holy Word.
The Apocrypha has disappeared from modern Protestant Bibles, not for want of merit, but for practical reasons: the Bible is already “too big” without them. So the 7 to 14 books disappeared from the English Revised Version of 1881, which was copied by the American Standard Version in 1901.
The books of the Apocrypha are not a cohesive work; they are very different from one another. What they share is that they were not written in Hebrew (part of the reason the Protestants did not include them in the canon) and do not claim, in their text, to be the Word of God. Some of them contain valuable history (such as 1 and 2 Maccabees); some of them are astonishingly beautiful religious poetry (such as Ecclesiasticus); some of them are generally considered to be fictional and should be read as allegory.
It is important to differentiate the Apocrypha from another group of books, which are called pseudepigrapha Pseudepigrapha: A work falsely attributed to someone who did not write or approve of it, from the Greek words “pseudo”, meaning fake, and “epigraph”, meaning inscription. , to use the five-dollar word, and are completely rejected by most Jews and/or Christians. These are “New Testament” works that pretend to have been written by someone who had no actual connection to them, e.g. The Gospel of Mary or The Gospel of Thomas. These are outright fakes. The best-known examples are the Gnostic Gospels, which all mainstream Christian churches consider heretical and even evil.
Today's reading is a perfect example of the Apocrypha's importance. It develops a theme not treated in the Old or New Testaments, which might be helpful to many Christians: God gave us our intelligence to understand science and history.
Too often and much to their detriment, churches have become defensive about scientific and historical knowledge, even to the point of forcing conflict between the Bible and science where none exists. The most famous example would probably be Galileo, whose astronomical findings were suppressed by the Catholic Church, even though one is hard-pressed to see how the Bible claims that the sun revolves around the earth.
God gave us our brains to help us “be fruitful and multiply” and He expects us to use them. There is no conflict between scientific truth and Biblical truth. We must be careful, however, be careful to distinguish truth from conjecture or opinion, both in science and religion. Both are worth unending study and constant prayers for guidance by the Holy Spirit.