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Monday, March 27, 2017

Daily Devotion for October 25, 2013

<i>Angels Worshipping (detail)</i> by Benozzo Gozzoli,
Angels Worshipping (detail) by Benozzo Gozzoli, ca. 1461



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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 for the Morning (Jane Austen)

Compassionate Lord, Your mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day. Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace, increase in knowledge; ripen for spiritual harvest. Let me this day know You as You are, love You supremely, serve You completely, admire You fully.

Through grace let my will respond to You, knowing that power to obey is not in me, but that Your free love alone enables me to serve You. Here then is my empty heart, overflow it with Your choice gifts; here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.


Prayer for the Nation

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; I humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people who remember your favor and are glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.

Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here from so many different lands and languages. Grant the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust with the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may demonstrate your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in days of trouble, do not let our trust in you fail; all which I ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Prayer of Resolve

I  bind myself to you this day, oh Christ, in your truth and in your sacrifice. I give to you my anxiety and my fear, my depression and my doubt, for you have promised to take them if we only ask; and I take upon myself your burden, for it is light and your way is gentle. May I keep this in my heart and mind all this day.


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

Bedtime Prayer (Traditional English)

Four corners to my bed,
Four angels ’round my head,
One to watch, one to pray,
And two to shield my soul always.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 10:40-42 (ESV)


Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.

The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.

Notes on the Scripture

Like so many human endeavors, salvation is organized in a hierarchical “chain of command”; to be spread across the world, it depends on representatives or agents. This passage sets out three links in a chain of salvation. First, God the Father and the Word, which existed with Him at creation and was made incarnate as a human being, Jesus; second, “prophets”, who represent Christ as his ambassador or agent, who have been called by the Holy Spirit; and finally, those who receive the prophets.

The passage also speaks of someone getting a reward for receiving a “righteous person” but leaves the exact meaning ambiguous. But since it would be impractical for 12 apostles to bring the Word to billions of people, Christ anticipates more numerous disciples in the future working as missionaries.

One odd sounding phrase is the final one, “he will by no means lose his reward.” This is a common poetic form in Hebrew and something we often read in the Psalms and Proverbs: restating a proposition as the negation of its opposite. That is, one thing will be stated as true, and then the opposite of that thing will be stated as untrue. Or, vice versa. As an example, Proverbs 12:28:

In the path of righteousness is life,
and in its pathway there is no death.

Death and life are opposites; this is a poetic structure that the Hebrews found artful and enjoyable. The second line says the same thing as the first, but by using what is, at its root, a sort double negative. So when Christ/Matthew says someone will by no means lose his reward, it can be read as a poetic way of saying he will have his reward.

The reference to “little ones” intends to convey that the poor and humble will have the capacity to carry Christ's blessing to other; it is an affectionate term, which the New Living Translation changes to “the least of my followers”. And not only the person who brings the Word may be humble in circumstance, but also the person who receives it, for “even a cup of cold water” will suffice as hospitality to receive Christ's emissary.

<i>The Angel</i> by the distinctive Art Deco designer Erté (Romain de Tirtoff)
The Angel by the distinctive Art Deco designer Erté (Romain de Tirtoff), ca. 1930.

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Titus 3:9: Avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

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