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Friday, October 21, 2016

Daily Devotion for October 30, 2013

<i>Adam and Eve</i> by Franz von Stuck, ca. 1893
Adam and Eve by Franz von Stuck, ca. 1893. We see very early elements of Art Deco in Adam's figure, but not in the serpent, whose sinuous evil dominates the work.



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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 of St. Richard of Chichester (1230 A.D.)

Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, For all the benefits thou hast won for me,
For all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me.

O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,
May I know thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
And follow thee more nearly
For ever and ever.


Prayer for Peace

I  thank you, Master and Lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. I appeal to you to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hatred for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.

Grant peace to your servants. Implant in them the fear of you and confirm in them love one for another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For you are our peace and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.

I pray, Lord our God, for all those who suffer from acts of war. I pray for your peace and your mercy in the midst of the great suffering that people are now inflicting on each other. Accept the prayers of your Church, so that by your goodness peace may return to all peoples. Hear us and have mercy on us.



May the God of hope fill me and all of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing, so that we may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.


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

<i>Angel with Flaming Sword</i>, ca. 1889|Franz von Stuck,
Angel with Flaming Sword, also by von Stuck (ca. 1889), who did the bronze plaque at the top of the page. Here, he shows Impressionist influences; however, the subject matter is related, as no doubt this is the angel guarding Eden. (Genesis 3:22-24)

Psalm 95:1-7

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.

The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;

For he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Blue Latin Cross

John 12:44-50 (NIV)

I Came Not to Judge the World, but to Save It

Jesus cried aloud: "Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life.

What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me."

Notes on the Scripture

One of the biggest criticisms of Christians and Christianity by non-Christians is that they are judgmental. People are very sensitive to perceived criticism, and it makes them defensive. And all too often, the criticism is justified. We are, after all, human. We get angry at people who do bad things and condemn them. Sometimes, we feel like we hate them.

But Christians are not morally superior to anyone. If that sounds disturbing, let me repeat it: Christians are not morally superior to anyone. An attitude of moral superiority is diametrically opposite to Christ's teachings.

Judgment for sin is God's sole right. (Romans 12:19) Yes, people who do not avail themselves of God's grace will face eternal darkness, or hell, or damnation, or however you might picture the fate of the unsaved after the death of their body. But this is a matter of salvation, not morality. By our nature every one of us has sinned, again and again, and are doomed to eternal darkness when our bodies die. The Bible tells us it is impossible for us to live a life without sin. (Romans 5:12; Genesis 8:28)

When Christ says that he came to save, not to judge, it is because there was nothing for Him to judge. Everyone was "guilty". (Romans 3:23) Christ came to show us a way out, a way to avoid the darkness that every human faced at the time of death. He didn't come to criticize some people and not others; He came to tell us that we are all in the same boat. Murderer and holy man, street thug and honest hardworking mother, all of us have sinned.

As he said of John the Baptist, “Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11)

Being a better person is, hopefully, one effect of taking Christ into our hearts, but it is not the cornerstone of what it means to be a Christian. We cannot become perfect; we fall short of the glory of God, and all of us are doomed by our sin.

So when Christ said, "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world," about all we can say in our favor is that we have been smart enough, or lucky enough, to accept the gift of grace that Christ brought to us. It does not make us morally superior to our neighbors who have not accepted the gift; and even more important, such a feeling of moral superiority is itself a grievous sin of pride.

Judgment of others is sin, and we should accept others without judgment “so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2) But just as important, judgmentalism in the name of Christ drives people away from Him. We must remember that we are “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” Peter tells us,

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)

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