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Thursday, May 25, 2017

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Daily Devotion for November 12, 2013

<i>Pietà</i> by Michelangelo, ca. 1499
Pietà by Michelangelo, ca. 1499, perhaps the most-loved statue in Christendom. It rests in an alcove of St. Peter’s Basilica. (See full-size)



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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.


Our apologies for the video feed, which is just a bunch of album covers for the little known Irish band “Skid Row”, but the musical performance of the old Negro Spiritual Let Us Break Bread Together by Eamonn Gibney, their lead singer, is excellent.

Prayer for the Morning

Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.


For Those Who Suffer

God of time and of eternity, in your hands you hold the souls of the righteous, and in your heart there is room for all people; shine forth upon all who are tried in the furnace of suffering and illness, and especially on those for whom I pray today; in your grace and mercy may we know that you watch over us; bring us at the last to abide with you in love; I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Prayer to Use Our Gifts Wisely

Lord, give me each day the wisdom to see which things are important, and which things are not. Show me how best to use the time and talents you have given me. Help me to use all my opportunities wisely, that I may share, through service to others, the good gifts I have received from you.



Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine — to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever,


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

endless knot

Proverbs 11:2 (ESV)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV)

A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Notes on the Scripture

Today's Scripture includes two colorful analogies that should sound familiar. John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers” during his early ministry, as recounted in Matthew 3; and Christ delivered a memorable passage, “by their fruits you shall know them,” in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:15-20), teaching us how to distinguish false prophets from true. In fact, John the Baptist also used the “good fruits” analogy:

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. . . . Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Soteriology — the five-dollar word for the theology of salvation, the way in which we intellectually conceive how we might be saved from our sins — has a basic division into “justification by faith” and “justification by works”.

Almost all Christian theologians teach that we cannot achieve salvation by good works; we are saved by our faith alone. God, through his Son, will forgive us for our sins if we believe in him. And there is much Scripture underlying the concept. Certainly, we cannot be saved simply by our own merits, without God's grace.

Here is the problem: Our actions still matter. The Bible's actual teachings on justification by “works” vs. “faith” defy human logic. There are, indeed, parts of the Bible that are logically irreconcilable with either position. When the rich young man asks Jesus, “what good deed must I do to earn eternal life?” Jesus tells him, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments. . . You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, . . .” (Matthew 19:16-22)

And James tells us,

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? . . . [F]aith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-26)

In today's Scripture, Jesus tells us, “by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”. It is not our place to twist this simple statement into the procrustean bed of theology. The Bible must be read. The Word of God must be taken straight, because we begin to go wrong the moment we try to bend it to our logic.

Madonna and Child, Lucia della Robbia ca. 1450.

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 11:28-30: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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“The mind of God is greater than all the minds of men, so let all men leave the gospel just as God has delivered it unto us.” ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon