Daily Devotion for November 22, 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.
Robert Shaw cannot be beat when it comes to choruses from The Messiah.
For a Steady Mind While at Prayer
O Lord, take from me idleness of spirit, which destroys time; and vanity of thought, which hinders Your presence and distracts my attention to prayer. And if, while in prayer, I turn away from You in my thoughts, help me to return to my purpose; so that I might not avert my heart from You, during the few precious moments I dedicate to talking with You.
And grant me this day, dear Lord, that You may never be completely out of my thoughts. Let me carry you as a voice to guide my every step as I slip down the path of this precious day, that I might always remember Your will, and lighten the world around me. Help me to make every moment of my day, every word from my mouth, a prayer, that I might live in Your presence.
Prayer for Humility
Heavenly Father, who sent your Son to ride on an ass and to work as a simple carpenter: if you so humbled yourself to save me, how can I puff myself up with pride above others? Let me follow Christ's example, never to inflate myself with pride of status, of opinion, or of any of the gifts you have bestowed upon me.
Give me the grace to realize my ignorance, admit my mistakes, recognize my needs. Let me welcome good advice and sound rebuke, without defensiveness. Grant me always to praise rather than criticize, sympathize rather than discourage, build rather than destroy, and when I am angry at the ignorance of another, to recall my own ignorance and remember that we are all your beloved children. Let my hope and glory be ever in you, and not in my own vanity. This I ask in Christ's sake,
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Glory of the Lord — Isaiah 40:1-5 (KJV)
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Matthew 13:14-17 (ESV)
The Purpose of the Parables 
This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
Notes on the Scripture
The quote from Isaiah (Isaiah 6:9-11) is reworded in Matthew so much that its meaning has changed. Consider the original, for it creates great difficulties:
“Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:“ Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, . . .”
We need to take a short side trip into the history of the Bible. Around 300 B.C., a group of seventy Jewish scholars normalized the sacred books of Judaism and translated them into Greek. This is known as the Septuagint (“septuaginta” being Latin for “seventy”). We can call this the “Greek Old Testament”. This was the most accurate and consistent Jewish Bible available, even though it was written in Greek — and many Jews, in fact, spoke Greek but little (or no) Hebrew.
A thousand years later, a group of Jews (known as the Masoretes) undertook to formalize the Tanakh, or Jewish Bible, in Hebrew; the work spanned centuries and was probably finished about 1000 A.D. It is formally known as the Masoretic Text, although we can properly call it the “Hebrew Old Testament”. This is considered the authoritative text of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) in Judaism.
Here is the problem: The more accurate (Hebrew) Masoretic Text did not exist in the earliest days of Christianity, when the books of the New Testament were written, and the Septuagint, written in Greek just like the New Testament, might have informed some of the writers. But when the Reformation occurred in the 16th Century, and the Protestants wrote their own Bible, they were able to use the more authoritative Hebrew Old Testament codified in 1000 A.D.
This is, in part, where the Apocrypha comes from. They are books included in the Greek Old Testament but omitted from the more authoritative Masoretic Text. Luther, Wycliffe et al., having the benefit of the great Jewish scholarship of the Masoretes, adopted the Hebrew Old Testament as the Christian canon and dropped a number of books. So all Protestant Bibles have 66 books (39 in the Old Testament) while the traditional Catholic Bible has 73 books (46 in the Old Testament).
The great English Protestant Bible, the King James Version, included these additional seven Old Testament books as the “Apocrypha”, since they were excellent and approved reading for Christians, but not considered canonical (sacred) by Protestants. There are four historical books: Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees; two wisdom books, Wisdom (The Wisdom of Solomon) and Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus); and one prophetic book, Baruch. The Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant New Testaments are substantially identical.
The Biblical canon really is not an insurmountable barrier between Catholics and Protestants today. Unfortunately, the length of these notes is an insurmountable barrier to further discussion, so we will have to continue this tomorrow.