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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Daily Devotion for January 29, 2014

<i>Day of Judgment</i> by Jacob de Backer, ca. 1580.
Day of Judgment by Jacob de Backer, ca. 1580. The florid surrealism pales in comparison to other 16th century low country artists, notably Hieronymous Bosch, but horned pigfaced devils putting pitchforks into pale-skinned nude women seems a bit over the top today. Still, there is a lesson to be seen, for the saved (lower left) are identical in outward appearance to the condemned (lower right). (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.


This unearthly beautiful rendition of an old hymn is sung by Aled Jones, with some of the words in Welsh.

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.



[How we may know Christ more clearly.]

Prayer for Deliverance

Dear Lord, grant me, I beseech you, your divine helping grace. Endow me with patience and strength to endure my tribulations with complete submission to your will. You know my misery and suffering. I flee to you, my only hope and refuge, for relief and comfort, trusting to your infinite love and compassion; that in due time, you will deliver me from all the trials of this life and turn my distress into comfort. I rejoice in your mercy. I exalt and praise your holy name, oh Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: now and forever.



Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.


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

<i>Saint Philomena</i> by Hungarian artist Feszty Masa, 1961.
Saint Philomena by Hungarian artist Feszty Masa, 1961.

Psalm 37:10-11 (NKJV)

For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.

But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Blue Latin Cross

Revelation 7:9-17 (J.B. Phillips New Testament)

The Countless Host of the Redeemed

When this was done I looked again, and before my eyes appeared a vast crowd beyond man’s power to number. They came from every nation and tribe and people and language, and they stood before the throne of the Lamb, dressed in white robes with palm-branches in their hands. With a great voice they shouted these words: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb!”

Then all the angels stood encircling the throne, the elders and the four living creatures, and prostrated themselves with heads bowed before the throne and worshipped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength be given to our God for timeless ages!”

Then one of the elders addressed me and asked, “These who are dressed in white robe—who are they, and where do they come from?

“You know, my Lord,” I answered him.

Then he told me, “These are those who have come through the great oppression: they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they now have their place before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.

He who sits upon the throne will be their shelter. They will never again know hunger or thirst. The sun shall never beat upon them, neither shall there be any scorching heat, for the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Notes on the Scripture

The Revelation of St. John the Divine, known simply as Revelation or Book of Revelation, is perhaps the most difficult book in the Bible for many Christians. Comparatively few people read it, and probably most Christians are wary of it, because of the elaborate weird imagery describing the Second Coming of Christ.

To say that Revelation is an “apocalypse“ just adds to the confusion, because few people understand what the word actually means. Apocalypse means “revelation” — the lifting of a veil or curtain, so that something previously unseen can be seen. It usually refers to a prediction of the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.

The narrow meaning of “apocalypse” that most people have — a violent and frightening end of the world — really originated from the Book of Revelation itself! But one could as easily call Daniel apocalyptic, or even the more prosaic works of someone like Marshall McLuhan, the man who coined terms like “the global village” and “the information age” to describe the great changes in society we have been seeing in the past 50 years.

Today's Bible passage describes heaven. It depicts the relationship with God, after the Day of Judgment, of everyone who has been saved by Jesus Christ. Revelation was more popular in ancient times, when people wanted a literal, concrete description of what eternity would be like. In parts of the book, metaphors from the teachings of Christ become concrete images, such as the “springs of the water of life”.

One particularly helpful image is John's description of “the blood of the Lamb”. This rather gory concept is often embraced by very fervent Christians but somewhat disturbing to others; John tones the imagery down, by showing us that this blood is just a figurative expression for the sacrifice made by Christ and that washing a robe in it, rather than being gory, is a process that will turn the robe white. Figuratively, the “blood” is a bleach, one that is so powerful it removes the stain of sin entirely.

So those who have been saved by their belief in Christ, a countless multitude from every nation, are dressed in perfect white robes. This is a visual metaphor for the grace of Christ, which removes the figurative discoloration that sin has left on our souls and leaves us in perfect innocence — represented by a perfect, snowy white robe — so that we will be acceptable to stand before God.

In the final paragraph, John gives us a lovely bit of poetry, words of comfort and peace to describe how a time awaits us, when all our suffering will end. This too is apocalypse, even though a marked change from the mass of terrifying imagery that characterizes Revelation. For a curtain is lifted to show us that all will change; pain will end, and God will give us perfect happiness.

endless knot

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Memory Verse

1 John 2:9 (ESV): Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.

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