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Friday, May 26, 2017

Daily Devotion for January 31, 2014

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, c. 1601.



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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.


The text of this haunting, beautiful Orthodox hymn is Psalm 104. The lyrics are supplied, and a nice selection of the psalm is in today’s Scripture section.

Prayer at Daybreak (by Archimandrite Sophronios)

O  Lord Eternal and Creator of all things, who with your unknowable goodness called me to this life; I have no life, no light, no joy or wisdom, no strength except in you, O God. I entreat you, teach me to pray aright. Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit. Bless this day which you give to me, your unworthy servant.

By the power of your blessing enable me, throughout this day, to speak and act to your glory with a pure spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage and wisdom. Let me be always aware of your presence. By the power of your love, grant me to hold fast to that which is good. Preserve me from every word or deed that corrupts the soul; from every impulse unpleasing in your sight and hurtful to my fellow man, my brothers and sisters.

This in Christ's name, I pray,


Dwell with Me

Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear, when thou art near O king of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand
Than if a host did round me stand.
So dwell in me, I pray to thee, 'til breath shall pass away.


Benediction (from the Epistle of Jude)

Now all glory to you, great God, who is able to keep us from falling away and will bring us with great joy into your glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to you who alone are God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are yours before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!


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

<i>The Visitation</i> by Dorothy Hawksley, ca. 1925.
The Visitation by Dorothy Hawksley, ca. 1925. We missed this charming character study of Mary and Elizabeth during Christmas, due to an excess of good art available. Hawksley was a little-known British painter with a wonderful feel for the humanity of her subjects.

Psalm 104

Praise to the Sovereign Lord for His Creation and Providence

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

O Lord my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters,
Who makes the clouds His chariot,
Who walks on the wings of the wind,
Who makes His angels spirits,
His ministers a flame of fire.

* * *

These all wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season.
What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.
You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.

* * *

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the Lord.
May sinners be consumed from the earth,
And the wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 17:22-23 (NKJV)

Jesus Again Predicts His Death and Resurrection

Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

Notes on the Scripture

The human mind is a tricky device, full of cunning to honor and glorify itself. We hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see, so often. If you have ever read a part of the Bible that disagreed with something you hold dear, or disproved some theory you had about God, or forbade conduct dear to your heart, you will have recognized this phenomenon in yourself. Your mind twists and turns to find a way around whatever it is you don't like, as resourceful as a teenager avoiding his homework.

The disciples were men like us; and actually, less educated. Almost certainly the majority of them were illiterate. Nor had they, by this time, fully received the Holy Spirit. Christ did tell them, flat out and with no room for misunderstanding, that He would be killed and would be raised up afterwards. How could they not grasp what He was telling them?

Yet that is exactly what happened. Their only reaction is “exceeding” sorrowOur emotions when we consider the murder of Christ are a complex subject, and I am not trying to say that feeling some degree of sorrow is wrong, or sinful. , which bespeaks an incomplete grasp of Christ's purpose and ignores completely the “raised up” part. To love Christ truly is to accept his gift of salvation. To obey God is to accept his means of saving us.

Jesus has picked this moment to inform them more fully of God's plan, because Peter has recognized that He is, indeed, the Messiah. The problem is that He is not the Messiah that they have in mind. They have the same great difficulty all of us have in accepting God's word, when it conflicts with their pre-existing beliefs.

The apostles' confusion will continue, in fact, until ten days after Christ's ascension, when God sends the Holy Spirit to them. The Gospel of John is especially strong in discussing this; the question of full knowledge of salvation takes up many of the late chapters of John. To see the apostles' inability to understand, compare today's Scripture with their mindset on the very eve of the Crucifixion:

Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.” (John 16:17-18)

How could they possibly be so stupid, we might wonder; but we gain wisdom when we understand the reason.

Christ actually tells the apostles, and by extension us, that it is impossible to understand his teaching fully until one has fully accepted the Holy Spirit: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; . . .” (John 16:12-13)

endless knot

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

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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