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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Daily Devotion for February 6, 2014

Emblem of Mark the Evangelist, St. Mary Church, Alton, Illinois. Mark's emblem, the lion, symbolized boldness in proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God.



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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 to Do God’s Will

Oh Lord God, Father Almighty who created me and everything I see and enjoy, blessed and beautiful Jesus, love of my heart, bounteous Holy Spirit of God who is so kind as to be with me and comfort me whenever I ask, I thank you for all that I am and all that I have had in my life. Thy will be done, my God. I ask only that you let me know your will for me, for I am often confused or conflicted, and I seek your guidance. Knowing your will for me, let me be anxious for nothing. And I pray for the strength, the power and the energy, to accomplish your purpose. All glory be to you, one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who was before time and will be forever,



[What is your will for me?]

Prayer for Protections (from Psalm 3)

O  Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cry aloud to you, and you answer me from your holy hill. I lie down and sleep, and I wake again, for you have sustained me. I will not fear the men of this world, even if thousands set themselves against me.

Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For salvation belongs to you alone. May your blessing be ever on your people.


Closing Prayer

And finally, grant me O Lord, I pray, the lamp of charity which never fails, that it may burn in me and shed its light on those around me, and that by its brightness I may share a vision of that holy City, where dwells the true and never-failing Light, Jesus Christ our Lord.


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

<i>Angel on the Holy Sepulchre</i> by Mikhail Nesterov, ca. 1911.
Angel on the Holy Sepulchre by Mikhail Nesterov, ca. 1911. The wonderful Art Nouveau colors Nesterov uses here are unusual in religious art.

Psalm 22:29-31 (NKJV)

All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.

A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,
They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 18:7-9 (ESV)

The Severity of Tempting Others

Woe to the world for temptations to sinLiterally, “stumbling blocks”. See the discussion from last Tuesday for more about this.! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!

And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fireLiterally “Gehenna”..

Notes on the Scripture

First off, a note on the translation. “Hell” is a dynamic equivalentA “dynamic equivalent” translation replaces the literal words used in the Bible with a more modern term that will, hopefully, convey the meaning better than a literal translation. expression for the original “Gehenna”, which is actually quite a colorful idea if you know what Genenna was: A hideous smouldering valley filled with acrid smoke, where all of the nastiest refuse of Jerusalem was dumped and burned. A live person might literally prefer to cut off his hand than live there. Gehenna also raises another colorful image: If we tempt others to sin, God is going to throw us onto the trash heap for permanent disposal!

Let us presume that Christ is not telling us that we should actually pluck out our eyes or cut off our hands. There have been sects that did mutilate themselves to prevent sin — most notably an 18th century Russian cult (the “Skoptzy”) who castrated themselves, male and female, to eliminate sexual temptation. But cutting off a hand would not be very effective, anyway.

So Christ is using intensively disturbing imagery to drive home exactly how seriously we should take the matter: tempting others to sin. The Scripture is a continuation of Matthew 18:5-6; Jesus here elaborates on what a terrible thing it is to lead another person, especially a child or innocent person, into temptation. We will sin and we will face temptation; but we are capable of avoiding being the intentional source of temptation to others.

Committing adultery, for example, is a sin. Intentionally seducing a married man or woman — talking someone into committing adultery who was not already tempted — increases the gravity of the wrongdoing. Really, this passage can be read as saying that tempting another person into sin is worse than simply committing sin.

Much of the New Testament seems to imply that there is no hierarchy of sins, although Christ does say that some people will be rewarded more than others in heaven. (E.g. Matthew 5:17-19) The Catholic Church teaches that there is a distinction between venal and mortal sins. Other denominations teach that all sin is mortal. (It is, to me, an open question. Smarter people than I have studied it and reached different conclusions!)

The second paragraph lends itself to both a personal and a societal message. In the personal realm, Christ is telling us to get rid of temptation within our own lives. Do you watch pornography on hotel televisions? Have the front desk disable the television when you check in. Do you look great in that skimpy bikini? Don't try it on in the first place. Do you get furious when somebody tailgates you? Pull over and let him pass you.

The societal message, at least within the setting of a church, is to get rid of disruptive influences. If there are people who insist on tempting others into sin . . . out they go! Paul was quite clear about this, in his advice to the church at Corinth, where a man was sleeping with his father's wife and refused to stop: “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Cor. 5:3-5) He did not, by the way, mean that the person should be executed; he meant he should be sent out into the world, where hopefully he would suffer enough from his depravity that he might repent.

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