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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Daily Devotion for March 7, 2014

<i>Jesus and the Pharisees</i> by Jacob Jordaens, ca. 1640.
Jesus and the Pharisees by Jacob Jordaens, ca. 1640. We can see a lot of Rubens in the realistic depiction of the figures, although they are clearly contemporary Flemish rather than ancient Hebrews. Notice the mask hanging on the back of one Pharisee, showing hypocrisy.



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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 Dedicate This Day to God

Holy God, as I face another day, I know I am going to face many challenges: to my faith, to my patience, to my love for others. I am going to have constant temptations to lapse into sin. Come to me now, Lord, and stay with me all day. Let your Spirit encompass my mind. Let me know your presence. Steer my hand, direct my words, guide my thoughts in everything I think and say and do. I resolve to live this day as a beacon of your glory, the best I can, with your help. I commit myself to give this day to you. In the name of Christ, be with me and help me.



[What challenges to my love for other will I face during the day?]

Prayer of Clement of Rome

You, Lord, through your works have revealed the everlasting structure of the world. You, Lord, created the earth. You are faithful throughout all generations, righteous in your judgments, marvelous in strength and majesty, wise in creating and prudent in establishing what exists, good in all that is observed and faithful to those who trust in you, merciful and compassionate; forgive me my sins and my injustices, my transgressions and my shortcomings.

Do not take into account every sin of your servant, but cleanse me with the cleansing of your truth, and direct my steps to walk in holiness and righteousness and purity of heart, and to do what is good and pleasing in your sight and in the sight of my rulers. Yes, Lord, let your face shine upon all your servants in peace for our good, that we may be sheltered by your mighty hand and delivered from every sin by your uplifted arm; deliver us as well from those who hate us unjustly.

Give harmony and peace to me and to all who dwell on the earth, just as you did to our fathers when they reverently called upon you in faith and trust, that we may be saved, while we render obedience to your almighty and most excellent name, and give harmony and peace to our rulers and governors on earth.



Now all glory to you, mighty God, who is able to keep me from falling away and will bring me 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.

endless knot

Proverbs 26:23 (The Message)

Smooth talk from an evil heart
is like glaze on cracked pottery.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 21:28-32 (ESV)

The Parable of the Two Sons

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”

They said, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.”

Notes on the Scripture

Matthew (the only evangelist to recount this parable) does not identify Jesus' audience clearly. In the preceding verses, he was talking with a group of priests and scribes who were plotting his death, and it seems likely that it is they who answer the question wrong. Or, it might simply be a group of people surrounding him in the Temple. But the answer identifies them as hypocrites, and even worse, intentional hypocrites. They choose the child who shows formal respect to his father's face over the one who actually does what his father asks him. They are so puffed-up that they would rather hear a lie followed by wrongful conduct, than be insulted by someone who later repents and does the right thing..

Neither son represents an ideal, of course. The ideal son would simply say “yes, sir” and then go to work. But anyone who values real goodness more than his own dignity might actually prefer the son who said “no” and then did not go to work, since a broken promise is generally worse than no promise.

The parable reminds us of a very early teaching, in the Sermon on the Mount: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) Christ does not demand perfect obedience of us; if we are sincere in our repentence and belief when we are baptized, Christ will always be willing to forgive our sins. In fact, there is a wide-ranging theological debate as to whether a person who has received the Holy Spirit can ever be disenfranchised, whether it is even possible for such a person to go to lose his place in heaven altogether.

However — and this is a big however — speaking the words is not enough to save us. Sincerity of belief and true repentence is required. One may be dunked in a river by a preacher, or sprinkled by a priest, with no effect on one's soul, for the physical act and words are only symbolic; it is what lies in one's heart that opens our souls to receive the Spirit.

<i>Temptation of Christ (detail)</i> from the Hunterian Psalter, English ca. 1170.
Temptation of Christ (detail) from the Hunterian Psalter, English ca. 1170. This detail of Satan is a wonderful early devil depiction. He is standing on top of the Temple, showing Jesus the riches of the world (Matthew 4:8-10) It is very reminiscent of the lesson today; we can almost feel him urging us to choose the things of this world.

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV): Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

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Comments (8)

Topic: Page Two | Devotion for Day of March 7, 2014 | Daily Prayer
Sylvia Piekarz (Menomonie, US) says...
Today's reading and you comment add to my own unrest. I am currently praying for and trying to bring comfort to my former husband who is I believe in the last days of his life here on earth. Always a devout catholic as to the letter of the law, he is tormented now because of his failures in life. Never able to accept salvation as the gift Christ provided. How does infant baptism and "trying" always to do the right thing bring peace now?
7th March 2014 9:01am
Mason Barge says...
You seek peace for your husband in his life, as he passes on. This is way beyond my ability to help him with, or to advise you. As I understand it, confession to a priest and absolution from him should give a Catholic assurance of Christ's forgiveness. He needs a personal conversation and counselling with someone who is Catholic. Other than that, I get a sense of criticism and/or disappointment from you, who are yourself going through an emotional ordeal. Do you have different religious ... Read More
7th March 2014 1:56pm
Doug Waldron (Missoula MT -, US) says...
Well, I am turning 69 soon and I have looked at my life as one big failure as I am sure many do. However, I have now turned my life over to my Methodist faith and my faith in God. I pray several times daily for my salvation, as, as true to God as I might be now, He will know of my sins and failures, and I know I will be forgiven by Him. That is all that matters to me. Praise the Lord our Father.
7th March 2014 1:59pm
Sandra (Columbus, US) says...
Sylvia, First let me commend you on your empathy toward your former husband. What you said about being a devout Catholic as to the letter of the law has come to the forefront of my life in the past 10 years. As a infant baptized child and attendee of Catholic education through eith grade, I have definitely become closer to understanding our eternity now in my adult years more than every. I too wonder about the past generations of those living under the scrutinity of the law and not fully ... Read More
7th March 2014 2:05pm
Mason Barge says...
My prayers - and I'm sure those of anyone who reads this - will also be with you and your former husband.
7th March 2014 2:41pm
Jeffrey DeMarie says...
Your notes on the scripture passage seem to contradict what is stated there unless I am reading it incorrectly. The hypocrites picked the "first" son who refused to go but then changed his mind and went to do his Father's will. Please correct me if I am misinterpreted your commentary.
7th March 2014 8:37am
Jennifer (US) says...
I know what you are saying Jeffrey....I've re-read and re-read both scripture and the explanation but I am lost. Thought maybe its because I'm under the!
7th March 2014 11:53am
Mason Barge says...
Er, um. The only possible excuse I can find is that I usually edit these the day before, but I'm out of town (taking care of my aged mother!!) and didn't proofread/edit this yesterday. Maybe I would have caught it. I also notice a couple of other, smaller mistakes. These are finished in draft form a month in advance, and then usually get an edit/proofreading the day before. Carl Cannon used to always read the next day's devotion and email me any mistakes he found, but he's ... Read More
7th March 2014 2:32pm
Peter Morelli (League City, US) says...

Thank you for back to back great quotes by two great men and my favorite authors (Bonhoeffer / Lewis). Lewis' 'Mere Christianity single handedly brought me back into the Christian Faith.

Thank you as always for doing such a great job with this site. It is how I start every day.


6th March 2014 7:32pm
Sandra (Columbus, US) says...
Something I read and just wanted to share it:

There's a difference, isn't there, between what you do because it's who you are, and what you do so others will think it's who you are and be impressed? It's not always easy to tell that difference. We can fool even ourselves. But such an important difference to know. And praying helps us know it.
6th March 2014 8:13am
kris (US) says...
This reminds me of Peter's confession of Christ…
"But what about you," Jesus asks Peter, "Who do you say I am?" Peter answers, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Matt 16:15-16

May that be our response as well.
6th March 2014 5:55am
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