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Monday, October 22, 2018

Daily Devotion for October 3, 2014


<i>Abraham Visited by the Three Angels</i> by Antonio Balestra, ca. 1716.
Abraham Visited by the Three Angels by Antonio Balestra, ca. 1716.

Prayers

Scripture

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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.

Amen.

For everybody who has told us they like to sing along.



Prayer of St. Patrick

Lord, be with me and all who love you, this day:
Within us to purify us;
Above us to draw us up;
Beneath us to sustain us;
Before us to lead us;
Behind us to restrain us;
Around us to protect us.
In Christ's name I pray,

Amen.

Freedom from Depression and Fear

O  Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and I feel my weakness and helplessness, give me the sense of Your presence, Your love, and Your strength. Help me to have perfect trust in Your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry me, for, living close to You, I shall see Your hand, Your purpose, Your will through all things.

Amen.

Meditation

[God is beneath us, to sustain us.]


Blessing for the Day

Oh God, hold me in the palm of your hand. I pray that you will mold me into what you want me to be. May I joyfully fill the role you have given to me and feel your peace deep in my soul, today and always,

Amen.


Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.



<i>Death Playing Chess,</i> mural on the wall of Taby Church, Uppsala, Sweden, by Albertus Pictor, ca. 1480.
Death Playing Chess, mural on the wall of Taby Church, Uppsala, Sweden, by Albertus Pictor, ca. 1480. This mural was the inspiration for the chess scenes in Ingmar Bergman's haunting movie, The Seventh Seal.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.


Blue Latin Cross

Tobit 7 (MB)

Tobit Asks to Marry Sara

When Tobias and Azarias entered the city of Ecbatana, Azarias led him straight to the house of Raguel, whom they found sitting in the courtyard. Sara came to the gate and greeted them warmly, and Raguel introduced them to his wife, Edna. While Edna was asking them who they were, Raguel exclaimed, “This young man looks like my cousin Tobit!”

“We are sons of the Nephthalim (that is, the tribe of Naphtali), captive in Nineveh,” they explained.

“Do you know my cousin Tobit?” Raguel asked. “Is he in good health?”

“Know him? He is my father!” Tobias told him. “And he is alive and well, except that he has become blind from a white film over his eyes.” Raguel jumped up, and kissed Tobias, and began to weep — from joy to see Tobias and from grief at his kinsman's blindness. “A blessing on you,” he said, “for you are the son of a good and honest man.” And the women wept also.

Raguel ordered a ram killed from his flock and they feasted cheerfully. And at the table, Tobias said to Raphael, “Speak of those things we discussed on the road — let us get this business accomplished.”

And when Raphael (Azarias) had told Raguel that Tobias wanted to marry Sara, Raguel replied to Tobias: “Eat, drink, and make merry. For it is right that you should marry my daughter, but I must tell you, in all truth, that I have already given her to seven men, and all of them died on their wedding night. So be satisfied with a good meal.” But Tobias refused to eat a crumb until the marriage should be agreed; and Raguel could not refuse.

“If you will not be dissuaded, take her in accordance with the custom, for you are her closest kinsman, and she is yours, and may God have mercy on you.” And Raguel called Sara to him, and took her by the hand, and said:

“From this moment, you are her love, and she is your beloved. She is yours today and ever after. And tonight, son, may the Lord of heaven prosper you both. May he grant you mercy and peace. Take her after the law of Moses, and lead her away to thy father.”

And he blessed them. Then with Edna his wife he took a paper and wrote on it an writing of covenants, and they both sealed it.

After they had finally begun to eat, Raguel looked to Edna and said, “Sister, prepare another chamber for Sara.” And she did. And she led Sara thither, weeping, and she wiped away her daughter's tears and told her, “Be of good comfort, my daughter; I pray the Lord of heaven and earth will give you joy for this thy sorrow.”


Notes on the Scripture

There is nothing that needs to be said about this chapter from Tobit that has not been said in previous comments. Today's passage is pure fun; it reads like a romance novel. Will our young lovers find happiness in their bold marriage? Or will they be thwarted, and young Tobias killed, by the evil Asmodeus?

Since the primary Scripture needs no commentary, we might spend a moment thinking about one of the most vexatious issues in Christianity: faith vs. works. There is a good passage on this subject in today's Daily Inspiration, written by the eminent theologian R. C. Sproull. I would recommend that every Christian read it and reread it until it is fixed in their mind. It Not because we actually need to understand it, but rather, so we don't get confused when somebody starts talking nonsense about it.

The problem with “justification by faith” is that works are relevant to our salvation:

And by this we know that we have come to know Christ, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, . . . (I John 2:3-4)

This makes for quite a pickle for theologists. How can we harmonize Paul, who in Romans and Ephesians seems to say that we are saved by our faith despite our sin, and John and James — or for that matter, Christ himself (e.g. Matthew 7:21-23) — who seem say that if we keep sinning we do not have true faith and thus are not saved?

One way is just to ignore theologians. Nowhere in the Bible does it command us, or even authorize us, to develop a logical construct for God's plan of salvation. Christ calls us to obedience, not theology.

Unlike theology, Christ's commandments can be understood by anyone with an open mind. He did not come to earth to save smart people. He came to save anyone who would open his heart in faith.

And when we do sin — and I don't know anyone who even comes close to avoiding sin completely — we don't need to worry whether or not we are “saved”. We need to confess our sin, ask for forgiveness, and reform our conduct and our thinking; before a priest if we believe in sacramental confession, in our room if we believe in direct absolution from God. Whether you want to say that we are justified by faith alone, or our faith is shown in our works, or whatever, our behavior is the same. We must try with our full heart and mind to follow Christ's commandments.



endless knot

Daily Inspiration

“Faith and Works”

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Matthew 28:20-22: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.


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