Daily Devotion for July 28, 2017
A masterpiece of the mature Renaissance. Notice the early use of perspective, in the Umbrian countryside seen through the center arch. The identify of the secondary figures is speculative. The two female figures to the left are said to represent angels, but it is interesting to speculate: I like to think of them as the two other Marys who went to the tomb.
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.
defiled and put to scorn;
O kingly head surrounded
with mocking crown of thorn:
What sorrow mars thy grandeur?
Can death thy bloom deflower?
O countenance whose splendor
the hosts of heaven adore!
In thy most bitter passion
my heart to share doth cry,
with thee for my salvation
upon the cross to die.
Ah, keep my heart thus moved
to stand thy cross beneath,
to mourn thee, well-beloved,
yet thank thee for thy death.
My days are few, O fail not,
with thine immortal power,
to hold me that I quail not
in death's most fearful hour;
that I may fight befriended,
and see in my last strife
to me thine arms extended
upon the cross of life.
Tune by Hans Leo Hassler (1600)
Arr. Johann Sebastian Bach
Translation by Robert Bridges (1899)
Puritan Prayer to be Free of Carnal Sin
O ever watchful Shepherd, lead, guide, and tend me this day; without Your restraining rod I err and stray. Hedge up my path lest I wander into unwholesome pleasure, and drink its poisonous streams; direct my feet that I be not entangled in Satan's secret snares, nor fall into his hidden traps.
Defend me from assailing foes, from evil circumstances, from myself. My adversaries are part and parcel of my own nature; they cling to me as my very skin; I cannot escape their contact. In my rising up and sitting down they cause me pain; they entice with constant baits; my enemy is within the citadel. Come with almighty power and cast him out, pierce him to death, and abolish in me every particle of carnal life this day.
To Know God's Word
Heavenly Lord, I pray to be able to read the Bible and learn your truth. Give me the spirit of understanding and wisdom, for you know how difficult it can be sometimes. Let me understand and absorb the words in your Bible, dear God, and let me see beyond the words on the page and know your true and full Word, Jesus Christ.
Let me not be impatient; let my vision not be distorted by my bias, or my preconceptions, or my foolishness, or the foolishness of the world around me. Give me the courage to change my mind, when that is necessary. Let me know you as you intend for me to know you, I pray, O God; let me find my way to you, for I crave to know you and be with you, now and for all of my life,
[Let my vision not be distorted by my personal bias.]
Oh Heavenly Father, in whom I live and move and have my being, I humbly pray you so to guide and govern me by your Holy Spirit, that in all the joys, occupations, and cares of this day I may never forget you, but remember that I am ever walking in your sight. In Christ's name, I pray,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 88:1-2 (NKJV)
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry.
1 John 1:6-10 (ESV)
Walking in the Light
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Notes on the Scripture
John ties into another concept central to his gospel, the concept of Christ as a light, which light “is the life of men”. (John 1:1-14) We cannot know God and be in fellowship with him without knowing and practicing our faith in Christ. To act as if we are righteous before God without following Christ in our hearts is a lie.
ohn is addressing hypocrisy for a reason, as we will see later in the epistle. A number of people had started to appear, saying that they were prophets or authorities, but giving their listeners false versions of the gospels, making up untruths about Christ’s life and teaching. So John builds his case one brick at a time. Here, he establishes a basic foundation: that to know and follow Christ is to walk in the light of salvation.
Another fundamental concept is that our baptism does not make us free from sin, because we cannot be free from sin. No matter how hard we try, it is ours by our nature. Christ will cleanse our sin, but only if we confess it and ask for forgiveness by grace.
People have trouble with both sides of this basic concept. The more obvious is someone who thinks he can do no wrong. There are people, both inside and outside the church, who really cannot grasp the concept that they have done something wrong. Some are leaders of religious cults, some are in prison, some are just everyday people. But whatever they think or do, they cannot grasp that it may be truly wrong.
More important for us, however, are those of us who cannot accept Christ’s mercy. We try and try to do better at something and yet, it seems, we just cannot quite get there. We still lust, we still covet, we still become envious. We reply harshly to someone who has offended us. This can get to be a big problem, if we become frustrated and think we aren’t making progress. Our frustration can damage our faith.
But if we are trying, falling short should not get us down, because everybody falls short. Do not get down on yourself! You are never going to become a perfect person.
Do not get discouraged and think “I am not a good Christian.” Instead, let Christ’s forgiveness fill you with joy and peace, despite your sin. Being a Christian is the greatest thing on earth. You can be imperfect, because Christ's love for you is perfect; let Him carry the load. Trust in Jesus. Have faith in your forgiveness. And — let yourself enjoy it!