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Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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Daily Devotion for September 15, 2020

<i>The Wedding at Cana</i> by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, ca. 1820.
The Wedding at Cana, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, ca. 1820.



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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.


prayer for morning (e. e. cummings)

i thank God for most this
day; for the leaping greenly
spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything
which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes


Prayer of Abandonment

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all Your creatures — I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence,
For you are my Father.

Hermit at Prayer


Lord, in utter humility I thank you and glorify you, that you might hear the prayer of one so small as myself, amidst the billions of souls among billions of stars in one of billions of galaxies in your universe. Let me go forth in your peace, keeping your Spirit always in my mind; and bless me, I pray, that I might always follow your will and live in the radiance of your blessing.


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.

Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question

Where does Christ tell us that we cannot serve two masters?

Answer: Matthew 6:24

<i>Jesus Heals the Blind Man</i> by Georges Rouault, ca. 1897
Jesus Heals the Blind Man by Georges Rouault, ca. 1897.

Longing for God

When I say, “I feel so empty”, God says, “I created you with a longing in your heart that only I can fill.” I was created with a God-shaped hole in my heart.

Blue Latin Cross

John 2:1-11 (J.B. Phillips NT)

Two days later there was a wedding in the Galilean village of Cana.

Jesus’ mother was there and he and his disciples were invited to the festivities. Then it happened that the supply of wine gave out, and Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”

“Is that your concern, or mine?” replied Jesus. “My time has not come yet.”

So his mother said to the servants, “Mind you do whatever he tells you.”

In the room six very large stone water-jars stood on the floor (actually for the Jewish ceremonial cleansing), each holding about twenty gallons. Jesus gave instructions for these jars to be filled with water, and the servants filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, “Now draw some water out and take it to the master of ceremonies,” which they did. When this man tasted the water, which had now become wine, without knowing where it came from (though naturally the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called out to the bridegroom and said to him, “Everybody I know puts his good wine on first and then when men have had plenty to drink, he brings out the poor stuff. But you have kept back your good wine till now!”

Jesus gave this, the first of his signs, at Cana in Galilee. He demonstrated his power and his disciples believed in him.

Notes on the Scripture

The Wedding at Cana (1) - Introduction

ohn is sometimes called the “Fourth Gospel”, because the first three Gospels, called the “Synoptic Gospels”, overlap to a considerable extent. They each take some of their material from the same (now lost) documents as one or both of the others. John overlaps them very little, by comparison. It is noticeably and significantly different from them. Specifically concerning today’s Scripture, only John tells us about the miracle of turning water into wine, at the wedding in Cana.

We are going to take a very close look at the passage, and in the process, look at a different translation each day. (For anyone interested in hearing more about the subject, we have done a master list of five translations of the passage, side by side, with notes on their accuracy: The Wedding at Cana: The Accuracy of Different Translations.)

We start today using one of the most readable translations, J. B. Phillips’ New Testament. This is called a “paraphrase” translation, meaning that the author might take great liberties with the actual text in order to clarify the meaning and make it easier to read. Paraphrases are great ways to read difficult passages for the first time, or as augments to see a passage in a new light, but are not generally used as the primary text for Bible study.

St. John Evangelist
St. John Evangelist
French Bible, 1435

One of the noticeable differences between John and the Synoptic Gospels is the way in which Jesus' miracles are presented and used. John picks and chooses specific miracles, each of them to demonstrate, symbolically, some aspect of Christ. His overall concern is very focused: to demonstrate the divinity of Christ.

John omits the majority of the miracles recounted in the Synoptics, sacrificing historical completeness to strengthen the flow of his focused narrative. (Mark describes about 20 miracles; John, which is 25% longer, only 7.) He calls miracles “signs”, indicating his purpose in presenting them. Notice that when Jesus performs a miracle in the Synoptics, He frequently tells the witnesses to keep quiet about it. In John, the opposite seems true: they are generally intended to be seen and discussed, for the world (and the reader) is supposed to learn of Jesus’ divinity.

While there is some sense of showing Jesus’ divinity via His miracles in the later Synoptics (Matthew and Luke), there are other reasons for narrating them that predominate, such as: 1) to show that God is working through Jesus, 2) to show that God the Father has become active in the world, 3) to demonstrate that Jesus loves people and is sympathetic to human suffering, 4) to teach people about the power of faith, 5) to prove that Jesus is the messiah of David and the anointed King of Israel, 6) to demonstrate that sin can be forgiven, 7) to show God’s power over Satan and/or nature; and so on.

We do not want to overstate the case; Jesus is shown to be divine in all four gospels. But John is essentially a narrative essay on Jesus’ divinity; “[T]he Word was God” (John 1:1) is virtually a topic sentence. By comparison, this statement does not occur so explicitly in Mark until almost the very end: a Roman soldier says it, after Christ has died on the cross. (Mark 15:39)

endless knot

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Types of Translations

There are five terms that describe Bible translations, which are, in decreasing order of reliability but increasing order of ease to read:

1) “True literal” (Young’s Literal Translation),
2) “literal” (KJV, NASB),
3) “essentially literal” (ESV),
4) “dynamic equivalent” (NIV, Living Bible), and
5) “paraphrase” (JB Phillips, The Message).

For close Bible study, it is best to use a “literal” or “essentially literal” translation. But to get the general meaning of a passage that is difficult to read, “dynamic equivalent” is often best. (I will say, I do not recommend the NIV under any circumstances — see below.)

Translation of John 2

I have spent many, many hours writing something that probably nobody will ever read in full, and only a handful of people will even look at. If I ever need to prove to myself that what I do is a calling, rather than purposed work, I only have to look at this page: The Wedding at Cana: The Accuracy of Different Translations.

There must be some reason I did it, but I couldn’t tell you what it is. I hope it is the Spirit directing me towards something that will be of benefit to other people, or to myself, or that it somehow serve God, but I can’t fathom what it would be. It did, however, bring me to one conclusion: one needs to be careful about choosing a translation to study the Bible, and even more to teach any sort of Bible study. The 1984 NIV was simply a terrible translation. If you walk into a Bible study and the teacher is using the NIV, you might want to reconsider. Or even say something to the teacher about it.

Anyway, if anyone has the patience to look at it, I would appreciate feedback — the harshest of criticism would be better than silence! (And actually, I take criticism well. Every time I have gotten an email that really tears into something in Daily Prayer, I have learned something valuable.)

Memory Verse

John 14:6: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.

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If you are new to Daily Prayer, welcome. This page provides a non-denominational, Bible-based devotion every day, including prayers, Scripture, Bible study, music, and art, designed to be usable for worship and the deepening of faith by any person who confesses Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

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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

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Comments (4)


Mason, sometimes I feel like a child in a post-graduate college course, but I LOVE IT! I even looked up the definition of "aorist passive subjunctive." From the knowledge you share with us (Bible study, art, music, etc.), I learn something new everyday. Thank you.


I greatly appreciate your comparison study. It helped me discover new insights that I had never considered before. Well worth all your effort.


Good Morning Mason - I read your comparison and will read it again and again. I find your writing fascinating and I am constantly in awe of your intelligence. I learn something from you every single day and appreciate the hard work you put into this site. It has brought so much peace into my life. Thank you!


Having given out many hundreds of NIV translations of Bibles and Testaments as a member of the Gideons here in the UK, I'm saddened to hear repeated criticism of this translation on this site. I'm sure the Gideons considered very carefully which translation to use and we know from testimonies that people come to faith in Christ from reading it.

Mason(Atlanta, US)says...

Keith, I will say, having an NIV to read is 10,000 times better than having no Bible to read. The Gideons do wonderful work.

I have no idea how such a terrible translation came to be touted by so many people. It has to do with politics, which can always create odd results. I will also say, I think the newer NIV editions are somewhat better than the older ones.

I stand by my remarks, and believe me, I did a lot of work on the issue of quality of translation of New Testaments. There is no reason for anyone to read the NIV when there are so many better translations available.

But, that said, if I were called to a ministry of distributing free Bibles and the sponsoring organization told me that the Bible I had to distribute was the NIV, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Again, it is a great work the Gideons do. God bless them and you!

Daily Quiz

Top score(s) on the Daily Quiz for Sep 15, 2020 were:
Sylvia Banda (12)
Gary Merriman (12)
Margaret Entwistle (11)
Tom Kraft (11)
Gary Swart (11)
randall martin (11)
HM Latchmenarine (11)

Top score(s) on Match-a-Verse:
Keith Langley (9 out of 9)
Sylvia Banda (9 out of 9)
Elaine Gibson (9 out of 9)
Norman Daniels (9 out of 9)
randall martin (9 out of 9)

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