Moses on Mt. Sinai, by Jean-Leon Gerome, ca. 1895.
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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.
Lord Be with Us
How excellent is your loving kindness, O God; therefore do the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings. Satisfy me, and all who pray with me, with the goodness of your House throughout this day. In your light make us to see light. May your Holy Spirit be with us in prayer and praise, in speaking and hearing from your holy Word. And bless us with all spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ, for His name’s sake.
Mason Barge adapted from A New Directory For The Public Worship of God,1898 7/1/2015
Prayer for Fellowship
Oh Holy God, who has taught us that we should not be yoked with unbelievers, and that righteousness has no fellowship with unrighteousness; I pray that you will send into my life people who confess the name of Jesus Christ, people who love you and follow you and seek to grow in your Spirit every day. Let me be honorable and worthy before the profane world, dear Father, but also let me find more friends of sincere convictions, that I may follow your command to be in fellowship with other saints, and thus be reinforced in the holiness and purity of Christ to which I aspire.
And let me live in harmony and unity with other Christians. Let me know them and spend time with them, that we might share the blessing of your love. Grant that I might never feel lonely in my faith; and help me to let others feel the comfort of Christian community. In Christ’s name, I pray,
Mason Barge, 03/22/14
Finally, may I go forth filled with the joy and confidence of your Spirit; and may everything I do this day, in word or deed, be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
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.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Exodus 20:16 (Easy-to-Read Version)
The Ninth Commandment
You must not tell lies about other people.
Notes on the Scripture
Let us look for a moment at the question of whether important Bible verses should be simplified. Starting with the earliest English language Bible, the Ninth Commandment has usually been translated, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor,” and that is probably closer to the actual meaning of the commandment than the translation given above. But there are a lot of people to whom “false testimony against your neighbor” is practically meaningless, while “Do not tell lies about other people” is clearly understandable to anyone.
And for a person educated enough to understand “false testimony against your neighbor” — well, we don’t want to put too fine a definition on it, or we will end up debating whether a damaging falsehood about another person is “testimony,” or whether a person is our “neighbor.” This is the mistake of the Pharisees, who were experts at finding tiny distinctions in the Law and did so until it became a literal formula, until the spirit of the Law was dead.
So for practical purposes, simplification of a Bible verse is justified, and perhaps to be preferred.
On the other hand, when one embarks on a deeper study of the Bible (as we are doing today), the more accurate translation may be superior. Specifically, the Hebrews at Mt. Sinai were in a radically different position from the modern Christian. At the time of today’s Scripture, the Hebrews were in a state of emergency. A group of people who find themselves stranded and in some degree of danger have unusual problems. Even where they have the benefit of coming from a society, they find it difficult to agree on anything, and the drama resulting has formed the plot of innumerable novels and movies. Forming a society is hard, because every person knows the right thing to do — only it is different from everyone else’s.
The Ten Commandments were originally a basic, concrete code to get the great unruly mass of Hebrews started on the road to living as God intends them to. They need to have at least the most fundamental black-and-white laws to govern their relationship with God and each other. So, God gives them a beginning. The ten laws are the irreducible, absolute bedrock of Hebrew civilization and, by extension, any civilization that would follow God’s will.
They are thus things we should never do (or always be sure to do), but they are not comprehensive. And in fact, our understanding of them is broader and more developed than what the Hebrews could possibly absorb. The teachings of Jesus are especially critical in the transition of our understanding. (E.g. Matthew 5-7.) By the time of His life, humanity was prepared to accept the “spirit” of the Law. So the simplified statement, “Do not tell (harmful) lies about other people,” is theoretically correct and possibly superior as a moral law for us; yet, nevertheless, it was not the commandment given to the Hebrews.
Can we say, then, that it is more important that we not give false “testimony” — a statement of fact given to a person or some sort of court with legal ramifications — than that we do not lie about where we were last night? Yes, we can. The Law given to the Hebrews were critically important. And people from all societies in all of history have a powerful impulse to lie to authorities when such a lie would help out a friend (or ourselves). This would apply not just to a court, but to our boss, a teacher — anyone in authority.
Honesty is a well-known virtue in general. But when dishonesty results in injustice, where the wrong person is absolved or rewarded, and the deserving person is ignored or the guilty party absolved, it is even worse. We put ourselves above the law; we make our own interests more important than God.
It is hard not to lie to save ourselves from the consequences of our actions. It is hard to tell a friend or family member, “I am not going to lie to save you.” But God puts false swearing on the same list as murder and stealing. Since God made this a bedrock rule of His law, it is a challenge we must prepare ourselves to meet.
With the coming of Christ, and His emphasis on the spirit of the Law, however, we can broaden our modern understanding of the Ten Commandments, and “do not tell lies about other people” seems like a pretty good statement of Biblical morality.
A depiction of the first lie: The Temptation, by Masolino da Panicale (Florence), ca. 1440.
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I answered a question in the Comments yesterday, in response to the question “Is there an app for this site?” I thought some other people might be interested in the answer.
We will probably never have an “app”. These are written in a completely different language and are geared for commercial enterprise. You can make a sort of “app” on a mobile device by dragging the address from the browser (Safari, Chrome, etc.) onto your home screen. But it will still scroll.
I don't think they are really any better for reading. We try really hard to avoid pop-ups, automatic redirects, etc.
We do, however, intend to improve the appearance of the mobile version of Daily Prayer in the next year. Our time and budget are quite limited, and we are still working on recovering from a disastrous, involuntary “server migration” in 2020. There is currently a lot of activity going on behind the scenes, pretty much a complete overhaul of the code engine that runs the page.
For example, the code that runs our online Bible function is messed up, and there is only one version of the Bible; whatever Bible translation you choose, you get the Basic English Bible. This isn’t hard to fix, but it’s like finding an uplugged cord in a garage that is full of stuff packed in top to bottom. As another example, the function that lets me easily find and correct questions on the Daily Quiz is broken. There are lots of little issues like that, and I want to get them all fixed before I start making any new improvements.
I'm hoping I'll get this finished in the next six months and can start fine-tuning appearance issues. Traffic on Daily Prayer is still growing every week, by the way — after ten years! — so getting all these little things fixed seems like a worthwhile use of time and money.
Hebrews 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Top score(s) on the Daily Quiz for May 10, 2021 were:
Norman Daniels (12) Keith Langley (11) Tom Kraft (11) randall martin (11)
Top score(s) on Match-a-Verse:
Pam Carpenter (9 out of 9) Sylvia Banda (9 out of 9) Norman Daniels (9 out of 9) Christy Ballard (9 out of 9) randall martin (9 out of 9)