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Daily Devotion for May 4, 2013

1920s postcard of an Easter Sunrise Service at the Hollywood Bowl.
1920s postcard of an Easter Sunrise Service at the Hollywood Bowl. The importance of celebrating Christian holidays as a community is the subject of today’s Scripture.



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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.


"For Each New Morning"

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
I thank thee.
(From a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Prayer to Cast Aside Bad Habits

Mighty Holy Spirit, face of the one true God, help me, for I have slipped into bad habits. Something in me defies my attempts to change, and I feel compelled to do that which I do not want to do. I feel weak and ashamed, and I turn to you for help. Help me, dear God. Help me to resist this temptation. Lend me your mighty power to cast it aside.

You have graciously promised that you would not let us be tempted beyond our ability, but instead, would provide an escape for any temptation we pray to resist. Holy Spirit, show me my escape from my bad habit. Let me resolve to work on it, to pray on it, to turn it into a habit of good; for I know how you love righteous conduct, and my love for you longs to please you. Work your power to help me please you, might God; for I know that with your help, I can overcome any evil. In Christ's name, I pray,



All through this day, O Lord, by the power of your quickening Spirit, let me touch the lives of others for good, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I speak, or the life I live.


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.

endless knot

Who’s the Boss?

If you obey God with your whole heart, you’ll usually scare off the folks who want you to obey them.

~ Meg Moseley

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 34: 23-24 (ESV)

The Versions of the Ten Commandments [6]

Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land, when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.

Notes on the Scripture

Today's quote requires all the males to gather three times a year for celebration. We get a good glimpse of how these laws were carried out because of the Gospels, when Jesus goes to Jerusalem for Passover. Women and children would make the trip if they were able, although they could be excused; but it was mandatory on men of full age, about 20, and considered very nearly mandatory for older boys.

They would form up as a caravan for protection and company, and in modern terminology, have a party. In many cases (as with Joseph's family, which lived in Galilee) it was a journey of several days. The most striking characteristic of the three enumerated celebrations is that they were community celebrations. A town or village traveled as a group, and everyone in Israel was expected to attend, either in person or by the proxy of male family members.

We have come to see our Christian celebrations more and more as family affairs; and indeed, in many cases, it is difficult enough to get family members together. But there is no mistaking that the spirit of this law — which is as much one of the "ten commandments" as "thou shalt not steal" — requires the faithful to gather as a community of believers, not as a cohort of blood relatives or friends.

We can see this reflected clearly in the habits of devout Christian communities throughout history. The Puritans — picture an early Pilgrim Thanksgiving, and you picture the entire community gathered together. If you study the Amish today (whose "family values" are among the strongest in the world), their celebrations are markedly celebrations, not of families, but of their church community.

Living as a Christian in our increasingly secular society, where aggressive atheism is markedly on the rise, there is a corresponding tendency for Christians to become isolated. It is in fact quite difficult, for many people, not to become isolated. But those of us who face this hurdle must resist it.

For the meaning of one of the "ten" commandments is quite clearly: "Thou shalt gather together with others who fear God to worship and celebrate, for a major festival, three times per year." If this sounds moralistic or proscriptive, it is not; it is a commandment given to us because of how much God loves us. It is a commandment created to ease our burdens, to lead us to happier, more productive, more joyous lives, and to help us walk closer to God.

Church Dinner by Ivey Hayes, ca. 2002.

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

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