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Daily Devotion for July 28, 2013

Gerard David, God the Father, 1506
Blessing of God the Father, Gerard David ca. 1506.



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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.


James Kilbane sings Amazing Grace for the Presbyterian congregation and service for the RTE Irish television broadcast from Dublin, Ireland.

Prayer for Sunday Worship

O  God, who makes us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ; Give me this day such blessings through my worship of you, that the days to come may be spent in your service; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.


Prayer of Repentance (from Psalm 51)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. I am full of shame at my sin, and my heart lies heavy.

Purge me and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Prayer to Be Filled with Christ’s Love (from Ephesians 14)

Heavenly Father, when I think of the wonder of your great plan for our salvation, I fall on my knees before you, who has named every name in heaven or on earth, and I pray that out of your richness of your glory, you will strengthen me in my inner being with your Spirit, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I may be rooted and grounded in love, that I may have strength to comprehend with all the saints the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ Jesus, the love that surpasses knowledge, and be filled with the fullness that only you can give. In the name of Christ, I pray,



Let me not forget my prayers as I go out into the world. Holy Spirit, be with me, and let me praise you and remember you in my every action and thought, for the entire week to come. In Christ's name I ask this,


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


Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

~ from Awake, my soul, and with the sun by Thomas Ken (1674)

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 5:1-2 (ESV)

Introduction to The Sermon on the Mount

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

Notes on the Scripture

Matthew is the only Gospel that contains the extensive collection of Christ's teachings known as The Sermon on the Mount. It comprises three full chapters, Matthew 5-7, almost entirely filled with Jesus' words. (Making it easy to find in red-letter Bibles!) Luke contains some of the same (or nearly the same) quotations, but they are scattered around.

This difference demonstrates the specific aims of Matthew and Luke. Matthew's primary interest is to present the verbatim teaching of Christ. He wants us to have a primary source document to show us what Christianity is: what we should believe, how we should behave. Luke, on the other hand, was more interested in giving us a history of the life of Christ. To some degree, his Gospel tends more towards setting Christ's words in the context of his activities.

As it is written, Matthew seems to imply that Jesus spoke the entire content of these three chapters at one sitting. We do not have to take the time frame literally, for it is tangential to the message. It would have been a very long day, especially considering the novelty and difficulty of the material. So we might suspect that Matthew 5-7 is more a compendium of Christ's important teachings than a verbatim sermon; or that it was delivered over many days; or that it contains some teachings, heard later, that fit so well with the thematic material of the Sermon that integrating them here created a superior lesson.

Or, we might choose to take Matthew absolutely literally. There is much to recommend that approach, also.

In Matthew, only four of the apostles have been called when the Sermon on the Mount is presented. Luke also contains the Beatitudes — the eight or nine statements about “blessings”, so-called because beatitude is a Latin word meaning “blessed” But in Luke, they occur after all 12 apostles are called. Certainly all of the apostles heard all of Christ's teachings presented in Matthew 5-7, for he is teaching the future teachers. This raises another possibility, which also makes good sense: Jesus may have repeated various parts of the Sermon on the Mount later in his ministry, possibly many times.

The odd language detailing that Christ sat down and opened his mouth, which seem superfluous, were both conventional to the time. Rabbis would teach while standing and walking, but to make a critical pronouncements, they would sit. The phrase “opened his mouth” was idiomatic, used to relate official or important pronouncements, especially for oracles or for kings making an edict. Christ would have been walking around; when he sat and opened his mouth, it would have silenced the crowd.

The Sermon on the Mount can fairly be called the most important Christian teaching in existence. It is nothing less than the concentrated memory of many hours of heart-to-heart communion between Jesus and his disciples. To the Jews of the day, it was a radical change in everything they had been taught about the proper relationship of man and God; and to any person not acquainted with Christian dogma, it is mind-bending, counter-intuitive, and utterly contrary to human experience.

Round painting of Christ from Patras Cathedral

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Matthew 3:16: As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

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