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May the peace of God reign in this place
and the love of God forever hold you tight,
May the Spirit of God flow through your life
and the joy of God uphold you day and night.

Daily Devotion for September 11, 2013

<i>Heart of the Rose,</i> Edward Burne-Jones ca. 1889
Heart of the Rose, Edward Burne-Jones ca. 1889. A PreRaphaelite interpretation of the final scene in Chaucer's poem Rumaunt of the Rose, a Christian allegory. An angelic figure leads Pilgrim, on the left, to The Rose, depicted by a woman and representing Christian love. The lilies at the far right represent innocence and are associated with the Virgin Mary.



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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.


Prayer for the Morning

Heavenly Lord, you have brought me to the beginning of a new day. As the world is renewed fresh and clean, so I ask you to renew my heart with your strength and purpose. Forgive me the errors of yesterday and bless me to walk closer in your way today. This is the day I begin my life anew; shine through me so that every person I meet may feel your presence in my soul. Take my hand, precious Lord, for I cannot make it by myself. Through Christ I pray and live,


Prayer for Protections (from Psalm 3)

O  Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cry aloud to you, and you answer me from your holy hill. I lie down and sleep, and I wake again, for you have sustained me. I will not fear the men of this world, even if thousands set themselves against me.

Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For salvation belongs to you alone. May your blessing be ever on your people.


Benediction (from Jude 1)

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep us from falling away and will bring us with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!


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.

Illuminated manuscript page from Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey Diptychs by Sue Simon (contemporary) at Bath Abbey (England). This page has text beginning at Mark 11:9.

Pearls Before Swine

Do not lower the standard or cater to the worldly laxness of the average Christian by making the way in easy. Make sure that everyone who joins fully understands his duties and obligations and is willing, in Christ's strength, to undertake them.

~ Isabella Alden

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 7:6 (NKJV)

Sermon on the Mount - Pearls Before Swine

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Notes on the Scripture

Up until this point, the Sermon on the Mount has generally presented long sections of teachings tied together with a unifying theme. Chapter six has two sections, the first dealing with worshipping in your heart, our of love of God, rather than in public for the benefit of your public image; the second, with serving God rather than the things of this world.

pearls before swine, orwell animal house
Napoleon, the pig king
Orwell's Animal House

Chapter 7 becomes a little choppier; like the Book of Proverbs, one teaching may have little direct relationship to those before or after it. Today's verses do not build upon or follow from 7:1-6, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” In fact, they are contrary in tone, since one must discern people not worthy of a gift; and Christ analogizes them to dogs and pigs!

The verses actually are in the poetic parallel form of a proverb; if you popped this Scripture into the middle of the Book of Proverbs, it would fit perfectly. To the Jews, this would be a poem of four lines. The first line makes a statement, then the second line restates it, a “direct parallelism”. This device is frequent in the Old Testament: Think of Psalm 23:2, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”

The third and fourth lines are another direct parallel. But there is also a “following parallel” or “consequential parallel” between the first two lines and the second two lines, another common technique. To see another example of this, we need look no further than Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”

But notice, there is a third technique, an “inverted parallel” (the technical literary term is “chiasmus”), what an English major would call an “a b b a” construction, but based on meaning rather than rhyme. The fourth line is the consequence of the first line so they are tied together: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs . . . [lest they] turn and tear you in pieces,” and the third is the consequence of the second.

The meaning is clear enough in theory, but difficult in practice, coming as it does directly after we have been subjected to such powerful persuasion about not judging our fellow man. It does not direct us to stop spreading the Gospel. Christ was criticized for personally teaching, and taking meals with, Gentiles and sinners (Matthew 9:10); Matthew himself was a tax collector!

When later in the book, Christ sends his disciples out into the world for their first mission trips, He will restate today's advice a bit less colorfully; if people don't listen to you, “shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:14-18).

The demand not to judge others remains in effect; we are ourselves sinners, just as the “dogs and swine”, but they cannot find forgiveness. And although we do not judge them, we are not expected to teach those who ridicule what we say.

Finally, these verses intimate, for the first time, the impossibly difficult theological concept of predestination, and the paradox of election versus free will. There are people who cannot receive the Word of God. It also necessarily raises the concept of a closed church, for Christ's message is not universal. It does not exclude anyone who wants to find God, but nevertheless: Christians are special people.

endless knot

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Matthew 6:24 (NKJV): No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

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