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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 21, 2013

<i>Christ Before His Judges</i> by Maurycy Gottlieb, ca. 1878
Christ Before His Judges by Maurycy Gottlieb, ca. 1878.



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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

I  bless you for the day you have made, Mighty Lord God, and pray that I may spend this day rejoicing in your creation. I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill me with the joy of my salvation, so that your light may shine through me into the world, that your honor and glory may be known to all people.

Remind me of your blessings, I pray, with every tribulation I may face, so that I may act with energy, forgiveness and love, ever mindful of the grace You have shown to me. Through Christ I pray,


To Lay Our Suffering at Jesus' Feet

Lord Jesus, you call me to live every aspect of my life in your presence, and so I come before you as I am. With the myrrh that the wise men carried I bring, too, the pain and sorrow and suffering that I have experienced. I lay them before you because they are all part of who I am. I ask that good may come from whatever negative things happen to me, knowing that nothing can ever separate me from your love.



Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine — to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever,


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.

Charity, St. John's Episcopal Church, Somerville, NJ. The piece was created in the Tiffany Studios ca. 1900.

Matthew 7:28-29 (ESV)

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Blue Latin Cross

Notes on the Scripture

Christ's teachings are original. He is not interpreting the Word of God; He is delivering the Word of God. He is God speaking directly to normal men and women.

Christ's revelation of his divinity to the people was gradual, accomplished in stages. Few of those present — and none of the apostles — were with Him at His baptism; so the reader is ahead of those who lived through it, in terms of information about Him.

Sermon on the Mount - Review

The Sermon on the Mount has four main sections: The Beatitudes (Ch. 5); Reinterpretation of the Law (Ch. 5); Relationship with God (Ch. 6); and Implementation of the New Covenant (Ch. 7).

Chapter 5

Jesus starts His great teaching with a bang. The Beatitudes turn both Judaism and common sense upside-down. Christ demolishes the lessons of both experience from living, and the earthly rewards promised by Judaism. It is, He declares, the meek, the poor, the humble and the peaceful who will emerge triumphant. But Judaism had encouraged the Hebrews to expect earthly rewards to those who followed the Law; so the Beatitudes announce that something has changed radically. But what? Has the Law of Moses been repealed?

In the second part of Chapter 5, Reinterpreting the Law of Moses, Christ tells us that the law is still 100% in effect. If anyone tries to tell you that there are different categories of Mosaic law and some were abolished by Christ, tell them to read Matthew 5:18. He actually extends the Law, showing that it is much broader than Moses announced. No more will it be simply a set of rules for external conduct, but rather, it will now be extended into the innermost part of the human mind and heart. The law cannot be performed; it must be lived in thought as well as deed. He bolsters this by His Salt of the Earth analogy.

To illustrate, he gives examples: Murder, an external act, is replaced by anger, an internal emotion. Divorce, Oaths, Not Resisting Evil (Eye for an Eye), and Loving Your Enemies are all specific examples of this internalization of godliness, extending the Law of Moses from our behavior to our hearts.

Chapter 6

In Chapter 6, Christ transitions into the related concept, our relationship with God. Our relationship with God, like the law, will be internalized. The emphasis on public display must evolve into a personal, intimate relationship. We will fast and pray, not so that others can see us, but as direct and private tributes directly to God, and concern ourselves with salvation, not our earthly lives. The primary teachings are Giving in Secret, Praying in Secret (the Lord's Prayer), Fasting in Secret, Laying up Treasure in Heaven, and Do not Worry About Your Earthly Life (Lilies of the Field).

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 assumes we have heard (or read), digested, and accepted the fundamentals of the new covenant set out in 5 and 6; it teaches us how to implement our new faith. We are to seek God for our own salvation; God will hear us and fulfill our requests. But although we can spread the Gospel, implementation is a personal matter; we are forbidden to judge others, a job reserved for Christ Himself; there will be no Sanhedrin of high priests to reward and punish us, and we cannot arrogate judgment to ourselves.

The second part of the chapter is a sort of pep talk, telling us not to believe anyone who preaches contrary doctrine and to be strong in faith. The main individual teachings of Chapter 7 are Judge Not Lest You Be Judged, Ask and It Will Be Given, The Narrow Gate, True and False Prophets, True and False Disciples, and Build Your House on the Rock.

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Proverbs 3:5 (ESV): Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;

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