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Daily Devotion for March 11, 2014



The Fall of Jericho by Lorenzo Ghiberti, ca. 1430. This is a panel in the “Gates of Paradise”, the doors of the Baptistery of St. John in Florence, Italy. (Joshua 6)

Prayers

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.

Amen.



Prayer for Personal Conduct (from 1 Timothy)

Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy: Above reproach. May I be this day temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, and not violent, but gentle. May I never be quarrelsome, always seeking peace even in disagreement, and may my love be for you and my fellow man, not for money. I pray that I manage my own household well. If I have any children in my charge, I pray to that I may take the time to see that they are in control and behaving with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. This I pray through my Lord Christ, whose love and attention ever gave us an example of conduct,

Amen.

Meditation

[May I not be violent.]


For Protection of Body and Soul

Heavenly Father, I give you thanks for the protection you give me. You protect my body from the mighty forces of the universe that would kill me in an instant, with your good earth you have freely given me. You sustain my life with air, food, water, the shining sun and the gentle rain, the rich earth that grows my food. You protect my body from disease and trauma by the miracle of healing and the wonders of science.

Most of all, I thank you for preserving me from evil, the preservation of my soul; for the enemies of my soul abound on this earth, and often, I would do the damage myself. I pray that I have wisdom sufficient to allow you to do your will, and enter me, and protect my soul from dangers within and without by your infinite power. Let me put on your armor every day, and with your help and the forgiving grace of my savior, Jesus Christ, be kept pure, so that I may one day come before you in perfect joy.

In the name of the same Jesus Christ, I pray,

Amen.

Blessing for the Day

Oh God, hold me in the palm of your hand. I pray that you will mold me into what you want me to be. May I joyfully fill the role you have given to me and feel your peace deep in my soul, today and always,

Amen.


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.



Vanity by Andrea della Robbia, ca. 1470. Eve looks into a mirror, tempted to self-admiration by the serpent; God has been relegated to the back of her mind.

Proverbs 19:8 (NKJV)

He who gets wisdom loves his own soul;
He who keeps understanding will find good.

Blue Latin Cross

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

Matthew 22:1-14 (ESV)

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.

Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.

Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”


Notes on the Scripture

1) This appears to be a single parable, but it makes it a lot easier to grasp if you think about it as two different ones. The first one, then, is fairly simple. It has been called The Parable of the Open Door. Jesus is talking about the Jews. He invited them to the great feast of his Son; they were the invited guests, for they were God's chosen people since the day of Abraham and the vehicle for his salvation. But they weren't interested. Instead, the Jewish establishment attacked the disciples of Christ who invited them to salvation, persecuted them, and killed many.

There were not yet any Christian martyrs when Christ gave the parable. He might have been speaking of the prophets, many of whom had been killed for prophesying against kings who tolerated or even practiced idolatry. (John the Baptist had already been beheaded, but his death was the result of his own prophecy, not his connection to Christ.) Or, this might be prophetic as to future Christian martyrs.

As prophecy, the parable is utterly accurate. The Temple itself, and all within it, will be demolished shortly after Jesus' death, and all within it will die. Furthermore, the “servants” will go forth “out into the roads” and spread the Gospel throughout the world, inviting all to repentance, good and bad alike, and bringing light and salvation to all who will receive it.

2) The second part, the wedding garment parable, affects us, today, more directly; and it should concern us. The door is open and we may be admitted, but that does not mean we will be accepted. There will be people, Jesus tells us, who come to him for salvation but are not, somehow, properly clothed; and clothed apparently refers to a personal characteristic. Jesus does not get specific. We must read and learn more, to find out how we might be “properly clothed”. We are reminded of Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven . . .”

Salvation is a gift, but that doesn't mean it is easy or automatic. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21, NKJV) Martin Luther's “sola fide” is widely misunderstood. One must conform one's heart and actions to Christ to be saved; the doctrine of sola fide, salvation through faith alone, does not mean that faith without works is sufficient for salvation. Here is how Luther himself put it: “Works are necessary for salvation but they do not cause salvation; for faith alone gives life.”

What, then, are Christ's “commandments”? The Sermon on the Mount is instructive about this (Matthew 5-7), but He will give us a summary a few lines down in Matthew 22. Luke tells it thus:

And [a man] answering said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”

And [Christ] said unto him, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”

(Luke 10:27-28)


endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV): Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.



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