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Daily Devotion for March 24, 2014

<i>Christ and Sinner</i> by Henryk Siemiradzki ca. 1875
Christ and Sinner by Henryk Siemiradzki ca. 1875. This depiction of Christ meeting Mary Magdelene uses both light and color to symbolize good and evil. Blues, the color of the heavens, appear to the left, from where Christ and His followers come, whereas the browns of earth dominate to the right. The brothel is in deep shadow; and notice that Mary’s head and shoulders are shadowed, even though she has come outside into the light and is on the verge of epiphany. (Full-size)



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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 of Resolve

Blessed Jesus, my Savior and Master, model of all perfection, I resolve — and will try this day with my full heart — to imitate Your example, to be like You: mild, humble, chaste, zealous, charitable, and kind. I will redouble my efforts to see Your image in all those I meet and deal with this day — not only people I like — and to be as helpful to them as I would be to You. I resolve to avoid this day all those sins which I have committed heretofore and which I now sincerely desire to give up forever.



[I resolve to be kind, like Christ.]

To Be Free of Anxiety

Lord Jesus, I have allowed myself to be filled with depression and negativity over what I see as my failures in life, where I have been disappointed in something I wanted from this world. I find myself hiding, full of anger and self-righteousness and self-pity, and have turned my eyes away from you.

Give me the hope I need and help me never to be afraid to begin again. You told your disciples to be anxious for nothing. I give to you my anxiety, Lord Christ, and lay my troubles upon your mighty back; and I pick up your burden, for you have promised that it is light, and that you are gentle and kind. Let me work for your glory and not my own, Lord Jesus, that the anxiety that comes from pride and vanity and fear of others might be gone from me, and I may serve you in joy and peace.



Walk with me, dear Lord, so that I may not be alone as I face this day, but always in your presence. Your joy is a lighthouse in a world often dark with sin, and I pray that I may reflect the light of your truth, to inspire others as I have been inspired. In the name of Christ, bless me this day, and all whom I may meet.


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.

Contemporary Cross
Cross by Helena Magnusson Ogburn, contemporary.


This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people.

~ C. S. Lewis (The Case for Christianity)

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 23:27-32 (ESV)

Hypocrites: Whitewashed Tombs

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

Notes on the Scripture

Christ uses the wonderful metaphor of a “whitewashed tomb” to describe the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. It applies with full force today, for hypocrisy is still with us: Outwardly religious people, following the appearance of religious piety, but insincere and corrupt in their heart.

Anti-Christian factions will call all Christians “hypocrites”, because none of us lives up to the standards we preach and teach. All of us sometimes get angry, react with pride instead of humility, fail to love our neighbor as ourself, etc. But to call this “hypocrisy” is erroneous. Hypocrisy does not consist of espousing a standard that one hasn't met, but rather, pretending to have met that standard when one has fallen short.


The key to avoiding hypocrisy is humility. If we are truly humble and do not try to pretend we are perfect or superior, then we admit we have fallen short. Sincerity cannot be hypocritical. We must always remember that salvation is a gift we have been given, not an achievement we have accomplished.

There is an enormous difference, however, when we consider people who would teach others to deny God; we cannot judge others, for judgment is reserved to Christ. But we may certainly oppose false teachings. And a “whitewashed tomb full of rotting bodies” is a great metaphor for the increasingly prevalent atheist world-view of secular society. (Why hasn't somebody written a book about Hollywood called The Whitewashed Tomb?)

Paul, in Titus 1:10-16, advises Titus on dealing with men who were “teaching things they should not teach.” His advice? “[R]eprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to . . . commandments of men who turn away from the truth.” We must approach this with caution; for humility, self-control and harmony are express virtues in Christian intercourse. And we must also remember, Titus was a learned elder under the watchful eye of the Apostle Paul himself, and the persons to be reproved were teaching in the name of Christ, not atheist or polytheistic outsiders.

How far we might go when interjecting ourselves into debates over immorality in the secular world is a difficult issue. We cannot be cowards in spreading the Gospel. But as a whole, the New Testament seems to treat the church as a separate world. Christ was vitriolic in His denunciation of false religious teachers, but silent concerning the terrible immorality of the Romans.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Jude 1:17-18: Remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.

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