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Daily Devotion for February 25, 2015

Through the atonement of Jesus Christ we may be cleansed



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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 Love

God, my Father, may I love you in all things and above all things. May I reach the joy which you have prepared for me in Heaven. Nothing is good that is against your will, and all that is good comes from your hand.

Place in my heart a desire to please you and fill my mind with thoughts of your Love, so that I may grow in your wisdom and enjoy your peace.



Almighty God, who does freely pardon all who repent and turn to Him, now fulfill in every contrite heart the promise of redeeming grace; forgiving all our sins, and cleansing us from an evil conscience; through the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.



[Fill my heart with thoughts of love.]


Now all glory to God, who is able to keep me from falling away and will bring me 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.

Parable of the Sower by James Tissot, ca. 1884. The parable is best told in Matthew 13:1-23.

Is the Bible Hard to Understand?

“The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”

~ Soren Kierkegaard

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Matthew 12:9-14 (ESV)

Jesus, the Scribes, and the Law [1]

He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him.

He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.

But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

Matthew 5:17-20 (ESV)

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Notes on the Scripture

Before we go any further in Galatians, we need to understand some basic principles about Christ and the Law.

God gave His laws to Moses and the Hebrews at Mount Sinai. These were written down in the Torah, the written Hebrew Scripture and most fundamental sacred writing of Judaism. A copy of the Torah, written in Hebrew on scrolls, is kept in Jewish synagogues and temples today. Christians call the Torah the “Penteteuch”, a fancy name for the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers. The law is scattered through them, interspersed with historical and poetic passages, but the bulk of the law is set down in the last three books, beginning in Exodus 20 with the first recitation of the Ten Commandments.

Many people who have read one or more Gospels do not realize a fundamental aspect of Jesus' life: He was a practicing Jew. He and all of His disciples followed the Law. The Last Supper, after all, was a Passover feast. So — why did the Pharisees accuse Him of breaking it so often? To understand it, one needs to understand several aspects of Judaism in 30 A.D.

The scribes, who were a class of specially educated men, became the keepers of the Law, the professors of ancient Judaism; somebody had to be able to read the Torah, after all, and the job naturally fell to those who learned to read and write as part of their occupation. In the thousand years before Christ was born, the scribes evolved from being secretaries to being teachers.


But as men will do, they were not satisfied with reading what was written, and began to interpret it. If a man was unsure what he might do on the Sabbath, who could he ask? He had to ask a scribe. And if the Law was not clear, the scribe would reason something out. There was no baleful intention here and they took it seriously, consulting other scribes and trying to find out if someone else had already answered the question.

These interpretations grew and grew, slowly evolving into an vast and detailed body of secondary, oral law. Those with strong attachment to these oral laws became the Pharisees. By the time of Christ, they were organized, influential, and powerful, especially in the countryside of Judea outside JerusalemThe Sadducees were centered in Jerusalem itself and predominated there. Annas and Caiphas were Sadducees..

The actual law about the Sabbath is neither long nor precise. (Exodus 20:8-10) The oral law of the Pharisees, by contrast, contained hundreds of nit-picking rules. First-aid was allowed but treatment was forbidden. A Jew could bandage a fresh wound on the Sabbath, but could not put ointment on it.

Thus Christ, when he healed a man's withered hand on the Sabbath, did not transgress the law, but did transgress the Pharisees' oral interpretation. This exemplifies a much broader issue between Him and the Pharisees, the difference between technical compliance with the letter of the Law, and spiritual compliance with the intention of the Law.

. . . continued tomorrow.

endless knot

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Isaiah 40:8 (ESV): The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

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