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Daily Devotion for March 26, 2015

<i>Sacrament of the Last Supper</i> by Salvador Dali, ca. 1956.
Sacrament of the Last Supper by Salvador Dali, ca. 1956. Dali’s interest in painting Christ, and the reverance with which he treated the subject, are not widely known.



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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.


This catchy calypso song, based on Psalm 137, was a popular hit around 1980.

For a Christian Life

O  Christ, you came so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly,
grant me, throughout this day, power in my love,
strength in my humility,
purity in my zeal,
kindness in my laughter,
and your peace in my heart at all times.


Prayer of Thanks for Patience in My Tasks

Lord, I thank you for teaching me how to live in the present moment. In this way I enjoy each simple task as I do it without thinking that I must hurry on to the next thing. I do what I am doing with all my ability and all my concentration. My mind is no longer divided, and life is more peaceful. Thank you for teaching me how to do this, and please help me how to show others the way to learn to trust you more completely and to do everything which has to be done at your time and your speed.



[Living in the present moment.]


Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.


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.

<i>St. Anthony and the Child</i> by Frei Carlos, ca. 1530.
St. Anthony and the Child by Frei Carlos, ca. 1530.

Psalm 137:1-4 (KJV)

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down,
yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows
in the midst thereof.

For there they that carried us away captive
required of us a song;
and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying,
Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

How shall we sing the Lord's song
in a strange land?

Blue Latin Cross

Galatians 3:13-14 (DP Bible)

Redemption from the Curse (Galatians #31)

13-14 You know what is written: “The cursed will be hung on a tree.” This is why Christ endured crucifixion for us, to redeem us from the curse of the law by taking our place. In this way He transmitted the blessing of Abraham to the Gentiles, so that we all might receive, by faith, God’s promise of the spirit.

Verbatim Bible

13 Christ us bought out kOr redeemed. Much like in English, the literal meaning of redeem, “to buy something back” with money, is extended to the more abstract notion of Christ buying back our lost souls by paying our “debt” with His life. of the curse of the law becoming for us curse, that is written, “Accursed all the hanging on tree lAlt. wood. “Wood” is the literal meaning of the Greek word, but the Old Testament quote refers to a dead body hung for display on a tree, so “wood” is translated “tree”.
Then, ironically, in the context of the New Testament, we must understand that “tree” means “wood”, i.e. a cross built from lumber.

14 that to the Gentiles the blessing of Abraham might occur in Christ Jesus, that the promise of spirit we might receive through faith.

DP Parallel Bible (3-Column) - Galatians 3

About the Daily Prayer BibleThe “Daily Prayer Bible” is a paraphrase translation. This means accuracy to the original text has been sacrificed, to make it more readable and readily understood. This is especially useful in the Epistles of Paul. Verses are often out of order and often explanatory matter is included in the actual translation.

It is part of a larger work, DP 3-Column Bible, a Bible translation with 3 different levels of literal accuracy, which you can access by clicking the link at the bottom of the Scripture section. We call the most readable and least accurate translation the “Daily Prayer Bible”. The middle translation (“The American Bible”) is what is called a “literal” translation, accurate to the original text but using English grammar and idioms.

The third translation is a unique transliterative text, called “Verbatim Bible”, that has an unparalleled degree of accuracy but is not readable except with difficulty. It gives the non-Greek-reading user the ability to see the inaccuracies and ambiguities that become invisible in even the best so-called “literal” translations, such as the NASB or our own American Bible.

Notes on the Scripture

We head off into a tangent today, but hopefully an interesting one. We will start with a proposition that many people will find alarming: Jesus might not have been crucified. There is a debate among scholars about whether Christ was crucified on a cross, at all, or instead hung upon an upright pole with no crossbeam. If you are interested in the arguments, here are two examples: Theology Network and Wikipedia.

But the point I want to examine is not the arguments, but our reaction to the proposition. If your first reaction is, “that is complete nonsense,” well — so was mine. But this is a good lesson for us. Why do we react with complete, and even angry, dismissal? What if it is true? Few readers are going to have the training (or the time) to actually examine the issue and, thus, be in a position to know whether it is true or not.


e do have some good reasons, even without examining the arguments, to doubt the “hung on a pole” theory. We might think that early scholars would have been well-situated to translate the various terms correctly, and thus, the tradition of the cross would not have been propogated without good reason; furthermore, history tells us that the Romans often used a cross to execute criminals.

But there is another factor at work: People tend to think that whatever they have previously learned is true, and we will cling to falsehood simply because it is what we first learned. This is a major impediment to knowing the truth. With only a few exceptions, we must be open to the possibility that something we have learned in the past was misinformed. Otherwise, our quest to know God’s Word will be hindered by sheer personal bias.

After examining all the arguments, I have to say, it seems to me like the tradition gets this one right. Jesus was, in fact, hung on a cross to die. As pertains to our faith, however, the question is completely irrelevant. The only significance of how Jesus died is whether He fulfilled Old Testamant prophecy in the manner of death. And what the prophecy says is not that He would be crucified, but that He would be hung on a tree.

Hebrew had one word, etz, that meant both “tree” and “wood”. The Old Testament prophecy applicable to the crucifixion comes from Deuteronomy:

If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God. (Deut. 21:22-23)

The Romans, on the other hand, would often leave bodies of criminals hanging for many days, until they rotted, as a sort of warning. So the initial relevance of the passage to the crucifixion is that Jesus' body was taken down before sunset and buried.

Paul uses another part of the passage, however: “he who is hanged is accursed.” Now, the Jews would actually hang a particularly shameful criminal from a tree; and so we tend to see the word etz (meaning either wood or tree) as referring to a tree, within the Old Testament. But Greek (unlike Hebrew) has a specific word meaning tree, dendron, that Paul does not use. He uses a word (xylon) that means wood, but can be used to mean tree, the same way we might use “steel” to mean “sword”.

It is a masterstroke by Paul, in his argument that the Law is a curse. If you are confused at this point — and I bet you are — confusion is the intention of the passage! “Tree” and “wood” are so jumbled together that one can only conclude they mean the same thing.

Jesus was killed by the Law — because the Pharisees and Sadducees thought He had committed an offense against the Law of Moses punishable by death — and he was killed by a method that can be translated both “hung on wood” and “hung on a tree”. That which killed Him — the Law — cursed the Son of God. And cursing God is to be cursed by God. (Leviticus 24:15-16)

endless knot

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Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

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