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Daily Devotion for May 5, 2015

<i>Vinea Electa</i> by Salvador Dali, ca. 1967.
Vinea Electa by Salvador Dali, ca. 1967. This mixed abstract expressionist/symbolist work captures the wrath of God expressed in Isaiah 5:6, where Israel is compared to a vineyard (vinea electa means “my chosen vineyard”) which God will destroy. A figure at the center is attacked by a dragon, perhaps a reference to Revelation.



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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 a Nigerian Christian

God in heaven, you have helped my life to grow like a tree. Now something has happened. Satan, like a bird, has carried in one twig of his own choosing after another. Before I knew it he had built a dwelling place and was living in it. Today, My Father, I am throwing out both the bird and the nest.


Prayer of St. Basil the Great

O  God and Lord of the Powers, and maker of all creation, who, because of your clemency and incomparable mercy, sent your only-begotten son and our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind, and with his venerable cross tore asunder the record of our sins, and thereby conquered the rulers and powers of darkness: Receive from me, a sinful person, O merciful Master, these prayers of gratitude and supplication, and deliver me from every destructive and gloomy transgression, and from all visible and invisible enemies who seek to injure me.

Nail down my flesh with fear of you. And do not let not my heart be inclined to words or thoughts of evil, but pierce my soul with your love, that always contemplating you, being enlightened by you, and discerning you, the unapproachable and everlasting Light, I may unceasingly confess my misdoings and show my gratitude to you: The eternal Father, with your only-begotten Son, and with your all-holy, gracious, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.



[Visible and invisible enemies.]

Benediction (from Colossians 3)

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within me all this day; and whatever I do in word or deed, may I do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.


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>The Samaritan Woman</i> by Julio Romero de Torres, ca. 1910.
The Samaritan Woman by Julio Romero de Torres, ca. 1910. Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4), the first Gentile sinner to know Christ.

Psalm 38:17-22 (NKJV)

For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.
For I will declare my iniquity;
I will be in anguish over my sin.
But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong;
And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied. Those also who render evil for good,
They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.

Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, be not far from me!
Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

Blue Latin Cross

Galatians 4:18-20 (Daily Prayer Bible)

18-20 And by all means, do strive for good always, my children; and not only when I am there with you. For even apart from you, I suffer for you. I suffer like a woman giving birth. I cannot even tell what tone to take in my letter; I am unsure how to explain all of this to you, because the second-hand reports I hear are confusing. How I wish I were there, so that I could hear your questions and problems myself. Then I could answer directly. But I cannot be, so perhaps this will help:

Verbatim Bible

18 And good to be striving for good always, and not only when present me with you,

19 children of me, whom I have-labor-pains-for until when might be transformed Christ in you.

20 and I am wanting to be present with you now, and to change the voice of me, because I am confused about you.

DP Parallel Bible (3-Column) - Galatians 4

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

Striving and Suffering (Galatians #48

In verses 19 and 20, we get two more abrupt, almost parenthetical statements that take some work to piece together. Compared to the trained rhetoric of the preceding chapters, Paul's writing here is almost clumsy. Each statement makes sense, but the style is aphoristic, like Proverbs, only without the poetic skill. We may be sure that these fit together in the minds of Paul and his listeners, but today’s readers (or translators) are challenged to understand how they connect.

When Paul tells the Galatians it is always good to strive for good, he surely means to exclude the striving of the Judaizers to pull the church away from grace through faith and return it to the “slavery” of the Law. But he also means to exhort the Galatians to be zealous for Christ; and he wants their zeal to come from their own spirit and faith, not depending on Paul. For if they wander off from the Gospel when he is away from them, they have not truly accepted it.


ne must think, here, of the Sunday Christian. None of us escape it entirely. We feel more religious when we are in church than when we are at a rock concert or fighting traffic. How do we solve this? One approach is to withdraw from the secular world, either totally or in large part. It is a strategy used by many of the most devoted Christians, now and throughout history. If going to a secular concert takes you farther from the Spirit, one strategy is to skip the concert. Many devout Christians will not go to non-Christian movies and or associate non-believers — except in the course of bringing the Gospel to them.

Use of this stratagem does have Biblical authority. Paul tells us, for example, not to “yoke” ourselves together with nonbelievers. There are varying degrees of Christian isolationism: Cloistered monks and nuns at the extreme, then separated communities like the Amish and Mennonites; and then people who live in secular surroundings but home-school their children, or send them to explicitly Christian schools, and center their social life on their church.

But we must also remember that Christ sent his disciples into the world to spread the Word. (e.g. Luke 10:1-20; Matthew 10) The famous admonition to them, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) Most of us choose to live in the world, to a greater or lesser degree. In our circumstances, our relationship to Christ is much the same as the Galatians’ relationship to Paul.

The symbolism of labor pains — and we might point out that Paul is never shy about mixing metaphors! — runs throughout the Bible. See, for example, Matthew 24:7-8; John 16:19-22; Isaiah 26:17-18. It is a rich metaphor, when one considers that pain in childbearing was part of Eve's punishment for her part in original sin. (Genesis 3:16)

So Christ, and now Paul, suffer a fate similar to that of Eve: to give birth to forgiveness, they must suffer as she suffered to give birth to children, and for the same reason. We must suffer for God's grace, not because God's grace has anything to do with suffering, but because our sin has built a barrier that is painful to breach.

endless knot

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Memory Verse

Romans 8:6 (ESV): The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.

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