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Welcome back, Friend.

May the peace of God reign in this place
and the love of God forever hold you tight,
May the Spirit of God flow through your life
and the joy of God uphold you day and night.

Daily Devotion for May 12, 2015

Annibale Carracci, <i>The Flight into Egypt,</i> ca. 1603.
Annibale Carracci, The Flight into Egypt, ca. 1603. (See full-size.)



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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 to Walk with Christ Today

Dear Heavenly Father, I am learning to understand what your Word says. Yet so often I simply hear it or read it and think about applying it, but get no further. I want to do it and intend to do it Lord, but it is gone from my mind so easily. I am deceiving myself if I simply hear it and do not make it a part of my life.

Please help me today to take one truth and apply it to my circumstances. Oh blessed Holy Spirit, nudge me, remind me throughout my day, again and again, for I know I will find freedom in obedience to your Word. I pray, show me what I need to focus on, right now and wherever the day might take me.

Change my vision. Embolden me to practice what you reveal to me, for I am confident of the blessings that come from life in harmony with your Word. My life is yours: I give it to you, of my own free will, and pray you to take it up and show me your path. In the name of Jesus, I pray this with all my heart,


To Overcome a Persistent Sin

Lord God, it seems that I have a habit I just cannot break. It sneaks into my life, no matter what I do. I confess it and repent it, trying not to feel guilty , but it just keeps coming back. It pops into my head automatically and I give into it, time and time again, often not intending to do it but easing into it one small step at a time.

Dear God, you have promised that there is no temptation that we cannot overcome with your help, and that if we pray, you will send a Spirit more powerful than any sin to help us bear it. I am asking for just such a Spirit. Please God, I beg you, help me to overcome this persistent sin; for I am powerless over it. No matter how hard I try, I cannot shake it on my own. Show me the way, Lord, and if there are steps I must take, I will take them. For I am sick and tired of it and want to change. And I know — I know as a certainty — that your infinite power can overcome any human frailty.

In the name of the loving Christ, I pray,



[How does God “show me the way”?]

Dedication to Service

Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,


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.

endless knot

Isaiah 66:2 (ESV)

“For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

Blue Latin Cross

Galatians 4:21-23 (Daily Prayer Bible)

Hagar and Sarah 1 (Galatians #50)

21-23 Those of you who think you want to be subject to the Law, listen to what the Law itself says. Abraham had two sons, one of them with a slave and one with a freewoman. The son born to the slave was conceived in the flesh, but the one born to the freewoman was conceived in God’s promise.

Verbatim Bible

21 Tell me, the under law wishing to be, the law not you hear?

22 For it is written that Abraham two sons had, one from the slave girl and one from the free .

23 but the from-the-slave (masc.) had been born according to the flesh, while the from-the-freewoman had been born of a promise.

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

Paul’s assertion that those who want to live under the Law should read what it says, has a general meaning we discussed previously. But its primary purpose is to introduce Paul’s allegory of Ishmael and Isaac. In this sense it can be paraphrased, “Those who want to live under the law, listen to what it says about Abraham’s sons:”

Ishmael, being 14 years older than Isaac, would be the natural heir of Abraham under the Law of Moses (and, likely, the customs of the day), even though he was born to a slave woman rather than Abraham's wife. In roughly 1400 B.C., there were distinctions between wives and non-wives, but the lines were blurred.

The Law did not exist. Polygamy, concubinage, and carnal relations with slave or bondslaves were commonplace and had no stigma attached to them. Custom, not law, ruled. And we must not forget that Genesis spans a long period of time, and the customs were apt to change. We cannot assume that Abraham had the same expectations or customs as Moses or David (even aside from the Law, which clearly changed quite a bit). And in fact, Genesis reads that “Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.” (Gen. 16:3)


till, Ishmael was indeed born of a slave and Isaac of a freewoman. Paul tells us also that, while Ishmael was conceived “according to the flesh,” Isaac was “born of a promise.” Paul’s use of different prepositions alerts us that there may be more to this distinction than the obvious. When Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham, to bear a child who might be an heir, God had already made His initial covenant with Abraham, promising him that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars (Genesis 15).

Thus, when Sarah decided to make Hagar her proxy, she was trying to control her own destiny, trusting in her wits rather than God's promise. “And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.”(Genesis 16:2)

Does the line, “Abram listened to the voice of Sarai,” bring an earlier couple to mind? Of course — it reminds us of Adam and Eve. The magnitude of Abram and Sarai’s rebellion is not as great; God has not commanded either of them not to have a child by a surrogate mother. But although not outright disobedient, Sarai’s plan and Abram’s assent bespeak a lack of confidence in God to carry out His promise.

There is a common saying, “God helps those who help themselves,” but you won't find it in the Bible. In fact, it runs directly contrary to several basic concepts of Christianity, notably, the very notion of salvation by grace through faith, which requires an acknowledgement that we cannot help ourselves; God and God alone can save us.

More directly, however, we see several points in the Old Testament, during the conquest of Canaan, where God punishes the Israelites with defeat when they try to win a battle by their own power (e.g. Numbers 14:36-45), and other points (most notably with Gideon and Midian) where God requires them to weaken themselves to the point where they cannot win a battle by their own power, so that their victory will be more clearly attributable to God's intervention. (Judges 7:2-7)

To be continued Thursday . . . .

Prayer of a child, Catholic prayer card
This old Catholic prayer card is unabashedly sentimental, but gives us a wonderful sense of the childish innocence with which Christ tells us to come to him.

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“ Unexpected Violent Storms ”

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Matthew 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

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