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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 June 10, 2015

<i>Saint Bartholomew (detail)</i> by Anthony van Dyck, ca. 1619.
Saint Bartholomew (detail) by Anthony van Dyck, ca. 1619.
It is easy to forget that Van Dyke began his career as a Flemish master; Rubens called him “my best student.” The comparative frivolity of his later portraits, reflecting the vanity of English society (and probably himself), abandoned the budding greatness one can see in his earliest works executed in Antwerp, such as this treatment of St. Bartholomew (St. Nathanael).



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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 pretty hymn is sung by the choir of the Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School in Singapore.

To Live in God's Presence

Dear God, I know you are with me now. I know you are with me any time I call on you, or even think about you. Let me remember, every minute of every day, that you are with me, watching me, ready to help, protecting my soul even when the things of this world give me pain.

Let my every minute be lived in your presence. Let my every action be an offering of love to you. Let my every word be a prayer.


Because Of You

Because you picked me up, when I struggled to get through.
Because you healed my heart, when it was thrown and shattered.
Because you gave me hope, when it seemed so out of reach.
Because you filled me with peace, when chaos flowed through my veins.
Because you showed me the light, when there was only darkness.
Because you gave me comfort, when my voice cried out in pain.
Because you reassured me, when the doubts screamed in my head.
Because you kept me going, when there seemed nowhere to go.
Because you sustained me with strength, when weakness became all I knew.

Because you came and stayed, when everyone else turned around and left.
Because you gave me a purpose, when life seemed so pointless.
Because you restored my happiness, when life seemed to snatch it away.
Because you filled this emptiness, when the void echoed with loneliness.
Because you helped me let it all go, when I gripped the tightest to hold on.
Because you showed me the beauty of life, when the world showed me nothing but hate and corruption.
Because you gave me a better life, when the old one fought to come back.
Because I am nothing without you, nothing but a hopeless being.
Because only You could tear down my wall of pride, and instead build it back up with love and humbleness.

Because of all this, I give you my life Lord.
I will put all my fears and failures in Your hands, my worries that consume me, my pain that destroys me.
You were always there, even when I rejected You.
Because of all You are, my life, oh God, is yours.



[Christ will keep me going when there seems nowhere to go.]


I  pray that I may be blessed every step of my path this day by the great God of light. May your sun shine upon me; as the moon moves the tide, may your Spirit move my emotions with every grace and magic; may my heart sing with the voice of your angels and my hearth be warm; and may this and every blessed day You have given me be filled with joy.


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 Apostle Bartholomew</i> by Rembrandt, ca. 1661.
The Apostle Bartholomew by Rembrandt, ca. 1661. This extraordinary depiction of Bartholomew as a contemporary man look even more modern than the 17th century: this could be C. S. Lewis in his study. He holds a knife, a symbol of his martyrdom by being skinned alive.

Psalm 145:17-21 (ESV)

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Blue Latin Cross

John 1:45-51 (ESV)

Jesus Calls Nathanael

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.�”

Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?”

Philip said, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him, “Here is a genuine Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?”

Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are God’s Son. You are the king of Israel.”

Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these! I assure you that you will see heaven open and God’s angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Notes on the Scripture

Wednesday is our free day, and today we will look at the apostle whose name heads the “most likely to be left off when you are asked to name the 12 apostles” list: Nathanael.

Nathanael is mentioned only in the Gospel of John; in the Synoptic Gospels, Philip has a friend named Bartholomew who is called as an apostle. By the same token, John nevers speaks of anyone named Bartholomew, which has led scholars to conclude that they are the same person. But John, the least historical of the Gospels, does not name all twelve apostles. So although Nathanael is the fourth apostle named in John, and his calling is highlighted, John does not necessarily imply that he was the fourth apostle called.

Nathanael, we will learn later in his only other appearance (John 21:2), was a fisherman from Cana, in Galilee. His friend Philip comes to tell him the remarkable news of Jesus’ appearance. When he hears Jesus is from Nazareth, he is doubly skeptical. One might imagine a New Yorker being told that the Messiah is a man from Newark, New Jersey. Although there are many hints, nobody knows exactly whey Nathanael felt so negative towards Nazarenes. It was a backwater and rather a crude place, and there was certainly some worship of false gods there.

He goes to check it out, however, and his mind changes quickly. Jesus characterizes Nathanael as a genuine and honest Israelite, and tells him that he saw him sitting under a fig tree, where Nathanael had in fact been sitting. Today, we might suspect some sort of parlor trick, but apparently it was honest knowledge. Nathanael is convinced. But Jesus minimizes the miraculous nature of knowing about the fig tree; He promises Nathanael that he will see true religious miracles.

And that's about all we know, from the Bible. There is some symbolism involved. The fig tree will later be shown as a symbol for Judaism itself, and specifically the Judaism of the Pharisees. Nathanael’s name, in Hebrew, means “God has given.” So he does have some importance in the Gospel of John; he is representative of the good, devout Jew; he is the symbol of all the Israelites who have followed the Law and are now ready to accept Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law, to move out from underneath the fig tree.

This characterization is enhanced by Christ’s praise of him, “a genuine Israelite in whom there is no deceit,” which certainly raises him above most of the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees we enounter. Even such luminaries as Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimethea and Simon the Cyrene, while sympathetic to Christ, hide their sympathies to some degree. But there is no guile in Nathanael; he openly throws in his lot with Jesus immediately.

Later, non-Biblical sources contend that after the resurrection of Christ, Nathanael/Bartholomew traveled to India spreading the Gospel, and was flayed and beheaded by a minor king named “Astyages” in Armenia, directly to the east of modern-day Turkey.

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