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Daily Devotion for June 19, 2015

Eve and the Serpent by John Dickson Batten, ca. 1895. This woodcut by Art Nouveau illustrator Batten has elements of medieval ornamentation, and the figure of Eve herself is influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Eve is still innocent, as indicated by the lilies; this depicts her first encounter with the serpent.



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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 for Faith During this Day

Holy God, I am weak, and sometimes the way grows fearsome; for this world is filled with evil, hiding at every corner, ready to steal my precious joy in You, craving to destroy my soul. Help me to keep my faith today, through every trial and doubt I face. Stay close to me; Holy Spirit, abide in me and make your presence known in everything I see and do. Give me strength the whole day through, mighty God, in the name of Christ I pray,


Thanks for the Gifts of This Life

O  God, I thank You for this day of life
for eyes to see the sky
for ears to hear the birds
for feet to walk amidst the trees
for hands to pick the flowers from the earth
for a sense of smell to breathe in the sweet
perfumes of nature
for a mind to think about and appreciate
the magic of everyday miracles
for a spirit to swell in joy at Your mighty presence


For Refuge

Oh God, who has been the refuge of my fathers through many generations, be my refuge today in every time and circumstance of need. Be my guide through all that is dark and doubtful. Be my guard against all that threatens my spirit's welfare. Be my strength in time of testing. Gladden my heart with your peace; through Jesus Christ my Lord.



[“Whoever is not with me is against me.”]


O  God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore: Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men and women everywhere love you and serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, 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.

<i>Luke the Evangelist</i> by Frans Hals, ca. 1660
Luke the Evangelist by Frans Hals, ca. 1660. Notice the ox (associated with Luke) in the background. See full-size.

Our Rewards

“God doesn’t do good things for us because we are good and we deserve them. He does good things for us because He is good and loves us.”

~ Joyce Meyer

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 12:28-32 (ESV)

The Unforgivable Sin

But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. . . . Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Notes on the Scripture

This passage contains two of the most difficult statements in the Bible. First, Jesus says that if we are not “with” him, we are again him. Yet in Mark 9:40 (and Luke 9:49-50) he says, “one who is not against us is for us.” The contexts are slightly different, but really, rather than being a contradictory, the statements are a comfort.

If the Matthew quote stood alone, we might fear greatly that our faith is inadequate, for few of us are steadfast in our faith and practice; we all fall short of compliance with Christ's teachings, if we are honest with ourselves. But the passages in Mark and Luke, where a man is casting out demons in Christ's name even though he is not one of his followers, indicate that those who profess faith in Christ may differ greatly in the details of their doctrine, and yet be “with” him.


oreover, Jesus himself indicates that some degree of backsliding might be overcome. We must always remember that Peter, himself, will deny Christ three times. (E.g. Matthew 26:69-75) So if we use the name of the Lord in vain — if we are angry and say “God damn you!” or even curse Jesus directly — can we later repent and find forgiveness?

Without doubt. It is not an advisable course of action: We should learn better; we do not cut our arms open with a sharp knife, simply because we believe the wound will heal. Real devotion and growth in the Spirit should, eventually, protect us from committing blasphemy (although it can take practice in people accustomed to it).

But what of the terrifying words, “whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven”? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to what Christ means to say; for one can never discount the possibility of the plain meaning of the words. There may be an unforgivable sin.

Most scholars, however, agree that the phrase describes an unrepentant atheist. It draws a distinction between Jews who will not follow Jesus and those who deny God's very existence. Jews (and others) who deny that Christ is the Son of God may later come around; a denial of Christ is thus not final until one dies. But one who lives a life in active opposition to God, the Holy Spirit, might foreclose the possibility of a deathbed conversion.

rider with harp on dragon

Good ammunition for this argument comes from John, who tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Most likely, the troubling nature of the teaching here is entirely theoretical and does not exist as a practical matter. Once we are reborn in Christ, we are changed, fundamentally. Having received Christ and undergone this transformation, it may well be impossible to “speak against the Holy Spirit” in the sense that Christ intends to convey. The sin is unforgivable, because only a truly lost soul can commit it.

endless knot

Daily Inspiration

“The Open Hand”

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John 14:6: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

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