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Daily Devotion for July 20, 2015

Whore of Babylon, Cranach the Elder for 1534 Luther Bible, Book of Revelation
Since we published a Cranach illustration from the Luther Bible last Saturday, we couldn't resist this flamboyant woodcut of the "Whore of Babylon" from Revelation. By Lucas Cranach the Elder, for Martin Luther’s 1534 Bible.



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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.


What a Day That Will Be is pure comfort food — musical macaroni and cheese.

Prayer for the Day Ahead

Who can tell what a day might bring? Therefore, gracious God, cause me to live every day as if it were to be my last, for I cannot know that it is not. Help me to live this day as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.


For the Forgotten

O  merciful God, take pity on those souls who live this day alone, without friends or family, forgotten by all. Bring the comfort of your Spirit to them, I pray, and let them know the most blessed company of all. Grant them to find the consolation of friendship in this life, and bring them into the light of your word, so that when they pass from this life, they may find eternal joy.


To Open Our Eyes to the World

Lord Jesus, light of the world, open my eyes to notice the magnificence of creation. Open my eyes that I may always value and appreciate all who are part of my life. Open my eyes that I may be quick to notice when people are going through difficulties. Open my eyes so that I share your vision and see truly and deeply, outside of myself.



[Seeing outside myself.]


Into your hands, O Lord, Jesus Christ, my God, I commend my spirit. Bless me, save me and grant unto me everlasting life.


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 Annunciation</i> by Edward Burne-Jones, ca. 1879.
The Annunciation by Edward Burne-Jones, ca. 1879. Pre-Raphaelite painters did their best work with vulnerable young female subjects, and the Annunciation was a favorite. Notice the soft lines and light colors used to depict Mary.

Mary (looking very classical-Greek) bares one foot; this ties her to Eve, who is depicted in the lintel being expelled from Eden by an angel, identical in appearance to the one who now blesses Mary.

Proverbs 24:17-18 (The Voice)

Do not celebrate when your enemies fall,
and do not rejoice when they trip up;
Or else the Eternal will know and be upset with you,
and He will release them from His anger.

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 30 (NIV)

Ritual Worship - Incense, Washing, Oil

[Enormous deletions have been made; omissions are not indicated by ellipses, to make today's passage more readable. If you want to read all of Exodus 30, click the link or go to your own Bible.]

“Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense. Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps.

When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the Lord. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less.

Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it.

Take the following fine spices: liquid myrrh, fragrant cinnamon, fragrant calamus, cassia and olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil. Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.

Take fragrant spices — gum resin, onycha and galbanum — and pure frankincense. Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you.”

Notes on the Scripture

There is not much to say about most of Exodus 30. It is interesting to read about the use of fragrant oil and incense, a practice that would be copied by the early church and continued by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches (although it was rejected by many Protestant denominations).

incense Hebrews
Some Episcopal churches still use
incense on special occasions.

The census, however, is important to understand. We are used to a census being taken just as a matter of good governmental administration, but it was a very different matter in days of yore. A census was a serious matter, since it defined control over the person counted, and was taken only in two situations: in preparation for war and for taxation.

Both taxation and war were religious matters for the Hebrews, however. They didn't even call their donations “taxes”; they were sacrifices to God demanded by the law of Moses. So, they didn't use census for taxation purposes like most nations, such as the Romans. We see a tax census in the Bible, though: the Roman census at the time of Jesus' birth.

Thus, a census for the Hebrews was preparation for a war: to some degree it was like calling up the reserves in modern times, although in Israel, the “reserves” consisted of every man 20 years or older. But war was a holy occasion, as they Hebrews would not wage war except by the will of God, as given through one of his proven prophets. David will get into great trouble by calling for a census in violation of this rule, in 2 Samuel 24 (and a plague will be God's punishment for the infraction).

Thus, only men of fighting age — 20 years, for the Hebrews — were subjected to this census, and only at the call of a prophet. The equal contribution by all men, regardless of means, might have been a class-leveling device, as persons of high birth might well find themselves taking orders from lower-born men in the Army.

The washing and the anointing oil, like some of the Hebrew dietary laws, had a positive effect on physical health. The priests were constantly handling food, and even an outsider of today would be happy to see them washing their hands. The anointing oil was actually an effective delousing agent. So the priests were purified both spiritually and physically.

endless knot

Daily Inspiration

“Life and Death”

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

James 1:21 (ESV): Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

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