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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 July 28, 2015

Mary Magdalene and Mary, Mother of Jesus, bringing spices to Christ’s tomb. This gorgeous Victorian stained glass (ca. 1899) was created by J.W. Brown as part of the restoration of 13th-century St. Mary’s Church, Matching, Essex.



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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.


A beautiful arrangement of this classic hymn by Fernando Ortega to remind us of the creativity of God. (With Marsha Skidmore.)

For a Sense of Wonder at God's Creation

Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Delight me to see how your Christ plays in ten thousand places, in limbs and eyes not His, to be the father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.


Prayer to Resist Carnal Temptation (by Jane Austen)

O  ever watchful Shepherd, lead, guide, and tend me this day; without Your restraining rod I err and stray. Hedge up my path lest I wander into unwholesome pleasure, and drink its poisonous streams; direct my feet that I be not entangled in Satan's secret snares, nor fall into his hidden traps. Defend me from assailing foes, from evil circumstances, from myself.

My adversaries are part and parcel of my own nature; they cling to me as my very skin; I cannot escape their contact. In my rising up and sitting down they cause me pain; they entice with constant baits; my enemy is within the citadel. Come with almighty power and cast him out, pierce him to death, and abolish in me every particle of carnal life this day.



[Defend me from myself.]


Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.


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.

Devotional painting of
Portrait of Uncle Dominique by Paul Cezanne, ca 1866.

Acts 20:24 (NIV)

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 33:1-6 (NIV)

Yahweh Announces He Will Not Travel with Israel

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”

When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’” So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.

Notes on the Scripture

“Stiff-necked” is a common term in the Old Testament, meaning stubborn, headstrong, and unwilling to learn. It sounds quaint to us, but the idiom make good sense 3000 years ago, among an agricultural people, when oxen were used to plow fields. An ox harnessed to a plow is steered, as today, with reins. If the ox decides he does not want to turn when the reins are pulled, he stiffens his powerful neck against them. The modern idiom, “headstrong,” has a similar origin.


od has been trying for many months to teach the Hebrews His ways, the ways to salvation, but they pull against His reins. God is trying to steer the Hebrews along the path of righteousness, but like headstrong oxen, they stiffen their necks and go their own way, veering off the path and into sin.

Throughout this passage and all of Exodus runs a depiction of God existing in a specific place, which is foreign to many Christians' concept of Him. We conceive of God as omnipresent, although we also might say we feel God's presence more strongly at one time than another. But in Exodus, drawing close to God is a physical act.

There is an unusual theological issue raised by Yahweh — God the Father — appearing in a physical location. How closely a person may approach His location depends on the person's righteousness.

It meant death for most of the Hebrews merely to set foot on Mount Sinai, when God was in residence. Seventy elders were allowed part-way up the mountain, and Joshua went nearly to the top; but only Moses has been allowed in God's presence, and even Moses cannot look upon the face of God. (More on this in the next verses.) The most righteous of people cannot be fully in God's presence, for all men sin and fall short of the glory of God; and too see God while one is tainted by sin means death.

Our modern concept of God, often lapsing into a nearly sentimental preoccupation with love, hides part of God's nature from us. We are blinded by Christ's love for us. People conceive of God as wrathful and destructive in the Old Testament, gentle and loving in the New. People speak of a “God of the Old Testament” as though He went on a self-improvement program, or bettered Himself with anger management: but the nature of God has never changed. God loves us, but He is holy, and will eventually and inevitably destroy that which is not.

endless knot

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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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