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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 January 15, 2016

last supper | Leonardo da Vinci
The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci ca. 1498. One of the most famous paintings in the world, the sheer size of Da Vinci’s Last Supper shocks most people who see it in person for the first time; it is about 30 feet wide and 15 feet high.



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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.


The lovely voice of soprano Sandrine Piau gives a quiet and lovely moment of praise to the glory of God.

Prayer for Forgiveness

Lord, I have betrayed you by following my own way; I have denied you by fearing to follow yours; and I have mocked you by not taking your death seriously. I sometimes feel like I am lost. Let your forgiveness find me. Hold me in your strong arms and give me your new life. Live in me and with me this day, that I may by your power find forgiveness and be made ever anew, reborn from above, living fully in your Spirit every minute. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray,


Prayer of Trust When We Feel Lost

Lord God, sometimes I feel like a lost child, alone in the woods or on a strange street. I cannot see the road ahead of me. I fear what lies in the shadows.

I have no idea where I am going. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself. And even though I am trying to follow your will, sometimes I can't be sure whether I am or not. Sometimes, I think, I am fooling myself. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and that you will direct me, even if sometimes I get it wrong.

I hope and pray that I will at least not do anything today that I am certain will displease you, and I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always. Though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my troubles alone.



[People want Jesus to be their Savior, but they don't want Him to be their Lord.]


And now, as a little child, let me abide in you all this day, oh Christ, so that when you appear I may have confidence and not shrink from you in shame at your coming. For I know that you are righteous, and I am sure that I will be made righteous only by my life in you.


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
Tithe in Kind by Edward Robert Hughes, ca. 1895. This unabashed sentimentalist portrait shows a young woman bringing the first fruits of her apple orchard as an offering to a parsonage.

Proverbs 22:9 (The Message)

Generous hands are blessed hands
because they give bread to the poor.

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 34: 25-29 (ESV)

The Versions of the Ten Commandments [7]

“You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover remain until the morning.

The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.

You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk.”

Notes on the Scripture

Although we have gone over this several times, it might bear repeating here: In a nutshell, as Christians, we are not obligated to follow the letter of the law; but we are obligated to discern the spirit of the law and follow it. (In many cases, this makes the law much more demanding — e.g. Matthew 5.

To divide the laws of Exodus 34 into ten "commandments" — the Hebrew word used to describe them is actually "ten words" or "ten matters" — the most logical scheme (or at least, one logical scheme) is to separate these three as commandments 8, 9 and 10. These look very odd to us, accustomed as we are to hearing "thou shalt not steal". But just because they are difficult for us to understand and apply to our modern lives does not make them less important.

If you think of the crucifixion, you will remember that Christ's body was not allowed to hang on the cross. He was the ultimate Passover sacrifice and was, in accordance with the first of the laws stated in today's Scripture, consumed (by being put into a sealed tomb) at sundown on Passover.

Protestant communion bread and wine

In our worship today, we must not become sloppy or casual about our modern-day symbolic ritual sacrifice, holy communion. Those wafers most people eat with their wine or grape juice are unleavened for a very specific reason: we remember, and keep holy, God's commandments concerning Passover. There really is no reason not to. We celebrate God's creation of a saving relationship with humanity in the very specific way prescribed by God Himself.

In fact, many churches will take pains that the "blood of my sacrifice" — the wine or grape juice consecrated or designated for communion — is consumed in its entirety before the service is over. In, say, a Lutheran church, you might notice that the celebrant of a communion service will drain the cup at the end of communion and then cleanse it. If you ever wondered why: now you know!

But more generally, holy communion is a solemn event, no matter what church we might attend. We must never just go through the motions. We must remember and reflect on the Last Supper and the crucifixion whenever we do it, for that is its purpose. It is like an alarm clock, telling us "remember the sacrifice now". It is a discipline to make sure that we reflect upon Christ's sacrifice on a regular basis. And we cannot think that Hebrew sacrificial practices are so utterly foreign to us; reflect upon what it means, that we actually eat and drink, in church, in the heart of our worship service.

The second of today's law, the First Fruits Commandment, is much easier to translate into modern practice: When we pay the bills, we must pay God first. Our sacrifice or offering to God is our number one priority. It is the first check (or checks) we write, literally, when we get our paycheck.

Answer this question: Do you serve God, or do you serve mammon? Because Christ told us, in no uncertain terms, that we cannot serve both. (Matthew 6:24) If we serve God, why should it cause us pain to do as Paul suggests, and set aside our offering at the beginning of the week? (1 Corinthians 16:2)

Continued tomorrow . . .

endless knot

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Psalm 33:11 (NKJV): The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.

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