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Daily Devotion for September 17, 2016

<i>Garden of Eden</i> by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Breughel, ca. 1615.
The Garden of Eden by Peter Paul Rubens (who painted the figures) and Jan Brueghel (who painted the background and animals) ca. 1615. An unusual and extremely successful collaboration by two great masters. (Eve adds another dimension to the saying, “you are what you eat”!) (See Full-size.)



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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.


Saturday is “Oldies Day” on Daily Prayer. This a capella rendition of Rock of Ages might actually be too old to be called an “Oldie,” but we can imagine our forebears singing exactly like this, 100 or more years ago.

Prayer for the Morning

Heavenly Father, I give you a million thanks that I have woken up alive this morning, once again to witness the magnificence, the glory of your creation. Even on the dreariest of days, when the weather doesn't suit me, let me rejoice in the taste of heaven you give us on earth. For the hottest, muggiest day; the coldest and most bitter weather; the clouds, the rain, the wind and snow, the lightning and thunder — these are all your creations, oh Lord, and all of them have a great beauty if I just take the time to see it.

Should I be blind, what would I give to see the cloudy rainy day that I complain about? Should I be deaf, how much I would long to hear your thunder! When I lie dying, how sweet it will seem to have been bundled up against a chill wind, or to be soaked in sweat as I work in the heat and humidity.

Let me be always filled with gratitude for the world you have given me, great God, Father and creator of all that is.



[Let us close our eyes for a minute and remember how we take for granted the good world we live in.]

To Know God's Word

Heavenly Lord, I pray to be able to read the Bible and learn your truth. Give me the spirit of understanding and wisdom, for you know how difficult it can be sometimes. Let me understand and absorb the words in your Bible, dear God, and let me see beyond the words on the page and know your true and full Word, Jesus Christ. Let me not be impatient; let my vision not be distorted by my bias, or my preconceptions, or my foolishness, or the foolishness of the world around me. Give me the courage to change my mind, when that is necessary. Let me know you as you intend for me to know you, I pray, O God; let me find my way to you, for I crave to know you and be with you, now and for all of my life,



Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted me as a living member of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have blessed me with the grace of forgiveness through the sacrifice He made for me and for all people. Send me now into the world in peace, and grant me strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.


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.

Jesus the Savior, stained glass

Eye of the Beholder

“Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked.”

~ (Saint) Augustine of Hippo

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 15:10-20 (ESV)

What Defiles a Person [Part 2]

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.”

And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Notes on the Scripture


uring the hippie era of the late 1960s and early 70s, “you are what you eat” became a widespread slogan. In terms of physical health, science, and our earthly bodies, there is some smallReally, the slogan is more wrong than right. We excrete much of what we eat, and of the part we retain, the majority of it is completely transformed. For example, part of anything that has calories, no matter what it is, potentially undergoes a complex process to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the fundamental fuel for our muscles, brains, and other organs. truth to it. Here is a perfect example of the chasm between scientific truth and moral truth. If we misconstrued Christ's statement as scientific, we might say, “see there, the Bible is wrong.” This is the fundamental error of most scientists who attempt to comment on religion.

Christ tells us that we are not what we eat: what goes into our stomach is expelledJesus was more graphic. The original Greek/Aramaic is generally not translated literally, to spare tender sensibilities!. He is not addressing a scientific fact, but something more important to us; the life of our souls, a more eternal truth. The things of this world are temporary and will pass away, forgotten.

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children.
(Psalm 103:15-17)

What affects our eternal life is not what we eat, or anything else that comes from the physical world, for every scrap of it ends up on the waste heap. What affects our souls is our actions, what we say and do, for they are the evidence of what is in our heart; and only if our hearts are filled with faith in God and love for Him, and our fellow man, will God's grace sanctify us.

The great epistle addressing the subject of our actions is James, who tells us that faith without works is “dead”.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? . . . faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

(James also has quite a bit to say on the specific subject of speech, elaborating on Christ's teaching in Matthew 15. See James 3:1-12.)

Man ogling a woman

The principle that Christ teaches extends to the eye and ear, for what we might see or hear cannot be sinful in and of itself, no matter how foul it be. Sin is intentional; it reflects our heart. We saw a good illustration in Matthew 5:28, which is correctly translated “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” A man does not sin by seeing a naked woman, even if he feels the stirring of lust for her. He sins by looking, not by seeing; by intending in his heart to lust and looking at a woman to feed his lust.

endless knot

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Memory Verse

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 (ESV) : The Lord your God . . . loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

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