Daily Devotion for May 12, 2014
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 the Morning
The night has passed, the sun shines its light upon us, and the day lies open before me. As I rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence fill me with love for you and my fellow man, holy God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Abide with me, I pray, now and forever.
[Freedom from anger.]
Prayer to be Free of Anger
Lord Christ, you taught us that anger with our brethren is a violation of your law, that it condemns us just as murder condemns us. Let me see clearly that anger is moral filth, as your servant James taught us. And yet, anger arises in my mind. [Pause to remember occasions when you have been angry recently.] I repent my anger, and ask that I be forgiven for this sin, by my faith in you.
Holy Spirit, be with me now and help me to recognize my anger instead of denying it. Teach me to forgive each and every act that makes me angry. Where I have been directly offended, grant me the spirit of forgiveness; where I have become angry over things I have seen other people do or heard them say, imbue me with such a powerful sense of acceptance that my anger will disappear. Let me remember always, Holy God, that I am not in charge of the world; You are. Give me total faith that you know what you are doing.
I pray not to live with suppressed anger, nor to deceive myself by denying my anger when I have merely suppressed it, but let it be utterly abolished within me. Grant me to live in love and peace, as my Savior did and taught us to do. Let my anger be crucified, I pray in your name, Lord Christ,
Now all glory to you, mighty God, who is able to keep me from falling away and will bring me with great joy into your glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to you who alone are God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are yours before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Importance of Form
There is no meaning without the form in which a piece of writing is expressed. This means that when we read the Bible, literary considerations are not optional features to which we might attend only if we have an interest in literary matters. We need to pay attention to the how of a Bible passage as preliminary to understanding what is said.
~ Leland Ryken, from “Editors' Preface to the Literary Study Bible”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB)
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Notes on the Scripture
Introduction to Biblical Genre
For the next few days, instead of studying a specific Bible passage, we are going to step back and think about how we read the Bible, and what we should know to ensure that we read it correctly. If this sounds boring, it isn't. Today's initial definitions might be a bit dry, but when we start putting it into practice it really gets fun — and controversial.
A side benefit is that you can tell people you're studying “Biblical hermeneutics”!
To describe what genre means, instead of doing a lot of work, let's just quote Wikipedia:
A Biblical genre is a classification of Bible literature according to literary genre. The genre of a particular Bible passage is ordinarily identified by analysis of its general writing style, tone, form, structure, literary technique, content, design, and related linguistic factors; texts that exhibit a common set of literary features (very often in keeping with the writing styles of the times in which they were written) are together considered to be belonging to a genre.
Okay, that's pretty dull. In layman's terms, genre means what type of writing the author intends. History is a genre. A history book is (or is supposed to be) an account of actual facts that happened in the past. Prophecy is a genre. We recognize that prophecy gives actual events that the writer believes will happen in the future; but unlike history, prophecy generally does not tell plain facts, but uses metaphor, overstatement (called hyperbole by grammaticians), and often uses a kind of language peculiar to itself. Poetry is a genre.
Genres overlap and have sub-genres. There is prophetic poetry, for example (i.e. Psalm 22).
Each book of the Bible is labelled with a single overall genre, for organizational purposes (see list below). But often one type of book will contain verses or chapters of a different type. Exodus, considered an historical book, contains poetry: a long psalm spoken by Moses. Exodus also is full of law.
Double genres — where a reader can read a passage in two completely different ways — are usually rare, but occur frequently in the Bible. Think about Exodus' account of the ten commandments. It is historical, because it tells how and when the ten commandments were given to the Hebrews, as a past factual matter. But we also read it as a current legal text; we take the ten commandments completely out of their historical setting and read them as rules of conduct that apply directly to us today.
The books of the Bible are ordered in sections, according not only to chronology but also according to genre. Job, the 18th book, is much earlier in time than Esther, the 17th. In fact, Job is actually the oldest book in the Bible and was written before Genesis (although the first chapters of Genesis deal with an earlier period).
The traditional divisions are sometimes a bit inaccurate; but everyone who talks about genre and the Bible knows them, so it is a good starting point:
- The Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers. While these stand together as the fundamental holy books of Judaism (the Torah), they encompass several different literary genres: primarily history and law, with sections of prophecy and poetry. The first 11 chapters of Genesis are unique in the Bible, and might be called “primeval creation history”.
- History: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. These are aptly named, as they are the history of the Hebrew people from @ 1300 B.C. to @ 360 B.C.
- Wisdom: Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Song of Solomon. This is a catch-all label for the five books that don't fit anywhere else.
- Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel.
- Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
- Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Like the Pentateuch, the Gospels are primarily historical but include a wide variety of literary genres.
- History: Acts.
- Epistles: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude.
These are grouped by their basic literary form — they are all letters — and are often subdivided by author (especially “Epistles of Paul”) or the intended recipient, such as Church Epistles (e.g. Galatians, to the church in Galatia), General Epistles (written specifically to be passed around, e.g. 1 and 2 Peter), and Pastoral Epistles (written as advice to a specific missionary, e.g. Titus.).
- Apocalyptic: Revelation.