Daily Devotion for May 23, 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.
This is great Bach! One of his most tuneful and popular organ works, the Little Fugue in G Minor, performed by Ton Koopman in an unidentified German Baroque church.
Prayer to Follow God's Will Today (by Jane Austen)
O God, the author of all good, I come to You for the grace another day will require for its duties and events. I step out into a wicked world; I carry about with me an evil heart. I know that without You I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned, however harmless in itself, may prove an occasion of sin or folly, unless I am kept by Your power.
Hold me up O God and I shall be safe. Preserve my understanding from subtlety of error, my affections from love of idols, my character from stain of vice, my profession from every form of evil. May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Your blessing, and in which I cannot invite Your inspection. Prosper me in all lawful undertakings, or prepare me for disappointments.
Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food suitable for me, lest I be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or be poor, and steal, and take Your name in vain. May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Your will. Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, to walk in wisdom toward those without, and in kindness to those within, to do good to all men, and especially to my fellow Christians. And to You, O God, be the glory.
[Preserve my understanding from subtlety of error. (Do not let me rationalize my sins, convincing myself that they are not sinful.)]
Prayer for Peace
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live together in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.
The time has come for all evangelists to practice full financial disclosure. The world is watching how we walk and how we talk. We must have the highest standards of morality, ethics and integrity if we are to continue to have influence.
~ Billy Graham
Galatians 3:26-28, 5:16-23 (ESV)
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
* * *
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. . . . The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Notes on the Scripture
Overview of the New Testament: The Epistles
4. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians
Galatians might be the oldest book in the New Testament (the other candidate being James). It was written about 15 years after the crucifixion, to the group of churches that Paul founded on his first journey in south-central Turkey (Acts 13-14). After Paul had returned to Antioch, a number of people began to think up false doctrines and preach them in these churches, particularly “Judaizers”, who claimed that Christians had to become Jews first; the epistle is occasioned by the need to straighten them out.
There are four major themes in Galatians. First, Paul's credentials; second, that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised or otherwise follow Jewish ritual; stemming from this, the third and major theoretical point, that Christianity is freedom from the slavery of sin, ethnicity, the law, etc., because we are justified by faith; and finally, the importance of retaining the morality of the old covenant.
1) Paul, not having been a follower of Christ during His human ministry, needed to prove his claim to apostleship. Indeed, many people today (especially those who do not like what he wrote) do not grasp that Paul was an apostle, anointed by Christ himself for the special role of being the “Apostle of the Holy Spirit”, who would bring Christ's message to the Gentiles. Paul therefore goes into great detail about the circumstances of his ordination and his acceptance as a true first-generation apostle by Peter and the Council of Jerusalem.
2) Many Jews could conceive of Christ only in terms of the fulfillment of the old covenant; they therefore believed that Gentiles needed to become Jewish in order to be baptized and join the church. Judaism involved a great deal more than simply being circumcised (e.g. dietary laws), but circumcision was the tangible sign, and so it is used as a symbol of all the obligations of Judaism. But Judaism had been superseded. The old covenant was historical, not prerequisite. In Christ, all people stand on the same footing: Male or female, Jew or Gentile, king or slave.
3) In teaching the reasons underlying the end of righteousness through compliance with Mosaic law (“circumcision”), Paul begins to develop the theological doctrine that would be more fully expressed in Romans. The attempt to find righteousness by complying with laws was (and is) futile. God's laws of conduct are not completely abandoned, but nobody is capable of perfect compliance. Everybody sins. But through faith in Christ, and faith in Christ alone, our repentance will be sufficient for us to be forgiven and become righteous before God.
4) Finally, Paul touches on the error of antinomianism, the doctrine that we are free to sin all we want, because all sin has been forgiven through the perfect atonement of Christ. He reaffirms the law as God's eternal guide for moral conduct; and he urges the Galatians to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh, reiterating the kinds of sins that Christians will avoid.