Daily Devotion for May 24, 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.
For “Oldies Saturday” this week, a fabulous gospel slave song by Shirley Caesar: Satan, We‘re Gonna‘ Tear Your Kingdom Down
For the Day Ahead
Oh Lord God, I come to you in the morning, full of hope that the day to come might be filled with joy and energy. Grant that I may do my work with a light and happy heart; and if there are tasks that I do not look forward to, or even dread, let me undertake them with courage and resolve. For this day could be perfect, if I can only live it in You and with You and for You.
Where I face frustration today, let me handle it with acceptance and faith that the outcome is in Your hands. Lead me away from anger or judgment of other people. Let me tend to my own garden instead of looking over the fence. If my neighbor's yard is filled with weeds, help me not to criticize, and keep me from envy of those whose tree bears more fruit.
And let everything I attempt be filled with the knowledge and guidance of Your Holy Spirit. I pray that the Spirit will be with me at every moment, and that I will always be aware of Him, and live every moment of this day in Your presence. In Christ's name, I pray,
[Doing my work with a light and happy heart.]
Prayer for Life
O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant me so to die daily to sin, that I may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
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.
Stir It Up
~ Matthew Henry, from Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible: Ephesians (1706).
Ephesians 2:8-9, 4:4-6, 6:10-13 (NIV, ESV)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
* * *
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
* * *
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Notes on the Scripture
Overview of the New Testament: The Epistles
5. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians
At about this point in the New Testament, the names of the epistles begin to run together. To most people, the words “Galatians” and “Ephesians” are nearly indistinguishable; and yet, Ephesians is markedly different from not only Galatians, but all the epistles preceding it.
Galatians was possibly the first epistle Paul wrote; Ephesians one of the last. Paul wrote his final six epistles while imprisoned in Rome (called “prison epistles”), three to churches (Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians) and three to individuals, i.e. “pastoral” epistles (1 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Timothy.). All Biblical references to Paul end with his imprisonment in Rome.
The difference in date is reflected by a distinct shift in tone: Ephesians is joyful and upbeat. Galatians was more critical and admonitory, for the churches of Galatia were young and filled with confusion, disgraceful conduct, and false doctrine. But Paul had spent three years in Ephesus and there were no such blatant problems. Ephesians does contain instructional material, but given in the spirit of encouragement, a cheerful sharing of the benefits of grace with a church on the right path.
The first three of its six chapters are divided only because of their length, for they form a unified essay — almost a prayer of thanksgiving — on the subject of redemption: the great mystery and benefit of grace, which both they and we have inherited by faith in Christ, His blood and resurrection. The two longest sentences in the Bible are found in Ephesians 1. You can feel Paul's excitement pouring out of his pen.
Chapters 4-6 instruct the reader on correct Christian behavior, but the tone is inspirational rather than critical. Paul treats the Ephesians as spiritually mature, and as a result, the advice he gives speaks directly to us today. Some of the lessons are difficult to hear, especially for the new believer, for Paul teaches a pure and spiritual Christianity; he presupposes an understanding of the concept, “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). He thus stresses obedience and service, urging total focus on the glorification Christ rather than oneself.
The epistle concludes with a magnificent inspiration: Paul's “put on the armor of God” verses (Eph. 6:10-20)(followed by a short closing).