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Daily Devotion for June 7, 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 Day (inspired by Jane Austen)
Give me grace Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address you with my heart, as with my lips. You are everywhere present, from you no secret can be hidden. May the knowledge of this, teach me to fix my thoughts on you, with reverence and devotion, that I may not pray in vain.
May I now, and on each return of morning, consider how I will spend the day ahead; what thoughts will prevail in my mind? What words will I speak? Will my actions reflect your will, or my own? How far can I acquit myself of evil, and live in the goodness and beauty of my Lord Christ?
Will I think irreverently of you? Will I disobey your commandments? Will I neglect and make excuses for any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline me to ask my heart these questions oh! God, throughout the day, to save me from deceiving myself by pride or vanity.
And give me always a thankful sense of the blessings in which I live, of the many comforts of my lot; that I may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference. Hear me almighty God, for his sake who has redeemed me, and taught me thus to pray.
[Let me address you with my heart as with my lips.]
For Those in Need of Strength
I pray, Lord, for all who will need strength and courage in the day ahead: For those who face danger. For those who risk themselves for others. For those who must make an important decision today. For people who are seriously ill. For those facing persecution or torture. I ask you, Lord, to give them the power of your Spirit,
Community of Prayer
I pray to you, dearest Jesus, for all the graces I need to know you, to love you and serve you faithfully unto death, and to save my soul. Give me a tender and fervent devotion to your sacred passion by which I was redeemed, venerating you each day in prayer, and teach me how to unite sorrows and sufferings of my life with your own.
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.
No matter how just your words may be, you ruin everything when you speak with anger.
~ John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (347-407 A.D.)
James 1:19-21; 2:14-18; 4:1-4 (ESV)
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
* * *
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
* * *
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Notes on the Scripture
Overview of the New Testament: The Epistles
18. The Epistle of James
Everyone has parts of the Bible that they don't want to hear. And for most people, it is something in James.
St. James (Durer, ca. 1516)
Protestants and many prominent Catholics believe that James (“the Just”) was the half-brother of Jesus; however, the official doctrine of the Catholic and Orthodox churches teaches that he was Jesus' cousinThis stems from the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, i.e., the conviction that Mary had no children after Jesus.. James was apparently a latecomer to the faith. The Gospels all record that Jesus’ family were not believers; John states simply, “even his own brothersThis is taken to refer to James by all Christian denominations, although, the stated Orthodox/Catholic doctrine is that “brothers” is a generic term meaning “family”. did not believe in him.” (John 7:5)
Whatever his early misgivings may have been, nobody doubts that James became a devout and convicted Christian either late in Jesus' life, or after His resurrection. He was enormously influential in the early church; the book of Acts (e.g. Acts 15:12-21) indicates that he had equal footing with Peter in the Council of Jerusalem.
His epistle, probably the earliest-written book of the New Testament, is also enormously important as a theological check on the misstatement of such matters as justification by faith and the involvement of the church in politics. It is also notable for the powerful criticism of loose talk, in general, and anger, in particular; he identifies anger as “moral filth” in the passage above.
Chapter 1 (of 5) is a general introduction. Chapter 2 treats two subjects, in plain direct language. First, that deference to the richer members of a church is completely contrary to Christ's teaching; and second, that faith and action are inseparable: “faith” that consists only of words is insufficient to find salvation.
Chapter 3 treats the dangers of speaking unwisely and pridefully. Chapter 4 discusses the incompatibility between love for the world and love for God.
Chapter 5 begins with a vituperative warning to those who create wealth by exploiting the poor and powerless. It then counsels patience in the face of hardship; repeats Jesus' admonition that no oath of any kind be sworn; extols the power of prayer; and finally, in one sentence, approves those who save fellow Christians from hell by convincing them to repent.
This last sentence, again, has enormous theological significance as a check against “cheap grace”; there are a variety of views on whether a person of true faith can recant and lose his salvation — the Bible seems to have verses that support three different positions, but we don't have space to discuss such a major issue today, except to say that this last sentence of James is cited by those who believe salvation may be lost.