Daily Devotion for October 26, 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.
Our “Virtual Sunday Church” this week takes us to Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal) in Morristown, New Jersey. The video quality is “home-made”, but this is a sing-along hymn!
my great Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!
My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease;
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me.
He speaks, and listening to his voice,
new life the dead receive;
the mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.
Hear him, ye deaf; his praise, ye dumb,
your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your savior come,
and leap, ye lame, for joy.
In Christ, your head, you then shall know,
shall feel your sins forgiven;
anticipate your heaven below,
and own that love is heaven.
Music by Carl G. Glaser
Lyrics by Charles Wesley
For Sunday Morning
Oh heavenly Lord, who decreed that we should take one day of rest, one special day in remembrance of you, today I celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the moment of His glorious victory over death. I add my voice to countless millions of others in thanks, in praise, and in awe of Your sacrifice for us.
Help me, dear Lord, to dedicate these few moments to You completely. You have taught us that we may dwell with you, even while we are caught in this difficult world, and I pray to dwell with you fully now. Guard me against wandering of mind and the intrusion of mundane thought, so that I may be fully present with you, through the power of Your Holy Spirit.
And in the coming week, I pray that my mind may constantly turn to you, so that I may always remember you when I am tempted to anger, to selfishness, to lust for power and the vanities of this world, or any of the myriad temptations that might assail me in the course of life. In the name of Christ and through faith in Him, I pray,
Prayer for Forgiveness
Heavenly Father, true God, who sent your beloved Son to seek the wandering sheep, I have sinned against heaven and before you; receive me like the Prodigal Son, and clothe me with the garment of innocence, of which I was deprived by sin. Have mercy upon your creatures and upon me, a great sinner, through the miracle of Christ's resurrection and your grace, I pray.
For the Holiness of the Church
Oh God my Father, who has always loved and protected your universal church, I pray that your Holy Spirit may fall upon all ministers, priests, pastors, bishops, and all who lead in churches; and upon all teachers of your holy Word.
Make them good and faithful stewards of your Holy Word, dear Lord. Bless them to lead us closer to you every day. Let them not be hypocrites in their actions, nor blinded by their personal bias to the truth of your teaching. Let them be strong against the pressures of the secular world, without compromise. Let them always strive for unity with all Christians, not pridefully dividing themselves from one another by the fallible doctrines of man. Raise them up, to peace and love and utter humility, that by their example your flock may be guided into the way of truth.
[I pray that my mind may constantly turn to you.]
May God the Father bless me and all who pray with me on this holy day; may Christ take care of us; the Holy Ghost enlighten us all the days of our life. The Lord be our defender and keeper of body and soul, both now and for ever, to the ages of ages.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
I Am a Stranger with Thee
Tears speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues; they act as keys upon the wards of tender hearts, and mercy denies them nothing, if through them the weeper looks to richer drops, even to the blood of Jesus. When our sorrows pull up the sluices of our eyes, God will ere long interpose and turn our mourning into joy.
Long may he be quiet as though he regarded not, but the hour of deliverance will come, and come like the morning when the dewdrops are plentiful. For I am a stranger with thee. Not to thee, but with thee.
~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon, from The Treasury of David (Psalm 39:12)
James 1:1-4 (NASB)
Testing Your Faith
James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Notes on the Scripture
We have a guest commentary today, from Dr. Ken Boa of Atlanta. This is the first in a series, that will run on Sundays, about the Epistle of James.
This commentary is the first in a series that will be based on the wisdom literature of the New Testament, the book of James. This book is so intense, practical, and concise that it is difficult to read even a chapter without getting hit between the eyes. Compromise and complacency were foreign to this apostle who combined the forcefulness of Amos with the wisdom of Proverbs. As we will see, the book of James is as relevant to our own trials, temptations, and personal needs as it was to its readers in the first century.
This epistle was evidently written by James, one of the Lord's half brothers (Matt. 13:55; Gal 1:19), who had become one of the “pillars” of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13-21; 21:18; Gal. 2:9). It may be the earliest of the New Testament books, apparently penned before or during Paul's first missionary journey at a time when the church was almost entirely made up of Jewish believers. James addresses his letter “to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” and shows a profound concern for these believers who were beset with problems that were testing their faith in Christ.
James wastes no time in getting to the heart of the matter and immediately challenges his readers to examine the quality of their faith. A true faith, he says, is a faith that will manifest itself in the believer's attitudes and actions. If it is alive, faith in Jesus will qualitatively change a person's conduct and character. Examine yourselves, James says. If there has been no change as a result of placing your life in Christ's hands, you would be well advised to consider whether you have really come to know Him (Jas. 2:14-26; cf. Matt. 7:13-27). Professing faith is one thing — possessing faith is another.
Don't misunderstand what James is saying: he is in agreement with Paul on the critical truth that salvation is by grace through faith. This is the glory and uniqueness of biblical Christianity. In the final analysis, every other religion teaches some form of salvation by works. The New Testament consistently teaches that salvation is a gift which must be received; we could never hope to earn it.
The original readers of this epistle were Hebrew Christians, many of whom had been scattered because of persecution at the hands of their countrymen for their faith in the Lord Jesus (cf. Acts 8:1-2). They were beset by affliction and adversity, and James counsels them concerning the perspective they would need to maintain during these times.
Part of this perspective is the realization that tests are a normative experience for a believer in Christ. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” James is not advocating a form of spiritual masochism — trials and tests come in all shapes and forms (“various”), and none of them are fun. But if we recognize the divine purpose behind them, we can “consider it all joy” not because of what they are, but because of what they produce.
These tests of faith are designed to produce the quality of endurance, that is, the ability to hold up rather than fold up in times of adversity. God tests us in practice, not on paper; without a context of problems, there is no progress.
Christian character is forged and refined in the furnace of affliction. God uses this process to reveal impurities in our lives by bringing them to the surface so that we can deal with them. As we respond by trusting God in spite of circumstances (the essence of faith), we continue to mature into greater Christlikeness. “And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The Christian life is, in fact, a series of responses to the very personal work of God on our behalf. The better we know Him, the more we can trust Him, and the knowledge of God is the heart of wisdom.
Dr. Boa is devoted to a ministry of relational evangelism and discipleship, teaching, writing, and speaking. He holds a B.S. in astronomy from Case Institute of Technology, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. from New York University, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in England. I highly recommend a visit to his website, KenBoa.org, which is filled with free videos, written commentary, newsletters, etc.