Daily Devotion for November 2, 2014
Feast of All Souls
(Daylight Savings ends in North America - set clocks back 1 hr)
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 takes us to Westminster Cathedral this week, for a lovely rendition of Psalm 67. We do not have an ERV Bible, but the text from the King James is printed to the right. The wording differs a bit.
Prayer for Purity of Worship
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires are known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that I may perfectly love you and worthily praise your holy name. Through Christ I pray,
Almighty God, who does freely pardon all who repent and turn to Him, I confess that I have sinned against your Holy Word. I pray that you will now fulfill in me and in every contrite heart the promise of redeeming grace; forgiving all our sins, and cleansing us from an evil conscience; through the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus our Lord.
Prayer to Do God’s Will
Oh Lord God, Father Almighty who created me and everything I see and enjoy, blessed and beautiful Jesus, love of my heart, bounteous Holy Spirit of God who is so kind as to be with me and comfort me whenever I ask, I thank you for all that I am and all that I have had in my life. Thy will be done, my God. I ask only that you let me know your will for me, for I am often confused or conflicted, and I seek your guidance. Knowing your will for me, let me be anxious for nothing. And I pray for the strength, the power and the energy, to accomplish your purpose, both today and in the week to come. All glory be to you, one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who was before time and will be forever,
For the Needy
Dear Lord above, never let me forget about those who are hurting from guilt, shame and other afflictions I may not know about. Show me that I need to remember those who are: sick, imprisoned, lonely, confused, in need of a friend, dying, hungry, spiritually lost in their lives — wandering aimlessly through life. Teach me to comfort my brothers and sisters in their hours of need, wherever they may be. Guide me to look deeply into their hearts and understand.
Teach me to reach out my hands and help them up and feed their souls and hearts with your word, O Lord. Let me never forsake one of my hurting brothers or sisters along life's way. Grant me the strength to carry forth your will and your way in bringing all to you, dear Father. I pray this needful prayer through your blessed Son, Jesus Christ.
[Show me the path of your will.]
Now the God of patience and consolation grant to me, and to all who pray in the name of Christ, to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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.
Psalm 67 (AKJV)
God be merciful unto us, and bless us;
and cause his face to shine upon us;
That thy way may be known upon earth,
thy saving health among all nations.
Let the people praise thee, O God;
let all the people praise thee.
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy:
for thou shalt judge the people righteously,
and govern the nations upon earth.
Let the people praise thee, O God;
let all the people praise thee.
Then shall the earth yield her increase;
and God, even our own God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.
James 1:5-11 (NASB)
From Belief to Behavior
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.
Notes on the Scripture
We are pleased to offer a guest commentary on the Epistle of James, running on consecuive Sundays, from Dr. Ken Boa of Atlanta.
Last Sunday, as we began to look at the book of James, the wisdom literature of the New Testament, we saw that tests of faith are a normal part of the Christian's experience (Jas. 1:1-4). James counsels that the attitude we should maintain during such times of adversity is a joyful anticipation of the Christlike character these tests are designed to forge in our lives. This divine perspective can help us respond with trust in God in spite of our circumstances.
Even so, it is difficult for most of us to move from the level of belief to the level of behavior. We may believe that there is no progress in the spiritual life without problems, but how do we turn theory into practice? This is where James 1:5 comes in: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” As we have already seen, wisdom is not a matter of intellectual attainment but of moral and spiritual discernment. Knowledge is theoretical, but wisdom enables one to apply the truth in very practical ways.
All of us face times of testing when we find ourselves bankrupt in the area of practical wisdom. Whenever this happens, James encourages us to turn to the source of wisdom who generously bestows this gift upon those who ask for it. God gives “generously and without reproach”--“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8). When we ask God for the wisdom to see our circumstances from an eternal perspective so that we can take the right course of action, we can be assured of a yes answer.
The only condition is that we “ask in faith without any doubting” (Jas. 1:6). The word for doubt in this verse means to be in two minds. The one who wavers in unbelief bobs up and down like a ship in a stormy sea, tossed around by circumstances. Because of his lack of trust, such a person cannot “expect that he will receive anything from the Lord” (Jas. 1:7). This “double-minded” (literally, double-souled) man is unsteady (“unstable in all his ways,” Jas. 1:8) because he is not anchored in the assurances of God's promise.
We need God's wisdom to apply the principles of Scripture to our specific problems, and when we expectantly ask for this wisdom it will be granted--we have God's word on it.
In the next three verses, James illustrates this process by applying divine wisdom to the circumstances in which his first-century readers found themselves. These Jewish believers had been scattered because of persecution, and many had suffered the loss of wealth and esteem. This was a difficult trial for them to endure, and they needed God's perspective on their problems. In spite of their “humble circumstances,” the apostle tells them that they can consider it all joy: “But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position” (Jas. 1:9). These believers may be downtrodden in the eyes of the world, but they are held in high esteem by God as joint heirs with His Son.
The sword of wisdom is double-eged, because it also cuts away the façade of social elitism: “and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away” (Jas. 1:10). From a spiritual point of view, prosperity can be an even more difficult test than poverty (see 1 Tim. 6:9-10,17). The wealthy are tempted to place their security in their possessions rather than the Lord and can easily cultivate an attitude of smugness, superiority, and independence.
If they do not seek the Lord's wisdom, the rich will unavoidably misinterpret their circumstances and fail to realize how temporary and uncertain earthly treasures really are. Like a flower that blooms but quickly withers, “the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away” (Jas. 1:11). The pursuit of making and keeping wealth will drain the life out of the person who “lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21; see Matt. 6:19-21). The only way out of this trap is for the one who is rich to “glory in his humiliation” by acknowledging that without Christ he is nothing and owns nothing. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).
Unlike the wisdom of this world, the wisdom from above tells us to look at the prosperity of the poor and the poverty of the prosperous. In both cases, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility” (Prov. 15:33).
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.