Daily Devotion for November 6, 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.
To Keep God in Mind This Day
Lord, let me begin this day in devout meditations, in joy unspeakable, and in blessing and praising You, who has given me such good hope and everlasting consolation.
Lift up my mind above all these little things below, which are apt to distract my thoughts; and keep it above, until my heart is fully resolved to seek You every day, in the path where Jesus has trod before me.
That the World May Find Christ
ALMIGHTY God, whose compassions fail not, and whose loving-kindness reacheth unto the world’s end; We give thee humble thanks for opening heathen lands to the light of thy truth; for making paths in the deep waters and highways in the desert; and for planting thy Church in all the earth. Grant, we beseech thee, unto us thy servants, that with lively faith we may labour abundantly to make known to all men thy blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[Christ is planted in all the earth.]
And finally, grant me O Lord, I pray, the lamp of charity which never fails, that it may burn in me and shed its light on those around me, and that by its brightness I may share a vision of that holy City, where dwells the true and never-failing Light, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
~ Scarlett O'Hara
1 Thessalonians 2:3-4
Preaching in Purity
3-5 And we delivered the message with pure hearts, for there was no deceit in our words, no cunning or ulterior motive. How would God have entrusted with his gospel otherwise? How would we have had the boldness to face another hostile city? You know that we did not flatter anyone, and as God is our witness, we certainly were not motivated by greed.
3 [for] the exhortation of us not by deceit nor from impure motive nor with cunning
4 but just as we had been approved by god to be entrusted with the gospel so we speak, not as to men pleasing but to god the testing the hearts of us.
5 [For] neither ever with word flattering we came, as you know, nor in pretext for greed, god is witness,
Notes on the Scripture
There are two possible ways to read these verses, overall. First, we might infer that someone has been slandering Paul and his evangelism team, seeking to undermine their message by some sort of personal attack. Such an attack would not seem to have a high likelihood of success with the established believers, given Paul's sincere praise of their faith and dedication. But slander might well influence a person on the fence, someone hearing the message and struggling with questions of belief.
But Paul does not need to defend his behavior to the Thessalonian church. As he frequently points out, they themselves witnessed his activities. So, if Paul does not need to mount a defense of his behavior to the people who will hear the letter, why does he spend so much time doing exactly that? Because he needs to teach them how to defend the faith from ad hominem attack. He gives them a model speech to learn and imitate.
ost of us have had the experience of becoming tongue-tied when trying to defend a belief. Here is a solution: listen to a sucessful defense in advance. It makes one bolder as well as more eloquent, for one has confidence that the matter can be defended successfully. So Paul, having the spiritual gift of eloquence, rehearses them.
There is a second, even deeper level of intent here, which linguisiticans call “indirect hortatory.” By reminding the Thessalonians of how he acted, Paul is implicitly telling them how to act. Personal integrity and preaching the Gospel go hand in hand. In Christian teaching, the ends never justifies the means; to misquote Marshall McLuhan, the means is the message. The Gospel can be preached only in the Spirit, and the Spirit will not tolerate sin.
Paul's argument that God would not have entrusted him with the Gospel, unless he were sincere, sounds like the logical fallacy of “begging the question.” Logic tells us that Paul cannot preach the existence of God, and then seek to prove he is right by arguing that God would not let him preach if he were wrong. But that is not his purpose. He is telling the Thessalonians, indirectly, that to preach God's Word with any motive other than absolute sincerity will displease Him.
Did you think we would forget Scarlett O'Hara? We may love her, but her flaws are many. The sheer oxymoron of her statement is breathtaking — “as God is my witness, if I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. . . . ” But: Does Paul suffer the same flaw? Christ taught that we should not swear an oath, yet Paul uses (more or less) the same words as Mrs. Rhett Butler.
Unlike Scarlett, when Paul invokes God's witness, he is not swearing an oath, but stating a fact. He is saying, in effect: “Thessalonians, take note: God is watching.” God will be our judge and He will not need testimony from anyone else about our lives.