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Daily Devotion for November 16, 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.
A beloved old hymn, performed by the choir of the Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal) in Morristown, NJ.
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.
On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will talk and worship ever,
All the happy golden day.
Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we every burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown.
At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Savior’s face,
Saints, whom death will never sever,
Lift their songs of saving grace.
Soon we’ll reach the silver river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.
Music and Lyrics by Robert Lowry, 1864
Prayer of Ambrose of Milan
O Lord, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of your Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore you, a heart to delight in you, to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ's sake.
Prayer of Praise to Christ
Lord Jesus, You are the First and the Last, and the Living One; You were dead, but You are alive forevermore, and You have the keys of death and of Hades. You are the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David and the Overcomer. You are the Lamb who was slain and whose blood purchased for God people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You are worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.
The kingdom of the world has become Your kingdom, and You will reign forever and ever. You are called Faithful and True, and in righteousness You will judge and wage war. You are King of kings and Lord of lords. You are the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. And You are coming quickly, and Your reward is with You. Come, Lord Jesus.
[The sacrifice of Christ.]
Prayer to Use Our Gifts Wisely
Lord, give me each day the wisdom to see which things are important, and which things are not. Show me how best to use the time and talents you have given me. Help me to use all my opportunities wisely, that I may share, through service to others, the good gifts I have received from you.
And as I travel through the coming week, I pray that you fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.
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 33:4-5 (NKJV)
For the word of the Lord is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
James 1:9-18 (NASB)
9 But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; 10 and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. 11 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.
12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.
Notes on the Scripture
Temptation and Trial (2)
. . . continued from last Sunday.
Paul writes in Romans 7 and 8 that although the believer's inner self has been transformed by the Spirit of God, there is still a capacity to sin on the outer level of self. Thus, at any point we can walk by the Spirit, or we can carry out the desire of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Temptations appeal to the illicit desires and appetites of the flesh which are contrary to the new creation we have become in Christ. “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (1:14). In the same way that hunters and fishermen use the natural appetites of their prey to lure them into their traps, temptations are lures which solicit the lusts of the flesh.
There is nothing wrong with appetites and legitimate expressions of them, and even when we are tempted to pursue illegitimate expressions, we have not sinned. The crucial issue is how we respond to the pull of the flesh. “Then when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (1:15). James uses the metaphor of conception and birth to illustrate the pathology of sin as it moves from a choice to regard it as an option, through the gestation period of pondering it in the mind, to its actual fulfillment and consequences.
We cannot blame this process on God or rationalize it away. “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow” (1:16-17). His character does not change; “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). He always gives, and His gifts are always good.
The next verse illustrates this by referring to the greatest gift of all: “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures” (1:18). Unlike sin which is conceived in deception and darkness and brings forth death, God's gift of salvation is conceived in truth and light and brings forth life.
God hates sin, not only because it is contrary to His character, but also because of what it does to our lives. We must learn to hate sin for the same reasons. As new creatures in Christ, we no longer need be slaves of sin (Rom. 6:10-23). Instead, we can walk in the wisdom of this passage by recognizing the anatomy of sin and dealing with it in its earliest stages. When we walk in the Spirit in conformity with who we have become in Christ, we can say no to the deceptions and enticements of sin and yes to the meaning and purpose we have found as the first fruits among His creatures.
We are pleased to offer a guest commentary on the Epistle of James, running on consecutive Sundays, from Dr. Ken Boa of Atlanta.
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.