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Daily Devotion for November 20, 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.
Martin Luther's Prayer for Morning
I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.
[Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.]
Prayer of Resolve
I bind myself to you this day, oh Christ, in your truth and in your sacrifice. I give to you my anxiety and my fear, my depression and my doubt, for you have promised to take them if we only ask; and I take upon myself your burden, for it is light and your way is gentle. May I keep this in my heart and mind all this day.
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.
Note: The illuminated E in the right column contains two scenes from Tobit: Tobias using the fish guts to drive away the demon (top) and cure Tobit's blindness (bottom).
Proverbs 27:17 (NASB)
Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.
1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (DP)
1-3 Eventually, we could not bear not knowing how you were doing, so we hit on the plan to send Timothy to you, while Silas and I stayed in Athens. Timothy, we thought, being a proven worker for the Gospel of Christ, would be able to bolster your faith against the trials you would certainly face. We knew what you were up against, since we have been through it ourselves time and again. We did our best to warn you what to expect. From what we hear, it was as bad as anticipated.
4-5 I was also, I admit, a little worried that the great Tempter might have enticed you away from your faith, undoing the good we had accomplished among you. Building up the church is our calling; having a church grow in faith means everything to us. So you can understand, it was agonizing when communications were completely cut off and we had no idea how you were holding up.
1 Therefore no longer enduring we consented to be left behind in Athens alone,
2 and we sent Timothy, the brother of us and fellow worker of god in the gospel of Christ, in order to strengthen you and to encourage about the faith of you
3 nobody to be upset in the tribulations these. [For] yourselves you know that for this we are appointed*;
4 [For] indeed when with you we were, we kept telling in advance to you that we were going to be afflicted, just as indeed happened and as you know.
5 On account of this I also no longer tolerating sent in order to know the faith of you, lest somehow had enticed you the tempting one and in vain might have become the labor of us.
Notes on the Scripture
ntirely by coincidence, in our “Oddball Wednesday” devotion yesterday, the concept of the Perseverance of the Saints came up. This doctrine holds that a person who has truly been reborn in Christ and received the Holy Spirit cannot thereafter be lost. Salvation is permanent and irrevocable. This is a tenet of Calvinism, but is also held by many Arminian denominations.
We will discuss the Scripture supporting the doctrine when we come to it, because it comes largely from Paul's epistles. But 1 Thessalonians 1, when read in conjunction with 3:1-5, would appear to contradict it.
Here Paul states a fear that the Thessalonian church might have been enticed away from their Christian faith by Satan. We must infer that it is possible; Paul is quite anxious that his work would be in vain. So then, the question in regards to Perseverance becomes, had they been fully saved? Because if the answer is yes, it would contradict the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints; Paul would be stating the possibility that they had been saved, but had thereafter lost their faith. So — had the Thessalonians been reborn and invested of the Holy Spirit?
Looking carefully at Chapter 1, you could reasonably conclude that they had. (We will use the Literal translation here; that is exactly what it is for, questions where we want absolute accuracy.)
5 that the gospel of us not was created in you in word only but also in power and in spirit holy and in certainty much, . . . 6 And you imitators of us were made and of the lord, receiving the word in affliction much with gladness of spirit holy,
Paul appears to state that the Thessalonians as have received the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. No contrary inference can be drawn from the lack of capitalization or lack of the definite article “the”. The Holy Spirit is never capitalized in Greek, and the object of a preposition without the definite article “may be, but is not necessarily, definite.” (Wallace, Basics of NT Syntax p. 110.) So, “spirit holy” could mean the Holy Spirit, or a holy spirit, or something along the lines of “spiritual holiness.”
But reading the entire chapter, setting this term in context, it is difficult not to conclude that Paul means the Holy Spirit, the person of God. What other “holy spirit” brings the Gospel to the hearts of men? Moreover, one might fairly read verse 4 to say that the Thessalonians are chosen by God; this would be evidence against the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible Grace, as well.
Every available translation reads “the Holy Spirit” in verse 5, and either “you have been chosen by God” or “elected by God.”
This will serve as a good lesson on the difficulties of doctrinal theology. One cannot say that this passage directly and authoritatively contradicts the notions of Perseverance of the Saints, or Irresistible Grace. Paul does not say “Brothers, you know that although you have been chosen by God, and even after you have received the Holy Spirit, you can lose your salvation and go to hell.” But one can say that the inference is quite strong.