Daily Devotion for November 21, 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.
When I wake up in glory,
And to Jesus I'll sing redemption story.
Oh, I shall see Him, blessed be,
He who has bought me to be free.
When I wake up,
Yes, in glory by and by.
I shall go some sweet day,
And from earth shall pass away,
And my soul shall reach a better land.
Oh my soul shall be free,
And the Host shall reveal,
And the King Eternal shall understand.
When my weary eyes I close,
And I've sunk to sweet repose,
Singing Hallelujah, Hallelujah, and I know;
All my sorrows will be past,
As with sinners they will pass,
And I'll leave all my troubles here below.
What a Great Morning
Holy God, thank you for giving me another morning! I am lucky to be alive on your beautiful planet, so full of marvelous things and the beautiful plants and animals and all the people you have created in your image. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, now and all day long, until I go to sleep, because I want to live with you every minute of this day. The time and opportunities I have right now will never return, so help me make the best of it, Lord. And let me remember this one thing: You know what you are doing, whether I can see it or not; so I will try to remember today that you are in charge, that you put me here for a reason and that, by your grace, things will turn out with your triumph and the Kingdom of Heaven, for all those who live by your grace. All praise to you forever,
To Treat Others with Love and Understanding
Heavenly Lord, you have commanded us to love one another, but sometimes even when I am pleasant to another person it is not sincere. Help me, I pray, to be sincere in choosing good over evil. Let my love and concern for others not be a sham. When I work for you, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I might be committed and enthusiastic in your service. Let me live in your presence, and not get so wrapped up in my life that I forget about you.
And may I be patient when difficulties arise and not give way to frustration and anger, knowing always that the result belongs to you. Let me not take offense at others, let me not be thin-skinned; but shielded by the power of your Spirit, let me not hear insult where none is intended, and shrug off even the most intentional. In Christ's name, I pray this.
[Let me not be thin-skinned.]
And now, as a little child, let me abide in you all this day, oh Christ, so that when you appear I may have confidence and not shrink from you in shame at your coming. For I know that you are righteous, and I am sure that I will be made righteous only by my life in you.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 51:10-11 (KJV)
Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence;
and take not thy holy spirit from me.
1 Thess. 3:6-8 (DP)
6-8 But now, all is well. Timothy has returned with the good news that your faith and love remain strong. He says that you miss us as much as we miss you. What a comfort this reassurance of your steadfastness has been; we have our own share of distress and affliction, remember, so news of your faithfulness really lifted our spirits. If you remain faithful, we continue to live.
6 But now having come Timothy to us from you and telling the good news to us the faith and the love of you, and that you have remembrance of us good at all times, longing us to see just as also we you,
7 because of this we were reassured, brothers, about you in all the distress and affliction of us on account of the of you faith,
8 for now we live if you stand fast in lord.
Notes on the Scripture
Walking the Walk
When Paul says Timothy came back “telling good news” he uses the Greek equivalent of “evangelize” (euaggelizo). The word does have, as one of its definitions, bringing generic good news, but the New Testament uses it only to refer to the Gospel of Christ. Knowing this, Paul's point becomes clear: The Thessalonians' behavior is the Gospel; their lives are the message of Christ.
He has previously said that they imitated Christ, and now he strongly implies that the imitate Him in the most profound sense: They are an example of the Word made flesh, to the degree it is possible for normal (non-divine) people. They do not simply understand and practice the Gospel; they embody the Gospel. This is an early hint of a doctrine that will be explained, explicitly and at length, in later letters. They have been reborn and the Holy Spirit does not simply speak to them, but also inhabits them.
Paul next recounts that the Thessalonians “remember” him, exactly the same term he used to demonstrate his continuing feelings toward them in the very first verses of the letter. In fact, if we look at 1:2-5, we see striking similarites. He thus honors them by comparing them to himself. They have advanced to the point where they support Paul and his group, just as Paul supports them. He wants to visit them to encourage them in their tribulation, but it has become a two-way street, for they now encourage Paul in his own tribulation.
But the element of teacher to student remains. The memory the Thessalonians have is “good” in the basic sense: the Greek term used does not mean “fond” or anything like that, but “pertaining to meeting a high standard of merit.” Translations of it as “kindly” (NASB), or even worse, “pleasant memories” (NIV), suck the guts out of the passage.
Their memory is good, because they remember what he taught them; they live according to the model he gave them, in word and deed. Today we associate the master-disciple relationship with the Orient, but it was powerful in both Greek and Hebrew society. “A disciple continued to be guided by the exemplary life of his teacher in his absence by remembering him.” (Abraham J. Malherbe, The Letters to the Thessalonians, p. 207.)
The element of both human fondness and Christian love are present; but the accuracy of their memory is critical, just as the accuracy of the apostles' memory of Christ is critical.
Finally, we get a difficult statement: “If you stand fast in the Lord, we live.” Perhaps this sounds dramatic, but Paul is serious. Paul feels that the unity of believers has paramount importance, to their own lives and to the spread of Christian faith. He echoes Christ's sentiment: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine . . . ” (John 15:4) The most salient instance of bearing fruit, especially for Paul, is bringing others to Christ. To bring others to Christ, to live in harmony with them, and to see them live in purity and love with one another, is life itself.