Daily Devotion for January 29, 2015
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.
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Father, I thank you this morning for all that I have. Even if I have problems with my health, I am alive today. If I have money problems, I will eat today. I have clothes to wear, a roof to protect me, and air to breathe.
Let me never take for granted these gifts of life, oh Lord, but always remember that they come from you; without you, no man could make the sun shine or the tree bear its fruit. I pray to live this day in joy and thankfulness for what I have, remembering always who made me and who keeps me. In the name of Christ I pray,
For the Humility that Comes from True Wisdom
O Mighty God, who has promised that you will grant us wisdom if we but ask; I am beset by pride, by ego, by my unremitting vigilence of my image. When others slight me or give me less deference that I think is my right, I become upset. I find insult even in unintentional remarks. I am easily bruised, and at other times, I feel embarrassed or humiliated at the most trifling discourtesy or even when someone does not pay attention to me. I walk through the world as if I am its center and all should take notice of me; and when it does not, I am hurt and angry.
Heal me, my God. I ask for the wisdom of true humility, through the monumental power of your Holy Spirit. Bring me to a place where my ego is utterly secure in my knowledge and love of you, when I truly am satisfied that all glory is yours, and I may lead my life on earth in security and humble service. Through Christ I pray,
[Making my ego secure in Christ so that I might grow into humility.]
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make me and all who confess your holy name people of this light. Make me faithful to your Word that I may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
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 37:7-8 (CEB)
Don’t get upset — it will only lead to evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (DP)
Rejoice alway, pray without ceasing, give thanks in everything you do: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Notes on the Scripture
We have finished our first Pauline epistle, using Daily Prayer's original translation. I hope it was as rewarding for you as it was for us, and I also hope we have contributed some to the body of scholarship on the epistle. To finish up, today's notes will be a recapitulation and summary of the epistle as a whole.
Summary of 1 Thessalonians
- Greeting. Paul uses a form of greeting that we will see, with some variation, in all of his letters.
- Thanks for the Faithfulness of the Church. Paul is effuse in his praise of the Thessalonian church. He and his companions, Silas (Silvanus) and Timothy were run out of town after only a few weeks, and the Thessalonians have done a remarkable job of holding to the true Gospel and living a Christian life, in spite of severe persecution. Their example is effectively promoting the Gospel, for word of their lives has spread throughout Macedonia, and beyond.
- Paul’s Courage Comes from God. Paul shows that he could not have carried on by human courage, but has been lifted up by God for his mission. (We learn from the Book of Acts that Paul had, in fact, been severely treated in Philippi just before he came to Thessalonica.)
- The Pure Spirit of the Gospel Message in Thessalonica. Paul recounts at length his own exemplary behavior while he was in Thessalonica. He does not do so to brag, but as “implied hortatory,” that is, he is giving them instructions about how to act without using an imperative tone. The primary characteristic he seeks to encourage is to live with a pure motive of serving Christ.
- The Sinfulness of the Jewish Authorities. Paul compares the afflictions of the Thessalonians to the persecution of Christians by the Jewish authorities in Judea, and he is quite harsh in his assessment of the Judean persecutors.
- Paul’s Strong Affection for the Thessalonian Church. Paul waxes eloquent about his love for the Thessalonians, and discusses why he has been unable to visit them, the visit from Timothy as his proxy, and his hope to see them soon.
- Christ’s Followers Must Live in Purity, Honor and Love. Beginning in Chapter 4, Paul becomes more directly authoritative. He tells them to eschew sexual immorality —and especially, not to lead another astray — but to love one another unreservedly. He implores them to live quietly and mind their own affairs, so as to be a model for others and, perhaps, attract people to Christ.
- The Dead Will Be Raised. Paul straightens out concerns that those who had already died might not share in the glory of Christ's second coming.
- Prepare for The Day of the Lord. He first tells them to stop trying to guess when the Day of the Lord would come, and to ignore any and all rumors that it was imminent; it could be a thousand years away. They should live in a state of preparation, alert and sober, living in the sunshine of Christ/daytime, as opposed to those who live in the darkness of ignorance and will be taken by surprise, and suffer God's wrath.
- Christian Conduct and Benediction. Paul ends the letter with another set of instructions about how to live, with a specific command that people who are idle and undisciplined, spending their days meddling and speculating on theological matter different from what he had taught them, should be chided and even cast out; yet, not as enemies, but with love and concern. He ends the letter with the famous and beautiful quote, given in today's Scripture.
In short, the letter deals with three primary issues. First, Paul's praise and love for a church that is doing well and attracting outsiders to Christ, together with more practical matters about his visiting them. Second, specific information about how and when the Day of the Lord would come. And finally, encouragement to live quiet productive lives, in holiness and purity, despite the persecution they might suffer.