Daily Devotion for January 30, 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.
Bach’s stirring Gloria from the Mass in B Minor. The only lyrics are Gloria in excelsis Deo - “Glory to God in the highest” - et in terra pax homiibus bonae voluntatis - “and on earth peace, good will to men.”
Prayer of St. Denis
You are wisdom, uncreated and eternal,
the supreme first cause, above all being,
sovereign Godhead, sovereign goodness,
watching unseen the God-inspired wisdom of Christian people.
Raise us, I pray, that we may totally respond
to the supreme, unknown, ultimate, and splendid height
of your words, mysterious and inspired.
There all God's secret matters lie covered and hidden
under darkness both profound and brilliant, silent and wise.
You make what is ultimate and beyond brightness
secretly to shine in all that is most dark.
In your way, ever unseen and intangible
you fill to the full with the most beautiful splendor
those souls who close their eyes that they may see.
And I, please, with love that goes on beyond mind
to all that is beyond mind,
seek to gain such for myself through this prayer.
For My Enemies
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead me from anger, prejudice, and selfish pride to acceptance, love, truth, and sympathy for all people, and especially those who would be my enemies in this life; and if it is your will, enlighten those who hate me, and bring them into your holy truth, that they may find you. Deliver all of us from hatred, cruelty and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[Moving from prejudice to truth.]
Benediction (from Colossians 3)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within me all this day; and whatever I do in word or deed, may I do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Christian Magna Carta
Galatians is beyond question one of the most important books in the New Testament. No other sets forth the doctrine of justification by faith so concisely or more convincingly. Most fittingly has it been called the Magna Carta of Christian Liberty. . . . And the epistle has lost nothing in force and pivotal importance with the passing of subsequent generations.
~ from “Galatians and You” by Norman Bartlett
Acts 13:1-4, 13-16. 42-43 (ESV)
Introduction to Galatians
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon . . . and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
* * *
Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand [explained the Gospel to the Jews in the synagogue].
* * *
As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.
Notes on the Scripture
n Acts 13, we see Saul, who has spent three years in the deserts of Arabia before going to Jerusalem to meet Peter, and then finding his way to Antioch; he has been completed by his period of meditation and revelation. The Holy Spirit moves among the church at Antioch and informs them that Saul and Barnabas are to be set apart for some special work. But, what “special work”? The Bible is short on the details of how it all came about, but it will show us what it has not told us: Saul and Barnabas sail to Cyprus and from there, to GalatiaGalatia was not a permanent, well-defined region and often overlapped with specific provinces. Here, Paul traveled in areas that could be called, correctly, either Cilicia or Galatia., the central area of modern-day Turkey.
It is Jack Kerouac informed by the Holy Spirit: two men setting out for parts unknown, without any real training or background, that will become known as Paul’s first missionary journey. At this point, without any explanation, the Bible begins to refer to him as “Paul”, the name by which we know him, rather than his given name, “Saul”. He does what is natural to him, for he is a trained Pharisee. He goes to synagogue, stands up, and speaks God’s Word as it has been revealed to him.
This is the background for Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Nobody is sure whether it was written before or after 1 Thessalonians; opinion is divided about 50-50 on which came first. But, aside from the underlying bedrock of the Gospel message, the two letters could not be more different. The Thessalonian epistles were written to a specific church; Galatians was written to all the churches of an entire region. Where the Thessalonian epistles are full of congratulations, prayers for continued success, and a sense of fraternity, Galatians is chewing-out fueled by restrained fury.
We infer from the letter itself that Galatia was a hotbed for proponents of pseudo-Christian sects, who flooded the towns with a variety of manmade theological systems; and unfortunately, many of those whom Paul had converted were taken in by these tinpot apostles. They corrupted the churches and perverted the Gospel. Some of it may seem foolish to us today, but it is human nature and typical of what happens when we depend on our thought process, rather than the Gospel, to steer our faith. When we consider the amount of blood shed in Russia over such issues as how many fingers a person should use to make the sign of the cross, it makes the situation in Galatia more understandable.
When Paul learned of the situation, he wrote Galatians to defend his apostolic authority, as opposed those who created theologies by supposition, intuition, or logic; and having established his bona fides, he reiterated a correct understanding of Christ. He set down for posterity the fundamental truths of Christian belief: the unique importance of Christ and his redemptive sacrifice on the cross, the freedom that Christians enjoy from the old burdens of the law, the necessity of faith in Christ as the means of justification before God, and the beauty of the new life of the Spirit. Galatians effectively comprises a first draft of Pauline theology, upon which he will amplify and build upon in his later years.