Daily Devotion for February 6, 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
Holy Father, who watches over your children by night and by day; blessed Jesus, my food and my strength; sweet Holy Spirit, the light and guide of my soul; I thank you for this new day and pray that you will watch over me. May my thoughts, my words and actions reflect the Spirit that dwells within me. And may every minute of my life celebrate the gift of grace, earned by the blood of Christ, in whose name I pray.
Thanks for the Word of God
I thank you, loving God, that we have the Scriptures to search, given by your inspiration in total truth, that we might gain the profit of salvation from them. I give thanks for all those who toiled to preserve your Word for our learning. I give thanks that through the patience and comfort of the Bible we may have hope: a light of prophecy and truth, as sure as a bright star in the darkness, leading us to Christ. And I give thanks that on the most ordinary day, both I and any other person who seeks you may hear in our own tongue the mighty works you have done.
Prayer for Those Who Have Turned Away
Grant, O Lord Christ, peace, love and speedy reconciliation to your people whom You have redeemed with your precious blood. Make your presence become known to those who have turned away from You and do not seek You, so that none of them may be lost, but all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. May all the earth praise your holy Name, living in the true love and harmony you purchased for us by your suffering.
[How fortunate we are to have the words of God that we can read.]
The blessing of the Lord rest and remain upon all his people, in every land, of every tongue; the Lord meet in mercy all that seek him; the Lord comfort all who suffer and mourn; the Lord hasten his coming, and give us, his people, the blessing of peace, this day and always.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Proverbs 4:18-19 (ESV)
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not even know what causes them to stumble.
Galatians 1:6-9 (DP Bible)
One Gospel (Galatians #4)
6-8 I am astonished to hear that you have deserted the true Gospel of Christ and have begun to follow perverted “gospels” taught to you by fakes and con men. I call these “gospels”, but it is a misnomer. There is one and only one Gospel: the one I have taught you. If I myself should come and preach something different to you – if an angel should descend from the heavens and tell you something different – turn your back and walk away. These teachings, and those who promote them, are accursed!
9 I have said it before and I will say it again, in writing: those who teach their own thoughts and call them the Word of God are accursed.
Notes on the Scripture
I realize we have been studying the same rather short passage for several days, but the discussion has all been quite detailed in some parts and rather argumentative, talking about the epistle rather than teaching the message of the epistle. We don't want to miss the most important element: what is Paul's message as it relates to us, today?
Even after we become believers, the most devout person is prone to wander away from God, from time to time, and the good news of our free grace in Christ can become dim. Various influences pull us constantly away from Christ - including our own nature. Galatians especially addresses how important it is for us to be grounded in the true Gospel that the Bible contains. We can't let phony preachers lead us off the true path.
One example of an outside influence is the constant bombardment of anti-Christian thought. Atheists, who are not trying to be evil, seem to shout anything they hear or can think up to discredit Christianity. Public television airs more subtly destructive program matter, often with titles like “The Search for Historic Jesus” or Bill Moyer's show about myth some years ago.
The second class of influence that lures us away from Christ are indirect influences. A commercial for Ralph Lauren. An article about fabulous jewelry. A friend talking about politics. Many a sitcom. These have a subtle eroding effect on Christian values, until we come to the point where we accept them to some degree. They do not proclaim a false teaching, but anti-Christian values underlie them. Look cool, have expensive stuff, elect a Republican/Democrat - these are not Christian values, and the more we become invested in them, the farther from Christ we move.
The worst are in the guise of Christian teachings; it is these Paul calls “accursed”. The most recent crop have been church leaders and members who want to find reasons that having sex with someone of the same gender is now somehow “okay”, or that we are discriminating against homosexuals by not wanting to marry them in our church, the same way they convinced themselves that having sex with someone of the other gender, outside of marriage, was “okay” in the 60s and 70s. Prosperity gospel - “Find Jesus and Get Rich!” - is always around.
The effective antidote against false teaching is both a head and heart knowledge of the Gospel. When we truly understand that our righteousness is only in Christ, we will be much harder to deceive. There are not multiple truths. Diversity is not a general Christian value. Our opinions do not matter. We find true joy and perfection by learning wisdom and becoming obedient to the will of God.
Paul's outraged tone is not one of jealousy or argument about a personal opinion. It is an act of love — like shouting “Watch Out!” to someone who is about to drive over a cliff. Part of becoming obedient to God is to act always out of love, and sometimes this involves telling somebody they are wrong. We need to be careful, careful, careful when we do, that we are not arguing a personal opinion. But, using a verse we studied in a different context yesterday, James reminds us that, if one of our brothers or sisters wanders off course and we steer them back to Christ, we have saved a soul from death and abolished the consequences of much sin.