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Daily Devotion for February 13, 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 to Use Our Gifts Wisely
Lord, give me each day the wisdom to see which things are important, and which things are not. Show me how best to use the time and talents you have given me. Help me to use all my opportunities wisely, that I may share, through service to others, the good gifts I have received from you.
Prayer for All People
O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, I humbly pray to you for all sorts and conditions of humanity; that it might please you to make your Word known to them and bring your saving health to all nations. In particular I pray for the entirety of your church, in all of its many forms; that it may be guided and governed by your Holy Spirit, and that all who profess your name and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth. May all of us live in that unity of spirit which our faith in Christ provides to us, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.
Finally, I commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are ill or in distress, in their mind, body, or circumstances. May it please you to comfort and relieve them in accordance with their needs, giving them patience during their suffering, and a fortunate outcome to all of their problems. And this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who was always pleased to relieve the suffering of those he encountered.
[God as the preserver of mankind.]
May the God of hope fill me and all of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing, so that we may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
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.
Taking Second Best
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
~ C. S. Lewis, from “The Weight of Glory”
Galatians 1:15-16 (DP Bible)
Paul’s Calling (Galatians #8)
15-16 But from the time I was in my mother's womb, God had other plans for me. And when the time pleased Him, He revealed His Son to me, that Christ might be revealed in me and through me to the Gentiles.
15 And when pleased god pThe entire verse after “god” is a subordinate clause modifying “god”; English would set it off with commas. the setting-apart me from womb of mother of me and calling through the grace of him
Notes on the Scripture
Whether or not a Christian believes in full-bore Calvinist predestination, in partial predestination (some are predestined but all have free will to choose), or in something else, we are certain that there are at least a few people who have been irresistibly called by God. The examples run throughout the Bible. Several times in the Old Testament we see a barren woman, often past the age of childbirth, who is blessed to bear a child and dedicates the child to God. Sometimes she dedicates the child herself, sometimes God commands it. Hannah was barren and distressed by it, so she sacrificed and prayed that, if He would give her a son, she would dedicate him to God. She bore Samuel, the last of the major Hebrew judges and one of the greatest. (1 Samuel 1)
n angel of the Lord appeared to the (unnamed) wife of Manoah and told her that she would have a son who, like Samuel, would know neither wine nor a razor, as a sign he belonged to the Lord. This was the genesis of another judge, and one of the Bible's most colorful characters, Samson. (Judges 13) And let us not forget the most important of these O.T. miracle births: Isaac, born to Sarah when she was 90. (Genesis 17 and18)
The New Testament begins with an echo of these dedicated births: the last Hebrew prophet. Elizabeth was barren and well past the age when Gabriel came to Zechariah and announced the conception of John. (Luke 1) John the Baptist's birth was right out of the Old Testament, strikingly similar to Samson and Isaac. He was the transition, a book-end to the covenant with the Hebrews, the prophet who could finally say, “He is here.” The telling of the new covenant thus begins with the final chapter of the old.
No matter how one thinks about predestination as a doctrine, then, there are people in the Bible whom God pre-ordained to believe in Him and serve Him. Paul was one of them. Unlike the others mentioned, though, his calling was not announced or known at the time of his birth. It was God's plan that He become the greatest enemy of Christ's believers in Judea, the foremost of all the persecutors of Christ's church.
We might infer that these verses in Galatians 1 are part of the reason for Paul's history: it gave him credence in his claim of divine revelation. How else could he undergo such a sudden and complete change? There were witnesses to the actual moment of his conversion, when a flash of light knocked him from his horse on the road to Damascus — some of them actually heard the voice of Christ — and many, many witnesses to his subsequent blindness and startling reversal of belief. (Acts 9)
Paul downplays the drama of his conversion in today's Scripture. Instead, in the mildest of language, he ties himself to John the Baptist, Isaac, et al., by simply informing the Galatians that he, like they, had been called before he was born.
The translation of Greek prepositions is often difficult and sometimes impossible, but here, the meaning of the phrase “that Christ might be revealed in me and through me to the Gentiles” comes across with perfect clarity. Christ is revealed in Paul, because Paul becomes the model Christian convert. It is critical to understanding Paul's writing that we fix this meaning in our mind. At the moment of his conversion, Christ comes to live in Paul. Paul suffers a crucifixion by proxy and symbolically dies; he will be blind for three days, just as Christ was dead (in a sense) for three days.
. . . to be cont'd on Monday.