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Daily Devotion for February 15, 2015
Stained glass window of Jesus carrying the cross, Montrose, France.
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.
(The words vary slightly among denominations.)
Holy God, we praise Thy Name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy scepter claim,
All in Heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.
Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.
Spare Thy people, Lord, we pray,
By a thousand snares surrounded:
Keep us without sin today,
Never let us be confounded.
Lo, I put my trust in Thee;
Never, Lord, abandon me.
Original lyrics by Ignaz Franz (1771)
English lyrics translated by Clarence A. Walworth (1858)
Tune: Großer Gott, wir loben dich (traditional German)
Preparation for Prayer
Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; Ponder nothing earthly-minded. For with blessings in his hand Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to command.
Have mercy on me, Oh Lord, for I am a humble and miserable sinner. [At this point, pause to remember specific sins you have committed during the week and speak or think them.] I renounce all of these sins, heavenly Father, and repent of them, and I promise to make every effort not to repeat them.
Have mercy on me, pardon me for these offences and any I might have omitted from forgetfulness or ignorance; in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I pray for forgiveness. And I pray that your Holy Spirit may dwell with me today and throughout the coming week, to comfort me, to give me strength against temptation, and to guide me into the path of righteousness.
Sunday Prayer to Do God’s Will
Almighty God, today I celebrate the resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, the supreme victory over death that belongs to you alone. I pray that I may, today and in the coming week, act in appreciation of the ultimate gift you have given to me and to all who confess the name of Christ.
As you have commanded us, let me be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work; let me speak evil of no one and avoid quarreling. Give me the strength to be gentle, to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Fill me with love and humility.
For I was once foolish, disobedient, led astray, a slave to all sorts of passions and pleasures, passing my days in malice and envy, sometimes hating others. But when the goodness and loving kindness of Christ called me to you, He saved me, not because of works done by my in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on me in rich abundance. And now, through Jesus Christ my Savior, being justified by his grace, I have become heir to the hope of eternal life.
Make my heart clean within me, I pray, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that my every thought and deed will reflect the graciousness of the salvation given to me, not by my merit but by your love; and that I may continue to learn your word, and accept even what I do not want to hear, and always act in accordance with your will. In the name of Christ I pray,
Oh God who has made me, oh God who keeps me, oh God who will be my Lord through all eternity, shine down Your blessings and wisdom upon me like the sun upon a field; and may I keep You in the forefront of my every thought and deed, throughout this day, throughout the week to come, and evermore.
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 44:1-3 (ESV)
O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
You with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
For not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.
James 2:14-26 (ESV)
Faith Without Works Is Dead
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
Notes on the Scripture
We have a guest commentary today, from Dr. Ken Boa of Atlanta.
Last week we looked at the difference between a professional and a possessional faith. While a professional faith bears no fruit and is invisible to others, the reality of a possessional faith is visible in the fruit it produces (Jas. 2:14-18).
person may be orthodox in his doctrine, but if his beliefs never move from the level of intellect to the level of volition, they will not lead to a relationship with God. “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (Jas. 2:19). James is referring his readers to the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, the crucial test of Jewish orthodoxy: “Hear [shema], O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” Right beliefs are important (“you do well”), but intellectual acknowledgment is not the same as saving faith. Even the demons recognize that there is one God, but this hardly improves their state of affairs.
“But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” (Jas. 2:20). James uses a word which means “empty” or “vain” to describe the person who advocates profession without practice. Such a faith is barren because it cannot produce life.
By contrast, James turns to Abraham, the clearest Old Testament example of the inseparability of works from saving faith: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God (Jas. 2:21-23).
It is significant that the quotation, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” comes from Genesis 15:6 when Abraham believed God's promise that he would be given a son. Because of his faith, Abraham was declared righteous (justified) by God from that moment. But from a human perspective, his righteousness was demonstrated thirty years later when he offered up his son Isaac on Mount Moriah in Genesis 22. This act was the outward manifestation of Abraham's firm belief in God's promise. He knew that even if Isaac were to die, God could raise him from the dead, “from which also he received him back as a type” (Heb. 11:19).
Dr. Boa is devoted to a ministry of relational evangelism and discipleship, teaching, writing, and speaking. He holds a B.S. in astronomy from Case Institute of Technology, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. from New York University, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in England. I highly recommend a visit to his website, KenBoa.org, which is filled with free videos, written commentary, newsletters, etc.