Daily Devotion for March 19, 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.
A very popular Christian song that has been covered by dozens of groups, sung live by Michael Smith, who wrote it.
For a Day Filled with Joy
Oh Father God in heaven: What a great day! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this and every day when I have woken up, with my heart beating and my mind able to read and think.
Whatever physical limitations I may have, whatever aches and pains or illnesses I have this day, they can never diminish the greatness of life itself and the great world in which I have found myself. For I know, I did not earn the millions of little blessings that a human life requires: every cell, every strand of DNA, every bone and every muscle in my body is a gift. I did not make them, nor the air or water or sunshine that keeps them alive.
By the power of your Holy Spirit, fill my heart with joy for all that I have been given. Help me to shoulder the burdens of my life with strength and courage, finding my solace in your promise of eternal life. I look forward in absolute faith to the glorious new body that all of Christ's children have been promised; but I pray to enjoy this not-so-glorious body, to see all of its wonders and remember that, being a gift, I am in no position to complain about its imperfections. Let me enjoy my life while I have it, great Lord. Let me celebrate all the little things I take for granted.
Bless also all the other people of this earth, O Lord, that they may be filled with the joy of life, and especially know that life eternal, which can come only from your Son, Jesus Christ.
Prayer of Abandonment
Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all Your creatures — I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence,
For you are my Father.
[ Let me enjoy my life while I have it.]
May God the Father bless us; may Christ take care of us; the Holy Ghost enlighten us all the days of our life. The Lord be our defender and keeper of body and soul, both now and for ever, to the ages of ages.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Temple Veil
What did the torn curtain mean? For the Jews it meant no more barrier between them and the Holy of Holies. No more priests to go between them and God. No more animal sacrifices to atone for their sins.
And for us? What did the torn curtain signify for us?
We are welcome to enter into God’s presence—any day, any time. God has removed the barrier that separates us from him. The barrier of sin? Down. He has removed the curtain.
~ Max Lucado
Galatians 3:2-4 (Daily Prayer Bible)
2-4 I only want you to tell me one thing: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the Law, or by faith, from hearing and believing the Gospel? Do you really intend to rely on your flesh, which could not begin your salvation, to perfect it? It would be insanity. Would you simply throw away the benefits of the tribulation you have suffered?
2 this only I desire to learn from you, by aOr from. works of law the spirit you received or by hearing of faith?
3 So ignorant are you having started in spirit bAmbiguous. This could mean the Holy Spirit, or the spiritual nature of the believer. Both are grammatically correct and theologically sound. now in flesh you complete cOr finish. The concept of completion in Greek often carries a connotation of success and/or perfection, as it does here. (The sarcasm should thus be evident.) ?
4 So much you suffered in vain? If indeed in vain.
About the Daily Prayer BibleThe “Daily Prayer Bible” is a paraphrase translation. This means accuracy to the original text has been sacrificed, to make it more readable and readily understood. This is especially useful in the Epistles of Paul. Verses are often out of order and often explanatory matter is included in the actual translation.
It is part of a larger work, DP 3-Column Bible, a Bible translation with 3 different levels of literal accuracy, which you can access by clicking the link at the bottom of the Scripture section. We call the most readable and least accurate translation the “Daily Prayer Bible”. The middle translation (“The American Bible”) is what is called a “literal” translation, accurate to the original text but using English grammar and idioms.
The third translation is a unique transliterative text, called “Verbatim Bible”, that has an unparalleled degree of accuracy but is not readable except with difficulty. It gives the non-Greek-reading user the ability to see the inaccuracies and ambiguities that become invisible in even the best so-called “literal” translations, such as the NASB or our own American Bible..
Notes on the Scripture
After the terribly dry notes (Tuesday) on minimizing personal distortion while reading the Bible, we can see something interesting about Paul's rhetorical style in Galatians 3. To summarize, he starts with a “rhetorical” question — Did you receive the Spirit by faith or by the law? — knowing how the listeners must answer. (It is a technique known to every good speaker or salesman — start by getting your audience to say “yes”.) Then, he asks a second question: do they think they can perfect their salvation “in the flesh,” when they could not begin it in the flesh.
he term “in the flesh” immediately evokes Judaism's most vivid symbol: circumcision. But on a broader level, flesh symbolizes an act of a human being living in the physical world; Jews seek to obtain righteousness before God by complying with the law, and compliance with the law consists of physical acts. So “in the flesh” signifies actual circumcision — there were people trying to get Gentile converts to be circumcised after they had already received the Spirit. But it also signifies a broader principle, trying to become justified by following the law, or even more broadly, “by relying on ourselves.”
Paul asks them, and us, to make an inference; so we see that the genre of rhetoric, or argument, creates an exception to our rule about resorting to our own logic. Paul authorizes us to infer; in fact, he commands it. He wants us to think about it. If we can only receive the Spirit by faith in Christ, do we then think that we can perfect our salvation by our own power? (And just in case anyone gets the wrong answer, Paul calls the notion “ignorantThose who followed the discussion from Tuesday will see that, by using the words “are you so ignorant that you think,” Paul implies that salvation cannot be finished in the flesh; without these words, we would have to infer it, but again, the passage authorizes us to make an inference..”)
People do get the answer wrong, today as then. We recognize at our baptism, or confirmation, or whenever we become fully convicted, that we receive the Holy Spirit by our faith in Christ. And thereafter, we certainly try to avoid sin. But in trying to avoid sin, we must not fall into the trap of thinking that how well we behave is the source of our salvation.
The path is narrow. On the one side, we have the error of thinking that our good deeds will get us into heaven; and on the other side is the error of “cheap grace,” the attitude that once we are saved we can slack off and simply rely on the atonement of our sins.
Meditating on this can bring us to a remarkable conclusion. Say we have a problem with pornography and lust, or with buying expensive things we don't need. The answer is not simply to try to stop our activity and put it out of our mind. It is not even fully answered by praying to God, to send us a spirit to help, as he promises He will do (1 Cor. 10:13). We must resort to the gospel itself; ultimately our problems with sin have a spiritual nature and therefore require a spiritual healing.
When we sin, there is something in us, some need, that we feel is not being fulfilled. If we are watching dirty movies, or have a hundred pairs of expensive shoes but want to go shopping for more, there is something missing in our lives. We are looking to the world to save us from something: and the path to overcoming persistent sin is to know more fully the true source of our salvation and joy, the crucified Christ.
Getting back to our passage, Paul finishes his argument with a third question. The Christians in Galatia have suffered quite a bit of persecution; they have endured trials, often severe, for their love of Christ and faith in Him. Would they now make their suffering meaningless? Having convinced them of the logic and truth of his position in the first two questions, he now hammers home the importance of staying steadfast.