Daily Devotion for April 18, 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.
We try to have “Something Old” on Saturdays, which is often old pop Gospel; but here we have something really old, a famous old hymn sung just as it was by Anabaptists 150 years ago.
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.
Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.
Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Music (Eventide) by Wm H. Monk, 1861
Lyrics by Henry Lyle, 1847
Lord, I come before you today and I thank You for all the blessings that You have given me. Many times my life is so full of busy work that I neglect my relationship with You: for that I am truly sorry. I know that You never neglect me, for if You did my very life would cease to be. Continue to pull me to Yourself, guide me in my journey, and hold me close in Your bosom until the day I come home to be with You forever. Be with me, and with those who pray with me, for although we are in different places around the world, we gather spiritually in Your name. May we feel your presence among us. In Jesus precious name I pray.
Heavenly Lord, let me always remember that the Holy Spirit who guides and protects me is the same Spirit who guides and protects all Christians. We are one in your Spirit, and the differences that divide us are the work of Satan. He is powerful in the world, Lord; and only you are strong enough to protect us against him.
Let me always seek unity. Let me call on your Spirit for power when I feel separated from my brother or sister, the power of reconciliation, that we might find the unity and harmony in which you have commanded us to live. Let me never think that the Spirit conforms to my individual personality; but let me seek to conform myself to the one true Spirit of God. In Christ's name, I pray.
[How can I seek for unity in my life?]
O God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore: Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men and women everywhere love you and serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, I pray,
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.
Proverbs 3:5 (NKJV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding.
James 4:1-4 (NASB)
Grabbing and Quarreling
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?
2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Notes on the Scripture
We have a guest commentary today, a continuing weekly series on the Epistles of James, from Dr. Ken Boa of Atlanta.
In 4:2-4, James lists several problems with the mentality of grabbing:
irst, it never satisfies. “You lust and do not have . . . you are envious and cannot obtain” (Jas. 4:2a). The more we try to appease the appetites of the flesh, the more they grow. The lusts for pleasure, prestige, or power never say “Enough” (cf. Prov. 30:15). Our desires always exceed their satisfaction.
Second, it leads to leads to anger, malice, envy, and hostility. “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel” (Jas. 4:2a). The Apostle John wrote that “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15; cf. Matt. 5:21-22). Worldly wisdom entices us to satisfy our cravings. This in turn leads us to hate those who get in our way and envy those who have more of what we want. The next step is open conflict and hostility.
Third, it causes us to assert ourselves rather than ask God. “You do not have because you do not ask” (Jas. 4:2b). This results from the delusion that we are capable of meeting our own needs without depending on God. Or we may give lip service to the fact that God alone can satisfy our deepest longings, but then scheme and connive to do it ourselves by milking relationships and orchestrating circumstances.
Fourth, it prompts us to pray for the wrong reasons. Even when we do turn to God, it may be with selfish interests at heart. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (Jas. 4:3). If our minds are tainted by the wisdom which is “earthly, natural, demonic” (Jas. 3:15), we will be tempted to treat prayer as a magical formula that will change circumstances and people to suit our own plans. As James tells us, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above” (Jas. 1:17a), but God will not give His good and perfect gifts to be squandered and abused.
Fifth, it opens us up to spiritual adultery. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4). James uses the imagery of the Old Testament prophets who often accused Israel of playing the spiritual harlot by following after other gods. “'Surely, as a woman treacherously departs from her lover, so you have dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,' declares the Lord” (Jer. 3:20).
In the same way, when believers adopt the aspirations and attitudes of the world, they fall prey to idolatry. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). If we are friends of the world we will be grabbers; only by being friends of God are we free to become givers.
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.