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Daily Devotion for May 28, 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.
I just love this old hymn, sung by “The Alaska String Band.”
As we travel through the desert
Storms beset us on our way;
But beyond the River Jordan
Lies a field of endless days.
Farther on still go farther,
Count the milestones one by one.
Jesus will forsake you never.
It is better farther on.
Oh my brother are you weary
Of the roughness of the way?
Does your strength begin to fail you
And your vigor to decay?
Jesus, Jesus will go with you,
He will lead you to the throne,
He who dyed His garments for you,
And the winepress trod alone.
At my grave I'll still you be singing,
Though you weep for one that’s gone.
Singing as we once did singing,
It is better farther on.
Traditional; first noted in 1877.
An Old American Prayer for the Work Day
Almighty God, thank Thee for the job of this day. May I find gladness in all its toil and difficulty, its pleasure and success, and even in its failure and sorrow. I would look always away from myself, and behold the glory and the need of the world, that I may have the will and the strength to bring the gift of gladness to others; that with them I stand to bear the burden and heat of the day and offer Thee the praise of work well done.
Prayer for Unity Among Christians
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace, I have tried to read your Bible and find your Word and your will for me, and to study it. But I think so many thoughts about it, and then I start to think I know something, and then I see another church or hear a pastor or read something, and I think, “that person is wrong”. Or the pastor of my church or a Bible teacher will tell me one thing, and then somebody else will tell me something completely different.
Please, dear God, help me and every person who confesses Christ as his Lord and Savior, not think that they know everything and get into arguments with each other. Let us always remember that it is not other Christians who are our enemies, just because they think something different, or baptize people differently, or have different ideas about sacraments or church leadership or whatever foolish doctrine we might fight about. Let us always remember that there was one Christ, one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and one church. Heal any and all divisions between Christians, Holy God.
And let me be part of the solution and not part of the problem, I pray. Let me put first your command, that we bear with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let me not be made angry or self-righteous by doctrine, but remember always who our true enemy is and direct my efforts to the defeat of atheism and the death that comes from living in the flesh. In the name of Christ, hear my prayer,
[Becoming part of the solution.]
Blessing of Mark
O Sovereign and almighty Lord, bless all your people, and all your flock. Give your peace, your help, and your love unto us your servants, the sheep of your fold, that we may be united in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one hope of our calling, in your divine and boundless love.
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.
If He does not support us, not one of us is safe from some gross sin. On the other hand, no possible degree of holiness or heroism which has ever been recorded of the greatest saints is beyond what He is determined to produce in every one of us in the end. The job will not be completed in this life: but He means to get us as far as possible before death.
~ C. S. Lewis, from “Mere Christianity”
Galatians 5:1-6 (Daily Prayer Bible)
1 Stand fast in the freedom that Christ won for us; do not let yourselves be shackled back into the yoke of slavery.
2-4 I have said it before and I will say it again: if you become circumcised as a sign of reliance upon the Law, Christ becomes useless to you. You obligate yourself to follow the Law perfectly, and you will fail. You cannot be justified before God by the Law; if you try, you sever yourself from Christ and His grace.
5-6 But we, who have faith by the Spirit, have hope of righteousness. It is by love, not by law, that we receive and express our faith. If you understand this, you will see that circumcision and uncircumcision are meaningless to those who have the love of Christ.
1 To aOr for freedom. freedom us Christ freed; stand firm therefore and not again to yoke of slavery be subject.
2 Behold I Paul tell you that if you be circumcised Christ you nothing will benefit.
3 And I testify furthermore to every man being-circumcised b Although there is no grammatical clue, this cannot apply to Jews circumcised before conversion; thus either becoming circumcised or being one of those who rely on circumcision. that obligated he is entire law to do c Idiom, to accomplish, to follow/obey..
4 You are-cut-off dAlthough the tense of this verb (and the following verbs in the verse), called the aorist indicative, generally refers to an event in the past, it may be read as a discontinuous present or, as here, possibly a timeless statement. from Christ whoever by law is justified e Both the context and the Greek “middle voice” affect the meaning; the best idiomatic translation might be “whoever attempts to gain justification for himself by law”., of grace you fall away.
5 For we in fAmbiguous. This could indicate the form or medium by which hope comes to us, in spirit, that is, spiritually (as opposed to intellectually, physically, etc.); or from (the) spirit, in which case it would indicate the Holy Spirit as the personal agent bringing hope to us. spirit by faith hope of righteousness g This difficult jumble of words is best explained by the Greek habit of using an “of” phrase (genitive case) following a “verbal noun” – a verbal noun being a noun made from a verb, like “hope” – as if the verbal noun retains the sense of a verb and the “of” phrase is its direct object. A decent English equivalent would be an adverbial phrase, “hoping-for righteousness”. (“Hope” is in the form of a direct object, but it is not unknown for words in this form to be used adverbially, especially as adverbs of manner. See Wallace at 200-201.) await eagerly.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision anything effects h Notice the English verb “effect” means to achieve a result. nor uncircumcision, but faith through love working.
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
The Symbol without Meaning  (Galatians #54)
I have spent four hours this morning wrestling with the meaning of verse 5; it is difficult to tease out what exactly what Paul wants to say. And, having spent so much effort on arcane points of Greek syntax and diction, I really want to talk about why circumcision is meaningless, to those who have the love of Christ.
For a modern person reading Galatians for the first time, all the talk about circumcision is strange and a little distasteful. Baby boys today are often circumcised; many people feel that there are long-term benefits to it, worth the tiny bit of trauma to a newborn. We assume that it has no spiritual significance; why would it? So we might feel that this paragraph has little to do with us. Circumcision and uncircumcision today are meaningless even if we don't have the love of Christ.
Yet we have a great lesson to learn from the beginning of Galatians 5, as great a lesson as the Jews of the 1st century A.D. had; the only difference is that our lesson does not involve minor surgery on baby boys. What we miss is the enormous power of the symbolism that the physical act had to early Jews; and since the earliest Christians, and therefore the early Christian leaders, were (almost) all Jewish, we miss the power of the symbolism to the early Christians whom Paul addressed.
Circumcision predated the Law of Moses; it was the unique sign of a relationship with the One God given to Abraham; and Abraham was the primary patriarch of Judaism. The Jews are not the children of Moses, or David, or Elijah, or even Jacob; they are the children of Abraham. To understand the importance of this to the first Christians, one need only read the first sentence of the New Testament:
“The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:” (Matthew 1:1)
Matthew gives Jesus' genealogy in order to establish His identity as the Jewish King and as the Jewish Messiah; but Paul, in effect, supersedes Matthew in bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles. He tells the Galatians that their salvation comes from Abraham, but not through the covenant made later with the Hebrews following Moses. Rather, the salvation promised to Abraham ultimately relied on Abraham's faith alone.
And although circumcision was an act of obedience that demonstrated faith, the sterner test of faith was Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son, Isaac. In this, we can see Abraham as a proxy for God Himself. And we also see that God is more faithful than any human, for while Abraham offered to sacrifice his son, God the Father actually did sacrifice his Son, giving Jesus over to death.
Abraham knew God better than any other (non-divine) person in the Bible, with the exception of Adam and Eve. Although with reverence and respect, he walked and talked with God in the manner of a friend. Abraham had a foretaste of the relationship we would eventually be able to have, consisting partly of friendship. We can talk to Jesus in our prayers and, like Abraham, and with due reverence, tell Him anything and everything that is on our mind.
But what does this have to do with circumcision? Continued tomorrow . . . .