Daily Devotion for August 15, 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.
This is great Bach! One of his most tuneful and popular organ works, the “Little Fugue in G Minor”, performed by Ton Koopman in an unidentified German Baroque church.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, O Lord my God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes, that I may see the returning light of the your day. I thank you for all that you have done while I was asleep, watching over me and all your children while we slept unaware, and I pray that my thoughts and acts this day may show forth my love and thanks for you and all you have done for me.
Help me through your Holy Spirit, that I may remember what you have taught me in the Bible and it may show forth in my every deed. Let me not wander into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, nor into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, but steer my inclinations towards goodness and charity this morning and all the day. In the name of Christ I pray.
Prayer for Renewal
Lord, I am one of your people, the sheep of your flock. I pray for you to heal those who are wounded; touch those who are in pain; clean those who are soiled; warm those who are cold; help me to know the Father's love through Jesus the shepherd, and through the Spirit.
Help me to lift up that love, and show it all over this land. Help me to build love on justice and justice on love. Help me to believe mightily, hope joyfully, and love divinely. Renew me that I may help renew the face of the earth.
[The importance of renewal.]
Many the right hand of the Lord keep us ever in old age, the grace of Christ continually defend us from the enemy. O Lord, direct my heart and the hearts of all who pray with me in the way of peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
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.
James 4:11-17 (NASB)
Man Proposes, God Disposes
Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
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.
As we saw last month, there is a profound difference between criticism and correction. Pride is the root of the critical spirit in the second paragraph of James 4 (vss. 11-12), and pride is also the source of the quarrels and conflicts in the first paragraph (vss. 1-10). It should come as no surprise that the problem in the third paragraph (vss. 13-17) also stems from the same soil: Come now, you who say, ”Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.
James is not saying that it is wrong to make plans. The wisdom of planning is illustrated throughout Scripture. There is truth in the saying, “He who fails to plan plans to fail.” The problem with the person James has in mind is that his business plans completely exclude God. He has the illusion that he can manipulate the variables of the future without taking the existence or will of God into account.
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.” There are too many uncertainties to presume against the future. The circumstances of our lives are held together by thin threads; our carefully laid plans can be upset by any number of unforeseen events. Furthermore, “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
Like the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, James counsels us to live with an ongoing awareness of the brevity of life. “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it” (Isa. 40:6-7). Those who fail to reckon with this truth foolishly live and plan as though they will never die.
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.