Daily Devotion for January 31, 2016
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.
See today’s Scripture for the lyrics. One of the great moments of Handel’s Messiah.
Call to Sunday Worship
O Lord, I beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers of your people who call upon you; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill them; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Confession of Sins, with a Prayer for Contrition and Pardon.
Most merciful God, whose eyes are too pure to behold iniquity, and who has promised forgiveness to all those who confess and forsake their sins; I come before you in a humble sense of my own unworthiness, confessing my many transgressions of your righteous laws. [* Here make a short pause, to remember and confess the sins and failings of the past week.] But, O gracious Father, who desires not the death of a sinner, look upon me, I beseech you, in mercy, and forgive me for all my transgressions. Make me deeply sensible of the great evil of them; and work in me a hearty repentance; that I may obtain forgiveness at your hands, who is ever ready to receive humble and penitent sinners; for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, my only Saviour and Redeemer.
Prayer for Peace
I thank you, master and lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. I appeal to you to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hate for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.
Grant peace to your servants. Implant in us the fear of you and confirm in us love for one another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For you are our peace and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father and the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.
Benediction (from the Epistle of Jude)
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep us from falling away and will bring us with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!
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.
Isaiah 40:5-8 (KJV)
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together:
for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
The voice said, Cry.
And he said, What shall I cry?
All flesh is grass,
and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it:
surely the people is grass.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (ESV)
The Truth of God and the Foolishness of the World
Preaching about the cross sounds like foolishness to those who are perishing; but to us who are saved, it is the power of God. As it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Who is this wise person spoken of? Where is the expert? where is the attorney who represents this world? Hasn't God made the wisdom of this world foolish?
It was God's wisdom that decided the world could not know Him by its intelligence; it pleased God to save those who believe by the irrationality of preaching. Unlike the Jews, who demand a sign, or the Greeks, who believe only in the holiness of logic, we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and Greeks — foolishness. But to them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men; and the weakness of God is stronger than the strength of men.
Notes on the Scripture
Historically, it is surprising how close Greek philosophers, using logic, came to realizing that the universe was created by a single god. Plato speculated that there had to be a single "divine worker" who formed the universe from chaos. His student, Aristotle, went much further, and Aristotle's concept of God gained the approval of many later Jewish theologians. But although they were the wisest men in the world, their wisdom was insufficient to find truth.
The Jews approached the same issue from an entirely different perspective; they believed in one true God, not because they logically arrived at a concept, but because they experienced God in their lives. Their belief lay in their hearts, not in their minds. God gave them laws and, if they followed these laws, they would be blessed in their lives.
Apparently, the Jews were closer to the ultimate truth than the Greeks. When God sent Christ into the world, he was not born into a great nation. He was not a Greek, or Roman, or Egyptian. Rather, he was born into a small nation in a poor part of the world, a Semitic tribe that very infrequently managed to control their parched little homeland. But although they were strong in the spirit, their strength and devotion were insufficient for salvation.
hrist was something greater than a merger of Greek intelligence and Jewish devotion. Paul tells us that it is not possible to know Christ by being smart; in fact, Christ confounds and confuses people who rely solely on their intelligence to find the truth. Nor did Christ come from the great Jewish religious establishment; he was constantly at odds with both the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and it was they who rejected and ultimately killed him.
Today's passage does not mean that Christ cannot be found in the great, the rich, the intelligent, or the "spiritual". But don't count on it. Even a very good and kind person, a person who speaks with great intelligence and makes perfect sense, a rich and successful person, may be "perishing". They do not represent the highest level of truth and good. It is our openness to hearing and believing the message of the cross that saves us. That and only that. And it may be found in persons and places of all kinds and conditions.