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Daily Devotion for July 29, 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.
The Russian Orthodox version of Ave Maria, set to music by Rachmaninoff.
Blagoslovyena Ty v zhenakh,
To Live in the Knowledge of Christ
Dear Jesus, I can open up my heart to you. I can tell you everything that troubles me. I know you care about all the concerns in my life.
Teach me to live in the knowledge that you who care for me today, will care for me tomorrow and all the days of my life.
Thanksgiving to the Eternal Father
I give thanks to you, all-powerful and eternal God of truth, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of heaven and earth, of humanity and all creatures, Sustainer of all things, Giver of all life, order, and wisdom, unfailing Source of help; And to your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, your Word and eternal image; And to your Holy Spirit, with whom you endowed the apostles at Pentecost and have brought to comfort all who confess the name of Jesus the Christ, until his coming again.
I give thanks to you, O God of holiness, and truth, and wisdom and goodness, justice and mercy, purity and loving-kindness, for with goodness and wisdom unmatched you revealed yourself to us, sending your Son into the world, humbling Himself to be emptied of His divine form to become truly human, a slave and a servant to us, and a sacrifice for our salvation.
I give thanks to you, Mighty God, for gathering your eternal church, for guarding the ministry of your Word, for granting your Holy Spirit, and for the gift of everlasting life. I thank you, O God, because you have given us all good things, because you alleviate the chastisement we justly deserve, because you bestow upon us all the blessings of soul and body we enjoy. To you be all glory, honor, praise, and thanksgiving, forever and ever.
O God, be present with us always; dwell within our hearts. With thy light and thy Spirit guide our souls, our thoughts, and all our actions, that we may teach thy Word, that thy healing power may be in us and in thy church universal.
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.
Psalm 107:1, 8-9
I will give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His lovingkindness endures forever.
I will give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love
And His wonderful acts to the children of men,
For He satisfies the thirsty soul
And fills the hungry soul with good things.
Galatians 5:19-21 (Daily Prayer Bible)
Dogma and Ambition (Galatians #74)
19-21, 26 You know perfectly well what I mean when I speak of indulging the “desires of the flesh”: things like . . . rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, factionalism, dogma, envy . . . . As I have told you before, those who indulge the desires of the flesh will never inherit God’s kingdom.
22-24 The Spirit, on the other hand, produces fruit: love . . . .
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
Note: Last year, we began a microscopic study of Galatians, often examining a single word. We stopped towards the end of Chapter 5, right in the middle of the famous “works of the flesh” diatribe. The amount of work this took defeated me — I would find myself researching a single word for an hour or more! — but I have picked the project back up. If you want to see the last lesson in Granular Galatians, check out August 12, 2015. I will try to get one page done each week or two until we finish it. At the end of the Matthew series, we might take up another Pauline epistle, in a less exhaustive fashion.
oday we will look at the “desires of the flesh” in a particular context: How they undermine the church. We don't want to pick on any particular denomination, for all are guilty here. Moreover, even within denominations and individual churches, these prideful sins burden and damage worship, spiritual growth, study, fellowship, etc.
Four of them emphasize how we use a church to serve ourselves, rather than God and each other. These are rivalry, jealousy, selfish ambition, and envy.
As a simple example, take rivalry over number of members. The pastor and elders of the First Baptist Church of Centerville count the number of bodies in the pews and compare it to Main Street Methodist. They are happy if they are winning, and unhappy if they are losing. In fact, if a church is losing members, the pastor is likely to be replaced for that reason alone, no matter how well he preaches and spreads the message of Christ.
The rivalry in worldly tokens of success is much more extensive, of course. Churches compete in the amount of money they bring in, the quality of their buildings, the size of their playground, etc. They brag about how many missions they support.
The root these sins is Pride. Pastors surely take great joy in seeing a person converted and baptized, even if the person then goes to worship elsewhere. Nevertheless, along with this pure joy is always a teensy-tiny spark of rivalry. Every pastor/rector/priest wants more people coming in the door of his church and sitting in his pews, listening to his sermon, etc.
Megachurches don't get 20,000 members by word-of-mouth. They hire marketing specialists. They have slick audio-visual departments. And many ministers, perhaps unconsciously, will pull their punches, telling their congregations what they want to hear rather than the true and full Word of God — what they need to hear.
The related three terms — angry outbursts, factionalism, and dogma — are even more destructive then the green eyes of envy. For Christians will commit major vandalism, give diatribes against other Christians, murder other Christians and fight horrendous wars in the name of dogma. Such disputes can become very ugly even in a small church.
First off, we must realize that most theological arguments are man-made and meaningless. Take a biggie: Predestination, a concept that has factionalized Christians into vehement, angry enemies. Yet, what difference does it make to us, in terms of our salvation? Where in the Bible does it say we must believe in predestination (or in the opposing theological concept of free will) in order to serve Christ? Is this a commandment Christ gave to us? No! What He did tell us — what He commanded us to do — is to live in harmony with other Christians.
The great verse to solve factionalism — and we must turn to it again and again — is 1 Cor. 1:13: “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos’, and ‘I of Cephas’, and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
We can fill in the names with anyone or any organization, as a bucket of cold water to arguments over personalities or dogma. “Was Billy Graham crucified for me?” “Was I baptized in the name of millennialism?” Ultimately, we must ask ourselves the rhetorical question: “Has Christ been divided?”