Daily Devotion for February 21, 2017
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 rock-based worship song has a wonderful message for all.
To Belong to Christ
Oh loving Lord Christ, so eager to die that I might live,
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
Put me to doing; put me to suffering;
Let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you;
Exalted for you, or brought low for you;
Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me have all things; let me have nothing.
I freely and with my whole heart yield all things to your will and direction.
And now, oh glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours. Let this be for eternity, I pray.
Prayer for the Nation
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; I humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people who remember your favor and are glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.
Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here from so many different lands and languages. Grant the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust with the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may demonstrate your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in days of trouble, do not let our trust in you fail; all which I ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And finally, may the grace of Christ our Savior, and the Father's boundless love, with the Holy Spirit's favor, rest upon me, and all of us, from above. Thus may we abide in union, with each other and the Lord, and possess, in sweet communion, joys which earth cannot afford.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Weakness and frailty are no hindrances to God’s Spirit. He isn’t looking for human strength, He is looking for submissive hearts — men and women who allow Him to release His strength through them. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.
For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. (See Romans 8:26–27)
Galatians 6:15-16 (Daily Prayer Bible)
Thus, it is neither circumcision nor its absence that has any significance to us, but rather a new creation. And may peace and mercy be with all who hold to this teaching, and upon the true Israel of God.
Notes on the Scripture
Summary of Galatians (Galatians #98)
pon returning to Antioch after the First Missionary Journey, Paul heard that the churches he had founded in Galatia had gone astray. Jews who did not want to abandon Judaism were attempting to convince the church that a person needed to follow the Law of Moses, in order to find salvation. Paul thus wrote Galatians to contradict this error. (Shortly after, the Council of Jerusalem would treat this issue, coming to the same conclusion as Paul, although not in such powerful language. See Acts 15.)
Paul’s vehement rhetoric demonstrates how critical the issue was. Rejecting the Law as a means of salvation becomes a necessary test of faith in Christ, as the sole means to justification before God. On this point, he echoed the words of Christ Himself: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” (John 14:6)
This last point — that Paul and Jesus are in full agreement — was doubly important, because it implicates the authority of Paul’s gospel and, ultimately, Christian unity. Thus, Paul begins his letter by showing that his gospel came, not from others who knew Jesus the man, but from the ascended Christ Himself. His gospel is a first-hand, authoritative source.
In Chapter 3, Paul begins the pith of his message. Salvation comes only by faith in Jesus Christ. Continued reliance upon the Law was a “curse,” because it was inconsistent with salvation by faith.
In fact, the purpose of the Law was never to save its adherents. Rather, the purpose of the Law was to show humanity that it could not find righteousness by its own conduct. Human goodness cannot justify humanity. Although the Jews claimed to be the sons of Abraham, they are not. Abraham was justified by his faith, and the promise made to him and his seed was inherited, not by the Jews, but by Jesus Christ. Christians, in other words, are the sons of Abraham and the inheritors, through Christ, of the promise.
There is another side to the issue, from which the Judaizers gained traction, for other heretics claimed that, because Christians gain salvation by God’s forgiveness, granted through Christ’s perfect sacrifice, one might sin freely in the expectation of mercy. This led to all manner of evil conduct: sexual licentiousness, greed and self-seeking, etc. Paul thus takes two chapters to scotch this notion, teaching that life in the spirit will necessarily gravitate towards good works and a holy lifestyle. This is his famous “fruits of the spirit” speech. It is, he writes, because we have been freed from slavery to sin that is inherent in the Law, that we now have the path of holiness open to us.
The ideas underlying the Judaizers’ popularity have continued to plague Christianity throughout the ages, even today. Few people today buy into the idea that Christians should live lives filled with sin, but the notion that we make ourselves righteous by our conduct, rather than by the free gift of grace through faith, is hard to shake. We must always be on our guard against self-righteousness.