Daily Devotion for July 28, 2019
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.
Our apologies for the video feed, which is just a bunch of album covers for the little known Irish band “Skid Row”, but the musical performance of the old slave Spiritual Let Us Break Bread Together by their lead singer (Eamonn Gibney) is outstanding.
Call to Sunday Worship
O Lord, I beseech you mercifully to hear my prayers, and the prayers of all your people who call upon you; and grant that we may both perceive and know what things we 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.
Prayer of Penitence
O eternal God! Ruler of all creation! Who hast vouchsafed that I should live even down to the present hour, forgive the sins I have committed this day by deed, word or thought. Cleanse, O Lord, my humble soul of all corporal and spiritual stain.
And grant, O Lord, that I may during this day walk in thy Word, and this night have a peaceful sleep, so that on rising from my humble bed, I should continue to praise Thy holy Name throughout all the days of my life, and that I be victorious over all the physical and spiritual enemies battling against me. Deliver me, O Lord, from all vain thoughts that defile me, and from evil desires. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Prayer of Praise
O Father, majestic is you name!
From the rising of the sun to its setting your name is to be praised,
Merciful God, gracious Lord.
Hear us in the name of Your Son,
For He has promised that where two or three of us are gathered in Your name
He would be with us and our prayer would be heard.
Hear us in the name of Your Son,
For He is the revelation of Your wisdom, the outpouring of your glory,
The incarnation of your mercy toward us and the whole human race.
To You be the glory,
All praise and honor, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
One God, now and evermore.
Holy God, I pray to be filled with your Holy Spirit today, and for the rest of this week. Let me go forth, walking with your Spirit in my heart, that I may be filled with the joy and energy and praise for your entire creation, thankful in the many gifts you have given me, and showing forth your light in my every word and deed. This I pray in Christ’s name,
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 49:16-19 (ESV)
Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
when the glory of his house increases.
For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
his glory will not go down after him.
For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
who will never again see light.
1 Timothy 1:3-7 (NASB)
Warning Against False Teachers
s I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere [or non-hypocritical] faith.
For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
Notes on the Scripture
There are many reasons people pervert the Gospel and teach nonsense, or even evil. Sometimes they just want something new. Sometimes they want to convince people of some doctrine in order to make money. Sometimes they want others to think they have special knowledge, or special powers. Sometimes, they fairly innocently think that their brain knows something—using logic or personal insight—that the Gospel neither states nor implies.
Let’s examine an early and primary perversion of the Gospel, which likely motivated Paul to write these words to Timothy: Gnosticism. “Gnostic” actually describes several different religions that people invented in the centuries after Christ’s death and resurrection. It is still around today.
I don’t know why people believe this nonsense, but they do. I suspect some of it might have to do with disgust at the hypocrisy of earthly churches. Some people reject the Gospel because they react strongly to an individual who has God in his mouth but Satan in his heart. They fail to see that it is the person, not the Word, which is hypocritical. Others have a need to feel important, and the secret knowledge claimed by the various Gnostic sects meets this need.
One of the biggest red flags, in life as well as in religion, is a person who claims to have special or secret knowledge. Quack medical gurus and fraudulent investment schemes use this the same way as false religious prophets. The worst of them add a claim that their knowledge has been somehow suppressed by powerful people. If you get a sales pitch from anyone who claims to have special or secret knowledge, run the other way!
Paul driving Gnosticism
from the church.
Many of the Gnostic sects claim that their writings are secret or special books written by Christ or by some person who lived and witnessed Christ’s life. They share certain characteristics, and it is these shared characteristics that cause them to be grouped together as “gnostic.” They claim that matter is evil and spirit is good, and that God, who is spirit, cannot be involved in molding matter. Because this causes insurmountable problems with the Bible, they say that there are various levels where spirit and matter are combined. The God of the Old Testament, called YHWH or Jehovah or simply “Father,” is one of these levels of being that lie between spirit and matter. Jesus is another such intermediate level; most gnostics place Christ higher than God the Father. Christ could not, however, be divine, because he had flesh.
As you may have guessed by now, all of the Gnostic sects claim to have secret knowledge known only to special persons. Basically, you need to learn a set of passwords to rise through the various spheres of holiness and find salvation.
Some heresies are theologically harmless. Throughout the ages, there have been a lot of nit-picking philosophical or theological points that have little or nothing to do with actual salvation through the great and powerful grace of Jesus Christ. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? But although they are theologically harmless, these speculations harm the church, because they are fruitless and turn our eyes away from our true mission and ministry. Christ commands the church to be fruitful, and indeed, fruitfulness is a sign of the Holy Spirit.
But Gnosticism is not Christianity at all. By denying that one is saved by faith in Christ, as the revealed son of God, Gnosticism points the way to hell.
You don’t need to know a secret to be saved. God has given all people the opportunity of salvation by proclaiming his Word openly and widely, so that all people might know it and be saved.