Daily Devotion for January 18, 2020
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 great Karl Richter playing the great Toccata and Fugue in D minor by the great J.S. Bach on the great 1766 Riepp organ at Ottobeuren Monastery, Germany, is just, well, too great for words.
To Turn My Mind to Heavenly Things
Lord Jesus Christ, who returned from this world to the Father and loved those who were here in this world, make my mind turn from worldly preoccupations to the contemplation of heaven, to despise everything transitory and to yearn only for celestial things, and to burn with the glowing fire of your love. And you, Lord, who deemed yourself worthy to wash the feet of your holy apostles with your sacred hands, cleanse also my heart by pouring in the radiance of the Holy Spirit, so that I may be able to love you, our Lord Jesus Christ, in all things and above all else.
For God’s Holy Church
Father of mercy, your love embraces everyone, and through the Resurrection of your Son you call me and all the members of your church into your wonderful light. Dispel our darkness and make us a people with one heart and one voice, forever singing your praise, in Jesus, the Christ, our Lord.
Finally, let me go forth in thanks for the victory I have been given through our Lord Jesus Christ. May I be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, and always remembering that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.
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.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
Which verse tells us that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity while He was human?
No matter how just your words may be, you ruin everything when you speak with anger.
~ John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (347-407 A.D.)
James 1:19-21; 2:14-18; 4:1-4 (ESV)
now this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
* * *
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
* * *
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
* * *
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death . . . .
Notes on the Scripture
Overview of the New Testament: The Epistles
18. The Epistle of James
Everyone has parts of the Bible that they don’t want to hear. And for most people, it is something in James.
St. James (Durer, ca. 1516)
Protestants and many prominent Catholics believe that James (“the Just”) was the half-brother of Jesus; however, the official doctrine of the Catholic and Orthodox churches teaches that he was Jesus’ cousinThis stems from the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, i.e., the conviction that Mary had no children after Jesus.. James was apparently a latecomer to the faith. The Gospels all record that Jesus’ family were not believers; John states simply, “even his own brothersThis is taken to refer to James by all Christian denominations, although, the stated Orthodox/Catholic doctrine is that “brothers” is a generic term meaning “family”. did not believe in him.” (John 7:5)
Whatever his early misgivings may have been, nobody doubts that James became a devout and convicted Christian either late in Jesus’ life, or after His resurrection. He was enormously influential in the early church; the book of Acts (e.g. Acts 15:12-21) indicates that he had equal footing with Peter in the Council of Jerusalem.
His epistle, very possibly the earliest-written book of the New Testament, is also enormously important as a theological check on the misstatement of such matters as justification by faith and the involvement of the church in politics. It is also notable for the powerful criticism of loose talk, in general, and anger, in particular; he identifies anger as “moral filth” in the passage above.
Chapter 1 (of 5) is a general introduction. Chapter 2 treats two subjects, in plain direct language. First, that deference to the richer members of a church is completely contrary to Christ’s teaching; and second, that faith and action are inseparable: “faith” that consists only of words is insufficient to find salvation.
Chapter 3 treats the dangers of speaking unwisely and pridefully. Chapter 4 discusses the incompatibility between love for the world and love for God.
Chapter 5 begins with a vituperative warning to those who create wealth by exploiting the poor and powerless. It then counsels patience in the face of hardship; repeats Jesus’ admonition that no oath of any kind be sworn; extols the power of prayer; and finally, in one sentence, approves those who save fellow Christians from hell by convincing them to repent.
This last sentence, again, has enormous theological significance as a check against “cheap grace,” that is, a person who is baptized but then continues to act as he or she always has.
There are a variety of views on whether a person of true faith can backslide and lose his salvation — the Bible seems to have verses that support three different positions. We don’t have space to discuss such a major issue today, except to say that this last sentence of James is cited by those who believe salvation may be lost by a person who “talks the talk” but doesn't “walk the walk.”