Daily Devotion for March 24, 2020
A wonderful illustration of today’s “peace of God” theme.
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 soft voice of Stuart Townend gives us a melodic take on the 23d Psalm.
Prayer to Thirst for God
Lord God, I have tasted your goodness and it has satisfied me, yet it has made me thirst for even more. I am so painfully aware of my need for even more grace than I now enjoy; and even when I do not want more, I am ashamed of my lack of desire. I want you completely, mighty God, and I want to want you even more than I do.
Fill me with longing for you; make me even thirstier. Show me your glory, I pray, so that I may know you always better and better, growing in my faith and love. From your infinite mercy, begin a new work of love within me this moment. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ And give me grace to rise up and follow you, from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.
Prayer for Unknown Needs
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on my weakness, and mercifully give me those things which for my unworthiness I dare not, and for my blindness I cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
May I go in peace, with God and with his other children, and may we love one another as Christ taught us. May I follow the example of good men of old, and may God comfort and help me and all who believe in Him, both in this world and in the world which is to come.
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
What verse tells us that Jesus gave up aspects of His divinity while human?
Answer: Philippians 2:6-7
“Although He existed in the form of God, Christ did not retain equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men.”
Psalm 23 (KJV)
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Philippians 4:8-9 (KJV)
Think About These Things
inally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Notes on the Scripture
Paul, when he took the opportunity, gave us some of the most beautiful poetry in history, and his most poetic work was doubly ennobled by the translators of the King James Version.
The KJV is still popular for several reasons, despite a number of difficulties, and poetic power is one of the reasons. Consider: In the early 1600s, poetry was hugely popular. The novel had not even been invented! (At least in English, it was 100 years away; however, Cervantes wrote Don Quixote around 1610.) Every educated man, and many women, studied and wrote poetry. They developed poetic “muscle.”
Public appreciation of great poetry today is moribund. Nobody writes it; few read it. Thus, modern Bibles do not have this massive body of poetic appreciation or developed talent to draw upon. Translators’ poetic sensibilities are flabby, even if they make an effort.
As for the meaning of today’s Scripture, the two verses are not only clear, but also powerful in their presentation. And enjoyable! We might read them time and again without growing tired of hearing such beautiful and elevating thoughts expressed in such moving words.
Virgin of the Magnificat
Sandro Botticelli, 1483
There are two main teachings given. First, we should look at (listen to, etc.) things in life that are good. (And ironically, these verses are one of them!) I confess, this gives me pause, personally. I like dark movies, for example. But I have noticed, as my faith matures, I like them less and less. And Paul does seem, in all honesty, to be telling us to keep our “input” high-minded, and not only what we watch and listen to, but also, the ideas we allow into our minds.
Second: “do.” “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; . . .” (I have nothing to add!)
The second half of the sentence — “and the God of peace shall be with you”— might be read to turn the verse into a sort of conditional. We can read it as a separate thought — the God of peace shall be with us — or equally well, as an “if-then” statement: If we turn our eyes and our minds to those things that are good and pure, and if we do praiseworthy things, the God of peace will be with us, and the peace of God will be with us.
The peace of God is absolute. Even in our greatest time of fear, we can find God’s peace. Jesus feared pain and death as much as we; yet, when the time came, he went to His cross without complaint, secure by faith in His resurrection to glory. It is there for us, also, by His sacrifice. So Paul tries to help us find it, by advising us to consider praiseworthy things, and emulate them in our actions.