Daily Devotion for September 26, 2010
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.
Prayer for Renewal
God stir the soil
Run the ploughshare deep,
Cut the furrows round and round,
Overturn the hard, dry ground,
Spare no strength nor toil,
Even though I weep.
In the loose, fresh mangled earth
Sow new seed.
Free of withered vine and weed
Bring fair flowers to birth.
Prayer in Times of Low Spirits (from Psalm 42)
Like a deer thirsts for the water of a clear cool stream, my soul thirsts for you, my God. I await with longing the day when I may finally appear before you. I sometimes become unhappy; my spirit becomes downcast, as my enemies deny you and mock me; and yet, always, I discover the joy of your Spirit and turn my face to you, and you heal me.
By day you command my steadfast love, and by night your song comes to me. The wickedness of the world taunts me and evil people put a bullet in my back, saying “Where is your God”? But why are you in turmoil, oh my soul? My hope is in God. I will turn again to you, my Lord, and praise you, my salvation and my God.
[My soul thirsts for God.]
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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Food for Thought
Christ said, “I am the Truth”; He did not say “I am the custom.”
Galatians 1:9-10 (DP Bible)
9 I have said it before and I will say it again, in writing: those who teach their own thoughts and call them the Word of God are accursed.
10 Perhaps they tell you what you want to hear. But I live to please God, not men. Pleasing an audience is not my goal. I will not compromise the truth, for if I did, I could not call myself a servant of Christ.
9 As we have said before, and now again I say, if someone you evangelizes with different from what you received, he jOr it. is anathema kAnathema, oddly, is a perfect transliteration of the Greek word used here and in v. 10. It means to be the object of God’s disfavor. Paul comes as close as possible to saying “damned” without foregoing the possibility of repentance.
10 For now men am I persuading lOr seeking approval of. The translation “trying to persuade” is grammatically more correct and better-attested, and I think it is accurate. But centuries of translation have set “seeking approval” in stone for most translations. Of published authorities, only BDAG questions the traditional interpretation. or god? Or I am seeking to men to please? If still to men I was pleasing, of Christ servant not I was being.
Notes on the Scripture
Pleasing God, not Men (Galatians #5)
Paul's statement here is brief, but it is bursting with power. He lives to please God, not people. Of course, he is trying to bring the message of Christ to those he addresses and hopes that they will receive it. But what does he do if someone says or thinks, “I like most of what you say, but I cannot accept _____________.” Does he say, “Well, better that you believe 98% of it”? Does he say, “I'm a grown-up. I think we can compromise on that one small issue”? No. He says “I will not compromise the Gospel of Christ. I seek to please God, not my human listeners.”
There is no compromise in the Bible. God is an absolute; He is not going to change depending upon the thoughts of human beings.
orking backwards from Paul's statements, we must understand that this is at least part of the problem in Galatia: preachers of the Gospel, in order to attract more followers, are telling them what they want to hear instead of the Word of God. They are making compromises in order to enlarge their groups of followers. Everyone has parts of the Gospel that they do not want to hear, that would like to change. But if we look just one verse back, what is the status of these preachers in the eyes of God? Both they and the compromised Gospel they preach are accursed. “Anathema.”
Reading this, we can make a distinction between Paul, the apostle of Christ, and the false apostles who have infiltrated the Galatian churches. Paul certainly wants to grow the church of Christ, but his first principle is that the church must be pure and in complete acceptance of the Word of God. He will not compromise the Gospel, no matter how few the people who believe. The false apostles' first principle, on the other hand, is acceptance. If they can say something that will increase the size of the church, they will modify their message.
We can infer that this is what has happened in Galatia from the arguments and statements Paul makes. We are not sure of exactly which aspect of the Gospel these false apostles have compromised; apparently, the particulars are not as important as a clear and unflinching statement of the principle. As the epistle continues, however, we might infer from some of Paul's specific statements of doctrine that this is the area in which the churches have been compromised and undermined.
But to say it again, Paul could not be any clearer. “I could not call myself a servant of Christ,” he says, if he compromised God's truth in order to please his listeners.
The modern world is no different. A servant of Christ will accept His Word, whether they like it or not. A minister — priest, bishop, pastor, deacon, or whatever title by which they are called — who preaches variance from the Bible is not a servant of Christ, and by telling people what they want to hear instead of the truth, he is not doing his congregation a favor. Pandering to the secular opinions of church members has, unfortunately, become the rule rather than the exception in many (if not most) churches.
So we must examine our own beliefs, testing them against the Gospel (1 Thess. 5:21); and if our beliefs and the Gospel differ, it is our beliefs that we must understand to be in error.