Evening Devotion for September 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.
We seem to be listening to “Mason’s favorite hymns” this week (“A Mighty Fortress” yesterday). When I am walking and feel the Spirit, this is the hymn that springs to my lips!
I had thought it Anglican (and the words we use today were written/translated by an Episcopalian), but it was written by a Lutheran, in German. Its universal power can be seen by its inclusion in the hymnals of every major denomination, including, as we see today, the Mormons.
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation!
Join the great throng,
Psaltery, organ and song,
Sounding in glad adoration!
Praise to the Lord! Over all things he gloriously reigneth.
Borne as on eagle wings, safely his Saints he sustaineth.
Hast thou not seen
How all thou needest hath been
Granted in what he ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy way and defend thee.
Surely his goodness and mercy shall ever attend thee.
What the Almighty can do,
Who with his love doth befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen
Sound from His people again,
Now as we worship before him.
Music by Lobe den Herren (1665)
Lyrics by Joachim Neander (1680), English tr. Catherine Winworth (1863).
A Prayer of Entreaty by Jane Austen
Compassionate Lord, give me a thankful sense of the Blessings in which I live, of the many comforts of my lot; that I may not deserve to lose them by Discontent or Indifference.
Be gracious to my Necessities, and guard me, and all I love, from Evil this day. May the sick and afflicted, be now, and ever thy care; and heartily do I pray for the safety of all that travel by Land or by Sea, for the comfort & protection of the Orphan and Widow and that thy pity may be shewn upon all Captives and Prisoners.
Above all other blessings Oh! God, for myself, and my fellow-creatures, I implore Thee to quicken our sense of thy Mercy in the redemption of the World, of the Value of that Holy Religion in which we have been brought up, that we may not, by our own neglect, throw away the salvation thou hast given us, nor be Christians only in name. Hear me Almighty God, for His sake who has redeemed me, and taught me thus to pray.
Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine — to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever,
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.
Titus 1:1-2 (ESV)
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.
Galatians 2:11-14 (DP Bible)
y next meeting with Peter, when he came to Antioch, did not go quite so smoothly. When he first arrived, he showed no reluctance to eat with the Gentile believers in our community.
But when a group sent by James arrived, Peter distanced himself from our Gentile members, lest he offend the Jews from Jerusalem. All the Jews then started eating separately -- even Barnabas. This is outright hypocrisy, an act condemned by the Gospel, and I had no choice but to confront Peter directly.
11 But when came Cephas to Antioch, against face to him I stood up, because condemned was he.
12 For before to have come some people from James with the Gentiles he used to eat together but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing those from (from is an idiom, meaning belonging to, as members of a group) circumcised.
13 And they joined-in-hypocrisy with him and the rest of Jews, so that even Barnabas was carried away by of them the hypocrisy (Note: “hypocrisy” is a Greek word, hypokrisei, whose component stems mean roughly “under judgment” or “below righteousness”).
14 But when I saw that not they walk correctly before the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before all, if you Jewish inherently being in-Gentile-manner and not in-Jewish-manner live, how the Gentiles urge you to live-in-Jewish-manner? (Note: As in English (especially among Christians), “walk” is used to describe behavior, especially in regard to a particular standard.)
Notes on the Scripture
Paul Chastises Peter (Galatians #14)
In the preceding verses, we saw Paul being approved and even sanctioned by Peter, John, and James, when he traveled to Jerusalem to present his gospel to them. We could see, even then, that with a vigilant eye Paul guarded his position as their equal. His credibility to the Galatian churches, and his argument that they were following false teachings rather than the Word of God, hinged largely on their acceptance of his claim to be an actual apostle of Christ. For Paul claimed that his teaching was given to him by Christ, directly, in a revelation.
In this famous passage, Paul dispels any notion that he is subordinate to Peter. Paul never claims to be the leader of Christianity; but those who see organizations in hierarchical terms considered Peter the head of the church. Considerable evidence bolstered the concept. Christ had designated him the rock upon which the church would be built, and had given him the “keys to heaven”. (E.g. Matthew 16:18-19)
The Greek in direct translation creates a slightly harsher tone than the passage intends. In verse 11, Paul states that he confronted Peter “because he was (or stood) condemned.” Peter was not condemned in the sense we use the word; he was not destined for hell or sentenced to die by a judge. What Paul conveys is that no judge was needed; the wrongfulness of Peter’s action spoke for itself. (Of course, Paul felt obligated to help it along — with considerable extra speech.)
Trying to meld Jews and Greeks into a homogeneous church was like making salad dressing, for they were as compatible as oil and vinegar. Peter, James, Barnabas, and all of the original apostles, had grown up as God-fearing Jews, whose path to God was strict compliance with the Law of Moses. Old habits die hard. And dietary laws were an important, ingrained habit. The Jewish Christians, despite their convictions, must have felt great discomfort at eating with Gentiles. Peter, we know, was strongly conflicted; it was only his obedience to God that brought him to baptize Cornelius. (Acts 10)
Moreover, the Council of Jerusalem — when the church officially required acceptance of Gentiles without circumcision — lay several years in the future. Unofficially, Peter understood the innate hypocrisy of practicing Judaism while preaching Christ, at least when it caused a division in the church.
James the Just
16th century Russian icon
One might infer that James was slow to accept it — and it was not an issue that arose in Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, to the degree it did in Antioch, a Greek city. (Antioch is and was then in Syria, a long way from Greece; but Greek culture so dominated the civilized Western world in the years after Alexander the Great that much of the world was “Greek”, from Spain to Persia and North Africa. Latin was spoken only in central Italy.) (Acts 15)
James lived in a world where all Christians were Jews. Lacking modern communications, he simply never considered the problems of Gentile converts, or the problems that would need to be worked out where Gentile and Jewish Christians lived together. This was much ameliorated when he was brought to understand it, at the Council of Jerusalem. He strove to keep the church unified and was known as “James the Just”.
There is no indication that Peter protested Paul’s correction. While it is easy to view the goings-on of the early church in a framework of secular politics, power, and pride, we must always remember that Peter and Paul (and James) were profoundly convicted Christians who sought humility with utter sincerity. (And how happy we would be, if all subsequent church leaders emulated this trait.)