Daily Devotion for November 20, 2020
Christ is dimly seen in the center of the painting; a man appears to fall into His heart. The Perpignan railway station—the center of the universe, represented by a railway car—is represented just above. Humble people face Him. Their sacks of grain symbolize human experience. “This train don’t carry no gamblers.”
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.
If you listen to this brief bit of advice from Andrew Peterson, I guarantee your day will go a tiny bit better!
For the Day Ahead
Oh Lord God, I come to you in the morning, full of hope that the day to come might be filled with joy and energy. Grant that I may do my work with a light and happy heart; and if there are tasks that I do not look forward to, or even dread, let me undertake them with courage and resolve. For this day could be perfect, if I can only live it in You and with You and for You.
Where I face frustration today, let me handle it with acceptance and faith that the outcome is in Your hands. Lead me away from anger or judgment of other people. Let me tend to my own garden instead of looking over the fence. If my neighbor's yard is filled with weeds, help me not to criticize, and keep me from envy of those whose tree bears more fruit.
And let everything I attempt be filled with the knowledge and guidance of Your Holy Spirit. I pray that the Spirit will be with me at every moment, and that I will always be aware of Him, and live every moment of this day in Your presence. In Christ’s name, I pray,
Heavenly Father, true God, who sent Your beloved Son to seek the wandering sheep, I have sinned against heaven and before You; receive me like the Prodigal Son, and clothe me with the garment of innocence, of which I was deprived by sin. Have mercy upon Your Creatures and upon me, a great sinner.
[The phrase “be not afraid” is written in the Bible 365 times.]
Lord, pour your love into my heart, that I may love you above all things, and my neighbors as myself. Through Christ our Lord.
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.
Matthew 15:7-9 (ESV)
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
Galatians 3:26, 28-29 (DP Bible)
All One in Christ Jesus (Galatians #39)
ou are all children of God in Christ; for if you abide in Christ, you are equal heirs according to the promise God made to Abraham. There exists neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many in Christ you were baptized, in Christ you were clothed qClothed might have a connotation of coming into maturity, an event that was marked by a formal and frequently ceremonial change of clothing from that of a child to that of a man. .
28 not there is Jew nor Greek, not there is slave nor free, not there is male and female, for all you one are in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you in Christ, then of Abraham descendants you are, according to promise heirs.
Notes on the Scripture
There is so much content in these brief verses that one could spend weeks discussing all of the ramifications. The critical distinction Paul wants to make, in order to summarize Chapter 3, is that the distinction between Jew and Greek does not exist. But he takes the opportunity to open a wider door: Every human being is an equal heir to the promise God made to Abraham, without any distinction of ethnicity, status, or gender.
It is something that every one of us will do well to remember. I might have told this joke before, and it is actually a Jewish joke (that is, a joke told by Jews), so I’ll leave it in the original setting:
A rabbi celebrating Shabbat is filled with a feeling of holiness and falls prostrate on the floor during the service. He cries out, “Oh Mighty Lord, I am a mere worm before you. I am nothing! I am less than nothing.”
The Cantor is seized by the same spirit, and falls prostrate beside the Rabbi. “I am nothing before you, less than nothing!” he cries out.
The shammes (sexton) is standing in the wings, preparing to clean up after the service, but he too runs out before the congregation and falls on the floor in front of the altar. “My Lord, My God,” he cries, “I am nothing before you.”
The Cantor raises his head and looks at the shammes. Then he leans over towards the Rabbi and whispers, “So. Look who thinks he’s nothing.”
Jews, apparently, have the same feeling about pride in one’s holiness that Christians have. One can simply substitute “pastor and senior warden” or “rector and associate priest” for the rabbi and cantor, and it’s just as good a joke about Christianity.
The humor lies in the irony of human imperfectability. We cannot become perfectly holy because, even if we do, we will be proud of our holiness.
Our standing as souls in the eyes of God is, in a fundamental sense, equal unlike any other equality in existence. There is no temporal aspect that affects it. In a very important and fundamental sense, God sees the Pope or Billy Graham just as He sees a mass murderer who has confessed his sin and called upon Christ to save him by grace. We cannot be perfect, and it is for this reason that we must accept Christ.
Like every other sin, the human characteristic of looking at some people as better than others must be constantly monitored in prayer and meditation. The Bible — and we see this very strongly in Paul’s epistles — tells certain people to accept temporal servitude or subordination without attempting to rise above it. We must be very clear that the underpinning of such teachings is that the status of one in life is ultimately utterly meaningless to God. Women, young people, and slaves (or bondservants) in particular are taught to accept subordination in some aspects of life. To the human mind, this is foolishness. But this is exactly the kind of puzzle Paul had in mind when he said, “[T]he foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” For Christ washed the feet of His apostles.
We look to Christ as our model, not to Bill Gates, not to the President of the United States, not to the biggest star in Hollywood. Christ humbled Himself to the uttermost, being hung on a cross to die as a cheap common criminal. “The meek,” He told us, “shall inherit the earth.” Christ turned the pecking order upside-down. But He alone, among all humanity, lived exactly what He taught. He was the greatest of all men, not in spite of His humility, but because of it. He was the slave, the wife, the obedient Son.