Daily Devotion for January 11, 2021
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.
Matt Maher brings home a point that I needed to consider: if we really learn to depend on God, we need Him every hour. Our first prayer today treats the same subject from a different angle.
To Keep Christ in Mind During the Day
Oh Lord Christ, it is so, so very difficult sometimes to keep you at the front of my mind and in the center of my heart, to let you guide my thoughts and actions during the pressure and rush of the day. Much of the time I completely forget you; I act from my own mind and heart, living in this world. It is so bad on some days that I will rush through whatever prayers I say, or fail to read your Word with any conviction.
This is not how I want to live. Please, Lord God, so fill me with your Holy Spirit that I have you in mind with my every thought and act. Lead me to take that first step every day to open my Bible, and to fold my hands and close my eyes. Let me put you first, Lord God, and realize that the pressures of the world are illusory: but your Word is forever.
Prayer for Bearing Troubles
O God, our help and assistance, who is just and merciful, and who hears the prayers of your people; look down upon me, a miserable sinner; have mercy upon me, and deliver me from the troubles that torment me, even though I might deserve them. I acknowledge and believe, O Lord, that you give us the trials of this life for our chastisement, when we drift away from you, and disobey your will; deal not with me according to my sins, but according to your endless mercy, for I am the work of your hands, and you know my weakness. In the name of Christ I pray,
“To feel sorry for the needy is not the mark of a Christian – to help them is.”
~ Fred Clark
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked will I return. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the 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.
More Fun than Lust?
Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past . . . to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
~ Frederick Buechner
Galatians 4:12-14 (Daily Prayer Bible)
Become Like Me (Galatians #44)
beg of you: Just as I, a Jew, became like one of you, now you must become like me. Remember how close we were? I was ill when I first came to you to preach the Gospel, but you bore my infirmity with me. Instead of losing patience, you welcomed me like an angel of God, like Christ Himself. I think you would have torn out your own eyes and given them to me, if you could.
12 Become as I, as also I as you, brothers, I plead of you. Nothing me you wronged.
13 For you know that during weakness of the flesh I evangelized to you formerly ,
14 and the trial of you in the flesh of me neither you disdained nor spit-out , but like angel of god welcomed me, like Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore where the blessedness of you? For I witness in you that if possible the eyes of you digging out you gave to me.
16 And so enemy of you I became telling-truth to you?
Notes on the Scripture
When Paul went to live and preach among the people and towns of central Anatolia (Turkey), he did something really rather remarkable; he ceased to be a Jew, or if you prefer, ceased to live like a Jew. While Peter and possibly some other apostles (including second-generation evangelists) had taken actions forbidden by the Law (see Acts 11), there is no record of any of them going “the full monty” and becoming, for all intents and purposes, a Gentile. Paul was the first Christian, in the fullest sense of the word. He was the first kid on the block to take the training wheels off his bicycle, the first follower of Jesus to demonstrate absolute reliance on the new covenant.
This must have aided him immensely in his primary mission, bringing the Gospel to the Gentile world. And so he can say “I became like you” with conviction, knowing that the early converts in Galatia, who were the senior members of the churches, would testify that Paul had indeed abandoned the Law.
Paul in Prison
One cannot imagine a more powerful argument against the Judaizers. They were trying to convince Gentiles to become Jews, telling them it was necessary to live under the Law to follow Christ; but the apostle who had first led them to Christ had abandoned it. Paul makes the Judaizers look absurd. He, the foremost apostle in northern Christendom, has essentially become a Gentile — now the Gentile Christians should do just the opposite, and become Jews?
Using the reminiscence of the time he had been with them in person, Paul segues into sentimentality. His rhetorical strategy seems clear — he is not above using pure emotionalism and personal attachment to “close the deal” with the listeners, for many of them must have had great personal love for him. How could they not? Paul could talk the bark off a tree. When he was put into prisons, he would convert his prison guards!
How Paul came about his rhetorical training is a mystery. But anyone who has read much Greek philosophy will notice the strong stylistic resemblance to Galatians. In the Gospels, we see a strong Semitic influence; Christ Himself spoke in a very Hebrew manner. But Galatians is pure Greek, both in the use of logic and in the progress of argument according to principles of rhetoric.
As an interesting historical note, this passage is one of a very few that give us insight into Paul's physical condition. We know he had some sort of infirmity and we infer, from this and several other incidental remarks in other epistles, that he suffered from some disorder or disease of the eyes. He may have had other physical problems, as well. It is hard to imagine that he led the life he did, constantly traveling through the primitive world, working as a day-laborer, and suffering repeated incarcerations and beatings — at least once he was left for dead — without suffering permanent physical effects.