Daily Devotion for February 23, 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.
“I will not boast in anything, No gifts, no power, no wisdom. But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.”
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away;
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life;
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom.
Music and Lyrics by Stuart Townend
Thanks for God’s Mercy
O Lord, you are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. You have not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is Your lovingkindness toward those who fear You. As far as the east is from the west, so far have You removed our transgressions from us.
All glory, all thanks be to You, wonderful God, who has by Your Son put away our sin, and cleansed us, that we might dwell with You forever.
All One in Christ
Father, so many divisions and disputes have been generated by issues, practices and traditions that are not part of the fundamentals of the faith. Your Church is a glorious unity in diversity, but when we major on the minors, the spirit of factionalism replaces that of unity and peace. I ask for the boldness and courage to stand up and contend for the essentials of the faith, even if it means a lack of peace.
I do not want to compromise the truth of the gospel for the sake of peace. But I also ask for the graciousness to demonstrate kindness and tolerance for believers who disagree with me about the non-essentials. I acknowledge that there are some things that are not clear enough in Your revelation for us to understand fully, but these are not the clearly revealed core issues of the faith. In all things, may I be loving and gracious to others.
A Prayer After Reading Scripture
May the word I have read, Lord, be planted deeply in my mind and heart. Help me not to walk away and forget it, but to meditate on it and obey it and so build my life on the rock of your truth.
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 book of the Bible is the story of a man who might not have existed?
Proverbs 4:18-19 (ESV)
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not even know what causes them to stumble.
Galatians 5:11-12 (Daily Prayer Bible)
Chopping Off the Circumcisers (Galatians #60)
have heard that some of them even say that I, Paul, preach circumcision! Ha! If I am preaching circumcision, why do the Jews persecute me? They tell lies to cut off your freedom in Christ -- I wish they would “cut off” themselves when they are performing circumcisions!
11 As for me, brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? For then the offense of the cross has been removed.
12 How I wish that those who trouble you would be chopped off.
Notes on the Scripture
These two verses are two off-the-cuff remarks that Paul didn’t manage to fit into the main body of his argument, so he simply inserted them at the very end of his main topic, before transitioning to his general remarks on Christian living. But this is not to say that they are not important or not worth reading, because they are a couple of corkers!
Apparently one of the arguments that the Judaizers (or some of them) were using was an outright lie: “Paul teaches that we should be circumcised.” Paul was himself circumcised, of course; before his conversion, he was a devout Jew, a Pharisee. Being avidly anti-Christian, one of the great persecutors of Christianity, he would have been a staunch advocate of the necessity of circumcision in his early years. One might even speculate that, possibly, something he said or did during that period was cited by the Judaizers.
But no longer. If there were any doubt, his vehement denunciation of circumcision in Galatians put an end to it. Still, he cannot resist a sarcastic parting shot. “If I am preaching circumcision, why do the Jews persecute me?” This raises a second question, because it implies that the Jews might not persecute Christians if they followed the Law. Was this something that motivated the Judaizers?
We might speculate that some of the Judaizers wanted to “have their cake and eat it, too.” They might have wanted the benefits of salvation without the bothersome persecution, and perhaps thought to lessen their burden by keeping one foot in each camp.
One can see the attraction that this would have. But it raises an insoluble problem: Christ demands our complete and total faith in His power to redeem us from sin. Giving half of our faith to Him and half to the Law of Moses - or giving something other than 100% of our faith to Him, giving 99.99% of our heart and soul to Christ and hedging our bet by putting .01% somewhere else as an insurance policy, in case He doesn’t deliver - nets out to 0%. Faith in Christ is a yes/no, “black and white” proposition.
As to the second verse, Paul creates an extended and slightly bawdy play on words. The verb he uses to describe what the Judaizers have done to the Galatians, translated “to hinder” or something similar in most Bibles, means, literally, “to cut off.” We use it in English the same way: we say we are “cut off” in traffic when somebody gets in front of us suddenly, or a rather rude person “cut us off” in the middle of something we were saying. But there is a second meaning to “cut off,” which is, literally, to cut something off — and what is it the Judaizers are literally cutting off? Foreskins.
In case there is any doubt that the pun is intentional, Paul spells it out with a rather bawdy joke in verse 12. When he says, “I wish that those who trouble you would be cut (or chopped) off,” he clearly means that would be subject to — how should one put it — a more radical circumcision. This is slightly more apparent in the Greek, where the most fundamental meaning of the verb (kop-) is more like “chop off” than “cut off.”