Daily Devotion for February 25, 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.
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” (Isaiah 40:31)
No one can put together what has crumbled into dust, but You, Mighty God, can restore even a conscience turned to ashes. You, and You alone, can restore a soul lost and without hope to its former beauty. You are my creator and my redeemer. You are love. I praise You with all my heart for your power and mercy.
I remember the fall of Lucifer, full of pride, and I pray that You will protect me from his fate. Keep me safe with the power of Your grace; save me from falling away from You. Save me from doubt. Incline my heart to hear Your mysterious voice and to call upon Your power, every moment of my life. For you are present in everything, always.
For a Divine Guest
My spirit longs for thee
Within my troubled breast,
Though I unworthy be
Of so divine a guest.
Of so divine a guest
Unworthy though I be,
Yet has my heart no rest
Unless it come from thee.
Almighty God, since you delay with so much forbearance the punishments which I have deserved and daily draw on myself, grant that I may not indulge Myself, but carefully consider how often and in how many different ways I have provoked your anger against me. May I learn to present myself to you for pardon, in true humility, and may with a genuine remorse ask for your mercy.
With all my heart I desire to submit myself to you, whether you find fit in your infinite wisdom to punish me, or according to your infinite goodness, to forgive me. Let my condition be always blessed, not by flattering myself in apathy, but by finding you to be my kind and bountiful Father, reconciled to me by the gift of your only-begotten Son.
Oh Lord as I face creation
Let me see with eyes made clear
By Your promise of salvation,
Never to return to fear.
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
Which Bible verse instructs us to limit how hard we try to convince a nonbeliever?
Galatians 5:13-15 (Daily Prayer Bible)
elish your freedom, but remember, your freedom in Christ is not a license to indulge your instincts. In particular, stop all the backbiting that is going on.
What you bite, you consume, and what you consume, you destroy. So backbiting can only lead to mutual destruction. Instead, you must love and serve one another, for the entire law was fulfilled in this one teaching: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers; only do not use your freedom as a foundation for fleshly acts, but rather for serving one another through love.
14 For the entire law was fulfilled in one teaching, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Notes on the Scripture
Sense, Nonsense, and Salvation (Galatians #61)
There is an apparent contradiction between the clear message Paul has given us in the first four chapters of Galatians and his admonitions to moral conduct in chapters 5 and 6. On the one hand, we can no longer follow the law, in the sense that we cannot depend upon it to make us righteous before God. On the other hand, he now tells us that we cannot follow the impulses of the flesh. He cites or even creates rules of conduct and clearly expects that we will conform ourselves to them.
At no point is there more tension between these two poles than when he tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves because this is “the fulfillment of the law.” Having told us that the law will not save us, that it is slavery, he now demands that we obey it! But he is not contradicting himself. The law was not destroyed. Just as Christ said, He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17-20)
Our freedom is not freedom from the Law, but freedom from complying with the Law in order to become righteous in God’s eyes. The purpose of the Law was to show us our sin and the impossibility of freeing ourselves from sin, and thus prepare us to understand the necessity of Christ. But the Law did, in the process, show us what is sinful, and if we love Christ, we will want to avoid sin like the plague. We will hate our sin, because we have learned to love true goodness by witnessing the human incarnation of perfect good: Jesus Christ.
Some Christians picture this as a narrow path between conservative moralism, or legalism, and liberal or pagan permissiveness. It might be better, however, to view it as a spiritual state that has risen above both moralism and permissiveness. Christ gives us our freedom only when we are ready for it: when we have learned to hate our sin. We are then freed from fear.
If we should tell a lie today — and many of us will — we do not fear being cast off from God. If we should look at pornography or commit adultery — or even murder somebody — we do not thereby put ourselves permanently and irrevocably beyond the salvation that Christ brought to us. As John puts it:
In logical terms, John is speaking in double-talk. If we love Christ we will keep His commandments. If we say we know him and do not keep his commandments, we are lying; but if we break one of His commandments, He will forgive us, because we know him. This states a logical contradiction that cannot be resolved intellectually.
Paul tackles the issue head-on in 1 Corinthians 1. The power of the cross defies logic and defies strength. Paul explicitly calls Christianity “foolishness”, and this is exactly what he means. Just as our deeds cannot save us, our intellects cannot save us. We cannot know God by our thoughts or by our deeds, but only by the Holy Spirit, who transcends both.
In a word, Christianity does not make sense. If it made sense, we would not need faith. Those who demand that it make sense are assuming, implicitly, that their intellect is perfect and capable of knowing the truth. What Paul teaches us is just the opposite. Just as Christ transcended the human concept of strength by becoming weak, He transcended the human concept of wisdom by acting foolish. Indeed, who could possibly be stupid enough to hand himself over to torture and crucifixion for no logical reason?