Daily Devotion for January 22, 2022
Rembrandt illustrates the parable of the rich fool, as told in Luke 12:13-21. At night a rich man studies one of his golden coins. In the early 17th century a stack of books was often used as a symbol of vanity. The Hebrew letters suggest a biblical setting. (See Full-size.)
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.
This somber, beautiful hymn reminds us of the gravity and holiness of Christian martyrdom; in the specific case, Anabaptists in Europe, who were tortured and murdered by Catholics and Protestants alike.
1 Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
for sinners such as I?
2 Was it for crimes that I have done,
he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
3 Well might the sun in darkness hide,
and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died
for his own creature's sin.
4 Thus might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
and melt mine eyes to tears.
5 But drops of tears can ne'er repay
the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
'tis all that I can do.
Tune “Martyrdom,” by Hugh Wilson (Fenwick, Scotland) 1766
Lyrics by Isaac Watts, 1707
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To Be Filled with Truth
Heavenly Father, thank you for these prayers, scriptures and words of Godly discernment, wisdom and encouragement that you have given us. Help us cling tightly to the truth of Your Word in the Bible and let go of the ideas in the world, our culture and our own thinking. Fill us with your Holy-Spirit love, for we simply don’t have enough love on our own. When we are offended, help us remember Jesus, who was more highly offended, insulted and betrayed than anyone and yet loved to the end. Help us abide in Christ minute by minute, so we may grow the fruit of His Spirit.
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my 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.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
In Matthew 28:19, what does Christ command us to do?
James 1:5-11 (NASB)
From Belief to Behavior
ut if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.
Notes on the Scripture
We are pleased to offer a guest commentary on the Epistle of James, running on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from Dr. Ken Boa of Atlanta.
Previously, as we began to look at the book of James, the wisdom literature of the New Testament, we saw that tests of faith are a normal part of the Christian’s experience (Jas. 1:1-4). James counsels that the attitude we should maintain during such times of adversity is a joyful anticipation of the Christlike character these tests are designed to forge in our lives. This divine perspective can help us respond with trust in God in spite of our circumstances.
Even so, it is difficult for most of us to move from the level of belief to the level of behavior. We may believe that there is no progress in the spiritual life without problems, but how do we turn theory into practice? This is where James 1:5 comes in: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” As we have already seen, wisdom is not a matter of intellectual attainment but of moral and spiritual discernment. Knowledge is theoretical, but wisdom enables one to apply the truth in very practical ways.
All of us face times of testing when we find ourselves bankrupt in the area of practical wisdom. Whenever this happens, James encourages us to turn to the source of wisdom who generously bestows this gift upon those who ask for it. God gives “generously and without reproach”--“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8). When we ask God for the wisdom to see our circumstances from an eternal perspective so that we can take the right course of action, we can be assured of a yes answer.
The only condition is that we “ask in faith without any doubting” (Jas. 1:6). The word for doubt in this verse means to be in two minds. The one who wavers in unbelief bobs up and down like a ship in a stormy sea, tossed around by circumstances. Because of his lack of trust, such a person cannot “expect that he will receive anything from the Lord” (Jas. 1:7). This “double-minded” (literally, double-souled) man is unsteady (“unstable in all his ways,” Jas. 1:8) because he is not anchored in the assurances of God’s promise.
We need God’s wisdom to apply the principles of Scripture to our specific problems, and when we expectantly ask for this wisdom it will be granted--we have God’s word on it.
In the next three verses, James illustrates this process by applying divine wisdom to the circumstances in which his first-century readers found themselves. These Jewish believers had been scattered because of persecution, and many had suffered the loss of wealth and esteem. This was a difficult trial for them to endure, and they needed God’s perspective on their problems. In spite of their “humble circumstances,” the apostle tells them that they can consider it all joy: “But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position” (Jas. 1:9). These believers may be downtrodden in the eyes of the world, but they are held in high esteem by God as joint heirs with His Son.
The sword of wisdom is double-edged, because it also cuts away the façade of social elitism: “and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away” (Jas. 1:10). From a spiritual point of view, prosperity can be an even more difficult test than poverty (see 1 Tim. 6:9-10,17). The wealthy are tempted to place their security in their possessions rather than the Lord and can easily cultivate an attitude of smugness, superiority, and independence.
If they do not seek the Lord’s wisdom, the rich will unavoidably misinterpret their circumstances and fail to realize how temporary and uncertain earthly treasures really are. Like a flower that blooms but quickly withers, “the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away” (Jas. 1:11). The pursuit of making and keeping wealth will drain the life out of the person who “lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21; see Matt. 6:19-21). The only way out of this trap is for the one who is rich to “glory in his humiliation” by acknowledging that without Christ he is nothing and owns nothing. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).
Unlike the wisdom of this world, the wisdom from above tells us to look at the prosperity of the poor and the poverty of the prosperous. In both cases, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility” (Prov. 15:33).
Dr. Boa is devoted to a ministry of relational evangelism and discipleship, teaching, writing, and speaking. He holds a B.S. in astronomy from Case Institute of Technology, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. from New York University, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in England. I highly recommend a visit to his website, KenBoa.org, which is filled with free videos, written commentary, newsletters, etc.