Daily Devotion for June 21, 2021
Of all the artifacts in the studio, a well-dressed but bored woman chooses an old family Bible, as she waits for the artist. We sense a moment of spiritual discovery; after a life of empty comforts, she turns from the artifacts of the world to the Word of the One who created them.
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 upbeat song from the opening of the 2102 Junior School Choir Competition (UK) is just what we need to get our engines started for the week ahead.
For Perseverance Today
If things get tough today, Lord — and in all hard times — let me stay motivated and calm. Let me look at how far I have come rather than how far I still have to go. Let me continue counting my blessings, not what I’ve been missing. May every day bring new chances to grow, new beautiful things to see, new plans to do, and new goals to pursue, as every new day is Your miracle day.
Prayer of Praise (from Psalm 86)
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon you: for you will answer me.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; and no works like those you have done. All nations whom you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; and will glorify your name.
For you are great, and do wondrous things: you are God alone.
Teach me your way, Lord, and I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify your name forever.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
~ C. S. Lewis
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.
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.
Psalm 108:1-4 (NKJV)
O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
Awake, lute and harp!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples,
And I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your mercy is great above the heavens,
And Your truth reaches to the clouds.
Galatians 6:12 (Daily Prayer Bible)
Compromising Our Faith (Galatians #99)
Those who want to make a good showing in the flesh try to coerce you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Notes on the Scripture
irst off, we must understand the specifics of what Paul is saying. Christians in Galatia were being persecuted by the Jews. The Jews had reached a sort of equilibrium of toleration with the Roman Empire. They were allowed to practice Judaism as long as they accepted Roman political authority. The Sanhedrin (especially the “Herodians”) was a political instrument of Roman collaboration. In return — as was so vividly demonstrated by Rome’s cooperation in the crucifixion of Jesus — Rome would assist the Sanhedrin in suppressing non-conforming religious sects.
There would be no systematic, official Roman persecution of Christians until the 3rd century A.D. Persecution was erratic and, with the notable exception of Nero, was usually initiated by Jewish complaints. (We see a good example of how this could happen — albeit by complaint of Greeks — in Acts 19:21-40.)
So we can understand why some Christians wanted to be circumcised and follow the law of Moses. It helped keep them “under the radar” of the Jewish authorities. They were not so obviously the members of a non-Jewish religion, but simply appeared to be practicing Judaism with a few odd twists.
But despite some similarities, Chapters 3-5 of Galatians has just informed us that Judaism and Christianity are irreconcilable. “Whoever seeks to be justified by law cuts himself off from Christ and falls from grace.” (Galatians 5:4) As Christ said, we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24); and we cannot follow Judaism and Christianity. Being circumcised, as an outward sign of reliance upon the law of Moses for salvation, demonstrates a lack of complete faith in Jesus Christ.
But how does this relate to us, today? In two ways. The smaller sense is the specific one: there is no such thing as following both Judaism (in the religious sense) and Christianity. People who try to do it are confused.
The greater lesson, however, is the more general one. Paul’s message that Christianity should not be compromised by outward compliance with another religion extends to non-religious activity that is inconsistent with Christian faith.
If we attend a bachelor party, do we “go along with the crowd” to a strip club? If the women in our social circle wear frivolously expensive and immodest clothes, do we “have a little fun” and dress like them? Are we more afraid to be social outcasts or to offend almighty God?
Looking back to Chapter 5, we can see that these are works of the flesh, rather than “fruits of the spirit,” and this is precisely what Paul means to criticize: “Those who want to make a good showing in the flesh . . . .”