Daily Devotion for January 11, 2015
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.
The picture is a man named Horatio Spafford, a prominent attorney in Chicago married to the love of his life, Anna Larsen. In 1870, their 4-year-old son died of scarlet fever. Six months later, the Great Fire of Chicago destroyed his entire fortune. Two years later, the ship on which his wife and four remaining children were traveling to England sank; only his wife survived. He wrote this hymn while sailing to his wife in England.
The Spaffords lived out the rest of their lives as charity workers in Jerusalem.
For Unity in Sunday Worship
Father of mercy, your love embraces everyone, and through the Resurrection of your Son you call me and all who pray with me into your wonderful light. Dispel our darkness and make us a people with one heart and one voice, forever singing your praise,
in Jesus, the Christ, our Lord.
O Changeless God,
Under the conviction of the Spirit I learn that
The more I do, the worse I am,
The more I know, the less I know,
The more holiness I have, the mores sinful I am,
The more I love, the more there is to love.
O wretched man that I am!
I have a wild heart
And cannot stand before thee;
I am like a bird before a man.
How little I love thy truth and ways!
I neglect prayer,
By thinking I have prayed enough and earnestly,
By knowing thou hast saved my soul.
Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical hypocrite,
Who sins more safely because grace abounds,
Who tells his lusts that Christ’s blood cleanseth them,
Who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell, for his is saved,
Who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians, but lives
My mind is a bucket without a bottom,
With no spiritual understanding,
No desire for the Lord’s Day,
Ever learning but never reaching the truth,
Always at the gospel-well but never holding water.
My conscience is without conviction or contrition,
With nothing to repent of.
My will is without power of decision or resolution.
My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.
My memory has no retention,
So I forget so easily the lessons learned,
And thy truths seep away.
Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.
Doxology (Traditional Anglican)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
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.
Matthew 12:36-37 (ESV)
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
James 1:22-27 (ESV)
Practicing Your Faith
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Notes on the Scripture
Today we are please to continue with our guest commentary on the Epistle of James, from Dr. Ken Boa of Atlanta.
In both testaments, wisdom is related not only to the perception of truth, but also to the practice of truth. Without a personal response, the Bible will do us little good, because it was designed to change both our way of thinking and our way of behaving. This is the principle which is clearly stated in James 1:22 and illustrated throughout the rest of the epistle. “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”
rom a biblical perspective, a person has not really heard a message unless he or she correctly responds to its truth. It is for this reason that Jesus repeatedly said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (e.g., Matt. 11:15; 13:9,43; Rev. 2:7,11,17,29), and it is for the same reason that both Jesus and Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 on the problem of dullness of hearing (Matt. 13:14-15; Acts 28:26-27). This kind of hearing loss is not physiological, but moral and spiritual.
According to James, it is just as foolish to read Scripture, realize the need for change, and do nothing about it as it is to look in a mirror, see your hair in complete disarray, and walk away as though nothing is wrong (Jas. 1:23-24). By contrast, the person who hears and applies the truth of the Word is blessed: “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does” (Jas. 1:25). The blessing does not come in the hearing but in the doing.
A casual glance into the mirror of the Word will not do; the more intently we look into this mirror, the more clearly we see who we really are and how our loving Lord wants us to live. But even if we scrutinize the Scriptures, there will be no change if we do not intend to apply what we learn. We can learn more about God and yet fail to know Him better.
James adds that truth must not only be applied; it must be applied in the right way. “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless” (Jas. 1:26). It is easy to engage in ritual without a relationship and to pursue outer conformity without inward commitment. There is a strong tendency in our culture to compartmentalize Christianity by reducing it to church attendance, prayers, and giving. When this happens, we fail to see its relevance to the rest of life and we become “religious” people whose behavior outside of church is hardly different from that of those who have not trusted in Christ.
By contrast, James offers three specific manifestations of true religion. The first relates to the control of the tongue. Like a wild horse, the tongue needs to be bridled and controlled. Since “the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matt. 12:34), our speech reveals what is within. If Christ has changed our hearts, there should be at least some reflection of this in the way we speak.
The second manifestation of “pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father” is “to visit orphans and widows in their distress” (Jas. 1:27a). In the first century, these were the people with the most pressing needs (there were no orphanages, and few jobs were available for women). Acts of compassion and kindness to those who cannot reciprocate are evidences of a living faith and a changed heart (see Matt. 25:34-40; Ps. 68:5; 146:9).
The third manifestation of true religion is “to keep oneself unstained by the world” (Jas. 1:27b). This is the test of inner purity--to be in the world but not of it. The temporal value system paints everything in shades of grey, but the eternal value system tells us that the real issues facing all of us are good versus evil, light versus darkness, and life versus death.
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.