Daily Devotion for February 20, 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.
A moving song about God’s forgiveness by the Sharon Singers (of the Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute)
Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian (350 A.D.)
O Lord and Master of my life, this day, give me not the spirit of laziness, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of sobriety, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.
Prayer of Trust When We Feel Lost
Lord God, sometimes I feel like a lost child, alone in the woods or on a strange street. I cannot see the road ahead of me. I fear what lies in the shadows.
I have no idea where I am going. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself. And even though I am trying to follow your will, sometimes I can't be sure whether I am or not. Sometimes, I think, I am fooling myself. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and that you will direct me, even if sometimes I get it wrong.
I hope and pray that I will at least not do anything today that I am certain will displease you, and I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always. Though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my troubles alone.
[I cannot see the road ahead of me.]
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.
Ezekiel 22:27 (ESV)
Galatians 2:3-5 (DP Bible)
Infiltration in the Jerusalem Church (Galatians #12)
3-4 All my concerns were, thankfully, illusory. Peter, James, and John, the pillars of the Jerusalem church, all offered me their right hands in brotherhood. Nobody even asked that Titus be circumcised (he being a Greek) although there was a group of people who tried to suggest it. These were phony Christians who had wormed their way into the Jerusalem church to spy on it, hoping to despoil the freedom we have found in Christ and divert us back towards slavery.
5 But it didn’t work. We did not yield an inch to these impostors. We preserved God’s word for you, unadulterated.
3 Nor Titus the with me, Greek being, was compelled to be circumcised
4 and because the introduced dProb. meaning secretly brought in, snuck in. Paul uses several words here and in v.5 that occur nowhere else in the New Testament, a phenomenon called hapax legomenon (“once said”). This can make translation tricky. pseudo-brothers, who sneaked-in to spy-on the freedom of us which we have in Christ Jesus, that us they might enslave
Notes on the Scripture
Paul delivered his revealed Gospel to the church leaders of Jerusalem and they approved of it wholeheartedly. Paul has, independent of them, promulgated a theology and factual background that is completely in accordance with their own. Not that it is identical; the theology of Paul often has a markedly different emphasis than the letters of the three men mentioned here. But Paul tells us that there was no point of dispute, and we hear no point of dispute from any of them in their own epistles.
An interesting side note here is the anecdote about Titus, who was Greek and not circumcised. The issue of whether Christians would have to be Jewish was hotly contested for many decades, until the issue was put to rest, once and for all, by the Council of Jerusalem. A full history appears in Acts 15.
In fact, this is going to become the primary point of Galatians, leading to one of Paul's most primary theological tenets: the primacy of faith in salvation. But he begins to stir the pot in these early verses, by pointing out that the Judeo-Christian apostles of Jerusalem did not ask that Titus be circumcised — circumcision being the critical outward mark of the Hebrew covenant.
But it was an issue with others in Jerusalem. We might infer from these verses that Paul blamed the Sanhedrin for what controversy existed. From their point-of-view, the followers of Christ were a heretical Jewish sect based on a blasphemy, that Jesus was the Son of God. And as part of their campaign to stifle the heresy, they sent secret agents to be baptized and feign conversion, no doubt to report back to them and to engage in provocation. One of their tactics was to provoke the Judaizers: those who wanted circumcision as a prerequisite for acceptance into the church.
Paul will clarify exactly what he means by “diverting us back into slavery” as the epistle progresses. In a word, he viewed Judaism as a dead end. The law of Moses was given only to show men that they could not be free of sin by their actions. Trying to follow the law was futile, and was intended to be such by God. Once the Jews were able to realize this fact, by trying to live under the law and failing, they would be ready for the freedom that Christ's grace provided. To follow to the law, thus, was to be a slave to sin; and to return to Judaism after Christ's resurrection was equivalent to a freed slave seeking out his old chains.