Daily Devotion for March 22, 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.
Our “Virtual Sunday Church” bears a striking resemblance to the Royal Albert Hall in London.
For a Heart Open to God's Word
God, as you gave us the sun to lighten our days, so you have given us your Word to lighten our minds and our souls. I pray that you will pour out on me your Spirit as I pray today, that my heart and mind may be opened to your Word, and that I may learn and accept your will for my life.
Shine within my heart, loving God, the pure light of your divine knowledge; open the eyes of my mind and the ears of my heart to receive your Word, this day and always,
Penitential Prayer of St. Ambrose of Milan
O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake,
Prayer to Grow Closer to God
Dear Lord, I am trying to do better and better each day; I am trying to walk with you and do your will, but sometimes it seems like I am slipping backwards no matter how hard I try. And I get confused sometimes; even if I want to do the right thing, I don't always know what it is.
So this is my prayer, heavenly Lord, for your help in straightening out my mind and straightening out my life. Lead me, Lord, and let your Holy Spirit guide me. Even if the correction is painful, help me to keep my mind open to your truth. Let me do your will in my every action, and know your will, that I might do it. Help me not be deceived by false assertions or glib intelligence, by those who would excuse or promote sinful actions, by those who simply do not know; and above all, help me not to deceive myself. Guide me away from excuses and rationalizations when I have sinned, but into your holy truth, that I might know my sin, and correct what I can, and ask forgiveness for what I cannot. By the grace and mercy of holy Christ, I ask this,
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now 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 36:5-9 (NKJV)
Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;
O Lord, You preserve man and beast.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.
James 3:5-12 (NASB)
The Tamed Tongue
[T]he tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.
My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
Notes on the Scripture
We have a guest commentary today, a continuing weekly series on the Epistles of James, from Dr. Ken Boa of Atlanta.
There are few natural parallels for the quirks of human behavior. We are not genetically determined or ruled by instinct. Orange trees may vary in the quality and quantity of their output, but they are consistent in the type of fruit they bear. They have no choice--year after year they produce oranges, not lemons or apples.
nlike plants or creatures of instinct, our lives and the fruit we bear are determined by the choices we make. According to the Scriptures, the most fundamental choice of all is whether we will place our complete trust in Jesus Christ by acknowledging our sins and receiving His gift of new life. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). As believers, we have passed out of the realm of death into life; we have been given a new identity and a new source of power through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
James wrote this letter to his “brethren”--people who had made that crucial choice of placing their faith in Jesus as their Messiah. In Him, they found the freedom to please God with their lives and lips as they let themselves be “tamed” by the Holy Spirit. But they faced the problem that has been shared by every believer to the present day--what we do and say on the outside is not consistent with the new creatures we have become on the inside.
We are springs with two sources. One source produces the bitter water of angry, jealous, spiteful, hateful, malicious, sarcastic, slanderous, critical, abusive, self-pitying, cruel, proud words. The other source produces the fresh water of encouraging, comforting, kindhearted, compassionate, considerate, humble, gracious, gentle, patient, loving, respectful, thoughtful, prudent words. The source of the former is the flesh; the source of the latter is the Spirit. We should memorize Paul's words and bring them to mind each day: “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16,25).
To be “tamed” by God is to be under His dominion and authority, directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, so that Christ lives His life in and through us. Unlike animals, we must choose to be tamed. This involves an ongoing series of choices made in the context of each new day. It is only as we place ourselves under His rule that we will find the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that are the fruit of the Spirit.
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.