Daily Devotion for September 20, 2023
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.
Kulo thixo omkhulu
Many thanks to “African Gospel Lyrics”
for the Zulu-English translation.
To Spread Cheer
Holy God, as I stumble through this life, help me to create more laughter than tears, dispense more cheer than gloom, spread more joy than despair. Let me remind those I meet that our final existence will be total joy, and that we may taste this joy through the Spirit even today.
Never let me become so indifferent that I will fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child, or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged. Never let me forget that my total effort is to cheer people, make them happy, and forget momentarily all the temporary unpleasantness in their lives. And in my final moment, may I hear You whisper, “When you made My people smile, you made Me smile.”
To Heal Divisions
Father, may our human family not become separated from you by building barriers of race, color, class, gender, or beliefs. Inspire us to recognize that we are all made in your image and likeness, so that we may grow in appreciation of all people, and encourage each other to grow in pride in who we are and who we are called to be. May we recognize your Son in our midst, and live truly as brothers and sisters. I pray this in the name of Christ, in remembrance of His love for the Samaritan woman at the well.
Now to Him who has given me grace in accordance with His gospel, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for many ages past, but now revealed and made known by the command of the eternal God, so that all mankind might find the obedience that comes from faith; to the only God, the God of wisdom and truth, be glory forever through His only son, Jesus Christ.
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
How often does Jesus change?
1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
1 Corinthian 16:15-24 (ESV)
Now I urge you, brothers — you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints — be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.
The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Notes on the Scripture
And so ends the tumultuous, seminal, and frequently criticized first epistle to the church at Corinth. This was thought to be, after Romans, the most important of the epistles and it was thus placed out of chronological order.
The greatest difficulty in 1 Corinthians is not understanding it, but in trying to practice what it says, for its primary aim is to criticize and ameliorate a condition so inherent in human institutions that it is nearly impossible for us to follow: The tendency to break apart into sects which agree with our personal way of thinking.
In a sense, Paul failed in his attempt, because the history of Christ’s church has been one of internecine strife, mutual hostility, and even hatred and bloodshed. Possibly the bloodiest war ever fought in Europe was the Thirty Years’ War in Germany (1618-1648), when Protestant and Catholic factions laid the land to utter waste and decimated the population. Famine and disease rode their pale horses for decades, and almost the entirety of Western Europe became involved.
In another sense, Paul did succeed, for the church of Corinth was reconciled and became one of the larger and more influential churches of the time. Much of the credit must go, not only to Paul’s letter, but also to the actions of the “leaders” of the factions. We saw in several places that Paul and Apollos simply refused to allow people to follow them, insisting that all church members follow Christ and Christ only. We can only suppose that the third faction involved, followers of Peter, met with a similar reaction from Peter himself — although, ultimately, this would represent the first great split in the Christian world, as the Orthodox and Catholic churches eventually ruptured, primarily due to secular politics.
But even we who still disagree over doctrinal matters can take to heart Paul’s overarching message and the ultimate expression of it in the last words of the epistle: “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” No matter how much our sinful pride divides us, with all of us thinking our weak intellects and self-serving rationalizations represent truth, we must always come back to the most basic lessons of Chapter 13: First, now we see dimly, but ultimately we will see God’s truth face to face; and second, that we must find faith, hope, and love in our lives through Christ—and of these, love is foremost.