Sunday, December 22, 2019

Strengthened by Grace Devotional: 12/22/19

Prayer for Sunday:Lord my God, I kneel before You in humble adoration before I set out to face the tasks and interests of another day. I thank You for the blessed assurance that I shall not be called upon to face them alone or in my own strength, but shall at all times be accompanied by Your presence and fortified by Your grace. I thank You that through all our human life there run the footprints of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who for our sakes was made flesh and tasted all the changes of our mortal experience. Heavenly Father, make me a more worthy follower of Him who cared for the poor and the oppressed, and who could never see disease without seeking to heal it or any kind of human need without turning aside to help. Let Your power, O Christ, be in us all, to share the world's suffering and make right its wrongs. Amen.

Scripture Reading for Sunday: James 3-5; 1 Peter 1

Scripture Reflection for Sunday: Today's journey in God's word visits James 3-5 and 1 Peter 1.

In James 3, we see that small things show a lot about us. Like a skillful physician, James has tested our eyes for favoritism (2:1–13). Now he takes a close look at what our tongue tells us. What comes out of our mouths reveals what is in our hearts, and what will happen to us on judgment day (Matt. 12:33–37). If you took stock of what your tongue produces over the course of a week, what would you learn about the health of your inner being?

In James 4, we see that often in our minds, people are big and God is small. We strive with others, while we depend little on God. How grateful we should be when God unmasks this as sin in our lives. Pray to see the fights and conflicts in your life as tools in His hand. Then confess to God any spiritual adultery of your heart.

In James 5, we see that the church is a place where we should be able to bring our needs, petitions, joys, as well as our care and concern for others. Elders and ministers are particularly charged with the care of souls. James particularly highlights their calling to the ministry of prayer. However, he calls all Christians to a life of continual prayer and praise (v. 13). How can you cultivate the practice of petition and thanksgiving in God’s presence throughout your day?

In 1 Peter 1, we see that sometimes it is difficult to face the many trials and temptations of life. Peter tells us that the testing of our faith is so that it might be refined in the furnace of affliction. Much as gold is required to be heated and pressed and burned, so too must faith be tested. Yet the end result is that it proves itself true and genuine and precious (vv. 6–11).

Daily Teaching (Catechism) for Sunday:

(5.5) The perfectly wise, righteous, and gracious God often allows his own children for a time to experience a variety of temptations and the sinfulness of their own hearts. He does this to chastise them for their former sins or to make them aware of the hidden strength of the corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts so that they may be humbled. He also does this to lead them to a closer and more constant dependence on him to sustain them, to make them more cautious about all future circumstances that may lead to sin, and for other just and holy purposes. So whatever happens to any of his elect happens by his appointment, for his glory, and for their good (2 Chronicles 32:25, 26, 31; 2 Corinthians 12:7–9; Romans 8:28).

May God help you to grow in Christ today,