Pray the Collect every day this week. Read and meditate upon the Epistle and Gospel and ponder the questions to apply the Word to your life.
Collect - a short, structured prayer that collects or gathers up our various thoughts and desires to bring them before God.
Epistle - literally, 'sent news.' A passage from a book of the New Testament in the form of a letter from an early Christian writer.
Gospel - literally, 'good news.' A story from the life of Jesus Christ; a passage from one of the four Gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
The Collect (Contemporary)
Almighty God, who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity: give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, among the many changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Collect (Traditional)
O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men: Grant unto thy people, that they may love the things which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- Notice the correspondence between the first and second clauses of the collect: unruly wills → God's commands; passions/affections → God's promises. That is, our wills (the faculty by which we decide and initiate an action) are unruly because we rebel against God's commands and go our own way; our passions or affections are disordered because we desire things other than what God promises to us.
- Where in your life do you sense that your will is unruly or your desires disordered? Do you have an intense urge or habitual inclination towards something that's damaging, unhelpful or that frequently leaves you disappointed and unfulfilled? Possibilities include wealth, praise & approval from others, power & control, and physical pleasures.
- The goal of the Christian life is to delight more-and-more in what God commands and love more-and-more what God promises. This is not opposed to our own freedom and flourishing; on the contrary, joyfully obeying God's commands and trusting his promises is the key to true freedom and flourishing. In other words, the person God wants you to be is also the person you really want to become.
- Where do you seek joy? Nothing in this world can give us true and lasting joy because - as this present pandemic has revealed - the world is always changing, uncertain and unstable.
- Jesus is the only person who perfectly fulfilled all of God's commands. He lived as one of us, suffered, died on the cross, rose again, and ascended to the Father's right hand in heaven - the place of perfect joy. Thus Jesus is where true joys are to be found - and we can experience his joy now through the Holy Spirit which the Father freely pours out upon us. The more you are focused on Jesus, the more you will desire to love God and readily obey his will through the power of the Spirit within you. This is the key to an abundant joy that is not dependent on life circumstances.
Epistle: James 1:17–21
 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (ESV)
- God's commands, promises and true joys (from the collect) = every good and perfect gift from above (from v. 17 of the epistle).
- Our unruly wills and passions are frequently manifested in our lives as anger and irritability (v.20). Why is this? Have you found this to be so in your life?
- The antidote to such anger (and unruly wills and passions more generally) is to hear meekly the Word of God. Make a daily habit of reading the Bible slowly and deliberately. Make it an interactive conversation with God, where you pause, reflect, and ask God questions about what he has just said to you in his Word. (These weekly devotions are a model of how this may be done).
Gospel: John 16:5–15
[Jesus said to his disciples,]  But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’  But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.  Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;  concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;  concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (ESV)
- Jesus completes his earthly mission by ascending to the Father's right hand in heaven. But he is present with us now through the Holy Spirit, the Helper (v. 7). This is even better than if he were physically present with us. On Easter Sunday, Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to cling to him because he had not yet ascended to the Father (John 20:17). Only because Jesus ascends into heaven can he be present in the hearts of all believers. Only because he goes away can he send us the Spirit to guide us into all truth (v. 13) and give us the fulness of joy (John 16:16-24).
- Jesus calls the Holy Spirit, 'the Helper,' literally, 'the Paraclete,' meaning one who comes along side us to assist and advocate on our behalf.
- The Spirit guides you into all truth (v.13) and orders your unruly wills and affections as you receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls (James 1:21).