Daily Devotion for January 28, 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 terrific worship song from the Australian church/choir phenomenon, Hillsong.
Prayer of the Ancient Christians
I give you thanks Holy Father, for your holy name which you have caused to dwell in my heart, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you have made known to me through Jesus your servant; to you be the glory forever.
You, almighty Master, created all things for your name's sake, and gave food and drink to men to enjoy, that they might give you thanks; but to me you have graciously given spiritual food and drink, and eternal life through your servant Jesus. Above all I give thanks because you are mighty; to you be the glory forever.
Remember your church, Lord, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in your love; and gather it, the one that has been sanctified, from the four winds into your kingdom, which you have prepared for it; for yours is the glory forever.
May grace come, and may this world pass away. Hosanna to the God of David. If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not, let him repent. Come, oh Lord!
Almighty God, bestow upon me, and upon all of us who pray together, the meaning of words, the light of understanding, the nobility of diction and the faith of the true nature. And grant that what we believe we may also speak.
[Grant that what I believe, I may speak.]
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Holiness of Everyday Life
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat [“is truly hidden”] — the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.
~ C. S. Lewis, from “The Weight of Glory”
Acts 15:36, 16:6-10 (ESV)
How the Gospel Came to Europe:
Paul's Second Missionary Journey
And after some days [following the Council of Jerusalem] Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”
* * *
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Notes on the Scripture
Since we have been studying 1 Thessalonians, an epistle written during Paul's second journey to a church founded during the same journey, it seems like a perfect time to step back and examine one of the critical moments in the history of Christianity: the coming of the Gospel to Europe. I would urge anyone to read the full account in Acts 16-18, for the trip was filled with colorful characters and incidents.
We have done a map of the cities he visited: Map of Paul's Second Missionary Journey. He no doubt visited others, but these are the ones recorded in Acts.
n 49 A.D., the Council of Jerusalem had just ruled that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised, i.e. follow all the arcane rules of Judaism, in order to be admitted as full members of Christian churches. Paul, to whom Christ had given the mission of spreading the faith to the Gentiles, was now free to preach the Gospel to the world. At the time, Christianity was a tiny religion confined to Asia Minor — the little area in southwest AsiaNote that the word “Asia”, in ancient times, referred to a small province in northwest Turkey; the name somehow was borrowed to refer to the great continent we call “Asia” today. including Turkey (Anatolia/Galatia/Cilicia and other tiny provinces), Syria, Palestine, and the bordering regions.
Paul returned to the churches he had founded in the parts of Turkey close to Syria (Antioch). He was comfortable there, as Tarsus, his birthplace, was in Cilicia. But while he was there, a man came to him in a vision telling him to travel to Macedonia. This was a long, difficult, and dangerous journey, involving travel by sea, to an area as foreign to Paul as Korea or Bolivia might be to us. The Hebrews, a mountain-dwelling herding people, especially disliked anything to do with the ocean.
Paul in Prison
But God summoned him to Greece, and so he and Silas crossed the Aegean and traveled to Philippi, where the first church in Europe was begun. Although every city was different, a general pattern emerged: he encountered one or more people who seem to have been called to the Gospel and immediately tried to help him; he preached in the synagogue and angered the Jews, who pursued him; several of the Jews, however, would be converted; he angered the local authorities and got beaten and/or thrown into prison, from which he escaped; and he had to sneak out of town, leaving behind a fledgling church.
The notable exception was the great city of Corinth, a commercial port city at the crossroads of trade; it was so wild and corrupt that the governor could not be bothered to take action against a minor religious sect. It might well have been the greatest city, in terms of population and wealth, between Antioch and Rome, outstripping even Athens and Byzantium (Constantinople) at the time. Paul was able to stay in Corinth for 18 months in comparative safety; and it was here where he wrote his early epistles. He could not return to cities such as Thessalonica. As he put it, Satan barred his path; although, as is so often the case, Satan acted through human agents, men who would have killed him on the spot if they had caught him.
He was the model for thousands of courageous missionaries to come, for in Philippi, he (along with Silas) was subjected to a humiliating public trial, stripped of his clothes, severely beaten with rods, and imprisoned. He escaped but thereafter avoided the main roads, and narrowly avoided a similar fate, or worse, in Berea and Thessalonica.
He stopped in Athens on his way to Corinth, giving us a short but fascinating account of his debate with the Stoic philosophers, and then found safe haven in Corinth, to recover from the brutal events of his trip. And from there, he travelled back to Antioch via Ephesus.
Europe would become the great center of Christianity, and this is how it all got started: one brave man appointed by Christ, and his companion, traveling in a rickety wooden boat to a strange land, to endure horrendous hardship and near death, in order to plant the Holy Spirit in a handful of towns and cites on the eastern fringe of the continent.