Daily Devotion for May 16, 2019
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.
Puritan Prayer for the Morning
O God, the author of all good, I come to You for the grace another day will require for its duties and events. I step out into a wicked world; I carry about with me an evil heart. I know that without You I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned, however harmless in itself, may prove an occasion of sin or folly, unless I am kept by Your power.
Hold me up O God and I shall be safe. Preserve my understanding from subtlety of error, my affections from love of idols, my character from stain of vice, my profession from every form of evil.
May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Your blessing, and in which I cannot invite Your inspection. Prosper me in all lawful undertakings, or prepare me for disappointments. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food suitable for me, lest I be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or be poor, and steal, and take Your name in vain.
May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Your will. Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, to walk in wisdom toward those without, and in kindness to those within, to do good to all men, and especially to my fellow Christians. And to You, O God, be the glory.
Prayer for Enthusiasm
Holy God, I have spent many hours trying to do Your will, but sometimes I do not feel the excitement and freshness I once felt in my prayers, in my charitable work, in my giving, in my Bible study—in all the ways I try to serve and please you in my life. Let me not become weary in doing Your work. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to grant me a sense of enthusiasm, lest I be led astray and into sin by boredom and unconcern. “Thy will be done” in all things and in every way.
God of mercy, swift to help: as my lips pour forth your praise, fill my heart with the peace you give to those who wait for your salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.
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
Which Bible verse assures us that, whatever we may be suffering now, will be exceeded by the glory to come?
Psalm 23:4-5 (KJV)
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For thou art with me.
Acts 15:30-41 (ESV)
Paul and Barnabas Go Their Separate Ways
Paul’s Second Journey
o when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
And after some days 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.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.
And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Notes on the Scripture
The four men mentioned in the first sentence are Paul and Barnabas, and two leaders from the church of Jerusalem, Silas and Judas (Barsabbas). The letter is one instructing that Gentiles are to be given full membership in the church, as long as they restrain from sexual immorality, and do not eat meat that has been sacrificed to animals, contains blood, or comes from an animal killed by strangling.
Then we have our first real political rift in the church, hardly 20 years after the death of Christ. Paul wants to revisit the cities where he and Barnabas had established new churches the previous year, and Barnabas agrees. But they fall out, because Barnabas wants to take John Mark, and Paul does not. So Barnabas and John Mark sail to Cyprus to visit the new churches; Paul decides on a different plan. He takes Silas to begin a new mission by land, north to Syria and Galatia (Turkey).
Truth be told, there probably wasn’t room in a single group for Paul and Barnabas’ egos. It is somewhat startling to see their feet of clay, in the form of pride, interfering with their mission. These are the founders of Christianity, among the bravest and holiest men the earth has seen. They are revered among the greatest saints in liturgical churches and admired as great men and models in more evangelical protestant churches.
And yet, here they are, spatting like a couple of committee members, digging in their heels and, finally, walking away in different directions. It is the first schism! If Paul and Barnabas can’t hold it together, what chance do we have?
Very little. Christianity is split into hundreds, if not thousands, of denominations and branches for a reason: Pride is born into us and will be with us until we die.
Pride may be incurable but it is, as doctors say, treatable. We must monitor and meditate upon our actions, seeking out pridefulness and trying to eliminate it. We must pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us humility, the "poverty of spirit" that Christ promised would bring the kingdom of heaven to us. (Matthew 5:3) We will sometimes fail, as Paul and Barnabas failed, but our confession and belief will cleanse away the pridefulness that is left. We will be forgiven; but we must not stop trying to live as Christ asked us, just because we expect forgiveness.
We must, in short, renew our commitment to do God’s will and live in his light every day.