Daily Devotion for July 31, 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.
The old hymn Who Am I? is performed in the Mennonite style, with complex a capella harmonies, by the Altar of Praise Chorale.
An Old American Prayer for the Work Day
Almighty God, I thank Thee for the job of this day. May I find gladness in all its toil and difficulty, its pleasure and success, and even in its failure and sorrow. I would look always away from myself, and behold the glory and the need of the world, that I may have the will and the strength to bring the gift of gladness to others; that with them I stand to bear the burden and heat of the day and offer Thee the praise of work well done.
Prayer to Grow Closer to God
Dear Lord, I am trying to do better and better each day; I am trying to walk with you and do your will, but sometimes it seems like I am slipping backwards no matter how hard I try. And I get confused sometimes; even if I want to do the right thing, I don’t always know what it is.
So this is my prayer, heavenly Lord, for your help in straightening out my mind and straightening out my life. Lead me, Lord, and let your Holy Spirit guide me. Even if the correction is painful, help me to keep my mind open to your truth. Let me do your will in my every action, and know your will, that I might do it. Help me not be deceived by false assertions or glib intelligence, by those who would excuse or promote sinful actions, by those who simply do not know; and above all, help me not to deceive myself. Guide me away from excuses and rationalizations when I have sinned, but into your holy truth, that I might know my sin, and correct what I can, and ask forgiveness for what I cannot. By the grace and mercy of holy Christ, I ask this,
[ Our fundamental goal, as Christians, is to correct our own conduct and leave Christ in control of the outcome. ]
Lord, pour your love into my heart, that I may love you above all things, and my neighbors as myself. Through 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.
Psalm 50:4-6 (NKJV)
He shall call to the heavens from above,
And to the earth, that He may judge His people:
“Gather My saints together to Me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”
Let the heavens declare His righteousness,
For God Himself is Judge. Selah
Acts 28:23-28 (ESV)
Paul in Rome 
hen they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.
And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
‘Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
Notes on the Scripture
Paul, a prisoner in Rome, wastes no time in setting up shop. After three days in the city, he has begun to preach and make converts. His preaching is limited to Jews, though, because they are the only ones who will come to him. The Romans are lenient with him, but his house arrest apparently precludes preaching from public places.
He converts some of the Jews; those who will not be convinced, he criticizes with a famous passage from Isaiah (Isaiah 6:9-10). The reason for their leaving is not clear. Perhaps they have heard all they can absorb in one sitting and are just ready to go and debate Paul’s teachings among themselves. Some, however, would certainly be shocked by Paul’s statement, “this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles”.
The Old Testament supports Paul’s words, however, specifically that the covenant between God and the Hebrews was created to benefit all the people of earth (Genesis 18:18). According to Isaiah, the Messiah would be “a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
But many Jews (like many Christians today) ignored parts of the Bible that did not suit their preconceptions. Paul’s preaching to Gentiles and the acceptance of Gentiles as equals in the Christian churches offended many Jews, who had come to see themselves as eternally special, the only people who could live in God’s grace. Those who opposed Paul used this as a wedge to criticize him, fabricating tales of Paul taking Gentiles into Jewish temples and urging Jews not to be circumcised (neither of which was true).
The rumors against Paul had reached Rome before his arrival; so, apparently, his mention of salvation for the Gentiles caused both groups of Jews — those who were convinced by him and those who opposed him — to leave.