Daily Devotion for May 1, 2011
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 beloved old hymn, performed by the choir of the Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal) in Morristown, NJ
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.
"There was never law, or sect, or opinion did so much magnify goodness, as the Christian religion doth."
~ Francis Bacon
Acts 1:1-3 (NIV)
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Notes on the Scripture
Since we finished a complete reading of Christ's life yesterday — the Gospel of John — I thought it would be good to follow it with a reading of the Acts of the Apostles. John does not mention Christ's ascension, but this is treated in Chapter 1 of Acts; so, Acts 1 picks up right where John leaves off.
Acts tells the story of the Apostolic Age of the early Christian church, with particular emphasis on the ministry of the twelve apostles and of Paul of Tarsus. The early chapters, set in Jerusalem, discuss Jesus' resurrection and Great Commission, his ascension with a prophecy to return, the start of the twelve apostles' ministry, and the Day of Pentecost. The later chapters discuss Paul's conversion, his ministry, and finally his trip to Rome, arrest, and imprisonment.
Acts was written by a man named Luke, who also wrote the Gospel of Luke. (Of course, there is all kinds of scholarly debate on the subject, but in general Luke's identity as an author is reasonably certain.) Luke was not one of the apostles and, in his gospel, states that he was not an eyewitness to the events of Christ's life. It appears that he also writes some parts of Acts from information given to him by others; however, it also seems that he had firsthand knowledge of other parts.
For instance, in this passage he says Jesus presented himself to "them"; but in later parts of the book, he will use words like "us" or "we", which indicate he was present.
Luke was a physician and a very early disciple of Christ. The original of the Book of Acts was written in very good biblical Greek. From this and several other clues, scholars have concluded that Luke was an educated man and most likely (and rather remarkably) a Gentile.
Nobody really knows who "Theophilus" was. Very likely, this is not an actual name. It is a Greek word meaning "Friend of God" — thus the book is addressed to whomever is reading it in faith. In other words, it is addressed and dedicated to you.