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Daily Devotion for May 22, 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.
Amazing Grace, sung in Cherokee
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.
But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
Acts 5:33-42 (The Message)
The Honor of Punishment
When they heard that, they were furious and wanted to kill them on the spot. But one of the council members stood up, a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel, a teacher of God's Law who was honored by everyone.
He ordered the men taken out of the room for a short time, then said, "Fellow Israelites, be careful what you do to these men. Not long ago Theudas made something of a splash, claiming to be somebody, and got about four hundred men to join him. He was killed, his followers dispersed, and nothing came of it. A little later, at the time of the census, Judas the Galilean appeared and acquired a following. He also fizzled out and the people following him were scattered to the four winds.
So I am telling you: Hands off these men! Let them alone. If this program or this work is merely human, it will fall apart, but if it is of God, there is nothing you can do about itó and you better not be found fighting against God!"
That convinced them. They called the apostles back in. After giving them a thorough whipping, they warned them not to speak in Jesus' name and sent them off. The apostles went out of the High Council overjoyed because they had been given the honor of being punished on account of the Name. Every day they were in the Temple and homes, teaching and preaching Christ Jesus, not letting up for a minute.
Notes on the Scripture
The high priests are not accustomed to defiance. Like most men, power has corrupted them and made them proud. The insolence of the apostles makes them angry and their anger, in addition to the merits of the case, impels them to kill the apostles immediately.
But a cooler head prevails. Gamaliel, showing the reason for his fame, makes an excellent point. If Christianity represents nothing but a deviant sect, history predicts that it will simply die out. But if the apostles are preaching God's will, the high priests — whose duty is, after all, not to protect their own power, but to guard the word of God — should not be suppressing them. Like many Pharisees (and perhaps even Pilate), he is willing to entertain their theology and the possibility that Jesus was a prophet.
So, for a second time, the apostles get off with a warning (although this one includes a whipping). But even with the physical punishment, we see the apostles' courage and faith grow yet another step. Now, not only are they unafraid of death, but also, they are disappointed that they were not punished more severely! They remember Christ's words, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)", and see the trial as a missed opportunity for to find ultimate glory in dying for Christ.
The Christ sect is gathering steam. It has grown from 120 to 5,000 adherents in Jerusalem, and people are starting to come to Jerusalem from the countryside just to be a part of it.