Daily Devotion for May 25, 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.
The Crabb Family proving that people still make old-fashioned gospel music!
Prayer for the Morning
I bless you for the day you have made, Mighty Lord God, and pray that I may spend this day rejoicing in your creation. I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill me with the joy of my salvation, so that your light may shine through me into the world, that your honor and glory may be known to all people.
Remind me of your blessings, I pray, with every tribulation I may face, so that I may act with energy, forgiveness and love, ever mindful of the grace You have shown to me. Through Christ I pray,
For Each of Us in Our Work
Almighty God, heavenly Father, who makes it possible for me to work and gives every creature its food, declaring your glory and showing your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver me, I pray, in my work, from coveting material goods, from falling into the temptation of serving mammon and putting money in the forefront of my life. Help me to perform the work which you have put at my hand, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as your servant, and to the benefit of my fellow men as well as myself; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lived and died only to serve us.
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Stephen's Speech to the Sanhedrin  (NIV)
Then the high priest asked Stephen, "Are these charges true?"
To this he replied: "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. 'Leave your country and your people,' God said, 'and go to the land I will show you.'
So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.
God spoke to him in this way: 'For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,' God said, 'and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.'
Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs."
Notes on the Scripture
At this juncture — in the New Testament, after the Gospels — we oddly get a basic history of Judaism. Stephen, in his defense before the Sanhedrin, will give us the Cliff's Notes version of Jewish History.
This is actually very useful, because the Old Testament is so long and full of details that it is difficult to grasp the outline. And also, there is a complete lack of sources outside the Bible for it. The Hebrews were utterly inconsequential to the rest of the ancient world, until they conquered Canaan and became a minor tribe situated between Egypt and the Assyrians.
Most notably, there is no archaeological record of their sojourn in Egypt. Some scholars use this to argue that it simply did not happen. I think it did, simply because the Old Testament is so detailed on the subject. It just doesn't seem like the kind of thing that somebody would make up.
Also, we can see even today the Jews' resilience to assimilation when displaced into a foreign land. It has been proven time after time in the past four thousand years. So it is credible that their strong bond, kept through the covenant of circumcision, would differentiate them from other tribes even over 400 years of Egyptian captivity. Jewish males carried the mark of their difference on their very bodies.
We also know, from archeological evidence, that Harran — a small area now in Turkey, right on the southwest border next to Syria — was settled as a trading outpost of Ur of the Chaldees roughly two thousand years before Christ. The journey of Abraham from Mesopotamia (the land of the Euphrates River, one of the borders of Eden) to Harran is entirely consistent with the time.