Daily Devotion for May 28, 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.
"And on earth, peace" from Vivaldi's Gloria.
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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
"Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."
Acts 7:35-43 (NIV)
Stephen's Speech to the Sanhedrin 
"This is the same Moses they had rejected with the words, 'Who made you ruler and judge?' He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness.
"This is the Moses who told the Israelites, 'God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.' He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.
"But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, 'Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt — we don't know what has happened to him!' That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and reveled in what their own hands had made. But God turned away from them and gave them over to the worship of the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:
You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek
and the star of your god Rephan,
the idols you made to worship.
Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.' "
Notes on the Scripture
The shape of Stephen's long speech to the Sanhedrin begins to take shape. Although it sounds like a simply synopsis of Hebrew history, we start to hear an emphasis on the Hebrews' repeated refusals to worship God or follow his prophets.
It is becoming clear that Stephen has no interest in proving his "innocence" of the charge against him: preaching the word of Christ. Instead, he is lecturing the Sanhedrin, but doing it in a gradual way, so that they will not force him to stop talking. He wants them to hear the entire argument he has in mind to deliver to them.
He shows the disobedience of the Hebrews to Moses and their unwillingness to accept a prophet who had been sent by God. He shows the consequences that flowed from that disobedience, i.e. a return to slavery under a foreign power. And finally, he recounts the prophesy given by Moses, that God would raise up a future prophet from among their people.
He is, in short, reminding them that the Word of God is a living thing and that God could send a new prophet with a new and improved Message. In all fairness, the religious authorities of Judea were often devout men; they were not the idol worshippers who opposed Moses. Many times, the reason they would criticize Jesus was because he broke laws that they observed out of their obedience to God, the laws of Moses. And yet, Stephen is essentially comparing them to such idol worshippers, because they refuse to give up their old ways when God has sent them a messenger.