Daily Devotion for June 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.
Kyrie Eleison from a Vivaldi mass.
Prayer for the Morning
Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.
Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Christ Jesus, before ascending into heaven, You promised to send the Holy Spirit to Your apostles and disciples. Grant that the same Spirit may perfect in my life the work of Your grace and love. and that I may bear my cross with You and, with courage, overcome the obstacles that interfere with my salvation; Teach me to be Your faithful disciple and animate me in every way with Your Spirit.
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
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.
"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess."
~ Martin Luther
Acts 8:9-17 (CEV)
The Good News is Preached in Samaria
For some time a man named Simon had lived in the city of Samaria and had amazed the people. He practiced witchcraft and claimed to be somebody great. Everyone, rich and poor, crowded around him. They said, "This man is the power of God called 'The Great Power.' "
For a long time, Simon had used witchcraft to amaze the people, and they kept crowding around him. But when they believed what Philip was saying about God's kingdom and about the name of Jesus Christ, they were all baptized. Even Simon believed and was baptized. He stayed close to Philip, because he marveled at all the miracles and wonders.
The apostles in Jerusalem heard that some people in Samaria had accepted God's message, and they sent Peter and John.
When the two apostles arrived, they prayed that the people would be given the Holy Spirit. Before this, the Holy Spirit had not been given to anyone in Samaria, though some of them had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Peter and John then placed their hands on everyone who had faith in the Lord, and they were given the Holy Spirit.
Notes on the Scripture
Samaria is an oddity. It is easy to locate if you have a map of the original country of Israel, after the British partition and before 1967 — Samaria looks like a huge bite taken out of eastern Israel, north of Jerusalem. Israel looked a bit like a dumbbell, and Samaria is what makes the middle of it so narrow.
Its relationship with the Jews is as strange as its location. It was both a part of ancient Judah and a separate country. During the time of Roman occupation, it was part of the Roman colony, Judea, and under the rule of Herod the Great. It was considered a separate province, with Israel to the south and Galilee to the north.
As a country and people, however, the Samaritans were bitter enemies of the Jews, often the principal enemies, as big a problem as the Philistines. The official deity was Ba'al (although some Samaritans were Jews and worshipped YHWH). This is why Christ chose a Samaritan in the famous parable of the Good Samaritan, because a Samaritan would be the last person on earth one would expect to help an injured Jew by the side of the road.
So Samaria is really the first "Gentile" land to which the Word of Christ was spread. (The Jerusalem Greeks who had converted were Greek-speaking Jews.) Remember, Christ himself visited the borderland and converted the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. (John 4.)
We have just read that Philip went to Samaria immediately after Stephen was martyred. Simon, a witch, would probably not have been allowed to live in Judah or Israel. The conversion of such an utterly evil man, a very disciple of Satan, attests to the power of Christ and the dedication of Philip.
For some untold reason, although they are converted and baptized under Philip's influence, the Samaritan converts do not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John arrive. The identity of Philip is unclear, because there were two great disciples named Philip, the Apostle Philip, who was one of the original 12 apostles, and a later convert who became a great missionary named "Philip the Evangelist" or "Philip the Deacon". The second was one of the seven Greeks who had become deacons of the church in Jerusalem. While most indications are that Philip who traveled to Samaria was the apostle, his failure to bring the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans would argue the opposite.
At any rate, the Sanhedrin's chasing the Christians out of Jerusalem by stoning Stephen simply made things worse for them. The disciples of Christ, now scattered all over Judea, have begun a widespread conversion of the Jewish people. In terms of religious politics, the last thing the Sanhedrin wants is to lose their base of power; they are rapidly becoming effete religious aristocrats, with no country to rule.