Daily Devotion for June 3, 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.
I couldn't resist this pop-sounding gospel song from a 14-year-old Aretha Franklin.
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.
With one who hates peace.
I am for peace;
But when I speak, they are for war.
Acts 8:26-33 (ESV)
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch 
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
And the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over and join this chariot." So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth." (Isaiah 53:7-8)
Notes on the Scripture
This Philip is probably not the original Apostle Philip, but one of the Greek deacons of Jerusalem, who are described in the first verses of Acts 6. The Holy Spirit sent him first to Samaria, fleeing the repression brought on by the conviction and stoning of Stephen. Gaza is a little strip of land on the Mediterranean, at the southeast corner of Jerusalem. (In modern times, it was taken from Egypt by Israel in the War of 1967 and is a bone of contention today.)
Ethiopia and Israel have had a surprising degree of connection for 4000 years, given that they are separated by Egypt; they are not like neighboring countries that can intermingle naturally. In ancient times, there were two nations which were partially absorbed by the Empire of Ethiopia: Cush (see Psalm 87) and Abyssinia, just south of Egypt. Cush was thought to have been founded by Ham, Noah's son who went to Africa; Ham had a son named Cush.
Although it is unclear in the Bible, Ethiopians themselves believe that Sheba, the Abyssinian queen who traveled to ancient Israel and had extensive interaction with King Solomon, had children by him, who became patriarchs and matriarchs of Ethiopia. Others believe Ethiopia was founded by the Tribe of Dan, one of the ten lost tribes of Israel. There were certainly great migrations of Jews to Ethiopia, such as those who fled the Abyssinians during the Babylonian captivity. Haile Selassi, the last Emperor of Ethiopia (deposed in 1974), was in fact a member of the "Solomonic Dynasty".
After the death of Christ, there arose a great community of Christians in Ethiopia, primarily from the actively Jewish population. Despite the intrusion of Islam, Ethiopia is today 62% Christian, primarily Orthodox although it includes various other denominations. The account in Acts 8 of an important Ethiopian, the eunuch court official who had traveled to Jerusalem to worship, is one of the first conversions of a distant foreigner in the Bible.