Daily Devotion for June 4, 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.
Prayer for the Morning
I call upon you, O Lord. In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.
I lift my heart to you, O Lord, to be strengthened for this day. Be with me in all I do, my God; guide me in all my ways.
I will carry some burdens today; some trials will be mine. So I wait for your help, Lord, lest I stumble and fall.
I will do my work, Father, the work begun by your Son. He lives in me and I in him; may his work today be done.
Prayer for Freedom from Fear
O Lord, I beseech you to deliver me, and all of your children, from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, and fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Prayer for Unknown Needs
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on my weakness, and mercifully give me those things which for my unworthiness I dare not, and for my blindness I cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
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.
And He adds no sorrow with it.
Acts 8:34-40 (NKJV)
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch 
So the eunuch answered Philip and said, "I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?" Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.
Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may."
And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.
But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
Notes on the Scripture
The first sentence relates to the verses preceding it (see yesterday's Daily Devotional). The eunuch, an Ethiopian Jew who is coming from Jerusalem, was reading Isaiah as he was riding along. Specifically, he was reading the powerful prophesy of Christ contained in Isaiah 53, and was puzzling over Isaiah 53:7-8 when Philip encountered him:
In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.
The eunuch was apparently reading closely and was interested in becoming educated about God. He was ripe to hear the Gospel, as he was studying and was curious about the most powerful prophesy in all the Bible. One can imagine his confusion: who is Isaiah talking about? He is ripe to hear the news about Jesus Christ, which is certainly a reason that the angel sent Philip to talk to him; and he is readily converted, to take the good news back to Ethiopia.
Because he was a very high official, he would have been an influential messenger to prepare Ethiopia for a more knowledgeable missionary; indeed, it was likely Philip himself who would bring the word to Ethiopia. (Ethiopia is, even to this day, a predominantly Christian country, a remarkable feat in light of the spread of Islam in north Africa.)
Even more remarkably, Isaiah himself predicted that a foreign Jewish eunuch would play a role in spreading the word throughout the world:
Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, "The Lord will surely separate me from his people"; and let not the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree."
For thus says the Lord:"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.(Isaiah 56:4-5
The words of Isaiah seem to find specific fulfillment in Acts 8, but they might apply to anyone who does not have children of their body. (In fact, the Jews, who did not practice child castration, used the word to apply to celibate, infertile and/or homosexual men, i.e. Matthew 19:12.)
To love and serve Christ will prove a greater blessing than children. Some denominations require celibacy of their leaders. There have been entire denominations, whose members did not have children so that they would not be distracted from their life of worship, the best-known of which is the American Shakers. Even more common are communities of celibacy within a denomination (such as monks).
But the most basic message is this: To know Christ and live his word is a greater good even than one of the greatest earthly gifts, creating a family. Luke, in telling this story, brings them special comfort so that they will not grieve. Some people, especially men, think of their children as "continuing their name"; but the Bible here lets us know that the name of the childless will have greater life, through their service to Christ, than could ever be possible by physical reproduction.