Daily Devotion for June 8, 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.
God Told Nicodemus by the Golden Gate Quartet
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Lord, you have brought me to the beginning of a new day. As the world is renewed fresh and clean, so I ask you to renew my heart with your strength and purpose. Forgive me the errors of yesterday and bless me to walk closer in your way today. This is the day I begin my life anew; shine through me so that every person I meet may feel your presence in my soul. Take my hand, precious Lord, for I cannot make it by myself. Through Christ I pray and live,
For our restful sleep at night,
For the rain and sunshine bright,
For the love that Thou dost send,
For our homes and for each friend,
For the day and all its pleasures,
Grateful thanks I render now.
May our lives pass on the blessings,
None can give to us, but Thou.
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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.
~ J. Petit Senn
Acts 9:26-31 (CEV)
Saul in Jerusalem
When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the followers. But they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe he was a true follower. Then Barnabas helped him by taking him to the apostles. He explained how Saul had seen the Lord and how the Lord had spoken to him. Barnabas also said that when Saul was in Damascus, he had spoken bravely in the name of Jesus.
Saul moved about freely with the followers in Jerusalem and told everyone about the Lord. He was always arguing with the Jews who spoke Greek, and so they tried to kill him. But the followers found out about this and took Saul to Caesarea. From there they sent him to the city of Tarsus.
Notes on the Scripture
After his conversion in Damascus, Saul returns to Jerusalem. Naturally the Christians of Jerusalem fear him; they might hear him preach the Gospel, but they are not convinced. It could easily be a ruse, to infiltrate their number in order to increase his arrest record.
He is sponsored by a man named Barnabas, however, and the apostles take him in. Because, like all of the most active preachers, he steps into the crosshairs of the anti-Christians, the apostles hustle him out of town. First he goes to Caesaria, the capital of the Roman prefect (Pontius Pilate), and then to his birthplace, Tarsus, in eastern Anatolia (Turkey).
We have not really met Barnabas at this point; he will appear prominently in later chapters. Christianity, like any new and growing organization, has attracted some new men of great talent and energy.
The twelve apostles show their humility (and intelligence) in allowing new leaders to arise; the founders do not seek to hold all of the power to themselves, but freely encourage these new men to assume leadership. We have already seen them make seven Greek Jews the first deacons of the church in Jerusalem; we will soon see how both Barnabas and Saul (Paul) are elevated in status. The apostles are not jealous of their leadership role.
We should remember this lesson and bring it into our lives. Christianity is not about gaining power and prestige within a church. Disputes over who should run things and who should have a more prestigious title are antithetical to the tenets of Christianity. We should serve Christ, not our pride; for the important point is to preach the Gospel and show God's Holy Spirit through following his commandments of humility and love. If we truly believe, we will always act to show that we expect our reward in heaven, not on earth.