Daily Devotion for June 15, 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
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.
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.
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
Acts 11:1-10 (NCV)
Peter Returns to Jerusalem
The apostles and the believers in Judea heard that some who were not Jewish had accepted God's teaching too. But when Peter came to Jerusalem, some people argued with him. They said, "You went into the homes of people who are not circumcised and ate with them!"
So Peter explained the whole story to them. He said, "I was in the city of Joppa, and while I was praying, I had a vision. I saw something that looked like a big sheet being lowered from heaven by its four corners. It came very close to me. I looked inside it and saw animals, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds. I heard a voice say to me, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.'
But I said, 'No, Lord! I have never eaten anything that is unholy or unclean.' But the voice from heaven spoke again, 'God has made these things clean, so don't call them unholy.' This happened three times. Then the whole thing was taken back to heaven."
Notes on the Scripture
Peter has now traveled from Jerusalem (driven away by the Sanhedrin's stoning of Stephen) to Lydda, Joppa, Caesaria, and many other places, circling around back to Jerusalem. (If you are curious, look at the Map of Roman Judea.) This is the first significant missionary journey of an apostle, and the first to go to a foreign land.
Peter instructs the Jews of Jerusalem as he had been instructed by the Holy Spirit. The difficulties faced by the Jews in fully accepting other peoples as Christians did not end with Peter's speech. Paul would later have to write them a long letter, the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Nor was the phenomenon limited to Jews, or to the Age of the Apostles. The history of Christianity is riddled with suspicion of other Christians whose language, nationality, race, language, or theology is different. And "suspicion" is a polite word; war, murder, slavery, wholesale theft — the entire panoply of horrible things one person can do to another — have been committed by groups of Christians against each other, often in the name of Christ himself.
It is human nature. But, as anyone who has read the Bible knows, pride is not only a sin: it is the root of many other sins. Despite every teaching to the contrary, people believe that their language is somehow the only language which "true" Christians speak, or their country is specially blessed by God, etc.
We all sin and fall short of the glory of God; Christians commit adultery, blasphemy, and every other manner of sin. The important thing is to recognize our sinful conduct, admit it, ask for forgiveness, and seek to rectify it.
Let us always remember that those who profess Christ as their savior are our brothers and sisters, no matter how different they may look or act or speak from us. This may be the hardest of God's commandments, that we love our neighbor as ourselves. And we must keep this difficulty in mind, when we read about the difficulty converted Jews had in accepting Gentiles.