Daily Devotion for June 17, 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.
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings Mozart's motet Exsultate, jubilate.
Prayer of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day; when I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
A Prayer of Repentance
O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended you, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray you, O Lord: of your mercy forgive me for all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
But the expectation of the wicked will perish.
Acts 11:19-26 (NKJV)
Barnabas and Saul at Antioch
Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.
And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Notes on the Scripture
As we have seen in the past few Daily Devotionals, Peter had difficulty accepting that Christ's word must be spread to the Gentiles. Only after God commanded him to forsake Jewish dietary laws did Peter baptize the first Gentiles, a few Roman soldiers in Caesarea.
Those who were not in contact with him and had traveled far away did not know of this event. They assumed that Jesus was the Messiah specifically to the Jews. He was, after all, the culmination of nearly 2000 years of Jewish prophesy and devotion, stretching back to the covenant of Abraham in the foggy dawn of history. They did not even consider trying to bring Christ's word or the Holy Spirit to Gentiles.
Barnabas, who was in Jerusalem, traveled to Antioch, a city located in Syria at the border of Cilicia, right in the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean. (Today it is in Turkey.) Antioch was a hugely important city in that time, the largest city between Jerusalem and Rome. One might compare it to Chicago, lying between New York and Los Angeles.
The Hellenists were not Greeks, but Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture. They still practiced Judaism, just as American Jews today speak English and live in American-style houses, etc. Greek culture and language, which was a great advance in civilization, had spread throughout the mideast. It was the language of commerce and greatly influenced the culture. Most likely, Jesus himself spoke some Greek.
The area was composed of dozens of tribes with diverse languages, and Greek was the lingua franca, which greatly improved trading and the spread of ideas and lifestyles throughout the area.
Notice also that the word "Christians" was first used to describe these converts in Antioch.