Daily Devotion for June 20, 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.
Vivaldi Praise the Lord!
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.
Until We Meet Again
Though this life may be gone in a week or today, you will forever be alive in the hearts of those who love you and will live forever in heaven until we see each other again, in the presence of our Holy God and Savior Jesus.
~ Kodee Williams
Acts 12:11-19 (CEB)
Peter Escapes from Prison 
At that, Peter came to his senses and remarked, "Now I'm certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod and from everything the Jewish people expected." Realizing this, he made his way to Mary's house. (Mary was John's mother; he was also known as Mark.) Many believers had gathered there and were praying. When Peter knocked at the outer gate, a woman servant named Rhoda went to answer. She was so overcome with joy when she recognized Peter's voice that she didn't open the gate. Instead, she ran back in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate.
"You've lost your mind!" they responded. She stuck by her story with such determination that they began to say, "It must be his guardian angel." Meanwhile, Peter remained outside, knocking at the gate. They finally opened the gate and saw him there, and they were astounded.
He gestured with his hand to quiet them down, then recounted how the Lord led him out of prison. He said, "Tell this to James and the brothers and sisters." Then he left for another place.
The next morning the soldiers were flustered about what had happened to Peter. Herod called for a thorough search. When Peter didn't turn up, Herod interrogated the guards and had them executed. Afterward, Herod left Judea in order to spend some time in Caesarea.
Notes on the Scripture
Yesterday, Peter was arrested by Herod (Agrippa), but angel led him out of prison and out of the city. Peter was stunned until he went through the city gate and walked a while; here, he finally regains his senses and realizes what has happened.
So we find ourselves at the house of Mary, mother of John also known as Mark. Just what we needed — another woman named Mary and another man named John and/or Mark! This man (whom we will call "John Mark") is not fully identified in the Bible, but scholars have long believed that he is Mark the Evangelist.
In a nice little symbolic scene, Peter knocks on the door of the house. Although the servant recognizes him, nobody believes her, and do not want to let him in. It takes the servant — the lowliest member of the household — to convince them. The parallels both the life and the teaching of Christ in several ways, e.g. Luke 12:35-40.
But Peter's troubles, and those of the other believers, are growing. While the high priests of the Sanhedrin could be hypocrites and would stoop to killing heretics, they were men of God; however misguided, the only murders they have done were Jesus himself and Stephen, on the misguided grounds of heresy and blasphemy. They have, however, let Peter and John go free twice, despite their teaching Christ's divinity right on a porch of the temple. And even though Stephen was stoned in a fit of temper, he was given a trial first.
Herod is another matter. Here is a truly evil man who will murder at the least provocation, an Eastern potentate who, unlike the Sanhedrin, has no regard for human life at all. Remember his grandfather, Herod the Great, who murdered hundreds of innocent babies simply because he feared that one of them would become "king". (Matthew 2) And his father, Herod Antipas, beheaded John the Baptist for no reason except that his stepdaughter danced for him. Today's passage gives us a taste of Herod's character by including the murder of his guards.
The apostles and other disciples of Jesus now face a whole new level of danger. They have appeared on Herod's radar. He wants to appease the Sanhedrin, because of their political clout. Luckily, the followers of Christ are not a great danger to him personally, so he does not go on a rampage against them. If he finds them, however, will not have qualms about killing them on the spot, with no more conscience than swatting a fly.
As surely as night follows day, persecution of Christ's followers is mimicking the growth of their number and influence.