Daily Devotion for June 23, 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.
A great blues-inspired spiritual, When Jesus Lifts the Load, done here by the Gaithers.
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.
~ Jenny Sanford
Paul's First Journey
Acts 13:6-12 (ESV)
Saul and Barnabas on Cyprus
When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.
But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time."
Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
Notes on the Scripture
Saul and Barnabas are working the island from one end to the other. It would be a difficult walk in the day; as you can see from the topographical map; Cyprus, which is somewhat smaller than Connecticut, has rugged terrain. Paphos, which is a major city still today, is at the opposite end from Salamis, where they started.
Although they are concentrating on synagogues, they are summoned by the "proconsul", a very senior Roman official who had previously served as a leader of the Roman Senate, far higher in rank than Pontius Pilate. Notice that Saul has now begun to be called "Paul".
The story of the magician Bar-Jesus repeats the warning, given to us again and again in the Bible, about how witches, magicians, and superstition are regarded by God. He is the "son of the devil" — the exact opposite of Christ, the Son of God.
One of the benefits of our faith is that we may be free of these liars and fakes, who steer us away from true belief. There is no harm in enjoying a "magic" act, because it is entertainment; we are not intended to believe that the magician actually has supernatural power.
The word magician, as used in the Bible, refers to a completely different sort of person, one who claims to have actual powers given by supernatural forces. The Old Testament demands that such people be put to death; but Christ and his followers, who did not put anyone to death, still show them out; their demons are cast out or, in rare cases, they are punished while still on earth.
Belief in something we cannot see is part of our natural makeup. Like any part of us — our sex drive, or our desire to earn money, or the strength of our arms — it can be natural and good, or it can be sinful and used to further evil, depending on how we use it. When we are tempted to fear superstitious occurrences or to act to further our superstitions, we sin.
The number 13, a black cat, or a "ghost" have no power over of us; if we give in to fear of them, we deny the power of Christ. None of us are without sin, and many will fall to such fear; however, we can recognize our sin and pray to be forgiven for superstition, and try to fight it within ourselves and without, just as we do with all our sinful thoughts and actions. Even if we cannot rid ourselves of fear, we can remember that it crumbles against the power of the Holy Spirit, as the power of the magician Bar-Jesus crumbles before Saul and Barnabas.