Daily Devotion for June 25, 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
Lord, teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain wisdom of heart.
Help me do today the things that matter, not to waste the time I have.
The moments I have are precious, Lord, see that I count them dear. Teach me to number my days aright. Fill me this day with your kindness, that I may be glad and rejoice all the days of my life. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer to Live Christ's Word
Gracious God, Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child.
Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me. This I pray in Jesus’ name.
Now the God of patience and consolation grant us to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Count Your BlessingsCount your blessings, not your crosses; count your gains instead of losses.
Count your joys instead of woes; count your friends instead of foes.
Count your smiles instead of tears; count your courage, not your fears.
Count full years instead lean; Count kind deeds instead of mean.
Count your health instead of wealth; Love your neighbor as yourself.
Paul's First Journey
Acts 13:26-35 (ESV)
Paul's Sermon in Antioch in Pisidia 
"Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation.
For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed.
And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,
today I have begotten you.' (Psalm 2:7)
And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,
Therefore he says also in another psalm,
Notes on the Scripture
Here, Paul continues the sermon in Antioch in Pisidia, a town in central Turkey (as opposed to the great city of Antioch). He and his companions were asked by the congregation of a synagogue to speak "if they had a message of encouragement". As we come to know Paul, it should not surprise us that he accepted the invitation.
Paul was obviously an extraordinary man, one marked for leadership. When we first meet him, prior to his conversion, he has become a trusted lieutenant of the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem. He was present with them at the trial of Stephen, and thereafter became their trusted field agent, responsible for rounding up Christians and returning them to Rome in chains.
Since the time of his conversion, he has constantly risen to the forefront of any group in which he finds himself. Note that, when this mission began, it was a mission of "Barnabas and Saul". But as we saw in yesterday's Daily Devotional, the text has begun to refer to the group as "Paul and his companions". And when the group is asked if it wants to speak, it is Paul who stands up.
As we have seen and will see even more, Paul was a remarkable man — forceful, determined, and driven even before his conversion. He was apparently quite ambitious even before his conversion. His family shows signs of ambition; although they were tent-makers, they were Roman citizens, a rarity among Hebrews. This citizenship shows some sort of action, taken by his forebears, that would have qualified them as citizens of Rome. Most likely, one of his recent forefathers had distinguished himself in Roman military service.
His drive to distinguish himself, and the talents which made it possible, have now been subsumed in another kind of ambition — the ambition not for his own glory, but for the glory of God. Paul will apparently struggle with this to a degree, as will be seen in his many epistles; and, indeed, his name is known and revered even today.
But if Paul struggled with pride, which of us has not? We are all given gifts of the Holy Spirit, and his gift was one of forceful leadership. Like the apostles, Paul was specifically called by God to a mission; he pushed himself to the forefront, not to glorify himself, but to serve God as he was called to do.