Daily Devotion for June 27, 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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.
Paul's First Journey
Paul and Barnabas in Antioch in Pisidia
On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.' "
The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.
So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Notes on the Scripture
Paul and Barnabas, on their first great mission to central Anatolia (Turkey), have rolled into a town called Antioch, in the District of Pisidia. (See Daily Devotional Map.) This is not the great city of Antioch, from which they started, but a moderate-sized town of the same name.
Many towns in the region were named "Antioch", for this reason: After Alexander the Great died, his empire was consolidated and ruled by a king named Antiochus. Towns all over the empire were named for him (at least 16 in Turkey and Syria), just as there are towns named Jackson or Jacksonville all over the United States.
Paul's second sermon in the town synagogue did not go as well as the first, even though the entire town turned out to hear him. The authorities were outraged, but the Bible tells us that their outrage was not caused so much by Paul's message as by simple jealousy at the size of the crowd they draw.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon has never disappeared. Religious leaders are only human, and pride in their position is a constant temptation. It applies as much to Christians as anyone else, today and throughout history. Increasing the size of one's congregation, or getting a higher-ranking office, sometimes seems to be motivated as much by personal pride as by joy at spreading the word of Christ. Priests and ministers want to become bishops and there is considerable politicking involved; pastors want to see their church congregation grow; televangelists want higher rankings and increased donations.
Human nature has not changed. The people of first century Anatolia were no more and no less susceptible to pride (not to mention lust, anger, etc.) than we are.
Note that Paul and Barnabas have fully absorbed the lesson taught by Peter in Jerusalem. They readily shift their mission to the Gentiles, but this will not diminish the opposition to Christianity in the long term. As we will see, it will simply inflame Gentile religious leaders without pacifying Jewish opposition. In addition, it will give the Jewish opposition even more ammunition to drive a wedge between Judaism and Christianity, because many Jews will be shocked that Paul and Barnabas would even consort with the unclean Gentile population.