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Daily Devotion for June 30, 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.
This gorgeous rendition of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" by the BYU choir is very soft, so turn up your volume a bit.
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.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Paul's First Journey
Acts 14:14-18 (ESV)
Paul and Barnabas in Lystra 
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.
Notes on the Scripture
Paul and Barnabas are dismayed. They have traveled all the way to Lystra to bring the people to Christ; instead, they have deepened their belief in pagan gods! They frantically tell the people that these false gods are vanity; Paul and Barnabas bring news of the true God, of Christ, and of salvation. And even though they have performed a miracle, to bolster the truth they tell, the people are "scarcely restrained" from sacrificing to them.
Human nature has not changed in 2000 years. People become accustomed to one way of thinking and find it nearly impossible to change. We all harbor attitudes that are false and "truths" that are untrue. It is pride. Sinful pride tells us that the thoughts in our head are correct. We are stubborn, from the smallest thing to the largest.
I remember, from some years back, a huge controversy erupting in Dear Abby. Half the people thought toilet paper should be hung so that the loose end hung over the top; the other half, that toilet paper should be hung with the loose end against the wall. The debate was fierce! I don't think anyone was convinced; everyone was sure that whatever they thought was, somehow, objectively true.
In "Gulliver's Travels", by the great satirist Jonathan Swift, Gulliver travels to a land where there is a terrible war. One side believes that a boiled egg should be cracked and eaten from the large end. Their enemies, that the egg should be put in the egg cup fat side down and eaten from the narrow end.
Everyone in the world seems to know exactly how other people should drive. Neighbors harbor deep grudges about such things as the strip of grass between their driveways. Christians have fought bloody wars over whether the sign of the cross should be made left to right (Catholic), or right to left (Orthodox), or not at all (Protestant).
There is only one core belief that is absolutely and inflexibly true: the word of God, especially the knowledge that God, through Christ, has given us the grace to be forgiven of our sins. Anything else we hear, see, or experience in life that might contradict what we think, no matter how absolutely it contradicts our personal opinions, we must be open to. If somebody interprets the Bible differently than we do, we should listen. We don't have to accept it, but we must consider it. Otherwise, our thoughts and opinions will become controlled by pride.
I once heard a black man, 105 years old, on the Today Show. When asked the secret of his long life, he said: "a smart person will learn; a foolish person will stop learning." We should not go through life thinking we know everything. And what if a new roommate or spouse wants to hang the toilet paper differently from us, or our neighbor wants to put wood chips instead of grass between our driveways? Just do it. "If your neighbor sues you for your coat, give him your cloak also."