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Daily Devotion for July 6, 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.
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.
I will fear no evil;
Paul's Second Journey
Paul and Barnabas Go Their Separate Ways
The four men left Jerusalem and went to Antioch. Then they called the church members together and gave them the letter. When the letter was read, everyone was pleased and greatly encouraged. Judas and Silas were prophets, and they spoke a long time, encouraging and helping the Lord's followers.
The men from Jerusalem stayed on in Antioch for a while. And when they left to return to the ones who had sent them, the followers wished them well. But Paul and Barnabas stayed on in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached about the Lord.
Sometime later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let's go back and visit the Lord's followers in the cities where we preached his message. Then we will know how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take along John, whose other name was Mark. But Paul did not want to, because Mark had left them in Pamphylia and had stopped working with them.
Paul and Barnabas argued, then each of them went his own way. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, but Paul took Silas and left after the followers had placed them in God's care. They traveled through Syria and Cilicia, encouraging the churches.
Notes on the Scripture
The four men mentioned in the first sentence are Paul and Barnabas, and two leaders from the church of Jerusalem, Silas and Judas (Barsabbas). The letter is one instructing that Gentiles are to be given full membership in the church, as long as they restrain from sexual immorality, and do not eat meat that has been sacrificed to animals, contains blood, or comes from an animal killed by strangling.
Then we have our first real political rift in the church, hardly 20 years after the death of Christ. Paul wants to revisit the cities where he and Barnabas had established new churches the previous year, and Barnabas agrees. But they fall out, because Barnabas wants to take John Mark, and Paul does not. So Barnabas and John Mark sail to Cyprus to visit the new churches; Paul decides on a different plan. He takes Silas to begin a new mission by land, north to Syria and Galatia (Turkey).
Truth be told, there probably wasn't room in a single group for Paul and Barnabas' egos. It is somewhat startling to see their feet of clay, in the form of pride, interfering with their mission. These are the founders of Christianity, among the bravest and holiest men the earth has seen. They are revered among the greatest saints in liturgical churches and admired as great men and models in more evangelical protestant churches.
And yet, here they are, spatting like a couple of committee members, digging in their heels and, finally, walking away in different directions. It is the first schism! If Paul and Barnabas can't hold it together, what chance do we have?
Very little. Christianity is split into hundreds, if not thousands, of denominations and branches for a reason: Pride is born into us and will be with us until we die.
Pride may be incurable but it is, as doctors say, treatable. We must monitor and meditate upon our actions, seeking out pridefulness and trying to eliminate it. We must pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us humility, the "poverty of spirit" that Christ promised would bring the kingdom of heaven to us. (Matthew5:3) We will sometimes fail, as Paul and Barnabas failed, but our confession and belief will cleanse away the pridefulness that is left. We will be forgiven; but we must not stop trying to live as Christ asked us, just because we expect forgiveness.
We must, in short, renew our commitment to do God's will and live in his light every day.