Daily Devotion for July 11, 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.
Mozart's Ave Verum performed by the Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge.
Prayer for the Morning
Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.
Prayer of Praise (from Psalm 86)
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon you: for you will answer me.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; and no works like those you have done. All nations whom you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; and will glorify your name.
For you are great, and do wondrous things: you are God alone.
Teach me your way, Lord, and I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify your name forever.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make me perfect in every good work to do his will, working in me that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever.
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.
A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.
~ Washington Irving
Paul's Second Journey
Acts 16:25-34 (ESV)
The Philippian Jailer Converted
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened.
When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.
Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."
And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.
Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
Paul and Silas in Prison (Gerard Hoet, 1728)
Notes on the Scripture
Richard Lovelace, a British poet, wrote: "Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage", and it never applied more literally to anyone than Peter and Paul. They escape ambushes and prisons time after time.
In Acts 5, an angel opens the doors of a prison in Jersusalem, releasing Peter and the other apostles; in Acts 9, Paul escapes Damacus by being lowered over the wall in a basket; in Acts 12, an angel releases Peter from Herod's prison and leads him out of the city gates past sleeping guards. In today's lesson, God simply smacks the prison with an earthquake.
Of all the escapes, this one is the most symbolic. Christ promised that "the truth will set you free" (John 8:32) and likened his death to the destruction of the Temple. Paul and Silas' escape is a dramatic physical reminder of our spiritual release from the prison of sin. By the power of God and through their belief in Him, their earthly shackles fall away and the prison doors fall open.
Fittingly, the prison guard who witnesses these events is converted in a rush, much like the scales fell from Paul's eyes; the door to salvation is opened to him just as those who heard Christ's words were freed. Both the apostles and their jailer are set free.