Daily Devotion for July 23, 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
Blessed are you, Lord God of my salvation, to you be praise and glory for ever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have delivered me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of your risen Son. May I, the fruit of your new creation, rejoice in this new day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer for Those Who Have Turned Away
Grant, O Lord, peace, love and speedy reconciliation to your people whom You have redeemed with your precious blood. Make your presence known to those who have turned away from You and do not seek You, so that none of them may be lost, but all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, so that everyone, in true love and harmony, O long-suffering Lord, may praise your all holy Name.
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted me as a living member of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have blessed me with the grace of forgiveness through the sacrifice He made for me and for all people. Send me now into the world in peace, and grant me strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Inspiration — Loneliness
The soul hardly ever realizes it, but whether he is a believer or not, his loneliness is really a homesickness for God.
~ Hubert van Zeller
Paul's Third Journey
Acts 19:1-7 (ESV)
Paul in Ephesus 
And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus.
There he found some disciples. And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus."
On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.
Notes on the Scripture
Our information about the early church in Ephesus before Paul's second visit is almost non-existent. On his second missionary journey, he visited Ephesus for the first time; this first visit, however, was really just an overnight stop. He did nothing more than drop off Priscilla and Aquila and promise to return. At the time, he was anxious to get back to Antioch after his long sojourn through Macedonia and Greece.
In today's Scripture, Priscilla and Aquila, the Italian Jews whom Paul left behind in Ephesus on his last trip, are oddly not mentioned. Most likely, it was they who had converted the handful of disciples Paul encounters; but only when Paul arrives do the unnamed group of believers receive the Holy Spirit, when Paul baptizes them. Recall the words of John the Baptist, "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who . . . will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Matthew 3:11.)
Some of them must have been fairly old, to have been baptized by John the Baptist well over 50 years previously. In fact, the whole situation is odd -- have this group been waiting in isolation since the days of John the Baptist? It is perhaps possible that they have not even met Priscilla and Aquila, but this would seem unlikely.
The little Christian churches of this period must have felt isolated. They were separated by vast distances and tied together with only an occasional visit from one of the apostles (or perhaps a believer passing through on business). Otherwise, they had almost no communication except for a rare letter, especially if they were inland where travelers were less common.
Now that Paul has come back, things are about to kick into high gear. His visit to Ephesus, lasting over two years, will form the heart of his third journey. And as we will see in Acts 19, the prior disruptions cause by Paul have been minor compared to the disturbance he will cause in Ephesus.