Daily Devotion for July 26, 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
O God, I trust in your power, even as it is often found in weakness; in your wisdom, even as it is expressed in seeming foolishness; in your wholeness, even as it comes to me amid brokenness. I do not ask this day for dazzling displays of strength, electric exercises of intellectual prowess, or marvelous manifestations of miracles. I come simply to worship you. Touch me this day, O Lord, sinner that I am, that I might become your saint, your body, your child, a member of your church. For this Temple of your Spirit is built not upon my own abilities, knowledge, or restorative skill, but upon you, in Jesus Christ,
Prayer for Personal Conduct (from 1 Timothy)
Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy, above reproach. May I be this day temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle; not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. I pray that I manage my own Lord well and keep any children I may have charge of under control, acting with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.
May the Passion of Christ be ever in my heart. May your law and your goodness guide my every thought, O Lord. And may the power of your Holy Spirit flow through my words and my actions.
Walk with me, so that I may not be alone as I face this day, but always in your presence. Your joy is a lighthouse in a world often dark with sin, and I pray that I may inspire others as I have been inspired. In the name of Christ, bless me this day, and all whom I may meet.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Inspiration — Heart
The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.
~ Helen Keller
Paul's Third Journey
Acts 19:13-20 (NKJV)
Paul in Ephesus — The Sons of Sceva
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.
And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?"
Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.
Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
Notes on the Scripture
The colorful lesson today illustrates the triumph of religion over superstition and the victory of the Holy Spirit over all the unnatural creatures of the world. The Spirit will not allow Jesus' name to be used as some sort of magic talisman by the equivalent of witch doctors, posing as priests. Belief in the word of spiritualists is a perversion of our natural instinct to find God.
Although both Christ and Paul healed many sick people, their message was not that God had come to perfect our lives in the flesh. Paul healed, not as a promise that those who found Christ would never become sick or die. Rather, Paul healed as a sign, that through Christ death would be conquered.
The sons of Sceva learn that the power of magic and superstition is illusory, and they learn it the hard way. Selling Jesus as a magic potion backfires on them. It is a great moment for the people of Ephesus, because the lesson is not lost on them. Great numbers of phony magicians and spiritual healers abandon their wrongful ways, confess their lies, and burn their "magic" books.
Notice in the painting of Paul Preaching at Ephesus, below, the pile of books being burned in the foreground, and the great Temple of Artemis to the right.