Daily Devotion for August 2, 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.
The beginning of Mozart's Sparrow Mass.
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.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
Paul's Third Journey
Acts 20:17-24 (ESV)
Paul's Farewell to the Ephesian Elders 
Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them:
"You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Notes on the Scripture
Paul has called the elders of Ephesus to him for what appears to be a goodbye. He lived there for over two years and, from all the circumstances, we can deduce that the Ephesus church has become important. We get some flavor of how he spent his time there: he preached in public, and he went from house to house. Now he must go to Jerusalem, and it sounds ominous, rather parallel to Jesus returning to Jerusalem for trial and crucifixion.
The tone of this passage is consistent with other statements we have heard from Paul. He seems to border on self-glorification; he is never shy about telling how hard he has worked or what he has suffered. Still, he always adds that his work is nothing except for the good he has done in spreading the Word.
Paul is, in this sense, very much like anyone with significant achievements on earth. Pride is our nature. If we do work that appears great to other people, we will feel pride. We work for humility, and we are blessed by the humility we find in life. But as humans, we do not achieve perfection. We must admit our failings and ask for forgiveness, and Paul is in the same boat.
(Ephesus, in eastern Turkey, is a ruins but has been marvelously restored. It no longer lies on the sea; the shore has accreted greatly in 2000 years, and it is miles inland, but easy to reach from the port of Kusadasi. It is a wonderful place to visit if you even get the chance -- many Aegean cruises have sidetrips to see it.)