Daily Devotion for August 13, 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.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritu Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning and now and always will be, World without end. Amen.
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 Goodness (based on Psalm 1)
Heavenly Father, who has given us the gift of thy law, so that we might know our sin, and thy Son, that we might be forgiven where we fall short. Give me the grace to remember your holy Word, when my surroundings tempt me to confusion and weakness, that I might more nearly approach true obedience to your will. Help me to resist the arguments of the ungodly; let me not be deceived by false beauty; and let me never replace the truth which you have put into my heart with the clever words of men. Through Christ I pray,
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns 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.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.
~ Washington Irving
Acts 22:17-21 (ESV)
Paul Defends Himself to the Crowd in Jerusalem 
"When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw him saying to me, 'Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.'
And I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.'
And he said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"
Notes on the Scripture
Today's Scripture is the last part of Paul's "defense" to the crowd in Jerusalem, which has tried to kill him. He was rescued by the Roman commander, who asked Paul what he had done.
Most of his speech is simply a summary retelling of his conversion. The end of the defense, however, adds something to the previous accounts of his leaving Jerusalem.
In Acts 9, we learned that Paul had riled up the Jews of Damascus immediately after his conversion; from the very beginning to the very end of his ministry, he has had crowds trying to kill him. He escaped Damascus by being lowered over the wall in a basket. Then, in Jerusalem, he disputed with the Hellenists (Jews who had adapted to Greek culture) who also tried to kill him; so the brothers in Jerusalem shipped him out to his home town -- Tarsus, in far away Cilicia (southern Turkey).
After Stephen was martyred in Jerusalem, a number of believers went elsewhere to places including the great city of Antioch. In Antioch, they founded a sizable and active church. So Barnabas, a leading teacher of the Gospel, was sent to Antioch to help them; Barnabas, in turn, went to Tarsus to bring Paul back to Antioch to help him. The church in Antioch became quite important; in fact, they were the first to call themselves "Christians". (Acts 11:19-26)
Now, Paul tells us that his mission was given to him as early as his time in Jerusalem. His mission was not to be there or even in Judea. Rather, he was charged to travel far away and bring the Good News to the Gentiles. This was something God had promised, to bring His Messiah to the Gentiles, since the early days of Hebrew prophesy. And Paul was to fulfill that promise.
He has, by this time, traveled huge distances (for that time) by land and sea, founding and overseeing churches throughout the Greek world (primarily the area we would call Turkey and Greece today). Mission accomplished!