Daily Devotion for August 18, 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 of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day; when I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for Freedom from Fear
O Lord, I beseech you to deliver me, and all of your children, from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, and fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Prayer for Unknown Needs
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on my weakness, and mercifully give me those things which for my unworthiness I dare not, and for my blindness I cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Acts 23:17-35 (ESV)
The Plot to Kill Paul 
Then Paul called one of the commanders. He said to him, "Take this young man to the commanding officer. He has something to tell him." So the commander took Paul's nephew to the officer.[Abridged -- Paul's nephew tells the commander of the plot.]
Then he called two of the centurions and said, "Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night. Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor." And he wrote a letter to this effect:
"Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings. This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen. And desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council.
I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment. And when it was disclosed to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him."
So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to [the town of] Antipatris. And on the next day they returned to the barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him. When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him.
On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia, he said, "I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive." And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod's praetorium.
Notes on the Scripture
Today's Scripture is a straightforward account of the commander of the Jerusalem garrison removing Paul, a Roman citizen, from the danger of being killed by a colonial mob. He sends Paul under guard to the comparative safety of Caesarea, the capital of Roman Judea. (Some repetitive text has been removed; you can read it by clicking the "Abridged" link, above.)
Do not think that Roman law had anything resembling the fair-mindedness or dedication to justice that one associates with our own legal system. It was primarily political. The Roman commander (Claudius Lysias) and the governor (Felix) have only a modicum of interest in treating Paul fairly. Their first concern is Roman dignity. Even though Ananais is the highest-ranking Jewish leader, the Jews are a conquered and subjugated nation; Paul is a Roman citizen. The Romans simply will not allow one of their citizens to be tried and punished by a Jewish court.
Notice how different this is from the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. There, Pontius Pilate, who seemed reasonably fair-minded, considered Jesus to be innocent; nevertheless, Jesus had no status in Roman eyes. So Pilate was willing to let the Sanhedrin convict him as they saw fit, and even carried out the execution for them.