Daily Devotion for August 19, 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
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer for the Nation
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; I humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people who remember your favor and are glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.
Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here from so many different lands and languages. Grant the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust with the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may demonstrate your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in days of trouble, do not let our trust in you fail; all which I ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
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.)
This New Day
to learn more about ourselves
to care more about others,
to laugh more than we did,
to accomplish more than we thought we could,
and be more than we were before.
Acts 24:1-9 (ESV)
Felix Hears the Charges Against Paul, at Caesarea
And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul. And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying:
"Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. But, to detain you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly.
For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him."
The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so.
Notes on the Scripture
Having failed in their plot to murder Paul in Jerusalem, Ananais and his toadies must travel to Caesarea; rather than sitting as the judges in the case, they have been reduced to petitioners before the Roman court. It is not clear why Tertullus presents the case rather than Ananais. Perhaps Ananais is too proud to appear as a petitioner before another court, acknowledging his subordination to Felix. Perhaps Tertullus is well-spoken, or can speak in Latin, or understands the Roman laws. Perhaps Tertullus knows Felix.
At any rate, Tertullus presents a well-conceived argument. He speaks of the beneficial peace in Judea and then paints Paul as a person who would destroy that peace. The first accusation he makes is that Paul stirs up riots among Jews, not only in Judea but "in all the world", i.e. throughout the Roman empire.
This is the charge that will get Rome's full attention. The Jews chafed under Roman rule. (And, in fact, eight years later, the Jews would start a full-fledged rebellion, the First Jewish-Roman War, that would last for 7 years.) Felix's first order of business, as governor of Judea, is to prevent riots which might lead to rebellion.
Tertullus' second accusation, presented more as a matter of explanation, was that Paul is a leader of the heretical Nazarene Sect, i.e. Christianity. This was of enormous importance to the Sanhedrin. It had some importance to Felix, also, since he wanted to curry favor with whichever sect held power over the Jews. But it was not of primary importance; if Felix had become convinced that the Nazarene sect was more powerful than the Sadducees and Pharisees, he would have switched sides in a heartbeat.
The most important motive to the Jews, however, is not even presented to the Roman court. Paul had avoided condemnation in the Sanhedrin by identifying his beliefs with those of the Pharisees; so Ananais has a hidden agenda to diminish Pharisee influence, or at least bypass it.