Daily Devotion for August 20, 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.
Although this is not nominally a religious song, the Christian message is unambiguous.
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.)
But the blameless in their ways are His delight.
Acts 24:10-21 (ESV)
And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied:
"Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city.
Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.
Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult.
But some Jews from Asia — they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: 'It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.'"
Notes on the Scripture
Paul here makes his defense before the Roman governor Felix, in the capital of Roman Judea (Caesarea). Paul has been accused of trying to profane the high temple and of stirring up Jews to riot throughout the empire as the leader of the "Nazarene sect".
Paul is wholly innocent of trying to profane the temple. In fact, while he was in Jerusalem, he spent much of his time at the temple performing a traditional Jewish purification ritual; and, uncharacteristically, he did not preach.
As to the second charge, Paul does not even claim to be innocent. None of the Jews from "Asia" (the area around Ephesus in northwestern Anatolia), however, have come to Caesarea to testify. There are no witnesses against him. His defense is, essentially, that he is innocent until proven guilty, and they have no proof.
The one thing that they can prove is that he caused a disruption in the Sanhedrin itself. During his trial in the Sanhedrin, he divided the council against itself, by claiming he was being persecuted for preaching resurrection of the dead. This inflamed the Pharisee council members (who believe in resurrection of the dead and spirits) against the Sadducees (who do not).
But it is impossible for the governor, Felix, to condemn Paul on this point. The Pharisees are a powerful Jewish sect, perhaps the most powerful in Judea; to find a man guilty of wrongdoing, for preaching the Pharisee doctrine of resurrection, would invite open and widespread rebellion against Rome.
Note that Christ is not mentioned. If Ananais had charged Paul with preaching the Gospel, Paul would be convicted, for he would neither deny it nor require them to prove it. But since Ananais has not mentioned it, Paul holds his tongue for once. He has shown that he is willing to die in the name of Christ; but he is not going to insist on it.