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Daily Devotion for August 23, 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 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.)
Acts 25:8-12 (ESV)
Paul Demands an Appeal to Caesar
Paul argued in his defense, "Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense."
But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, "Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?"
But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar."
Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, "To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go."
Notes on the Scripture
The short description of Paul's defense tells us, by implication, the general charges that had been brought against him. We also know from his first trial that the prosecutors have no evidence to support any of the claims. Clearly he has not committed any offense against Caesar — Festus would have found him guilty of any proven offense against Roman law, and the Jews' complaints would have become a moot point.
The Jews convince the inexperienced Festus that he should move trial to Jerusalem, a more appropriate venue for the charges of offences against Jewish law and the temple. But, as we know (and as Felix had realized), the Jews have no intention of allowing Paul another trial; they intend to murder him. They do not want to risk another outbreak of support for him from the Pharisees; and Festus, who is more honest than his predecessor, might easily release Paul once he saw the absence of evidence.
The trial against Paul has become a circus. Two years ago, he was tried before the Sanhedrin, which broke out into a riot between the Pharisees (who would have found him innocent) and the Sadducees. So the trial was moved to Caesarea, the Roman capital. It was heard by Felix, the governor.
But Felix, who was corrupt, did not reach a decision for two years, because Paul would not supply a bribe. Now Festus, Felix's replacement, repeats the same charade in reverse.
But Paul is not about to be transported back to Jerusalem; he knows the Jews intend to assassinate him. So he throws a monkey wrench into the works. As a Roman citizen living in a colony, Paul has a right to demand appeal to the Emperor of Rome. He cannot be tried by a local court, such as the Sanhedrin, against his will. And Festus has no choice but to grant the appeal.