Daily Devotion for August 24, 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.
Martin Luther's Prayer for Morning
I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me.
Prayer for Family and Friends
Blessed are You, loving Father, For all your gifts to me and those close to me. Blessed are You for giving us family and friends To be with us in times of joy and sorrow, To help us in days of need, And to rejoice with us in moments of celebration.
Father, I praise You for Your Son Jesus, Who knew the happiness of family and friends, And in the love of Your Holy Spirit. Blessed are you for ever and ever.
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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.)
Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him,
Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?"
Acts 25:13-22 (ESV)
Agrippa and Bernice
Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus.
And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, "There is a man left prisoner by Festus, and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him.
So when they came together here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. "
"When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. Being at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wanted to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding them.
But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar."
Then Agrippa said to Festus, "I would like to hear the man myself."
"Tomorrow," said Festus, "you will hear him."
Notes on the Scripture
Much of Acts touches the history of the Middle East, and today we encounter two new figures, Agrippa and Bernice. I hate to say this, but Agrippa is yet another Herod, "Herod Agrippa II", the son of Herod Agrippa I. Fortunately (for our sanity), the son who we encounter today is known simply as Agrippa. He was the last king of the Herod dynasty.
Bernice, Agrippa's sister, had an interesting life. She reigned as a client queen of Rome over various areas, particularly Syria, and had almost as much power as her brother. Although she was married three times to three different kings, the marriages did not last long and she spent most of her life in Agrippa's court. There were constant rumors of an incestuous relationship between the two. Indeed, Agrippa never married.
Festus outranked them in most important respects. His deference to them stems from their lifelong involvement in Roman politics. Agrippa would one day become a "praetor", one of the most powerful political titles in Rome. Bernice would become the mistress of Emperor Titus and almost managed to become the Empress. Historians have called her "the Little Cleopatra".
Festus must send Paul to Rome for trial; Agrippa and Bernice have no authority over him at this point. Due to their high status in Rome, however, Festus diplomatically allows them to interfere. So Paul will have to undergo another meaningless trial.