Daily Devotion for August 26, 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.
Nigeria may have the fastest growing Christian community in the world. This song will be very foreign to English ears, but I hope you appreciate seeing how our brothers and sisters in a very different culture worship Christ, in sincerity and faith.
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.
(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.)
Acts 26:1-11 (NKJV)
Paul Before Agrippa and Bernice 
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself."
So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: "I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.
"My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
"Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
Notes on the Scripture
It may seem a bit tiresome, reading the history of Paul's conversion yet again. The later chapters of Acts contain a great deal of his speeches, but they are important, because in them we see the nature of his mission. Paul did not speak to the intellect of his many listeners. Nor did he recite a third-person history of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Rather, he talked about himself. He was the great proponent of the new Christian method of preaching: Witnessing to the power of a Christ he, himself, had never met, by the power of a Holy Spirit that lived within him.
This intimate sharing of one's personal life was a new and convincing kind of religious argument. Other parts of the world had dabbled in monotheism, but their concept of God was in their mind. Paul's God was in his heart and spirit. He preached, not a god who lived in a statue or even (in the case of the Jews) inside a special place in a temple; he preached the true God, whose spirit lived in him and colored every moment of his time and every action of his life.
Paul's account here differs, not in facts, but in how he frames his conversion and mission. He more clearly depicts himself as a Jewish prophet. Rather than a revolutionary, he is a prophet of the evolution of God's promise to Israel. He then shows that he, himself, had once been in Agrippa's position — a Jew who did not accept Jesus and, in fact, persecuted those who did.
We will see tomorrow if his argument can affect the haughty Agrippa.