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Welcome back, Friend.

May the peace of God reign in this place
and the love of God forever hold you tight,
May the Spirit of God flow through your life
and the joy of God uphold you day and night.

Daily Devotion for February 17, 2015

<i>Saint Paul Before Porcius Festus</i>, artist unk., Austrian tapestry in wool and silk ca. 1520.
Saint Paul Before Porcius Festus, artist unk., Austrian tapestry in wool and silk ca. 1520. This depicts Paul's trial before the Procurator of Judea, recounted in Acts 25.



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Lord's Prayer

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.


Song of Praise (based on Psalm 8)

O  Lord my God, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, who am I that you are mindful of me, who are any of us that you should guide and protect us?

Yet you have made us in your image, a little lower than the angels, and crowned us with glory and honor we do not deserve. You have given us dominion over the works of your hands and put the earth beneath our feet; you have given us dominion over the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea. O Lord my God, I praise you for your gifts to me. How majestic is your name in all the earth!


For God's Peace

Drop thy still dews of quietness till all our strivings cease,
Take from our souls the strain and stress and let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.


Prayer of Penitence

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against You whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with Your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In His name, my God, have mercy.



[The beauty of God's peace.]

Dedication to Faith in Christ

The Almighty Lord, who is a strong tower to all those who put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, in earth, and under the earth, do bow and obey; Be now and evermore my defense; and make me know and feel, that there is no other Name under heaven given to man, in whom, and through whom, I may receive health and salvation, but only the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


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.

<i>Pentecost</i> by El Greco ca. 1596.
Pentecost by El Greco ca. 1596.

Improvement Can Be Painful

If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?

Blue Latin Cross

Galatians 1:17-24 (DP Bible)

17-19 Exactly where do you think I got my teaching? I did not go to Jerusalem after my conversion, to be taught by those who were apostles before me. I did not consult with flesh and blood at all: I went to Arabia, and then back to Damascus. It was three years before I went to Jerusalem to meet Peter and I stayed with him for two weeks only. I did not even see any of the other apostles, except to meet James, the Lord’s brother.

21-24 After that, I traveled to Syria and Cilicia, where my face was completely unknown. But they had heard one thing about me: “The Persecutor now preaches the faith he once persecuted.” And they gave glory to God for my transformation.

20 Hear me: As I stand before God, what I write is true.

Verbatim Bible

17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to the before me apostles, but went out into Arabia, and again returned to Damascus.

18 Then after years three I went up into Jerusalem to meet sA narrow verb meaning “visit in order to get to know” someone, from a root meaning inquire. Paul uses this unusual verb – and this is its only occurrence in the NT – precisely to emphasize that the nature of his trip was to become acquainted with Peter rather than to receive theological instruction. Cephas, and remained with him days fifteen;

19 but other of the apostles not I saw, except James the brother of the lord.

20 And what I write to you, behold before god that not I falsify.

21Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.

22 Yet I was being-unknown in face to the churches of Judea in Christ,

23 and solely hearing they were that “the persecuting formerly now is preaching the faith which formerly he was destroying” tOr tried to destroy. The verb literally means “destroy”, but the tense denotes a continuous action over a period of time; so, “was in the process of destroying” might best capture the meaning while retaining an accurate verbatim translation. ,

24 and glorified in u Or because of me. me god.

DP Parallel Bible (3-Column) - Galatians 1

Notes on the Scripture

Does Galatians Contradict Acts? (Galatians #10)

This account of Paul's actions after his conversion pointedly intends to show that he did not receive instruction about Christ from the apostles (or others) who had known Jesus during his human life. He did not, he says, go to Jerusalem from Damascus, but to Arabia, and did not go to Jerusalem until years later.

In Acts 9:25, Luke tells us about Paul's escape from Damascus. In the next sentence (beginning with Acts 9:26) he tells us that Paul went to Jerusalem:

And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. . . .

These accounts seem quite different. There are three possible explanations of the difference between Luke's account of a Jerusalem trip, and Paul's narrative in Galatians:

#1 Paul is lying (or Luke is mistaken). Bible-bashers simply assume this is the case; and if you see a work about “contradictions in the Bible” that mentions this possibility and no other, you will know your are reading a propaganda tract and not a scholarly inquiry.

Monkey feeding a bird, from an illuminated Bible

#2 Paul went to Jerusalem directly from Damascus, but was not taught by the original apostles. He does say that he “did not go to Jerusalem to the apostles before me”, which allows for the possibility that he went to Jerusalem but not “to the apostles before me.” A case can be made here, but it is not particularly satisfying. It makes Paul look disingenuousDisingenuous: Not telling the whole truth or omitting details, without outright lying. Not being completely candid. to have omitted the fact of the trip.

#3 There is no discrepancy. Luke does not state when Paul went to Jerusalem. Those eager to find a contradiction simply assume that it was immediately after his conversion — the time frame that suits them. The next event recounted by the “Paul narrative” in Acts, however, is Paul in Antioch with Barnabas and Silas, well over a decade later. Luke drops the Paul story and actually goes backwards in time, to pick up the story of Peter. Thus, his account of Paul's trip — which begins “when Saul went to Jerusalem” — could have occurred at any time between Paul's conversion and his first missionary journey.

It is during the Peter/Jerusalem narrative that we find the key to the more coherent timeline: Barnabas. Barnabas was a major member of the Jerusalem church (Acts 4:36-37), but could not possibly have known Paul at the time of his conversion. If Barnabas knew who Paul was, it would have been by Saul's reputation — as a feared agent of the Sanhedrin's theological police. They were enemies. Yet, in Luke's account of Paul's Jerusalem trip, Barnabas is his friend and sponsor! If Paul had gone directly from Damascus to Jerusalem, why would Barnabas be treating him as a friend? How could Paul even know him?

We find a good explanation only during the Peter/Jerusalem narrative. The next mention of Barnabas is in Acts 11. The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch and, from there, he travelled to Tarsus to find Paul. In our Scripture today, Paul tells us that he went to Syria and Cilicia before his trip to Jerusalem with Barnabas. The timing is perfectly consistent: Tarsus is in Cilicia, and it would seem that Barnabas went to Tarsus, in Cilicia, to find and meet Paul during the time when Paul also states he was in Cilicia. This event almost certainly occurred before the trip described in Acts 9.

If we take a peek ahead to Galatians 2, the first verse tells us, “Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me.” (Gal. 2:1, NASB) The rest of Chapter 2 describes a scene reasonably close to what Luke recounted in Acts. It makes a lot more sense to understand Luke's vignette as a description of this later trip, since the two accounts agree on the very important fact of Barnabas, as well as several other details.

Even to a non-believing but objective scholar, the third possibility would have to seem the most likely, because the two accounts are consistent when viewed in this way.

endless knot

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Philippians 2:5-7: Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

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