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Daily Devotion for July 21, 2011



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lessons and scripture

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.


A rocking rendition of "Daddy Sang Bass".

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.

Dove of peace in contemporary stained glass

Proverbs 11:10

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices;

And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.

Blue Latin Cross

Paul's Second Journey

Acts 18:18-23 (ESV)

Paul Returns to Antioch - The End of Paul's Second Journey

After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.

And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. But on taking leave of them he said, "I will return to you if God wills," and he set sail from Ephesus.

When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch.

Notes on the Scripture

Paul ends his second journey by traveling fairly quickly all the way from Corinth, in Greece, back to Antioch. (See Daily Devotional Map.)(It is during this stay in Antioch that Paul writes his Epistle to the Galatians.) The short account has him landing in Ephesus with a promise to come back. For a reason not stated, instead of taking the shorter and safer route along the Anatolian coast back to Antioch, he sails all the way south to Caesarea. The verse does say he "went up to greet the church", so probably he went to Jerusalem. (You might have noticed that, in Acts, "up" means south, towards Jerusalem, and "down" means north.)

The oddest thing in these verses is the reference to Paul cutting his hair because of a vow he had taken; this is the first we have heard of it. At some point during the journey Paul has apparently taken a Nazarite vow.

If you are familiar with Samson, you will know who the Nazirites were (see Judges 13:2-7). The source of the Nazirite vows is Numbers 6.

It was not uncommon for devout Jews, even in this later time, to take temporary Nazirite vows, generally from 30 to 100 days. The law under Numbers 6 requires a ritual cleansing and blessing at the Temple to perfect the vow. Paul will do this later (in Acts 21:22-26.)

We saw how increasingly separated Judaism and Christianity had become during Paul's second journey. By the end of this journey, they are properly different religions. Yet, Paul takes a very old-fashioned Mosaic vow that requires a sacrifice at the Temple.

This continued reverence of the Old Testament, despite the break between Judaism and Christianity, will become important in time. A peculiar sect of Christ worshippers, the Gnostics, will soon arise; they will reject God's word as revealed in the Old Testament, write and follow various unattested books about Christ's life that differ greatly from the New Testament, and strive against the Pauline Christians for control of Christian belief.

The myriad errors of Gnosticism and the struggles to overcome them are far beyond the scope of this Note. It still crops up regularly as an alternative to Christianity; one recent example was the popular fictional work, The Da Vinci Code. Paul's continued attentiveness to Mosaic law — most of which is not inconsistent with Christ's teachings — will allow later generations to place Christ in proper context, as the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.

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