Morning Prayer: Thursday, 29 June – Acts 9:20-31 ~ Good News for the Church

Morning Prayer

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Opening Prayer

Draw me close, Holy Spirit, as I read the Scriptures and reflect on your Word. Let the word of faith be on my lips and in my heart, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice I hear today — the voice of truth and grace. Amen.
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Reading: Acts 9:20-31 (NLT)

Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”

All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”

Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall.

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.

So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him. When the believers heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown.

The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.
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Pray for the Persecuted Church:

+ Pray for those in the midst of persecution (Hebrews 13:3, NLT)

Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

+ Pray for those who are doing the persecuting (Matthew 5:44, NLT)

Jesus: I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

+ Pray for the families and loved ones of those being persecuted (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

+ Pray that churches would rise up (Acts 4:29-30 NLT)

“Now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

+ Pray that world leaders would do all they can to fight this persecution (Psalm 2:10-11 NLT)

Now then, you kings, act wisely! Be warned, you rulers of the earth! Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling.

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“I Love Thy Kingdom Lord” – Grace Community Church – Sun Valley, California


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Concluding Prayer – Psalm 140:1-2, 12-13 (NLT)

O Lord, rescue me from evil people. Protect me from those who are violent, those who plot evil in their hearts and stir up trouble all day long.
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I know the Lord will help those they persecute; he will give justice to the poor. Surely righteous people are praising your name; the godly will live in your presence.
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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Morning Prayer: Wednesday, 28 June – Acts 9:1-19 ~ Good News for Saul

Morning Prayer

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Opening Prayer

Draw me close, Holy Spirit, as I read the Scriptures and reflect on your Word. Let the word of faith be on my lips and in my heart, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice I hear today — the voice of truth and grace. Amen.
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Reading: Acts 9:1-19 (NLT)

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.

And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.

Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord!” he replied.

The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”

“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.
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Reflection and Prayer:

Lord Jesus: if it takes getting knocked off my “high horse” to get my attention, so be it. Do what it takes in me, to make me available and useful to you.

+ Forgive my years of self-centeredness and indifference, especially to the needs of those around me. I am truly sorry that you had to die because of my sin. Thank you for your amazing love for me, for your mercy and grace.

+ Before I was born, you knew me and called me by name to serve you. Everything you have done in me to this point in my life has prepared me to meet the challenges of this day. Fill me with your Spirit, that I may faithfully follow you.

+ Open my spiritual eyes and ears, that I may recognize what you are doing around me and join you in your work. Set me free from the prison of my fears, that I may press on, even when the prospects for success seem unlikely to me.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your amazing love for me. Renew and refresh me in your Spirit, that I may hear and obey your word to me, and love and serve you as your faithful witness today. All to the glory of the Father, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
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“And Can It Be” – Stuart Townend


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Concluding Prayer – Psalm 138:7-8 (NLT)

Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.

The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.
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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Morning Reading: Acts 25:23-26:32 NLT ~ innocent, but…

Reading: Acts 25:23-26:32 NLT

So the next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived at the auditorium with great pomp, accompanied by military officers and prominent men of the city. Festus ordered that Paul be brought in.

Then Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are here, this is the man whose death is demanded by all the Jews, both here and in Jerusalem. But in my opinion he has done nothing deserving death. However, since he appealed his case to the emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome.

“But what shall I write the emperor? For there is no clear charge against him. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially you, King Agrippa, so that after we examine him, I might have something to write. For it makes no sense to send a prisoner to the emperor without specifying the charges against him!”

Trial of the Apostle Paul Nikolai Bodarevsky, 1875
Trial of the Apostle Paul
Nikolai Bodarevsky, 1875

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak in your defense.”

So Paul, gesturing with his hand, started his defense:

“I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense today against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, for I know you are an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!

“As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem. If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion. Now I am on trial because of my hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors. In fact, that is why the twelve tribes of Israel zealously worship God night and day, and they share the same hope I have. Yet, Your Majesty, they accuse me for having this hope! Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?

“I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene.  Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities.

“One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,  ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will. ’

“‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked. “And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.  Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future.  And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles  to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’

“And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God — and prove they have changed by the good things they do. Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen — that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”

Suddenly, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!”

But Paul replied, “I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. What I am saying is the sober truth. And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak boldly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner! King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do—”

Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”

Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”

Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and all the others stood and left. As they went out, they talked it over and agreed, “This man hasn’t done anything to deserve death or imprisonment.”

And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus – Thank you for your amazing love… for becoming the fulfillment of God’s promise to his people… for suffering and dying so that all might receive forgiveness of sins… for leading the way out of the grave into heaven… and for giving all who repent of their sins and turn to you a place with all God’s people in eternity. And thank you Lord for including me among your people. Amen.

Hymn: “And can it be” (Amazing Love) – Charles Wesley (1738)

Morning Reading: Acts 9.19-25 NLT – powerful preaching

Reading: Acts 9:19-25 NLT

Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.

image

Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”

All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”

Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.

After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall.

Prayer: Lord Jesus – Give your servants the courage and power to proclaim you as the Son of God, the Messiah… our Savior and Lord. In season,  or out of season,  may we be ready to give a persuasive and passionate account of the hope that we have found in you. Amen.

Spiritual Song: “Come to Jesus for Salvation” – Cornerstone Church

Morning Reading: Acts 9.10-19 NLT – go and show

Reading: Acts 9:10-19 NLT

Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord!” he replied.

The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now.  I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”

“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

image

But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.  And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.

Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength. Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days.

Prayer: Lord God – Give me the courage to go where you want me to go, and do what you want me to do. Holy Spirit – Give me a willing spirit and direct what I say and do. And may I advance your Kingdom purposes in all things. I ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Spiritual Song: “Stand up, stand up, for Jesus” – George Duffield (1858)
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