Daily Devotion for July 12, 2013
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.
How Can I Fear with Jesus is a pretty hymn song, performed here in the style of the Anabaptists: a capella in six-part harmony.
Prayer for the Morning
I bless you for the day you have made, Mighty Lord God, and pray that I may spend this day rejoicing in your creation. I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill me with the joy of my salvation, so that your light may shine through me into the world, that your honor and glory may be known to all people.
Remind me of your blessings, I pray, with every tribulation I may face, so that I may act with energy, forgiveness and love, ever mindful of the grace You have shown to me. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer of Praise (from Psalm 86)
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon you: for you will answer me.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; and no works like those you have done. All nations whom you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; and will glorify your name.
For you are great, and do wondrous things: you are God alone.
Teach me your way, Lord, and I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify your name forever.
May the God who made me, the God who keeps me, and the God who will be my Lord through all eternity, shine down His blessings and wisdom upon me like the sun upon a field; and may I keep Him in the forefront of my every thought and deed, throughout this day, and evermore.
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.
Ezekiel 37:4-6 (NIV)
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ ”
Matthew 1:18-25 (Phillips NT)
Jesus as Son of the Holy Spirit
The birth of Jesus Christ happened like this. When Mary was engaged to Joseph, just before their marriage, she was discovered to be pregnant — by the Holy Spirit. Whereupon Joseph, her future husband, who was a good man and did not want to see her disgraced, planned to break off the engagement quietly.
But while he was turning the matter over in his mind an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife! What she has conceived is conceived through the Holy Spirit, and she will give birth to a son, whom you will call Jesus (‘the Saviour’) for it is he who will save his people from their sins.”
All this happened to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet — ‘Behold, a virgin [or young woman] shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’. (“Immanuel” means “God with us.”)
When Joseph woke up he did what the angel had told him. He married Mary, but had no intercourse with her until she had given birth to a son. Then he gave him the name Jesus.
Notes on the Scripture
Matthew emphasizes the teachings of Jesus, while Mark and Luke are more oriented toward the events of His life, and we see this reflected immediately by the absence of a long Christmas story in Matthew. To Matthew, the important aspects of Christ's birth are that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, to fulfill the prophecies of a king and savior for mankind.
While we believe that Mary was a virgin when Christ was conceived, her virginity is overemphasized. (There are even those who believe — with fairly good arguments — that the Bible never comes right out and declares that she was a virgin, although the circumstantial evidence is extremely strong.) Paul, in his epistles, ignores the idea completely. Dwelling too much on Mary's sexual innocence has given rise to an unintentional undercurrent that a woman is somehow tainted by sexual intercourse. This is not the message of Jesus' birth.
The important point is that Christ was begotten of the Holy Spirit, and the only reason for Mary's virginity is to emphasize that point. She could not have gotten pregnant any other way.
This is the great truth and the first thing we should remember about Jesus. He was begotten, not made. He developed from a fertilized ovum, just as all of us; he was not made miraculously from a handful of clay. He was 100% human.
His biological father was the Holy Spirit of God, which brought the truth of God to men and women both directly and through the prophets. But now the Spirit has been made into flesh; a human being is God. Jesus can therefore say, “Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father.’ (John 14:9)
Anyone who teaches knows how important a demonstration can be. It is one thing to tell someone how to do something; but often it is necessary to show them how it is done. The Spirit had been telling people the truth and instructing them in how to behave for many decades; but only Christ, a man just like them, could demonstrate godliness. It is as if God said, “Okay, you're not getting this. Here, let me show you how it is done.”
Another aspect of the Holy Spirit is enabling people to know the truth when they see it; and Christ surely opened people's eyes to the truth, because He was the truth, embodied in human flesh. (John 14:6) We are all blinded by our prejudices; our hearts are darkened by our passions and our vision clouded by our sin. But to those who believed, Christ swept away all falsehood, for now they could literally see the truth. They could touch the truth.
And finally, the Holy Spirit is the bringer of life and, perhaps more important, the restorer of life. Think of Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones, and how the Spirit resurrected those bones into living people. (Ezekiel 37:1-14) Just so, the Holy Spirit is embedded in Christ as flesh and will resurrect the dead souls of humanity and bring them back to life.