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Daily Devotion for July 18, 2013

<i>Workshop of the Carpenter</i>, John Everett Millais ca. 1849
Workshop of the Carpenter, John Everett Millais ca. 1849.



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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.


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!


A Prayer of Repentance

O  Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended you, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray you, O Lord: of your mercy forgive me for all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.



I  dedicate this day to you, mighty God. I pray that your Spirit will lift me up this day, and that your face may shine upon me all the day long, that I might do your will and lead a new life in Christ, reborn in the Spirit.


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>Nazareth</i> by Maurice Denis, ca. 1905.
Nazareth by Maurice Denis, ca. 1905.

Psalm 22:30-31 (NKJV)

A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,

They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 2:19-23 (J.B. Phillips NT)

Return to Israel

But after Herod’s death an angel of the Lord again appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Now get up and take the infant and his mother with you and go into the land of Israel. For those who sought the child’s life are dead.”

So Joseph got up and took the little child and his mother with him and journeyed towards the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was now reigning as king of Judea in the place of his father Herod, he was afraid to enter the country. Then he received warning in a dream to turn aside into the district of Galilee and came to live in a small town called Nazareth — thus fulfilling the old prophecy, that he should be called a Nazarene.

Notes on the Scripture

Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. His kingdom was divided into three parts, each ruled by another Herod (as client kings of Rome): Galilee to the north, Samaria towards the center, and Judea to the south. (See Map) We do not want to get into the terribly confusing matter of delineating all the kings named “Herod”, but there are two to remember. Herod the Great, ruling when Jesus was born, who slaughtered the infants, and his son Herod Antipater or Antipas, who ruled in Galilee after Herod the Great. This second ruler is called simply “Herod” throughout the rest of the New Testament.


Archelaus (also a Herod) has no further part to play. He was as terrible as his father, murdering three thousand potential opponents in the Temple soon after Herod the Great died. Joseph did well to avoid him.

And so, Jesus grew up in the Nazareth, a small town of poor reputation. It lay on a crossroads: North and south ran the Damascus-Egypt road, one of the great caravan routes of the world, which was used by Napoleon 1800 years later to invade Egypt; and The East Road, running from Acre/Ptolemais to the Roman colonies and trading partners in Asia.

Such towns, like many commercial ports, have a constant flow of all sorts of people from many nations. The people who make their living catering to such traffic become hard and morally flexible, which lent Nazareth its unsavory reputation. But there is also a sort of low sophistication that comes with the international trade; Jesus almost surely spoke some Greek, and he would have seen much of life that a shepherd boy would not.

We do not have any idea where Matthew came up with the apparent prophecy, “he should be called a Nazarene”. There is nothing even close to it in the Old Testament. It might be a prophecy from a lost Hebrew writing, and it might have been copied incorrectly. It might even be a sort of pun we no longer understand; for example, nezer in Hebrew means “branch”, and Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be a branch springing from the root of Jesse.

Matthew tells us nothing of Christ's boyhood. One of his themes, remember, is to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, and so the important point for Matthew is to dispel the notion that the Messiah would be expected to come from the City of David, Jerusalem. But as we know, now, that Christ's message and role will be very different from the rich, powerful, political and military ruler the Jews expected; and consistent with the unanticipated character of the Messiah is his unanticipated origin, as a humble blue-collar worker from a shoddy little town on the fringe of Canaan.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 5:1-10 (“The Beatitudes”) (NKJV):

    And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

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