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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Daily Devotion for December 18, 2013

<i>Elizabeth and Mary Greet Zechariah</i> by Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni, ca. 1416
Elizabeth and Mary Greet Zechariah by Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni, ca. 1416.



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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.


Prayer of Resolve

Blessed Jesus, my Savior and Master, model of all perfection, I resolve — and will try this day with my full heart — to imitate Your example, to be like You: mild, humble, chaste, zealous, charitable, and kind. I will redouble my efforts to see Your image in all those I meet and deal with this day — not only people I like — and to be as helpful to them as I would be to You. I resolve to avoid this day all those sins which I have committed heretofore and which I now sincerely desire to give up forever.


Advent Prayer

Holy Lord, as I wait for the dawn that will arise with the coming of the Christ child, I do so with anticipation of new and unexpected challenges. Like Mary, I sense the birth pangs of a new era, a new kingdom waiting to be born. Grant that I, like Mary, be filled with courage and openness to bear the Christ-child, by receiving and bringing forth the Good News. Let me be witness to your truth and justice, as I walk along the path of peace, as I am strengthened in my love for Christ and my fellow man.



May I go in peace, with God and with his other children, and may we love one another as Christ taught us. May I follow the example of good men of old, and may God comfort and help me and all who believe in Him, both in this world and in the world which is to come.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

<i>The Archangel Gabriel</i> by Sandro Botticelli ca. 1490.
The Archangel Gabriel by Sandro Botticelli ca. 1481.

Psalm 44:20-21

If we had forgotten the name of our God,
Or stretched out our hands to a foreign god,
Would not God search this out?

For He knows the secrets of the heart.

Blue Latin Cross

Luke 1:18-25 (ESV)

Birth of John the Baptist Foretold [2]

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I believe this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”

And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”

And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Notes on the Scripture

(If you want to see the first part of this passage, you can find it in yesterday's daily devotional or our online Bible.)

This passage has always made me smile. Imagine finding an archangel standing in your living room or your office, telling you something. Would you tell him “I'm having a hard time believing what you say?” But that is what Zechariah does. Not that his faith is weak; the verses before inform us that he was “righteous before God”, a model Jew, as it were. He is simply skeptical about his wife having a child because of their age.

And the punishment for his doubt is ironic: here he has seen an angel and knows about a miracle that will occur, but he can't tell anyone about it! Imagine his frustration.

In Zechariah we see a premonition of how John and Christ will be received by the Jewish religious establishment, the priesthood and scribes. An angel stands directly before him and tells him that something will occur, outside the expectations of nature and experience, just as Jesus will tell all who listen that He will defeat death; but Zechariah is so hidebound that he cannot accept it. He is struck mute. Because he will not accept God's word, delivered by God's holy messenger, he loses his power to speak as God's priest. He cannot deliver the blessing that a Hebrew priest emerging from the sanctum was expected to give.

This foreshadows what will become of the scribes and priests who cannot or will not accept Christ; they will no longer be God's priests and teachers. Their words will no longer have power.

Elizabeth, who could speak if she wanted to, keeps her pregnancy a secret. She is, first off, overjoyed. Not only does she seem to have a healthy dose of maternal instinct, but also, women of that time who did not have children were somewhat looked down upon. And the woman nearly always got the blame, although this was only partially due to male pride — people were quite ignorant about how conception worked. But, remember, it was Zechariah, her husband, who really knew what was happening, and he had been rendered speechless for questioning Gabriel's credibility. So Elizabeth simply took it as a miracle. Although she knew her pregnancy was God's work, she did not know exactly how remarkable her child was to be.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Luke 2:10-12 (ASV): And the angel said unto them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.”

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Comments (6)

Topic: Page Two | Devotion for Day of December 18, 2013 | Daily Prayer
Trish (Newbury Park, US) says...
Enjoy Daily Devotion every day and wanted to thank you in particular today for the wonderful Advent music. Contemporary Christmas music doesn't usually move me the way the traditional hymns do but this one just grabbed me.... very inspiring and uplifting!
18th December 2013 4:15pm
mary Pregler (Glen Saint Mary, US) says...
I meditate. I try to let all stressful things melt away. The 1. word that comes up most often during my meditations is forgiveness. When stress comes it is usually because I have not been able to let go of something. I ask the Lord to lead me to the source, and then I am able to put what ever it is in perspective. And Peace comes. thank You Lord!
18th December 2013 9:52am
Mason says...
Great advice, Mary. I actually took the Transcendental Meditation course when I was very young, and I find that I can substitute a Christian word (I usually use "Jesu") and it works perfectly.

Forgiveness brings so much peace - it's just really hard to accomplish sometimes, but, well worth the effort.
18th December 2013 2:24pm
Suzanne Herpel (Indian River, US) says...
Thank you Mason for such encouraging and hopeful advice today about Christmas stress. Everyday until Christmas when I start to feel like I'm losing it, I will re-read your words. Advent is such a blessed and special time, and I want to remain focused on the true meaning of Christmas!
Merry Christmas and God Bless you!
18th December 2013 9:24am
Mimi says...
All right, Mason! I'm in! #1 don't get stressed #2 unstructured time #3 talk to God! Sounds like a plan for the whole year! Becoming the servant of the one who pushes all my buttons might take some work, it seems there are so many of them out and about, online, and in my face! I can do it, how about the rest of you? This could take some time! :0)
God bless us every one!
18th December 2013 5:58am
Mason says...
I actually wrote down a plan for what I will do. I'm married and we're going to my mother's and to my parents in law's, and I thought back about what the rough spots have been and planned how to avoid them.
18th December 2013 8:02am
Phil True (Richmond VA, US) says...
In reading the Bible, one has to remember the difference between “truths” and “factuality.” Jesus was born; this is a fact. The details about his birth described in Matthew and Luke contain truths, but not everything in these two accounts—which differ--is necessarily a “fact.”
17th December 2013 8:09am
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