Daily Devotion for December 30, 2013
Sixth Day of Christmas
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.
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the [bright] sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.
Music (1st tune) by James R. Murray 1887
Music (2d tune) by William J. Kirkpatrick 1837
Lyrics anon. (sometimes attributed to Martin Luther)
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God, who has created all things, seen and unseen, this day is your creation and I give thanks to live in it. I pray that I will not shut you out of the day you have made, blinded by the petty concerns of life, but that I may be always open to your presence.
I open my body to you and give thanks for your life that fills and warms every cell of it.
I open my eyes and ears to you and give thanks for the light of your Word, without which I would live in the shadow of ignorance.
I open my heart to you and give thanks for your love that fills me with compassion, understanding, and peace.
I open my soul to you and give thanks for your Spirit, who fills me with wisdom when I take a moment to listen.
All that I am, I open to you and I return to you, giving thanks every moment of my life for the blessings that fill this day. Through Christ I pray.
A Prayer of Humility at Christmas
Jesus, the Light of the World, as I celebrate your birth may I begin to see the world in the light of the understanding you give me. As you chose the lowly, the outcast, and the poor to receive the greatest news the world had ever known, so may I worship you in meekness of heart. May I always remember my brothers and sisters less fortunate than myself in this season of giving.
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,
Into your hands, O Lord, Jesus Christ, my God, I commend my spirit. Bless me and all those who pray in faith of You this day; save us and grant unto us everlasting life.
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.
Proverbs 30:4 (NKJV)
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
If you know?
Matthew 2:19-23 (ESV)
The Home in Nazareth
Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, ”Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child's life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ”He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Notes on the Scripture
After Herod the Great died, he divided his kingdom into three parts, each ruled by one of his surviving sons. Unfortunately for us, all of them were also called “Herod”.
In fact, there were a number of other rulers with the name “Herod”; if you ever want to get thoroughly confused, try to figure them all out. There was even a famous woman named “Herodias”, who divorced Herod Phillip I and married Herod Antipas. We encountered her a few weeks ago in Matthew, because she was the mother of Salome and the person who engineered the beheading of John the Baptist.
Herod Archelaus was the King of Judea, the heart of Israel where Jerusalem and Bethlehem were located. He was every bit as cruel as his father (Herod the Great) had been, and Joseph was justified in fearing him.
Herod the Great
Thus, instead of returning to Judea, Joseph traveled to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. This area was ruled by another of Herod the Great's sons, Herod Antipas. He was not called a king, but a “tetrarch”, which means “one-quarter of a king”.
Joseph chose wisely, because as bad as Herod Antipas was, he was the best of the bunch. As pointed out above, Herod Antipas eventually would be manipulated by Herodias and Salome into killing John the Baptist. Ironically, he was also the Herod who eventually arrested Christ and presided over His trial.
At any rate, this is how Jesus came to be born in Bethlehem, a town in Judea, but grew up in Nazareth, a tiny town in Galilee (which was considered a separate country under Roman rule). This all fit in perfectly with the messianic prophesies of the Old Testament, which predicted the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem, but also said that the Messiah would be a Nazarene.
For anyone interested in such things, Antipas is a contraction of Antipater, a frequent name of Greek notables. It does not mean “against the father”, as you would think, but rather “like the father” or possibly “not the father”. Also, the super-cruel Archelaus came to a bad end. Rome deposed him after 10 years and exiled him — a refined man, educated and frequently resident in Rome — to a rough village at the border of Roman Gaul and Germany called Vienne, which would eventually became Vienna, Austria.