Daily Devotion for December 3, 2015
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.
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree,
I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heav'nly Father created for me.
He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him rev'rently
For all his creations, of which I'm a part.
Yes, I know Heav'nly Father loves me.
Words and music: Clara W. McMaster, 1904-1997
Matins (Morning Prayer)
Word of God, as the Most High, our one hope,
Everlasting light of heaven and earth,
We break the silence of the peaceful night;
Saviour Divine, cast thine eyes upon us!
Pour on us the fire of thy mighty grace,
That all hell may flee at the sound of the voice;
Banish the slumber of a weary soul,
That brings forgetfulness of thy laws!
O Christ, look with favour upon thy faithful people
Now gathered here to praise thee;
Receive their hymns offered to thy endless glory;
May they go forth filled with thy gifts.
Prayer Not to Judge Others (by Jane Austen)
Heavenly Father, give me grace to endeavor after a truly Christian spirit to seek to attain that temper of forbearance and patience of which my blessed savior has set me the highest example, and which, while it prepares me for the spiritual happiness of the life to come, will secure the best enjoyment of what the world can give. Incline me, O God, to think humbly of myself, to be severe only in the examination of my own conduct, to consider my fellow creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with that charity that I would desire from them myself. In Christ's name I pray,
[Christian living is not so much about getting out of our mess in order to find God, but more about bringing God into our mess. ]
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
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.
“Christmas has lost its meaning for us because we have lost the spirit of expectancy. We cannot prepare for an observance. We must prepare for an experience.”
~ Handel Brown
The Young Woman is with Child
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”
But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.”
And Isaiah said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Notes on the Scripture
Ahaz, a descendant of David, was the King of Judah. He reigned from roughly 735 BC to 715 BC. I would say he was king “during a difficult period”, but pretty much the entire history of Israel is a difficult period, in one way or another.
When Isaiah was active, Judah and Israel were separate kingdoms and, during Ahaz's reign, at odds with each other. Ahaz was a wicked and even idolatrous king, and the King of Israel (Pekah) was not much better. For example, Ahaz made his son walk through the fire of Moloch, a god who was generally a large statue with an oven in his belly; often, infants were sacrificed in Moloch by being roasted alive.
Both of them made foreign alliances to fight each other, resulting in the occupation of Israel and the subjection of Judah to Assyria. Ahaz repeatedly ignored the counsel of major prophets: Hosea and Micah, as well as Isaiah. The Bible teaches a causal connection between the idolatry of Judah and its decline and subjugation under Azaz, and nobody is more outspoken about the connection than Isaiah.
But the importance of today's Scripture lies not so much in Ahaz ignoring yet another warning from Isaiah — indeed, he does not follow direct instructions from God Himself, who spoke directly to him.
Rather, Isaiah looks past the coming destruction of Israel and Judah to a time when a child will be born to a woman, a child called Immanuel. Immanuel is not so much a name as a title, because in Hebrew it means “God with us”. (Technically, Immanuel would be called a “theophoric” name, that is, a name that embodies the name of God or name of a god. Christopher, which means “bearer of Christ”, is a well-known Christian theophoric name; Apollonia would theophoric from the Greek god Apollo.)
Thus, Isaiah here predicts Christmas itself. The word for “woman”, translated here as “young woman”, causes constant conflict among Bible scholars, for it can easily be translated “maiden” or “virgin”, but might also be applied to a young wife. So the King James Bible reads, “ Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, . . .”
But we should never lose sight of the irreducible, profound, and mystical truth of Isaiah's prophecy. He foretells, 700 years before the fact, that a child will embody God, a child born to a woman, and will become the salvation of God's people.