Daily Devotion for December 14, 2017
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.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
shall come to thee o Israel!
O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
O come, o come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
from ev'ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict'ry o'er the grave.
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav'nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
that we no more have cause to sigh.
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight.
O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace.
Music from 8th century Latin O Antiphons
Lyrics from 12th century (?) Veni, Veni Emmanuel, tr. Wm. Sloane Coffin c. 1850
Draw Thou Our Hearts
O Lord Jesus Christ, draw thou our hearts unto thee; join them together in inseparable love, that we may abide in thee, and thou in us, and that the everlasting covenant between us may stand sure forever. O wound our hearts with the fiery darts of thy piercing love. Let them pierce through all our slothful members and inward powers, that we, being happily wounded, may so become whole and sound. Let us have no lover but thyself alone; let us seek no joy nor comfort except in thee.
Prayer for Those with a Long To-Do List
I sit here with my to-do list in my mind, Lord, and I know I need help finding a balance. I am so looking forward to Christmas Day, but, Lord, there is so much to do! When will it all get done? How will I maintain any semblance of inner peace in this “peaceful” season?
I think, Lord, that I need some balance in my life. I feel so torn between wanting to cook and fill my house with wonderful welcoming smells, and wanting to decorate my home. I have shopping to do, and cleaning, and cards to write and mail. When? How?
Help me, guide me, Lord. Help me to set priorities around doing those things that will bring me closer to you. Maybe my home really is clean enough, or maybe I can ask my family or friends for help. Can the cards wait until a quiet afternoon after Christmas? Can my decorations be simpler? Is there more than a little ego involved in all of this?
Help me remember the joy of simplicity, Lord. Help me to remember what I am celebrating. Help me to find it in my heart to call out, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
[Remembering the joy of simplicity.]
Blessing for the Day
Oh God, hold me in the palm of your hand. I pray that you will mold me into what you want me to be. May I joyfully fill the role you have given to me and feel your peace deep in my soul, today and always,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 138:6 (NKJV)
Though the Lord is on high,
yet He regards the lowly;
but the proud He knows from afar.
Isaiah 27:1-6 (ESV)
The Whole World Will Be Filled with Fruit
In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea. In that day,
“A pleasant vineyard, sing of it!
I, the Lord, am its keeper;
every moment I water it.
Lest anyone punish it,
I keep it night and day;
I have no wrath.
Would that I had thorns and briers to battle!
I would march against them,
I would burn them up together.
Or let them lay hold of my protection,
let them make peace with me,
let them make peace with me.”
In days to come Jacob shall take root,
Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots
and fill the whole world with fruit.”
Notes on the Scripture
Isaiah is so poetic in his prophecies that he is often hard to follow. Here he foretells the day when God will destroy the evils of earth, with the metaphor of God slaying Leviathan, a mythical sea monster. This is Satan, which he makes clear by describing him as a “fleeing serpent,” but he calls his name “Leviathan” to evoke enormous size and strength, a creature that is not vulnerable to human attack.
In that same day — and like much of the Old Testament, “day” is used to mean a period of time, not necessarily 24 hours — God’s wrath will end. Isaiah recalls the Garden of Eden here, but in the Day of Judgment, God will keep the garden protected from intruders who might tempt or taint the purity of those within it. Adam and Eve will not need to face temptation again.
God’s wrath will then end. If there were “thorns and briers to battle” — objects that invade a garden and are harmful to people — His wrath would remain; he would fight against them and destroy them, or else give them the chance to make peace with Him and come under His protective wing.
Again, this is a fanciful and poetic treatment, for Isaiah depicts God speaking as if He were a king who has subdued all of his lands and is thinking back to the days of war against his enemies. He dreams of how he would treat them, how he might destroy those who oppose him and make peace with those who would kneel to him.
inally, Isaiah prophesies that the root of Jacob will put forth shoots and fill the world with fruit. (Notice that Isaiah, by likening salvation to fruit, continues the metaphor of the garden.) Jacob, also called “Israel,” was Christ’s ancestor. He was Christ’s physical ancestor, a line traced over thousands of years through Jesse and David. But more importantly, he was Christ’s spiritual ancestor, as his offspring were the keepers of the covenant with God described in the Old Testament.
This is the part of the Scripture that relates to Christmas. It was never God’s intention that the Jews should save the earth; the Old Covenant, in and of itself, was restricted to a very few people, a cohesive race, so that they might come to know and fear God. But someday, Israel will “fill the whole world with fruit,” an idea very different from the covenant of God with the Hebrews where the “fruit” was available only to the Jews. With the birth of Christ, a great transition will occur, for only with Christ will the fruit of salvation fill the world and be available to all people.