Daily Devotion for December 16, 2019
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.
Today’s music needs some preparation. Maranatha is an Aramaic word meaning “Come, (our) Lord.” It is thought to have been said as a prayer by Jesus, and a body of worship has grown up where the word is chanted, aloud or silently, as a meditation. Paul uses it in 1 Cor. 16:22 (although some Bibles translate Maranatha into English).
Here, it is chanted as a sort of public meditation by the choir of a Catholic mission, asking the Lord Jesus to come.
Prayer to Dedicate This Day to God
Holy God, as I face another day, I know I am going to face many challenges: to my faith, to my patience, to my love for others. I am going to have constant temptations to lapse into sin. Come to me now, Lord, and stay with me all day. Let your Spirit encompass my mind. Let me know your presence. Steer my hand, direct my words, guide my thoughts in everything I think and say and do. I resolve to live this day as a beacon of your glory, the best I can, with your help. I commit myself to give this day to you. In the name of Christ, be with me and help me.
Prayer to be Free of Anger
Lord Christ, you taught us that anger with our brethren is a violation of your law, that it condemns us just as murder condemns us. Let me see clearly that anger is moral filth, as your servant James taught us. And yet, anger arises in my mind. [Pause to remember occasions when you have been angry recently.] I repent my anger, and ask that I be forgiven for this sin, by my faith in you.
Holy Spirit, be with me now and help me to recognize my anger instead of denying it. Teach me to forgive each and every act that makes me angry. Where I have been directly offended, grant me the spirit of forgiveness; where I have become angry over things I have seen other people do or heard them say, imbue me with such a powerful sense of acceptance that my anger will disappear. Let me remember always, Holy God, that I am not in charge of the world; You are. Give me total faith that you know what you are doing.
I pray not to live with suppressed anger, nor to deceive myself by denying my anger when I have merely suppressed it, but let it be utterly abolished within me. Grant me true forgiveness, that I might live in love and peace, as my Savior did and taught us to do. Let my anger be crucified, I pray in your name, Lord Christ,
[Maranatha (Come Lord Jesus)]
Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my mind. Give me a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that I may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will.
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.
A Season of Hope
The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be. But the coming of Christ and his presence among us — as one of us — give us reason to live in hope: that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices, that we are never alone or abandoned.
Micah 5:1-5 (ESV)
The Ruler to Be Born in Bethlehem
Now muster your troops, O city of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.
Notes on the Scripture
icah lived roughly 700 years before the birth of Christ. Here he predicts that the savior of Israel will be born in the tiny town of Bethlehem Ephrathah. There were two towns called “Bethlehem” in Canaan; one of them had been previously called Ephrathah, so Micah uses the word to specify which of them he meant. And there is no confusion — this is the exact town in which Christ was born seven centuries later. The area was actually famous from very early in Hebrew history, as the birthplace of Benjamin (and the home of the small tribe that remained under the rule of David's blood descendants after the split of the Kingdom of Israel). (See Genesis 35.)
This passage is, truly, one of the great miracles of the Bible, for it is historically proven that the prophecy was made prior to 701 BC, when Micah died. The birth of Jesus of Nazareth in that very town, and his role as the savior of Israel (and all of humanity), standing and shepherding his flock in the strength of the Lord, “great to the ends of the earth,” can be nothing except the fulfillment of this ancient prophecy.