Daily Devotion for December 20, 2010
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 for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
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,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.
those who plot evil in their hearts and stir up trouble all day long.
I know the Lord will help those they persecute; he will give justice to the poor.
Surely righteous people are praising your name; the godly will live in your presence.
The Birth of John the Baptist
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered,"No; he shall be called John." And they said to her, "None of your relatives is called by this name."
And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And they all wondered.
And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him.
Notes on the Scripture
The events recounted by today's Scripture follow the chronology of Luke but are a bit misleading as to the timing of events. John was actually born about six months before Jesus (and the feast of his birthday is celebrated on June 24). Nevertheless, his birth is properly part of the Christmas celebration, because of the parallels between them and because of the amount of interaction between John's mother, Elizabeth, and Mary during their pregnancies. His birth is part of the Christmas story.
John the Baptist had a specific role ordained by God as forerunner or precursor of Jesus, who was the foretold Messiah. The New Testament Gospels speak of this role. In Luke 1:17 the role of John is referred to as being "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord"; in Luke 1:76 as "thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways"; and in Luke 1:77, "To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins."
There are several passages within the Old Testament which are prophetic of John the Baptist, and his role in Christ's mission. Malachi prophesied the coming of John the Baptist in two passages: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts." (Malachi 3:1) And again, "I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers." (Malachi 4:5-6)
The Jews of Jesus' day expected Elijah to come before the Messiah; indeed, some modern Jews continue to await Elijah's coming as well. This is why the disciples asked Jesus (in Matthew 17:10-13), "'Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come (before the Messiah)?'
Jesus replied, 'To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have abused him as they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.' Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist."