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Daily Devotion for December 29, 2010
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.
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.
Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow.
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 suriving 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.
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 had been, and Joseph was justified in fearing him.
Thus, instead of returning to Judea, Joseph traveled to Nazareth, a town in Gallilee. 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. Herod Antipas is the one who eventually would allow his wife's daughter, Salome, to demand the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter. 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 town in Gallilee (which was considered a separate country under Roman rule). This all fit in perfectly with the messainic 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 Archalaus 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.)