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Daily Devotion for December 6, 2011
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.
Our fathers have told us,
The deeds You did in their days,
In days of old:
You drove out the nations with Your hand, But them You planted;
You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out.
For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword,
Nor did their own arm save them;
But it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance,
Because You favored them.
Note: Starting today, we are going to interrupt our study of Romans to prepare for Advent and Christmas. We will pick back up with Romans 14 in January.
God Tires of Empty Worship
"The multitude of your sacrifices — what are they to me?" says the Lord. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?
Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.
Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow."
"Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."
Notes on the Scripture
Isaiah was the great prophet of Christ, and it is fitting to start our Advent readings with a quote from Isaiah 1. Isaiah is easily the most quoted prophet in the New Testament, for his numerous and specific prophesies about the life of Christ, to be born 800 years later, are remarkable. His predictions were largely responsible for Christ's acceptance by so many Jews.
The first chapter of Isaiah outlines the basics of the problem facing Judaism, that is, why a Messiah was necessary. He rails against the formalities of Judaism. Speaking with the voice of God, he tells the Jews that He is sick of sacrifices and holy days. God has stopped listening to their very prayers.
At least part of the reason is hypocrisy. The Jews are spending huge amounts of time, energy, and money on worship, and yet they do not follow the law. Their deeds are evil, and the poor and helpless are oppressed.
Will God destroy Israel for its hypocrisy? That certainly seemed like a possibility at the time, and indeed, in the coming centuries, Israel would be conquered and nearly destroyed several times.
Isaiah, like many of the prophets, often speaks of Israel's destruction for its sins, and redemption for those who worship the Lord. Even in chapter one, however, there is a difference. Through him, God promises not simply to destroy the sinful and redeem the righteous. He also promises to redeem the sinful and forgive sin: "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow".
This is the first hint that Israel will be redeemed by forgiveness of sins, i.e. by God's grace, brought by a Messiah, a man descended from Jesse and David. In later passages, Isaiah will become much more specific.