Daily Devotion for December 11, 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.
Our "Sunday Virtual Church" takes us to beautiful Lichfield Cathedral, one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Great Britain. The choir sings a traditional advent hymn, updated by John Wesley himself.
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Father, I thank you this morning for all that I have. Even if I have problems with my health, I am alive today. If I have money problems, I will eat today. I have clothes to wear, a roof to protect me, and air to breathe. Let me never take for granted these gifts of life, oh Lord, but always remember that they come from you; without you, no man could make the sun shine or the tree bear its fruit. I pray to live this day in joy and thankfulness for what I have, remembering always who made me and who keeps me. In the name of Christ I pray,
For our Enemies
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer of Surrender
All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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.
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
Isaiah 59:15-21 (ESV)
Judgment and Redemption of Israel
The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.
He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment.
So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives.
"And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression," declares the Lord.
"And as for me, this is my covenant with them," says the Lord: "My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring," says the Lord, "from this time forth and forevermore."
Notes on the Scripture
Isaiah ("Esais" in Greek) was a remarkable man and prophet. His very name means "God is salvation" and he lived for over 80 years; his prophecies may have spanned a period as long as 64 years. During that time, he "wore two hats", either of which would have made him monumentally important.
His first function was as the spiritual driving force behind the salvation of Jerusalem; in this, he filled a role that others before and after him had done: chastising Israel for its sins, creating a revival of dedication to worship under the old covenant, and girding Israel to meet a great invader.
The first part of today's passage illustrates that role; he preaches that the Lord Himself will intercede against a great army of Assyria, which had already conquered the northern kingdoms of Samaria and Israel and was threatening Judah. And, indeed, the army of Judah did not simply win its freedom, but destroyed a massive Assyrian army (non-Biblical historians have estimated as many as 180,000 Assyrians were killed) and forever broke the power of the Assyrian king.
But more important to us during Advent, Isaiah was the primary prophet of Christ. The first part of today's passage hints at this, for it depicts God coming to earth himself, because "there was no one to intercede" for the Jews.
He then predicts that a Redeemer will come to Israel and save those who "turn from transgression". His Spirit will be among them, and His word will be in their mouths forever. It is hard not to interpret this as a promise of Christ, for "the Word" is a common synonym for Christ (such as in John 1:1-2) and one of the key elements of Christian belief is the receiving of the Holy Spirit, by baptism (or symbolized by baptism).