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Daily Devotion for December 12, 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.
A Virgin Shall Conceive
And he [Isaiah] said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Notes on the Scripture
Isaiah prophesied through the reigns of four Kings of Judah. Today's passage comes from Chapter 7 of Isaiah, fairly early in a book that is 66 chapters long (second only to the Book of Psalms), but it concerns prophesy made in the second half of Isaiah's career. He was speaking to Ahaz, the third king whom he knew, and by all rights a stinker. His reign is described in 2 Kings 16.
Among his many crimes, Ahaz was an idolater and built an idolatrous altar in the Temple itself. To protect himself and Judah, he conspired with the Assyrians and basically abandoned Israel and Galilee to them. He may even have sacrificed his own son to a false god.
In this passage, Isaiah is trying vainly to open Ahaz's heart to God and to the defense of the Hebrew nations. He tells Ahaz to call for a sign from God; but Ahaz, who is not interested in what Isaiah has to say, will not even ask for a sign. It is at that point that Isaiah informs Ahaz that he has "wearied" not only his subjects, but God Himself.
Ahaz stands as a symbol (one of many) of the difficulties God has suffered with the Israelites. God is growing tired of their recalcitrance at following His laws; even the most basic commandments, that the Jews not worship false gods and graven images. But God is a God of infinite love as well as a God of wrath. He will send destruction upon Israel, repeatedly, even to the point of letting the Temple be destroyed; however, He will also send a man, who will be born of a virgin, and who shall be called Immanuel.
The name "Immanuel" is surprisingly rare in the Bible. "El" means "God" in Hebrew, and Immanuel means "God with us". Isaiah is saying that this child will be God with us, that is, God living as a man with the Hebrews.
It is an astonishing prophecy, over 700 years before the birth of Christ which fulfilled it. A virgin would in fact conceive, and the child she bore would prove to be God Himself, living as a man with us.