Daily Devotion for December 13, 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.
This chorus, And The Glory of the Lord from Handel's Messiah takes its text from Isaiah 40:5, prophesying the coming of Christ. This version by the Bow Valley Chorus makes up for some technical shortcomings by its outstanding spirit.
Prayer for the MorningFor the bird who sings outside my window,
For the tree that stands outside my door,
For the neighbor who waves and says "good morning",
I give you thanks dear God, for these and more,
Your blessings every morning know no limit,
Yet I often rush by not seeing them, I fear;
Let me take a moment this and every morning, God, I pray,
To see them all and know that you are here.
Prayer for Personal Conduct (from 1 Timothy)
Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy, above reproach. May I be this day temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, and not violent, but gentle. May I never be quarrelsome, always seeking peace even in disagreement, and may my love be for you and my fellow man, not for money. I pray that I manage my own household well. If I have any children in my charge, I pray to that I may take the time to see that they are in control and behaving with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. This I pray through my Lord Christ, whose love and attention ever gave us an example of conduct,
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
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 knowledge is easy to him who understands.
A Shepherd Will Be Born in Bethlehem
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.
Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son; then the rest of his brothers return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.
Notes on the Scripture
Micah was one of the twelve minor prophets of the Jewish Bible (the Tanakh), which is essentially identical to the Protestant Old Testament. He was a contemporary of Isaiah and was thus writing during the same period, when Israel and Judah were beset by the Assyrians.
Also like Isaiah, most of Micah's (comparatively short) body of work consists of condemnations and predictions of widespread destruction, due to the Hebrews' lack of faith. Idolatry and ignoring God's laws had become common. Both Micah and Isaiah promise ultimate victory when Israel returns to God.
Perhaps the most remarkable part of Micah, at least to Christians, is also something paralleled in Isaiah: a startling prediction of a savior, a man from ancient roots, who will come at some time in the future. Even more remarkably, he names the town where the child will be born: Bethlehem Ephrathah, which is the Bethlehem where Jesus was born. There was at least one other town named Bethlehem, in the north, and the little town near Jerusalem where David had lived was called "Ephrathah" to distinguish it. Micah's prophesy also includes the metaphor of a shepherd coming to protect his flock, a metaphor we associate strongly with Christ.
Jesus' connection to David is important for a practical reason. Jesus was born in Bethlehem because it was the "city of David". Because Joseph and Mary were both members of the House of David, Bethlehem was the place where they were registered and taxed, and so that was where they had to go when Caesar Augustus decreed a census. (Note: the old part of Jerusalem is also frequently called the City of David.)