Daily Devotion for December 15, 2011
Catholic: Feast of the Immaculate Conception
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
I bless you for the day you have made, Mighty Lord God, and pray that I may spend this day rejoicing in your creation. I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill me with the joy of my salvation, so that your light may shine through me into the world, that your honor and glory may be known to all people.
Remind me of your blessings, I pray, with every tribulation I may face, so that I may act with energy, forgiveness and love, ever mindful of the grace You have shown to me. Through Christ I pray,
For Those in the Armed Forces
Almighty God, I commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now the God of patience and consolation grant us to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Birth of John the Baptist
The Power of Words
A cruel word may wreck a life
A timely word may level stress
A loving word may heal and bless.
Luke 1:5-17 (ESV)
Birth of John the Baptist Foretold 
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.
And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."
Notes on the Scripture
There are, throughout the Bible, a few extraordinary men who are destined to serve God before they are conceived. Often they are born to women past their child-bearing years, so that others will know that their very conception is miraculous. Samuel and Isaac are examples; and Samson, whose mother was also told not to let him drink wine, is even closer.
But unlike any of these other men of extraordinary birth, John does not have a commission of salvation in his own life, so much as a role to prepare society for the coming of another. Although he will have the spirit and power of Elijah, perhaps the holiest man in the history of the Hebrews, his sanctity is preparation for one to come whose holiness is absolute: the Son of God.
But we are getting ahead of the passage. John the Baptist was eclipsed in importance by Christ, but Luke here wants us to see what a great prophet John was, in his own right. He was the last of the Hebrew prophets. He would be a man of enormous spirit, bringing thousands back to the God of Moses and filling Israel with a spirit of righteousness. He was the equivalent of a great Christian revivalist, a man touched by God from before his birth, who was pre-ordained to lead Israel out of the morass of sin and disobedience into which it had fallen.