Daily Devotion for December 16, 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.
Georgio Tozzi demonstrates how God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is supposed to be sung.
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.
Or stretched out our hands to a foreign god,
Would not God search this out?
For He knows the secrets of the heart.
Luke 1:18-25 (ESV)
Birth of John the Baptist Foretold 
And Zechariah said to the angel, "How can I believe this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."
And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."
And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, "Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people."
Notes on the Scripture
This passage has always made me smile. Imagine finding an archangel standing in your living room, telling you something. Would you tell him "I'm having a hard time believing what you say?" But that is what Zechariah does. Not that his faith is weak; the verses before inform us that he was "righteous before God", a model Jew, as it were. He is simply skeptical about his wife having a child because of their age.
And his punishment for his is ironic: here he has seen an angel and knows about a miracle that will occur, but he can't tell anyone about it! Imagine his frustration.
Elizabeth keeps her pregnancy a secret. She is, first off, overjoyed. Women of that time who did not have children were somewhat looked down upon (and the woman always got the blame, although this was only partially due to male pride — people were utterly ignorant about how conception worked). But, remember, it was Zechariah, her husband, who knew what was happening, and he had been rendered speechless for questioning Gabriel's credibility. So Elizabeth simply took it as a miracle. Although she knew God was involved, she did not know exactly how remarkable her child was to be.