Daily Devotion for December 21, 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.
Understanding the Bible
"Don't worry about what you do not understand in the Bible. Worry about what you do understand but do not live by."
~ Corrie Ten Boom
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Notes on the Scripture
The Song of Zechariah (sometimes called "Zachary") is the second of three long songs in Luke, praising God for the coming of Christ. These are often used in church services, where they are called canticles (which simply means hymns taken from the Bible).
The first verse is familiar territory to anyone who has been reading Romans, as we have. It speaks to the basics of our faith, the underpinnings of how Christ came to be born in Israel after a process that took thousands of years.
The second verse addresses the particular role of John, who has just been born. Remember, yesterday the Scripture ended with Zachariah's neighbors asking, "What then will this child be?" Here, he answers their question. They child will be a prophet of God, going before Him to prepare the way.
He then give us a nice image: The sunrise will visit us from heaven, to bring light to those who live in darkness and death. It is the dawn of a new day, and will usher in peace and freedom from fear.
Like Jesus, we know almost nothing of John's early years. We have only the one sentence at the end; he became strong in spirit and went to live in the wilderness long before he began to preach and baptize.