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Daily Devotion for July 13, 2013

<i>The Star of Bethlehem</i> by Edward Burne-Jones, ca. 1890.
The Star of Bethlehem by Edward Burne-Jones, ca. 1890. This intensely saturated depiction of the Magi was the largest watercolor painted in the entire 19th Century. Note the depiction of the Star of Bethlehem as a light held by an angel. (See Full-sized.)



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

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.


An marvelous and authentic rendition of a popular gospel hit from the 1930s, by the Abbot Kinney Lighthouse Choir.

Prayer to Have Inner Peace in the Coming Day

Heavenly God, may I have peace within, this day;
May I trust God that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
May I not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May I use those gifts that I have received, and pass on the love that has been given to me.
May I be confident knowing I am a child of God.
Let this presence settle into my bones, and allow my soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. This I pray in Christ's name,


(~ St. Therese of Lisieux)

For Those Making All Kinds of Journeys

I  pray for all who will be making journeys today: For those who are going to a new job and for those who are going to work for the last time today; For the emergency services who will travel at high speed on land, water or in the air, to bring help to others; For those starting a new life as they move into a new home; For those travelling to or from prison; For people who will go into hospital today; For young people on their way to school, college and university; For those who are lost on the journey of life; For those who will die today and make their final journey. I remember all these people now, and ask your blessing upon them, Lord.



Holy God, I pray to be filled with your Holy Spirit for the rest of this day. Let me go forth, walking with your Spirit in my heart, that I may be filled with the joy and energy and praise for your entire creation, thankful in the many gifts you have given me, and showing forth your light in my every word and deed. This I pray in Christ's name,


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.

<i>Herod on His Throne</i> by Theophile Lybaert ca. 1883.
Herod on His Throne by Theophile Lybaert ca. 1883.

Micah 5:2,4 (KJV)

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 2:1-10 (Phillips NT)

The Magi and the Star

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, in the days when Herod was king of the province. Not long after his birth there arrived from the east a party of Magi making for Jerusalem and enquiring as they went, “Where is the child born to be king of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east and we have come here to pay homage to him.”

When King Herod heard about this he was deeply perturbed, as indeed were all the other people living in Jerusalem. So he summoned all the Jewish scribes and chief priests together and asked where “Christ” should be born. Their reply was: “In Bethlehem, in Judea, for this is what the prophet [Micah] wrote about the matter — ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel’.”

Then Herod invited the wise men to meet him privately and found out from them the exact time when the star appeared. Then he sent them off to Bethlehem saying, “When you get there, search for this little child with the utmost care. And when you have found him come back and tell me — so that I may go and worship him too.”

The wise men listened to the king and then went on their way to Bethlehem. And now the star, which they had seen in the east, went in front of them as they travelled until at last it shone immediately above the place where the little child lay. The sight of the star filled them with indescribable joy.

Notes on the Scripture

The Magi were an odd mixture of holy men, intellectuals, astrologers, and soothsayers; they were seekers after spiritual truth, rather than priests tightly bound to a specific religion. They were based primarily in Persia and Arabia. They were not so much polytheistic — worshipping a specific set of known gods — as syncretic, for they were open to many schools of thought and new ideas.

A number of Old Testament prophets foretold the coming of a Messiah, as most readers will know, and Micah correctly predicted His birthplace. But many readers of Matthew do not realize that the prophecy was widespread: practically the entire Roman and Middle Eastern had a notion that a great ruler was expected to arise in Judea.

Suetonius, a prominent 1st century Roman historian, recounted that during this time, “An ancient and positive conviction prevailed throughout the East, that the Fates had decided one should come from Judea to rule over all the world.” Even the famous Tacitus wrote of it: “Many believed, from ancient books of their priests, that at that very time the East should rise in victory, and that someone from Judea would come to assert dominion over all the land.”

Surely the Magi knew of the Jewish prophecy of a Messiah; probably, some of their scholars had actually read much of the Old Testament. This, combined with their strong interest in astrology, excited enormous interest when an unknown source of light suddenly appeared in the sky.

They called it a “star”, but we must understand this as a generic term for any source of light in the sky without distinguishable features, for it almost certainly was not a star in the strict sense. It appeared out of nowhere, came to rest directly above Bethlehem, then disappeared. There is a very strong inference that God sent some sort of light to announce Christ's birth; the physical makeup of it has no significance. (The Burne-Jones painting at the top of this page represents the star as an angel, which makes as much sense as anything.)

The Magi, or wise men, were able to deduce this very fact, with so much certainty that they prepared expensive gifts and traveled westward to visit and honor this new king; they were convinced, somehow, that it heralded the fulfillment of the prophecy. Moreover they, themselves, felt “indescribable joy” about the event; so apparently, they were convinced that this new king would indeed bring a new age of peace extending beyond Judea.

Herod, famously, had no intention of allowing a great king to exist inside his borders. With Machiavellian duplicity, he attempted to enlist the Magi as his agents. Matthew intends dramatic irony, for we immediately recognize that Herod’ intent is not to worship the Christ child, but to kill Him.

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 5:1-10 (“The Beatitudes”) (NKJV):

    And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

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