Daily Devotion for January 2, 2015
Ninth Day of Christmas
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.
Rector Phillips Brooks of Philadelphia, wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem in 1868, inspired by the view of Bethlehem from the hills of Palestine at night. His church organist Lewis Redner wrote the melody for the Sunday school children's choir.
1. O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie;
above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting light;
the hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.
2. For Christ is born of Mary,
and gathered all above,
while mortals sleep, the angels keep
their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together,
proclaim the holy birth,
and praises sing to God the king,
and peace to all on earth!
3. How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is given;
so God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him, still
the dear Christ enters in.
4. O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin, and enter in,
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
o come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!
Music, “ST. LOUIS” by Lewis H. Redner, 1868
Lyrics by Phillips Brooks, 1868
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.
(Click here to see the full-size image.)
Psalm 145:1-3 (NKJV)
I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.
Matthew 1:1-17 (ESV)
The Genealogy of Jesus Christ
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
Notes on the Scripture
It is important to understand this intimidating and tedious-looking introduction to the Gospel of Matthew. It is, first off, the genealogy of Jesus. It lists the line of descendants from Abraham down to the birth of Christ. This, Matthew wants us to understand, is Jesus' royal heritage. Kingship is hereditary, and a king was (and still is) expected to prove a claim to the throne by virtue of his lineage.
The lineage of all Judaism began with Abraham. David, the great king of Jewish history, thus traced his bloodline to Abraham, to demonstrate his credibility as a proper king, one anointed by God. (E.g. Ruth 4:18-22)
These are the two most important names in the genealogy, and they are stated right at the beginning. In other words, Matthew 1:1 is saying, “Here is proof that Jesus of Nazareth was the proper King of Israel.” Matthew addresses it to all, but perhaps primarily to Jews who are skeptical of Jesus' authority.
Roman Judea was not a Western democracy, where a boy could be born to poor farmers and expect to become President. Jesus was a carpenter's son from the hick town of Nazareth. Thus, when the early disciples called him “King”, outright mockery often resulted.
Jesus lived in a fixed hierarchical society. Every person knew his tribe, his land, and his place by virtue of his birth. Priests, for example, had to be from the tribe of Levi, i.e. descendants of Aaron. Even land ownership required a knowledge of one's family tree, because the Jews would have “Jubilee Years” in which all land was returned to its original family, meaning the owner had to trace his rights back to the original grant of ownership from God, in the era after Moses. Similarly, the Jews' meticulous genealogies were needed to sort out land title after they returned from 70 years of captivity in Babylon.
Matthew describes Christ's lineage through Joseph to Abraham, whereas Luke traces His ancestry all the way to Adam. Of course, in point of fact, it was actually Mary who had David's bloodline, as Joseph was Christ's stepfather. (Christ's lineage on His Father's side was impeccable!)
I'm sure you've read enough, but it needs to be said, that discussion this passage encapsulates a book's worth of reading. There are prophets, kings, apostates, idolaters, prostitutes, adulterers, and even children of incest in the royal line — not much different from a British King's heritage!