Daily Devotion for January 3, 2015
Tenth 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.
Morning Prayer of George Washington
Almighty God, and most merciful father, who commanded the children of Israel to offer a daily sacrifice to thee, that thereby they might glorify and praise thee for thy protection both night and day; receive, O Lord, my morning sacrifice which I now offer up to thee. I yield thee humble and hearty thanks that thou has preserved me from the danger of the night past, and brought me to the light of the day, and the comforts thereof, a day which is consecrated to thine own service and for thine own honor.
Let my heart, therefore, Gracious God, be so affected with the glory and majesty of it, that I may not do my own works, but wait on thee, and discharge those weighty duties thou require of me.
And since thou art a God of pure eyes, and will be sanctified in all who draw near to thee, who does not regard the sacrifice of fools, nor hear sinners who tread in thy courts: Pardon, I beseech thee, my sins, remove them from thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept of me for the merits of thy son Jesus Christ, that when I come into thy temple, and compass thine altar, my prayers may come before thee as incense.
And as thou would hear me calling upon thee in my prayers, so give me grace to hear thee calling on me in thy word, that it may be wisdom, righteousness, reconciliation and peace to the saving of the soul in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Grant that I may hear it with reverence, receive it with meekness, mingle it with faith, and that it may accomplish in me, Gracious God, the good work for which thou have sent it.
Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God & guide this day and for ever for his sake, who lay down in the Grave and arose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord,
For Those Who Suffer
God of time and of eternity, in your hands you hold the souls of the righteous, and in your heart there is room for all people; shine forth upon all who are tried in the furnace of suffering and illness, and especially on those for whom I pray today; in your grace and mercy may we know that you watch over us; bring us at the last to abide with you in love; I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
[The reality of those less fortunate than I.]
O good shepherd, seek me out, and bring me home to your fold again. Deal favourably with me according to your good pleasure, until I may dwell in your house all the days of my life, and praise you forever and ever with them that are there.
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.
New Year’s Resolutions
Resolution One: I will live for God.
Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.
~ Jonathan Edwards, 1737
Luke 2:22-24, 36-40 (NKJV)
Anna Bears Witness to the Redeemer
Now when the days of Mary's purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
A pair of turtle doves
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Notes on the Scripture
The details of Anna's life are not completely clear. She would normally have been betrothed before she was 14 (twelve and a half was common), but marriage as we know it, with the parties living and sleeping together, would usually occur at least a year after the betrothal. It is a good guess that she became fully married at age 14 or 15. So what this passage means is that she was widowed at age 21 (approximately).
The verse does not specify whether she was 84 years old, or had been a widow for 84 years, which would make her 105. You could fairly argue either age. It was not impossible for a woman to live to 105; there are known instances of people living active lives at that age in parts of the world little different from Roman Israel.
But the important point is that she had lived for a very long time like a medieval nun, cloistered in the Temple, devoted entirely to worship. She had strong spiritual credentials; she was a proven holy woman.
Why is this passage even worth recounting? It would have been much more important to the Jews of the day than it is to us. In important cases, such as murder, a court decision would only be given on the testimony of “two or three witnesses”. (Deut. 19:15) Thus, along with Simeon, two people have borne witness to Jesus' holiness when he was brought to the Temple for his birth sacrifice.
Luke is trying to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, ordained before his birth. Anna's testimony is less compelling than Simeon's, but it was important enough for Luke to have included it.
(Note that “two turtledoves”, the birth sacrifice for Jesus, is included in the secular Christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas.)