Daily Devotion for December 22, 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.
The original version of Oh Holy Night.
Martin Luther's Prayer for Morning
I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me.
Thanks for the Life of Christ
Almighty God, I thank you for the life and teachings of your only Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is amazing to me that he lived and walked among us, one of us, a mortal man who bled and felt pain, who felt anger and love, who would become tired and hungry. Your love in showing us that you would share the burdens of mortality is great.
Although the terrible beating and torture, and long painful death, that he suffered at the hands of the powerful was a terrible thing, his ultimate victory in overcoming that death was the greatest victory in the history of mankind. I praise you for Christ's resurrection and victory, and for his promise to all people, that he will intercede for us at our death, and bring us to eternal life. Today I remember and celebrate His resurrection, giving all glory to Father, Son and Holy Spirit for this miracle and the redemption of our own lives. Through Christ I pray,
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
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.
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 11
The Year of God's Favor
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
* * *
That they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.
Notes on the Scripture
As we come into the heart of Christmas season, we celebrate the promise of new life amidst the dark death of winter. The star of Bethlehem is like a little sun, a promise of a sun that will certainly rise and overcome the sleeping world around us. Isaiah was led to see this promise many centuries before it rose; he was a prophet of Christ 750 years before Christ was born.
If you have read much of Isaiah, it seems to be filled with predictions of wrath and destruction, God's wrath against those who would deny Him. But really, this is not how the book ends. Isaiah's final message is one of hope that can be found in even the worst of times; and Israel was to know times that were more terrible than most of us can imagine, when all of Israel was devastated, killed by swords, or taken into captivity as slaves.
These times, especially the invasion of Israel by Babylon, were still in the future during Isaiah's life; they are why so much of his prophecy is grim and frightening. But always, he holds out the promise of a rising star in the distant future. In the passage today, he tells us his ultimate purpose. Yes, he was sent to warn Israel of the devastation it would suffer from its idolatry; but even more, he was sent to bring God's promise of a savior from the suffering.
His final message is one of comfort to all who suffer. Christ, and those who follow Him, will repair the ruined cities. Like plants growing back in a ruined garden, they will be the source of "righteousness and praise to sprout up before all nations".
We must never forget the ultimate salvation that comforts us in time of difficulty, no matter how terrible it may be; for remember, Isaiah was telling people to have hope, in a time worse than anything we will ever have to face, when an entire nation would be murdered by men with swords or taken into slavery in a foreign land. Nor should we ever forget the last paragraph today; God's purpose for us is that we stand at the heart of rebuilding His earth and that we be the source of righteousness and praise before all nations.