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Inspirational Image of the Day

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

Holy God, as I face another day, I know I am going to face many challenges: to my faith, to my patience, to my love for others. I am going to have constant temptations to lapse into sin. Come to me now, Lord, and stay with me all day. Let your Spirit encompass my mind. Let me know your presence. Steer my hand, direct my words, guide my thoughts in everything I think and say and do. I resolve to live this day as a beacon of your glory, the best I can, with your help. I commit myself to give this day to you. In the name of Christ, be with me and help me.
Amen.


Micah 5:1-5 (ESV)
The Ruler to Be Born in Bethlehem

Now muster your troops, O city of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.

Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.

And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.

And he shall be their peace.


Notes on the Scripture

Micah lived roughly 700 years before the birth of Christ. Here he predicts that the savior of Israel will be born in the tiny town of Bethlehem Ephrathah. There were two towns called “Bethlehem” in Canaan; one of them had been previously called Ephrathah, so Micah uses the word to specify which of them he meant. And there is no confusion — this is the exact town in which Christ was born seven centuries later. The area was actually famous from very early in Hebrew history, as the birthplace of Benjamin (and the home of the small tribe that remained under the rule of David’s blood descendants after the split of the Kingdom of Israel). (See Genesis 35.)

This passage is, truly, one of the great miracles of the Bible, for it is historically proven that the prophecy was made prior to 701 BC, when Micah died. The birth of Jesus of Nazareth in that very town, and his role as the savior of Israel (and all of humanity), standing and shepherding his flock in the strength of the Lord, “great to the ends of the earth,” can be nothing except the fulfillment of this ancient prophecy.

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

Oh Holy God, look down upon me, a miserable sinner, and forgive me for the terrible things that I do, against your love for us and against the love that you have commanded us to show for our brothers and sisters. The people of the world are your holy and beautiful children, oh Lord, and I am one of them also. I pray that you will fill me so full of your might and love that I will not sin against myself or anybody else, this day, or ever; but if I do, I plead with you, give me that undeserved grace you showed by the life and sacrifice of your Son, my Lord, Jesus Christ.
Amen.


Isaiah 32:1-8 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)
A King Shall Reign in Justice

Behold a king shall reign in justice, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as when one is hid from the wind, and hideth himself from a storm, as rivers of waters in drought, and the shadow of a rock that standeth out in a desert land.

The eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken diligently. And the heart of fools shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of stammerers shall speak readily and plain. The fool shall no more be called prince: neither shall the deceitful be called great.

For the fool will speak foolish things, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and speak to the Lord deceitfully, and to make empty the soul of the hungry, and take away drink from the thirsty.

The vessels of the deceitful are most wicked: for he hath framed devices to destroy the meek, with lying words, when the poor man speaketh judgment. But the prince will devise such things as are worthy of a prince, and he shall stand above the rulers.


Notes on the Scripture

In this passage, Isaiah once more devises an elaborate poem filled with rich metaphor, in order to tell of the time when the wrongs of the world will be righted by a king (who will not be born until 700 years later). Anyone who has seen injustice in the world immediately recognizes what Isaiah means, when he says that deceitful rulers have “framed devices to destroy the meek” — that is, have set up ways to use and impoverish others who are weaker, poorer, or not as smart, even when they speak the truth.

But Christ will stand above the fools who work iniquity and practice hypocrisy, those who “take away drink from the thirsty.” They will no more be called princes or be great; instead, they will try to hide, like men trying to escape a storm by hiding behind a rock.

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

I sit here with my to-do list in my mind, Lord, and I know I need help finding a balance. I am so looking forward to Christmas Day, but, Lord, there is so much to do! When will it all get done? How will I maintain any semblance of inner peace in this “peaceful” season?

I think, Lord, that I need some balance in my life. I feel so torn between wanting to cook and fill my house with wonderful welcoming smells, and wanting to decorate my home. I have shopping to do, and cleaning, and cards to write and mail. When? How?

Help me, guide me, Lord. Help me to set priorities around doing those things that will bring me closer to you. Maybe my home really is clean enough, or maybe I can ask my family or friends for help. Can the cards wait until a quiet afternoon after Christmas? Can my decorations be simpler? Is there more than a little ego involved in all of this?

Help me remember the joy of simplicity, Lord. Help me to remember what I am celebrating. Help me to find it in my heart to call out, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Amen.


Psalm 138:6 (NKJV)

Though the Lord is on high,
yet He regards the lowly;
but the proud He knows from afar.


Isaiah 27:1-6 (ESV)
The Whole World Will Be Filled with Fruit

In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea. In that day,

“A pleasant vineyard, sing of it!
I, the Lord, am its keeper;
every moment I water it.
Lest anyone punish it,
I keep it night and day;

I have no wrath.

Would that I had thorns and briers to battle!
I would march against them,
I would burn them up together.
Or let them lay hold of my protection,
let them make peace with me,
let them make peace with me.”

In days to come Jacob shall take root,
Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots
and fill the whole world with fruit.”


Notes on the Scripture

Isaiah is so poetic in his prophecies that he is often hard to follow. Here he foretells the day when God will destroy the evils of earth, with the metaphor of God slaying Leviathan, a mythical sea monster. This is Satan, which he makes clear by describing him as a “fleeing serpent,” but he calls his name “Leviathan” to evoke enormous size and strength, a creature that is not vulnerable to human attack.

In that same day — and like much of the Old Testament, “day” is used to mean a period of time, not necessarily 24 hours — God’s wrath will end. Isaiah recalls the Garden of Eden here, but in the Day of Judgment, God will keep the garden protected from intruders who might tempt or taint the purity of those within it. Adam and Eve will not need to face temptation again.

God’s wrath will then end. If there were “thorns and briers to battle” — objects that invade a garden and are harmful to people — His wrath would remain; he would fight against them and destroy them, or else give them the chance to make peace with Him and come under His protective wing.

Again, this is a fanciful and poetic treatment, for Isaiah depicts God speaking as if He were a king who has subdued all of his lands and is thinking back to the days of war against his enemies. He dreams of how he would treat them, how he might destroy those who oppose him and make peace with those who would kneel to him.

Finally, Isaiah prophesies that the root of Jacob will put forth shoots and fill the world with fruit. (Notice that Isaiah, by likening salvation to fruit, continues the metaphor of the garden.) Jacob, also called “Israel,” was Christ’s ancestor. He was Christ’s physical ancestor, a line traced over thousands of years through Jesse and David. But more importantly, he was Christ’s spiritual ancestor, as his offspring were the keepers of the covenant with God described in the Old Testament.

This is the part of the Scripture that relates to Christmas. It was never God’s intention that the Jews should save the earth; the Old Covenant, in and of itself, was restricted to a very few people, a cohesive race, so that they might come to know and fear God. But someday, Israel will “fill the whole world with fruit,” an idea very different from the covenant of God with the Hebrews where the “fruit” was available only to the Jews. With the birth of Christ, a great transition will occur, for only with Christ will the fruit of salvation fill the world and be available to all people.

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