This is the first Sunday in Advent, the beginning of the season in which Christians throughout the world prepare for a fuller, richer celebration of the birth of Jesus. Advent is a time of expectation, waiting, and hope. During the four weeks before Christmas, we put ourselves back into the mindset of the Jews as they yearned for a Messiah two millennia ago. Moreover, we get in touch with our own hope for the second coming of the Messiah. (The word advent comes from a Latin word that means “coming” or “visit.”)
Today is the last day of the year. Yes, yes, I know we’re still in November, and the calendar doesn’t change for another 33 days. But, today is truly the last day of the so-called Christian year (sometimes called the liturgical year or the church year). The yearly cycle of worship, Scripture, and prayer that centers in the life of Jesus is coming to an end. Tomorrow, a new year begins with the season of Advent.
Yes, I know Thanksgiving Day has passed. The festivities of yesterday are over. Chances are you’ll be eating leftovers today and perhaps cleaning up after your relatives or driving home from grandma’s house.
Nevertheless, today is a day for giving thanks. In fact, every day is a day for giving thanks.
On this Thanksgiving Day, Americans are encouraged to pause and give thanks to God. In his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln wrote: “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.”
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, so I have set apart this whole week for devotions on gratitude. Today, I want to consider a verse from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (5:18).
I might say that I struggle with expressing gratitude to God. Yet, in truth, my problem isn’t a lack of gratitude so much as a failure to think about God’s gifts to me. When I actually take time to consider God’s grace in my life, when I actually remember the ways he has saved, healed, and transformed me, then gratitude flows quite easily. For me the formula is simple: Time + Remembering = Gratitude.
Beginning today, we’re going to take a short break from our slow devotional walk through Genesis in order to focus on giving thanks to the Lord. As most of my readers know, this coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day for residents of the United States. It is a day for us to express our gratitude to God for his many blessings. At least that’s the idea.
Today is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday in the Christian year (or church year or liturgical year). Millions of believers throughout the world focus today on the coming of God’s kingdom as we worship Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. Today is, in fact, the last Sunday of the Christian year. Next Sunday we begin the new year with the first Sunday of Advent. (Even if you do not follow the Christian year, I can think of no better devotional focus than the royalty of Christ.)
Using insights from psychologist Daniel Levinson, I’ve suggested that Jacob is a great example of a man in the middle of what Levinson calls BOOM: becoming one’s own man…
The title of this devotion will make absolutely no sense to you if you missed the devotions from Wednesday and Thursday. So, let me supply a bit of context…