Today is the second Sunday in Advent, a season in which we prepare for Christmas by remembering just how much we need God. In particular, we need God to save us by forgiving our sins. Psalm 130 reassures us that this is exactly what God will do for us, thus inviting us to wait upon the Lord and put our hope in him.
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.
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.”
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.)
Today, I’d like to base this devotion on two verses from Psalm 22. In the first verse (22:2), the psalmist laments God’s lack of response to his desperate prayers. Even though he has called out to God day and night, God has not answered. The second verse (22:24) seems almost to contradict the first, affirming God’s attention to those who cry for help in their suffering.
May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.” Psalm 20:4 Psalm 20 is a prayer for the king of Israel. In this prayer, the psalmist asks God to grant the desires of the king’s heart and to make all of his plans succeed. That’s a fine request, to be … Read More
Growing up, one of my heroes was a Presbyterian pastor named Ben Patterson. He was the speaker at many of the Christian conferences I attended as a teenager. I was gripped by his theological insight and poetic skill. When I began work as a young pastor, I listened to dozens of Ben’s tapes, seeking to learn from him how to be an effective communicator of the Gospel.