From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth--he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you.
God is watching us every minute of every day. No earthly ruler, president, governor, or mayor can say that they watch over us nor cares for us like God does. Therefore, we should not but our hope in earthly rulers which cannot compare to how much God loves us. This psalm speaks of armies that protects the kingdom for a king. But no army or warrior can protect us like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But, “we wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice.” Today is a day for rejoicing in the hope that Jesus gives us, filling us with confidence of His unfailing love and protection.
Additional optional readings, Psalms 12, 13, 14, Isaiah 2:1-11, 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20, Luke 20:19-26
Thursday, December 6th, Psalm 39:4-13
"Show me, LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. "Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be. "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools. I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for you are the one who has done this. Remove your scourge from me; I am overcome by the blow of your hand. When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin, you consume their wealth like a moth-- surely everyone is but a breath. "Hear my prayer, LORD, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping. I dwell with you as a foreigner, a stranger, as all my ancestors were. Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again before I depart and am no more."
This materialistic world offers many temptations of physical pleasures and financial hording. This Psalm warns us not to be foolish. It reminds us that our life is limited, and we should not focus on the worldly goods but prepare for the life to come. We can with confidence put our hope in Christ’s saving grace forgiving us all our transgressions. As we prepare for the coming of our Lord and Savior, we can think of the words from the Gospel according to St. John, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Joh 3:16 NIV) Hope is a wonderful thing to have, especially when you can trust with confidence that what you are hoping for will happen. We can find that security in Christ. God has always kept His promises and by sending His only Son to be born, live with us, and then die for us is all we need to rest assuredly in our salvation.
Additional optional readings, Psalm 18, Isaiah 2:5-22, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13, Luke 20 20:27-40
Friday, December 7th, Psalm 130
A song of ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
As Christians we know and accept that we are sinner. Martin Luther tells us that we are simultaneously saints because of the forgiveness of our sins paid for by the Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And by the love of God we are also sanctified by the Holy Spirit. If God keeps a record of all our sins the list would too long for us to imagine and God would be justified to turn His back on all of us. Not one “could stand.” But we are told by the psalmist to wait with our whole being and to put our hope in God’s Word. We can assuredly put our hope in the Lord “for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption.” Today we give thanks for the unfailing love of redemption that our Triune God gives us purely and solely because of His love for us. Let us share this hope and love of redemption with our family and friends.
Additional option readings, Psalms 16 and 17, Isaiah 3:8-15, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, Luke 20:41-21:4.
Saturday, December 8th, Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
The 23rd Psalms is undoubtedly the most recognized psalm and used most often at funeral. The reason it is so popular is because it speaks of hope. A hope that is based on God’s love. He provides for us in green pastures and refreshes us not in a materialistic way but spiritually. With His Word given to us in the Bible he provides a path of righteousness. This psalm tells that we need not fear evil or the darkest of times because the good shepherd will comfort and protect us with His rod and staff. But the most striking message of this psalm is that our Lord anoints us with oil like royalty. Reminding us of our baptism that we are anointed and made part of the Body of Christ with those words that we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. We have been sealed with hope to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Let us remember the hope that Christ gives us because of His sacrifice we are gifted with eternal life. We can share this hope with those that have lost a loved one. Confident in hope to be rejoined with those saints that have gone before us.
Additional option readings, Psalms 20 and 21, Isaiah 4:2-6, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Luke 21:5-19
The gift of hope that God freely gives us is because of His great love which leads us to next weeks devotions and the second candle representing Christ love for us.
The Second week of Advent, and the second candle represents Christ’s quality of love. This week we will examine God’s love for us and how we can share this love with those around us.
Second Sunday of Advent, Psalm 146
Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, my soul. I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them-- he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Joh 3:16 NIV)
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, … So, God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” God created us He did not need us as companions nor for amusement, His motivation was purely because of His love. St. John tells us that God sent His only Son because of that love. And Jesus obediently became the sacrificial lamb to atone for our sins and give us eternal life. Therefore, we give Him praise and glory for the gift of this world, the gift of life, and for the gift of His only Son our Lord Jesus Christ giving us the gift of salvation. Last week we looked at the hope that Christ brings us, this week we learn that the hope Christ brings us is from His great love for us. This eighth day of Advent we can show our appreciation by sharing this love with our sisters and brothers in Christ. As we prepare for the birth of our savior we can strengthen or establish new relationships within the church community.
Monday, December 10, Psalm 147:3-11
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. 11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (Joh 10:10-11 NIV)
God did not create the world and then go on vacation. He continues to create and guide us. Every new birth is a new creation. Within each of us God continues to guide us in our creativeness by the gifts of our abilities and talents. Some people are teachers, others are protectors. We can use these gifts by sharing God’s love with others. When we think of those who wear a uniform whether it be in law enforcement or in the military, whether within our borders of on foreign soil they risk their lives to protect and serve the citizens of this great country. On this second day of Advent we can share Christ’s love by expressing our appreciation to someone in law enforcement by saying “thank you” if you meet them in the community. We can also send a thank you note to someone serving in the military or donate to the U.S.O. A simple gesture or a few pennies is no comparison of God’s gift of love to us with the death of His Son, Jesus on the cross.
Additional readings: Psalms; 25, 9, 15, Isaiah 5:8-12and 18-23, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Luke 21:20-28