Advent Devotion for December 4
Candle Lighter says: “We are mocked by our neighbors,”
Response: “an object of scorn and derision to those around us.”
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 79
1 O God, pagan nations have conquered your land,
your special possession.
They have defiled your holy Temple
and made Jerusalem a heap of ruins.
2 They have left the bodies of your servants
as food for the birds of heaven.
The flesh of your godly ones
has become food for the wild animals.
3 Blood has flowed like water all around Jerusalem;
no one is left to bury the dead.
4 We are mocked by our neighbors,
an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
5 O Lord, how long will you be angry with us? Forever?
How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you—
on kingdoms that do not call upon your name.
7 For they have devoured your people Israel,
making the land a desolate wilderness.
8 Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors!
Let your compassion quickly meet our needs,
for we are on the brink of despair.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation!
Help us for the glory of your name.
Save us and forgive our sins
for the honor of your name.
10 Why should pagan nations be allowed to scoff,
asking, “Where is their God?”
Show us your vengeance against the nations,
for they have spilled the blood of your servants.
11 Listen to the moaning of the prisoners.
Demonstrate your great power by saving those condemned to die.
12 O Lord, pay back our neighbors seven times
for the scorn they have hurled at you.
13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will thank you forever and ever,
praising your greatness from generation to generation.
SOME THOUGHTS: Have you ever been happy when bad guys got what they deserved? And in contrast, I’ve been frustrated when they “got away with it!” This psalm addresses the nations, cultures, and people who reject the rule of Christ. God’s plan is that people would submit to the rule of Christ in their lives even now. Whether it’s the people or the actual land, Israel has been a place of unrest and turmoil. There is another “land” that is under current attack by those who despise Christianity. Make no mistake; Christianity is rejected by this world as bigoted, narrow, and intolerant. This psalm describes our world accurately. Christianity is mocked, scorned, and derided (v.4). We are, as a people, in need of repentance (v.8,9). A modern-day version of (v.10) is “How can a loving God let something like Harvey, Irma, Maria, or the Las Vegas shooting happen. Either God doesn’t care or He is impotent.” Asaph pleads with the Lord to pay back the mockers and cynics seven times. Seven reflects perfection, completeness. So the writer asks God to pay his adversaries back “in full.” (v.12) Within all of us, there is a sense of justice, a jealousy that God would be honored. The unrepentant arrogant will receive justice. The repentant sinner will receive forgiveness and mercy. Living a life of repentance, obedience, and humility brings glory to God. He will take care of those who reject Him, if not in this life, when He returns to reign in power and set up His kingdom. Every knee will bow before the King of kings and Lord of lords. Our God is merciful and just. The cross is the proof.
MUSIC: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day by Casting Crowns (in our Christmas Concert Dec. 10th - 4 PM) (YouTube)
PRAYER: (Based on a prayer of a Chinese woman who had just learned to read.)
Gracious Lord, we live in a world estranged from you. Their eyes and minds are fixed on their phones and other devices. Often the people around us give scarce attention to you or to your Scriptures. Put simply, reading the Bible is not part of their life. They are in certain danger of judgment. In the words of this Chinese woman: “We are going home to many who cannot read. So, Lord, make us to be Bibles so that those who cannot read the Book, can read it in us.” Lord Jesus, we are the only “Holy Book” many people will read today. May my life reflect Jesus. Amen.