Advent Day 6
1 Thess. 4:1-12 · Luke 20:41-21:4
1 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.
4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names upon my lips.
5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage.
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I keep the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
10 For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit.
11 You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
8 For Jerusalem has stumbled
and Judah has fallen,
because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord,
defying his glorious presence.
9 The look on their faces bears witness against them;
they proclaim their sin like Sodom,
they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
For they have brought evil on themselves.
10 Tell the innocent how fortunate they are,
for they shall eat the fruit of their labors.
11 Woe to the guilty! How unfortunate they are,
for what their hands have done shall be done to them.
12 My people—children are their oppressors,
and women rule over them.
O my people, your leaders mislead you,
and confuse the course of your paths.
13 The Lord rises to argue his case;
he stands to judge the peoples.
14 The Lord enters into judgment
with the elders and princes of his people:
It is you who have devoured the vineyard;
the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people,
by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts.
You may be wondering how/if these two passages connect. We begin with strong words from the prophet Isaiah, who rebukes Jerusalem and Judah for their wickedness. Then, we move into a song of David who is seeking help from God and remembering his goodness. Let’s start by looking at verse 8 of the Isaiah reading, where the prophet explains that these kingdoms have fallen “because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence.” God’s people have completely disobeyed him and he is letting them know he has seen their rebellion. Do you remember a time when you’ve been in a situation where you’ve asked for an explanation of why you cannot do something and are met with the frustrating statement “because I said so”? Perhaps that is how we see God and his call to obedience. So often we see life with God as a bunch of rules that we have to follow. Some make sense, and some we follow just because God said so. However, what’s really at stake here is a choice to live life on our own terms or to choose his way. If we rewind back to the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve chose to ignore God’s way. When they ate the fruit, they decided to take their own path, apart from him. The result was a relational chasm, a life full of toil, and separation from God. They missed out on his glorious presence. But why should we care about God’s presence? This leads us back to the selection from Psalms. The final verse of Psalm 16 says: You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. He is the way of life. There is no other path, no matter how hard we try to figure it out on our own. Fullness of joy is not discovered in finding your bliss or pursuing your dream, but is found in God’s presence. We say yes to him, because we know that he leads us on a pathway to life.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Let the last verse of Psalm 16 be your prayer today. Begin by quieting down and then slowly read through this verse. Pause for a moment and then read it again, this time paying attention to what words or phrases stands out to you. Take this words(s) back to God and consider with him why this might be resonating with you. Read through the verse again and finish by offering this word or phrase up to God as your prayer to him. Return to this word(s) throughout your day, as a reminder to open to God’s presence.