Advent Devotional: Day 12

Advent 2021
Day 12: Thursday, December 9, 2021

Opening Prayer

“Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Book of Common Prayer 2019)

Scripture Reading

Psalm 37:1-9

Do not fret because of those who are evil

or be envious of those who do wrong;

for like the grass they will soon wither,

like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Take delight in the Lord,

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,

your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord

and wait patiently for him;

do not fret when people succeed in their ways,

when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;

do not fret—it leads only to evil.

For those who are evil will be destroyed,

but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

The Great Tradition

The “land” here indicates the heart of the listener and his soul. We are ordered, therefore, to indwell this land, that is, not to stray far from it, not to run to and fro, far and near, but to dwell and to stand firm within the bounds of our spirits and to consider the land very carefully and to become its tiller just as Noah was and to plant in it the vine and till the land that is within us, “to renew the fallowed ground of our spirits and sow not among the thorns.” Namely, let us purge our spirit from faults, and let us refine rough and harsh ways with the gentleness and the imitation of Christ, and thus finally we may feed from its wealth. (Origen)

Prayer of Confession

“O God, we give you thanks for the gift of love which you have bestowed upon us with the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ, whose birth we are preparing to celebrate. We know that nothing can separate us from your love, for your love is stronger than all the forces of evil. Forgive us, therefore, when we doubt the power of your love, and trust instead in the power of might, the weapons of war and destruction. Strengthen our convictions and make us instruments of your peace. Amen.” (H. Burnham Kirkland)

Reflection

I love the order of this Psalm.

  • Verse 1 – Do not fret…
  • Verse 3 – Trust in the Lord and do good…
  • Verse 4 – Take delight in the Lord…
  • Verse 5 – Commit your way to the Lord; Trust in him…
  • Verse 7 – Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…
  • Verses 7-8 – Do not fret and refrain from anger…
  • Verse 9 – Hope in the Lord…

How can you abstain from fretting and becoming angry and, instead, hope in the Lord? The Psalmist’s answer is, trust in him, take delight in him, commit your way to him, be still before him, and wait patiently for him. Each of these should be meditated upon. In fact, plan on doing that before the sun goes down today. Take one of these verses and ponder its significance and application in your life.

For example, what changes would have to be made in your life to “trust in the Lord and do good,” and to “dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture” (verse 3)? It never occurred to me what Origen said about the land being the heart and soul of the listener. He then directs us to nurture this land. We should tend the soil of our heart and soul and not stray into other lands where such attention will no longer be maintained and thus, allow weeds to grow. I can’t help but think of Jesus’ parables of the Sower and the Weeds found in Matthew 13:1-30.

Another question to ask God about this text, perhaps an even better one, would be to ask what blessings would flow into your life by “trusting, doing, dwelling, and enjoying” in this way. Moreover, what blessings would flow from your life into the lives of others because you are tending the garden of your heart and soul and enjoying its fruit? That’s a lot for us to think about and that’s just skating along the surface of only one part of one verse. So, let me encourage you to spend some time on these verses today and prayerfully discern which of them God is using to speak to you at this time and place in your life.

Walking Points

  • Today’s “walking points” application is to do what I’ve already suggested. Read and reread these verses and prayerfully consider them. Which of these jumps off the page at you? Pray over it. What images come to mind as you read these words? What thoughts?
  • After you spend time doing that, spend a few moments reading some study notes on the verse from your Study Bible or a reliable online source. Sometimes the notes and commentary will explain historical details that will help you better understand the text. Sometimes they will assist you in applying these truths in your life in ways you may not have thought of.
  • But most importantly, pray for the Spirit of the Living God to speak to you as you meditate upon his Word. Pray for him to lead and empower you to hear and obey. And don’t forget, the time you spend with God will draw you into a deeper and closer relationship with him. And that’s the best part!

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