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Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2019  (Read 1423 times)

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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2019
« on: December 16, 2019, 01:10:42 pm »


Let the Psalms Be Your Guide This Advent

In Old Testament poetry, we find echoes of our deepest longings.

Whenever Christmas rolls around, I get a little sad. I look back and am encouraged in the ways God worked in the past year, but also acutely aware of the things still hoped for—the things yet unseen (2 Cor. 4:18; Heb. 11). I look back and have hope. I look forward and ache.

One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” I tend to be a melancholy person, so a song in a minor key speaks my language of angst. But I think another reason it resonates with me is because it contains echoes of our collective longing. I find a kinship in this haunting song because, like the ancient Israelites, I am also mourning in exile, waiting for the Son of God to appear. I count myself among the “weary souls” we sing about in “O Holy Night.” I am waiting for Christ to return, and every unanswered prayer in my life today is a reminder that his return is still an awaited longing in my own soul.

This is also why I am drawn to the Psalms. At Advent, we often gravitate toward the same passages—Matthew’s genealogy, Luke 1–2, and the prophecies in Isaiah. But the Psalms have been a comfort to God’s people since this first songbook was put to parchment. They were the songs of ancient Israel as they were forced into exile and longed for their return. They were the songs of Israel’s greatest king as he faced persecution, struggles to ascend to the throne, and even his own sinfulness. They lived thousands of years before us, but they too were waiting for the Christ to come. And in their waiting, they sang of their experience. They sang of their questions. They sang of their sorrows. And they sang of their hope.

The Psalms continue to be the songs we sing or read in our moments of deep anguish and times of great joy. But they also have something to teach us during Advent.

First, the Psalms instruct us to remember. Scripture helps us to remember the story of how God has worked in his people from Creation to Christ (Ps. 89, 90, 114, 124). Israel was called repeatedly to remember how God had delivered them over and over again (Ps. 103:2–5). Christians are called to the very same remembrance. We remember our salvation Sunday after Sunday when we preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. We remember our Savior’s birth at Christmas. We even remember the personal ways he has worked in our lives.

In 1 Samuel 7, the prophet Samuel set up a stone of remembrance—an Ebenezer stone—to call the Israelites to remember God’s deliverance of them from the Philistines. They had the Ebenezer stone as a continual reminder that God saves. The Psalms contain similar “stones” of remembrance. There are entire Psalms that recount Israel’s history. There are Psalms that remember what God has done personally in the life of the psalmist. There are Psalms that look back only to have the faith to be sustained in the future (Ps. 66, 116).

Advent, too, calls us to remember. In our pain we need to remember that we have a God who saves (Ps. 68:20). In our grief, we need to remember that we have a God who raises the dead (Ps. 27:13). In our joy, we need to remember that we have a God who gives good things to his people (Ps. 107:9). And in our waiting for Christ’s return, we need to remember a God who is near, not far off (Ps. 46:1).

The Psalms also teach us to wait. Advent means to wait or be expectant. In the weeks leading up to Christmas Day we are looking forward to Christ’s birth and expectant with hope. But we are also waiting for another entry of Christ into this world—when he returns to make all things right (Rev. 21:1–8). The Psalms speak to this story of waiting, both for Israel in the Old Testament and for us.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -

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