94:1 O Lord God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, show yourself. 2 Rise up, O Judge of the world; give the arrogant their just deserts. 3 How long shall the wicked, O Lord, how long shall the wicked triumph? 4 They bluster in their insolence; all evildoers are full of boasting. 5 They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your chosen nation. 6 They murder the widow and the stranger and put the orphans to death. 7 Yet they say, “The Lord does not see, the God of Jacob takes no notice.” 8 Consider well, you dullards among the people; when will you fools understand? 9 He that planted the ear, does he not hear? He that formed the eye, does he not see? 10 He who admonishes the nations, will he not punish? He who teaches all the world, has he no knowledge? 11The Lord knows our human thoughts; how like a puff of wind they are. 12 Happy are they whom you in struct, O Lord, whom you teach out of your law; 13 to give them rest in evil days, until a pit is dug for the wicked. 14 For the Lord will not abandon his people, nor will he for sake his own. 15 For judgment will a gain be just, and all the true of heart will follow it. 16 Who rose up for me against the wicked? Who took my part against the evildoers? 17 If the Lord had not come to my help, I should soon have dwelt in the land of silence. 18 As often as I said, “My foot has slipped,” your love, O Lord, upheld me. 19 When many cares fill my mind, your consolations cheer my soul. 20 Can a corrupt tribunal have any part with you, one which frames evil into law? 21They conspire against the life of the just and condemn the innocent to death. 22 But the Lord has be come my stronghold, and my God the rock of my trust. 23 He will turn their wickedness back upon them and destroy them in their own malice; the Lord our God will destroy them.
– Psalm 94 LBW
Advent is a season of longing, of yearning for our God to come. We may have sentimental feelings when we remember the coming God in the form of a human baby over 2,000 years ago, but we should also be filled with discomfort and anticipation. The world is not right. There are evils and injustices everywhere we turn, every time we turn on the TV or scroll through the news on our smartphones: the killing of innocents, young and old, born and unborn; violence and cultural bloodlust; judges and juries that seem to allow grevious wrongs; active racism, prejudice and the advocacy for ethnic supremacies; the abandonment of the widows, the elderly, and the orphans in our midst; the rejection of refugees, strangers, and all those who need good news both materially and spiritually. We are sad. We are angry. We are also ashamed of our own contributions to these tragedies, our “thoughts, words, and deeds” both “done and left undone.” We are utterly unable to “love the Lord [our] God” or “love [our] neighbors as [ourselves]” (Matt. 22:37, 39). Like many prophets and psalmists, we, too, call out to Jesus, “how long?” Come, Lord Jesus!
If you’ve been following along the devotional this Advent, you surely have noticed that each Tuesday evening, we have prayed Psalm 94, traditionally called Deus ultionum or “God of vengeance.” Today’s passage in Amos gives us a taste of what that vengeance looks like. As Christians, we believe that God is restoring and renewing His whole creation, but that means that He will root out any form of evil that serves as an obstacle to His purpose — an eternal relationship of life and love with His people. To those who perpetuate injustices, advocate on behalf of evils, and do not know the Lord, his “snow-white hair,” “fiery eyes,” “bronze feet,” and “roaring voice” are the terrifying condemnations of the Law (Rev. 3:14-15). But to those of us that follow in the way of Christ; participate in the Good News of the Kingdom by word and deed; and suffer with Him on this earth; welcome the life-giving Gospel of the God of vengeance. Come, Lord Jesus!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, do not abandon Your people, nor ignore the power of the enemy against Your Church. Grant that those who suffer for the sake of justice may find consolation in the cross and be filled with Your joy now and forever. Amen.
Advent Action: Intimately familiar with suffering and injustice in his lifetime was Ambrose of Milan, whom we commemorate today. Ambrose was constantly suffering from persecution at the hands of the Roman emperors during his time in church leadership, and took deep inspiration from Job’s life in his writings. At one point in his life, Ambrose stood at the front doors of his cathedral and refused to allow the Emperor Theodosius to enter after he had participated in a slaughterous massacre of the innocent inhabitants of Thessalonica. Ambrose’s courage in the face of injustice allowed the Holy Spirit to convict the emperor, who fell down in tears of repentance and confessed of his sin before Ambrose. Consider meditating on (1) the evil and injustice in the world — whether global or in your own community, and (2) the Christian call to cruciformity — a “cross-shaped” life of sacrifice and suffering following the footsteps of Jesus. Perhaps use Psalm 94 as a starting place to pray for the Lord to come and renew and heal our world. If you have extra time, read or sing Ambrose’s great Advent hymn, Veni redemptor gentium, or “Come, Redeemer of the nations” (sometimes translated “Come, thou Redeemer of the earth”).
Devotion written by the Rev. Andrew Ames Fuller
Watch a video recording of the devotional daily: facebook.com/thenalc
Genesis 1:1 (Listen)
The Creation of the World
1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Revelation 1:9–16 (Listen)
Vision of the Son of Man
9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
Matthew 22:34–46 (Listen)
The Great Commandment
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Whose Son Is the Christ?
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
Psalm 33 (Listen)
The Steadfast Love of the Lord
33:1 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4 For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
13 The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
Psalm 146 (Listen)
Put Not Your Trust in Princes
146:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 85 (Listen)
Revive Us Again
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
85:1 LORD, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin. Selah
3 You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
and grant us your salvation.
8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
12 Yes, the LORD will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.
Psalm 94 (Listen)
The Lord Will Not Forsake His People
94:1 O LORD, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
3 O LORD, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
4 They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
5 They crush your people, O LORD,
and afflict your heritage.
6 They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
7 and they say, “The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
8 Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
11 the LORD—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.
12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD,
and whom you teach out of your law,
13 to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the LORD will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
15 for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
17 If the LORD had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
18 When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
21 They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the LORD has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the LORD our God will wipe them out.
This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.