Dec. 10 – Romans 8:18-25- Joseph Wimer
In going through a devotional, it can often be a temptation to hurry through the readings
so we can feel the accomplishment of having been “faithful”. A word that has already been used
in some reflections, and will pop up again, is “tension”. This passage in Paul’s letter to the
church in Rome is full of tensions. My challenge to you is to not rush through them, but slowly
read and meditate, dwelling with intention in our experience of lament and hope. Paul uses
words such as sufferings, futility, bondage, corruption, and pains while in the same sentences
using words such as glory, hope, free, adoption, and redemption. Allow yourself to feel the
dissonance and plead for the Spirit of God to help you bear it.
In this passage, we find a forceful proclamation made be Paul, that openly laments the
present condition of this world, and acknowledges the painfulness of broken humanity in a fallen
world. However, at the same time, in the face of such brokenness, Paul declares the power of
Jesus’ resurrection and the beginning of the reversal of the power of death in the world. There
are times, both personally and in the world at large where it is so very difficult to believe or cling
to that hope. This, friends, is where we groan. This is where we ask the Spirit to give words to
what we cannot. Finally, this is where speak into lives, situations, systems, and relationships the
power of Jesus’ resurrection, which we experience in the here and now, but will experience in
unbridled fullness when Christ returns.
In this season, where are the places where you have nothing to cling to but the promise of
resurrection and new life? What are the relationships that seem far beyond reconciliation?
Where are you groaning, friend? Ask the Spirit to minister to these places, and give you words
of life to pray over and speak into these situations.
Come, Lord Jesus. Our lives and our world are fraught with violence, death, and pain of various
forms. In the face of such things, we often do not know what to say. Where words are
necessary, grant them to us. And in those worldless places, help us into holy grief and weeping.
As we enter into these spaces, would you hold ever before our eyes the hope of resurrection,
renewal, and reconciliation, found in only in Christ. Come, Lord Jesus, and make your blessing
known far as the curse is found! Amen.
Week 3: You Will Have Joy! [God promises relief. You will have joy is not just a future promise, but one that we can experience in the present. It is a promise we can experience in the present, not only in health and abundance, but in sickness and in want. We can rest in this, because of the uninhibited flourishing that is promised with the new heavens and new earth.]
Dec. 11 – Psalm 126- Joseph Wimer
Last week, we looked seriously at the practice of lament that has been central to the worship of
God’s people for millenia. In the face of sorrow and destruction, we cry out to the God who
hears us, knows intimately the pain we experience, and acts salvifically on behalf of his people.
This Psalm, which the Jewish people would sing as they ascended to Jerusalem to worship in
the temple, is a beautiful and precious promise to the inhabits of God’s kingdom. Your sorrow
will turn to joy! There will be relief! There will be a harvest to show for your faithfulness to loving
God and being obedient to his statutes and commands!
There is no promise in Scripture that says our efforts to advance God’s kingdom in this
world will be easy or without pain. There is no guarantee that we will even see the fruit of the
work that we do. In fact, the assurances are often that there will be tears, struggle, and
frustration. It is at these times that we must remember and proclaim the promise that has been
sung by the people of God for centuries- “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy.”
It is by God’s design that the tears we shed while doing his work will be the very water he uses
to bring life to this work. Let us cling to this promise, friends. Let us not be deterred by trials or
resistance, but instead, may we sing these words as we work to spread the very good news of
Christ’s kingdom to all corners of creation. (If you are the musical type, I would recommend you
give a listen to Bifrost Arts’ rendition of Psalm 126)
Is there a task God has given to you that seems to be bearing no fruit? Or have you shied away
from this task because of the daunting difficulty or impending pain? Remember, Jesus took on
the weakness of humanity and clung to the plans of God which led him to a cross. How might
you follow Jesus into this redemptive pain?
Father of love, Savior of mercy, Spirit of power: At times the work seems to be endless, and the
harvest seems to be so small. Help us to cling to your promises in the face of difficulty. Help us
to keep sowing the seeds of your kingdom even when our efforts seem futiles. Remind us that
you are working in ways we cannot see and that the harvest belongs to you. As you form us to
the image of Christ, help us to follow in the steps of Christ. He is our hope and our song, now
and forevermore. Amen.
Dec. 12 – Zephaniah 3:14-20- Leeann Younger
God is a judge who has issued your pardon. God is a King you do not need to fear. God is a mighty warrior who not only fights on your side but “rejoice[s] over you with singing.” Imagine a warrior who is so excited about rescuing you that he breaks out into song after the battle is won! Strange, right?
The images of God in Zephaniah are almost too much for us to believe. In our quietest moments we might admit to ourselves that we aren‘t sure that the joy of this passage is meant for us. We can believe the truth of this Scripture for others but can we accept it for our own lives?
In this week of Advent we move from focusing on longing and waiting for Jesus to celebrating what his first coming means to humankind. God’s plan for our redemption is cause for celebration. And in Zephaniah it seems that, even if we’re unwilling to release our hearts to the celebration of the new life we’ve been given in Christ, God himself will do the partying for us.
What stops you from experiencing joy in your walk with Jesus? Discuss this with one of your leaders and create a plan to get free from the chains that hold you back from truly trusting God’s joy-filled love for you.
Which image of God in the passage from Zephaniah brings you the most comfort? the most challenge?