Text: 1 Peter 1:16-21
“I’ll believe it when I see it.”
That’s the American way! We want proof. We want evidence. We want empirical data. Even photos or video footage aren’t good enough. Those can be doctored up and edited. Thus, we won’t believe anything until we see it first!
We can understand why the lessons for this coming Sunday are so important. They all revolve on trusting in things we haven’t seen. Abraham believed promises from God that seemed impossible. Thomas didn’t believe his disciple buddies had seen the risen Savior Jesus. And in the present, we face a similar challenge: We haven’t ever seen our Savior and our God Jesus Christ!
Peter gives us great encouragement today. The words of Scripture aren’t made up like Harry Potter playing Quidditch. This isn’t the Hunger Games. Peter and the other apostles were eye witnesses and ear witnesses of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We can be sure that Scripture is true and that Jesus is truly our Savior because these are real things that real people saw and heard. Ever wonder why there are four gospel accounts? We would call that today in our culture corroborating evidence!
Even more, Peter continues to assure us about the veracity and validity of Scripture by informing us that these weren’t made up or embellished stories, either. Rather, the prophets and apostles spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. God inspired and helped write every single word–every single letter even–of his Holy Word.
We weren’t around when the Bible was written. We have never seen Jesus. But yet we still trust. This is called “faith.” What a blessing to have this gift of faith given to us by God to believe what we have never seen which such sure confidence!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I have never seen you. I have never heard your voice. Yet continue to give me a sure and certain faith that sees and hears you through the pages of Scripture. Give me a confident trust that you are my Savior and that your words in Scripture are true. Erase my doubts and strength my belief. In your name I pray, AMEN.
Text: Genesis 15:1-6
What does your credit score look like?
Most Americans would likely respond, “Don’t ask!!”
Your credit score can often say a lot about you. It can show whether you have over-extended yourself financially. It can show how much debt you have. It can show how well you pay back that debt. It can also show whom you owe. Your credit score can say a lot, and for many Americans, it says “This person is in trouble!”
What do you think your spiritual credit score looks like?
The answer is actually very simple. It’s awful. For everyone. The Bible reminds us that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and that, “The wages of sin is death.” All of us owe God–big time. We have a huge debt to pay. We owe God perfection, and if we can’t pay that, then we must pay the wages of sin–death. (Some may be reminded of one translation of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”)
But we learn something incredible from Scripture about our God. It is good news bursts forth from many stories and many pages of God’s Word. It’s the best spiritual/economic news imaginable. God gives us a good spiritual credit score!
One such example from the Bible is the story of Abram/Abraham. God made many promises to Abraham. Some of them were nearly unbelievable, like the promise that he would have a son at an old age with his barren wife. But Abraham believed God’s promises. So, through that faith, “God credited it to him as righteousness.”
Note how it doesn’t say that Abraham earned righteousness or worked his way toward righteousness. God simply gave it to him.
This is the good news of Scripture for all of us! God has erased our debt of sins with the blood of Jesus and he has credited the perfection of Jesus to our accounts. We don’t just have a good spiritual credit score–we have a perfect and clean spiritual credit score!
Trust God’s incredible promises, especially the most important promise of forgiveness and life through Jesus. Then thank and praise God for crediting Christ’s work to your account!
Prayer: Lord God, in your great grace and mercy you have credited your Son’s righteousness to my account. I am not worthy of this spiritual reckoning, but you have given it to me by grace alone. Lead me to thank and praise you for this gift every day. I pray in the name of my gracious Savior and by faith alone. Amen.
Devotion Text: Psalm 24
Are you ready for Judgement Day? More importantly, are you waiting?
In a recent devotion on 1st Thessalonians 3, we talked about how the Lord gets us ready on our trip Heavenward–how we could not do it ourselves and how we depend on the strength God gives us and the fellow believers he blesses us with along the way.
How anxious are you to get there, though?
I remember by grandmother dying like it was yesterday. Still just a boy, I sat on the windowsill of the hospital room as I stood face-to-face with what death looks like. As we sang “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb,” with my entire family crowding the room, the words comforted us as much as her. When the song was over, my dad looked up and had someone go get a doctor. Her battle was over, she was in Heaven now.
Talking to my dad afterward, I remarked how glad I was that my grandma was finally in Heaven, because she had talked often about wanting to be there. She always seemed ill in some way or having other kinds of troubles in her old age. She couldn’t really see, hear or taste any more.
My father’s response surprised me and I will never forget it. “Son, your grandma has wanted to go home for the last 20 years.”
Years later, as my dad lay in his hospital bed, I got another look at what longing for heaven looked like. Cancer had ravaged his body and he could no longer care for himself. He, too, wanted to go home in a way that I hope I will one day understand. Right now, with an amazing family, great friends and a job I enjoy, my prayer is too often: “Come quickly, Lord Jesus, but not just yet…”
David reminds us in this Psalm that the Lord, who has gotten you prepared with “clean hands and a pure heart,” is coming. He is not far off. Lift up your heads and await his coming with thanksgiving and joy. The spoils this King of Glory brings are far more wonderful than any earthly joys. This king, Christ our King, is coming to take you to be with him forever.
Be ready, and be waiting.
Prayer: King of Glory, come quickly, Lord! Do not come on my time or on the world’s time. Let your kingdom come when you will it Lord, in your good time. I can not be ready on my own, dearest Jesus, nor could I turn from the fleeting joys of this world and faithfully wait for you. Prepare my heart and my hands, O Lord, and keep me in your grace until that time comes. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Devotion Text: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
As a parent of young children, I’ve begun to learn exactly what I put my parents through on all those cross-country trips as a kid. Sure, it was different in those days. Now instead of packing up the eight-seat conversion van like my dad did, I drive my two sons only as far as the airport and let the good people of Delta or AirTran take us the rest of the way. But, whether flying or driving, plenty goes into planning for a trip–especially with children. Luckily, I have my wonderful wife to
help me do all the work herself, otherwise I’d be lost.
When it comes to our life’s greatest journey–our journey home to be with our Heavenly Father forever–preparation is just as important. In his letter to the church in Thessolonica, Paul writes about how earnestly he wants the Thessalonians to prepare, how he prays for their preparation and how he longs to be there that he may help them prepare.
In very much the same way I would be lost trying to take a cross-country trip alone with my two sons, Paul knows that no human could get through this life alone. Our walk Heavenward is too difficult to do alone, so (miles away) he writes to help those people prepare. Thousands of years away, his words still hold true for us.
We still need the prayers of our fellow believes to strengthen us for the way. So too, we pray for others. We still need “God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us” just as Paul did. We still need the love and fellowship of one another to make our journey pleasant and bearable.
It is with this help, this strength, this love–from God and from our fellow Christians–that we enter the Advent season. We focus not only on preparing our hearts and minds for Christmas, but also for Christ’s coming again. May God be with you as you journey home.
Prayer: Father in heaven, be with me day by day as I do your work here on Earth and continually guide me on the paths you would have me take. Be with more, Lord, as I walk Heavenward hand-in-hand with the Christian brothers and sisters you have blessed me with in my church, in my home and elsewhere in my life. Strengthen me, constantly, that I would not stray and keep me in your loving care here in time and forever in eternity. Amen.
Text: Genesis 19:15-17,23-29
What was it that she loved so much?
Was it the home she had known for years? Was it good friends she had made? Was it a certain kind of lifestyle? Was it the intoxicating indulgence of blatant sin?
Lot’s wife loved something about Sodom and Gomorrah. As two angels whisked Lot and his family out of the city, they warned the family not to look back at what was happening. But as the Lord rained down burning sulfur, Lot’s wife couldn’t help but look back. Instantly she turned into a pillar of salt.
When the Lord Jesus returns on the Last Day bringing destruction to the heavens and the earth and judgment to all, will you be ready? Will you be eager to leave this sinful world and enter the safety of eternal life? Will you be eager to leave behind everything that you know and love here?
I’m guessing that last question caused you to pause. Are you really eager to leave behind the life that you know, the house you have lived in for years, the friends you have had so much fun with?
We begin to see why Lot’s wife fell into the temptation to look back.
During the new church season of Advent we prepare for Jesus’ coming–not just at Christmas, but his final coming on Judgment Day. As we prepare for the Last Day then, God calls us to lift up our heads to watch and wait for Christ’s coming.
It’s a completely different mindset than humans are used to. It means realizing that this world is temporary, not eternal. It means realizing that this world is sinful, not perfect. It means realizing that heaven has better things waiting for us–better things that we cannot possibly fathom.
So lift up your heads, lift your eyes to the skies, and don’t look back. Jesus is coming!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, come quickly. In this world of sin and darkness we pray that you will quickly come to take us home. Lift our eyes heavenward to bring our focus out of this world and to you and life eternal. We pray this in your name. Amen.