With endurance comes encouragement
Romans 15:4 – For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
As you look across the present year, has your response been peace and joy? Has hope for tomorrow been elusive? Has your patience taken a tumble? Does it feel like your stamina sat down and won’t get up? Perhaps you have faced challenges that have made you wonder just how much God cares for you. You wouldn’t be alone. You are looking for endurance.
In the first chapter of James, you read that the testing of your faith is what produces endurance. All through the Scriptures are overflowing promises of God’s love, forgiveness, salvation, peace, hope and joy for everyone who trusts in His Son, Jesus. Hebrews 10:35-36 reminds you that there is a reward ahead if you keep hold of your confidence in the Lord, and endure. There are many verses that suggest that endurance is a quality of a mature Christian, one who has experienced afflictions and trials, whose life hasn’t been a “bed of roses.” Look again at today’s verse: the recipe for your endurance is there…it is found in the Word of God. Your time in Scripture and looking to Jesus are the foundations for endurance that brings encouragement and that leads to hope.
Dear Father, once again I confess to You that I have allowed my focus to shift on the things that are around me rather than You and Your love. Thank You for Your Holy Word and the comfort and encouragement I can glean from it as I read. Thank You that I can approach Your Throne and have this conversation with You. I’m almost afraid to pray for endurance because it is certain that there will be challenges to face in order to secure it; but I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me. Have Your will with me, for I trust in You. Amen.
ADVENT DAY 4 - Humble Glory
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A sublime being entering into a relationship with such a lowly being does no harm to his own reputation, yet raises that other being up from its lowness: this is precisely what was fulfilled in Christ. He did not diminish his divine nature in any way by this lowering of himself, yet we who had been living in darkness and disgrace were raised up to ineffable glory. –St. John Chrysostom
At the heart of the Christian faith lies the belief that God sees, loves, and welcomes the forgotten, the marginalized, and the downhearted. In a world
that values and celebrates the strong and powerful, time and time again, in word and deed, Jesus reminds us that weakness and humility are the way to glory and the path of lasting peace. In this way, Advent is a persistent reminder of the upside down nature of God’s kingdom.
The lowliness of the Incarnation was foretold long ago. As Micah reminds us, it is from Bethlehem, “one of the little clans of Judah,” that the true king of Israel will come, one who “shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD (Mic. 5:2, 4). From these humble origins, Jesus continues to invite us to tend to that which is often overlooked, neglected, and undervalued. Do not be weighed down by the worries of this life (Lk. 21:34), but learn to see the glory of God breaking in all around you. It is the mustard seed that grows to give shade and rest to all who draw near (Mt. 13:31-32). It is yeast, small and unseen, that leavens the entire loaf (Lk. 13:20-21).
In a season filled with countless distractions and sources of potential stress, it is easy to ignore the humble hope of Advent and the tender compassion of our Lord. Similarly, we may be tempted to believe that the cares of life are of little interest to our Lord. Surely, he has more important things demanding his time and attention! Yet in the quiet humility of the manger in Bethlehem, we are reminded once again, there is not a single concern that goes unnoticed, nor any sorrow left unhealed.
Lifting our elections up to the Lord helps all of us keep the focus on the most important topics as well as softens our hearts to love everyone, even those with whom we may disagree. Believing differently shouldn't stop us from sharing God's love and His Word with others.
“By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (MSG)
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
– Thomas Jefferson