Sunday Devotional: “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

“It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.”

These are the words to the Christmas hymn “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. It is a few weeks away from Christmas and this time leading up to it is good to reflect on the hope of the birth of Christ.  Right before the birth of Christ, there was restlessness.  There was doubt.  When was the messiah coming?  Will the messiah ever come?  But the angels had good news to share that the messiah had indeed come and broke out in song about it.

Today, some 2,000 years later, we struggle.  There is a lot of suffering in the world.  Sin is condoned and affirmed in all types of ways and places.  We wonder when will the messiah come back.  But just as Jesus came the first time that first Christmas, He will come again.

So we keep hoping and keep waiting. And we sing of when the Prince of Peace will bring ultimate peace to the world.

Sunday Devotional: Hebrews 6:13-20

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater to swear by, He swore by Himself:

I will indeed bless you,
and I will greatly multiply you.

And so, after waiting patiently, Abraham obtained the promise. For men swear by something greater than themselves, and for them a confirming oath ends every dispute. Because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath,  so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us.  We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.  Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:13-20)

Promises.  When God makes a promise, He delivers.  He is always faithful to deliver.  We may have to wait for His timing but God is faithful.  We see here in Hebrews the writer talk about God’s promise to Abraham.  God’s promise was fulfilled in full to Abraham.  Likewise, when Jesus came, God’s promise of redemption was fulfilled.  And someday Jesus will return just like was promised.

Whether you are going through a season of waiting (like I am) or you’re about to enter that time, remember God’s promises.  Remember God’s faithfulness.  We have a hope in Jesus.  We have an anchor that secures our faith.  Let us continue to trust and be faithful in the wait and trust in the promises that God has given to us.

Sunday Devotional: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)

Paul is writing to the Thessalonian church and in these verses here is finishing up the letter.  Like most of his letters to the various churches he helped to plant, he would finish his letters by encouraging and exhorting them to continue to do good and to follow Jesus.  Here is no exception.  Paul gave some practical applications to what he had shared with them throughout the letter and encouraged them to keep on being faithful.

He wanted the believers to encourage and give recognition to those who were leading them, their pastors and elders.  It is a tough job to minister and tend the flock and Paul wanted the people to acknowledge that and care for those in charge.  He wanted the believers to be at peace and to be agents of that to the world.  He wanted them to exhort, to comfort, to help, to be patient, and to pursue good.

We live very much in a time where it seems the discouraged aren’t being comforted, that the weak aren’t being helped, that there is no patience with people, that evil is being repaid with evil.  That should not be so with followers of Jesus.  We are called to love one another,especially fellow Christians.  We are called to be the light of the world, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.  We are to be different in a way that stands out and points people to Jesus.

It is hard sometimes…a lot of the times to keep pursuing what is good.  It is hard when there is discouragement everywhere.  When God is mocked or hated and His people despised.  However, we are called to be faithful in continuing to do good, to seek justice and mercy, to show grace to one another, to love one another, to call out sin and to repent.  Let us keep doing just that.  Let us lean on Christ and keep pursuing good and being faithful to the calling that God has for us.

 

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 40

“I waited patiently for the Lord,
and He turned to me and heard my cry for help.
He brought me up from a desolate pit,
out of the muddy clay,
and set my feet on a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.

How happy is the man
who has put his trust in the Lord
and has not turned to the proud
or to those who run after lies!
Lord my God, You have done many things—
Your wonderful works and Your plans for us;
none can compare with You.
If I were to report and speak of them,
they are more than can be told.

You do not delight in sacrifice and offering;
You open my ears to listen.
You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering.
Then I said, “See, I have come;
it is written about me in the volume of the scroll.
I delight to do Your will, my God;
Your instruction lives within me.”

I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
see, I do not keep my mouth closed—
as You know, Lord.
I did not hide Your righteousness in my heart;
I spoke about Your faithfulness and salvation;
I did not conceal Your constant love and truth
from the great assembly.

Lord, do not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your constant love and truth will always guard me.
For troubles without number have surrounded me;
my sins have overtaken me; I am unable to see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my courage leaves me.
Lord, be pleased to deliver me;
hurry to help me, Lord.

Let those who seek to take my life
be disgraced and confounded.
Let those who wish me harm
be driven back and humiliated.
Let those who say to me, “Aha, aha!”
be horrified because of their shame.

Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
let those who love Your salvation continually say,
“The Lord is great!”
I am afflicted and needy;
the Lord thinks of me.
You are my helper and my deliverer;
my God, do not delay.”  (Psalm 40)

In the midst of such suffering and pain that we are experiencing during these troubled times, it is important to remember that this is nothing new.  The world has dealt with tremendous pain and sorrow because of this being a fallen world.  David knew of this pain during his life.  Yet he trusted in the Lord to help deliver him.

David knew that that Lord was trustworthy.  He knew that the Lord would bring hope and salvation.  So he waited for the Lord to deliver.  Waiting is hard especially when the hurt is so great.  Yet we are called to wait on the Lord and put our trust in Him.  The good thing is that trust is not unfulfilled.  God is faithful.

This week, let us hope and trust in the Lord, even in the roughest and toughest of circumstances.  Let us wait on Him and trust He will deliver.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 27

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploys against me,
my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
still I am confident.

I have asked one thing from the Lord;
it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord
and seeking Him in His temple.
For He will conceal me in His shelter
in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.
Then my head will be high
above my enemies around me;
I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Lord, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
My heart says this about You,
“You are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face.
Do not hide Your face from me;
do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper;
do not leave me or abandon me,
God of my salvation.
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.

Because of my adversaries,
show me Your way, Lord,
and lead me on a level path.
Do not give me over to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing violence.

I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:1-14)

This is one of David’s well known psalms that he wrote. In this psalm, David speaks not only to the struggles that he faced but the hope that he held in the Lord. Though there may be armies surrounding, he was not moved. Though there were struggles inside of him, he continued to hope and believe. He knew God’s goodness and God’s faithfulness. He had experienced it firsthand. And he believed and trusted that God would continue to be faithful and good.

Though we may be going through our own hard times and troubles, let us be like David.  Let us wait on the Lord, let us trust in His work.  Let us never give up doing good and following Him.