Advent Devotion - Friday, December 15

from Mary Cullen

Psalm 126

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations,  “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 4 Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. 5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow,  will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

God delivered the people of Israel out of captivity again.  This time there was a new joy.  A different kind of joy.  It was one of long-suffering and patience.  They recognized God’s power but with a reverence and humility.  So their joy was that much sweeter.  They sang and laughed and had a deeper understanding of God’s power in their deliverance.  When we realize God’s true power we appreciate his mercies and grace so much more. God does not want us to be consumed by our circumstances but uses them to his Glory and for our holiness.

Habakkuk 3:2-6

2 Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day,  in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. 3 God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran.[a] His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. 4 His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.  5 Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. 6 He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled  and the age-old hills collapsed—but he marches on forever.

Habakkuk’s prayer begins with an admiration of God’s power.  He makes a plea for mercy to the Lord but more importantly acknowledges God’s glory and splendor.  ‘He stood and shook the earth’ is a recognition of the Almighty God that he comes before with a request. More important than our circumstances is God’s glory.

Philippians 3:12-16

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Paul admission shows us that even Paul, who has suffered and risked his life for God is not done fully knowing God on this earth.  But he presses on toward the ultimate goal: Eternal life with Christ Jesus. We must all, in humility,  recognize that we have not reached the goal. But we  but we must keep straining towards what Christ has for us. Not dwelling in the past but in all things remember the ultimate goal of Eternal life with Christ.  God will make clear to us what we need to know in His perfect timing.