Reader: “For the things we see now will soon be gone,”
Response: “but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song:
Our city is strong!
We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.
Open the gates to all who are righteous;
allow the faithful to enter.
You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
He humbles the proud
and brings down the arrogant city.
He brings it down to the dust.
The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot,
and the needy walk all over it.
But for those who are righteous,
the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right,
and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
In the night I search for you;
in the morning I earnestly seek you.
For only when you come to judge the earth
will people learn what is right.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
What does Paul mean, “That is why we never give up”? He had previously been describing the troubles he had encountered preaching the gospel. He had also described how God was glorified by all those that had come to faith as a result. If he died in the process, he would be raised with Christ to eternal life. He couldn’t lose, but more importantly, people were being redeemed and God was being praised. Then comes the passage you just read. During these twelve days of Christmas we have cause to pause and think a little more deeply about the transformation in our lives as a result of the birth of Jesus. Let’s look at the above words. “Though our bodies are dying . . . “, what a cheery, but true, thought! Our physical bodies are mortal. They get more “mortal” every day from about 45 on! No amount of “tucking” changes anything. Think Ash Wednesday! “From dust you came, to dust you will return.” (Dan, you’re killing me. This is Christmas, the manger, the wisemen, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, a time of cheer!) The next phrase, “our spirits are being renewed every day . . .” is a breath of fresh air. God provided manna to the Israelites in the wilderness daily for forty years. It was always just enough for that day (two days on the Sabbath). Why? Was God stingy? No, he was teaching his children to rely on him for nourishment a day at a time. Daily time with God in the Scriptures is renewing our spirits every day, our manna. This daily renewal is what these daily Advent devotionals are all about. Paul’s next phrase is “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.” If we skip the “daily renewal” part, then we’re tempted to lose perspective and say these “present troubles are huge and will last forever!” Paul follows with a beautiful description of the truth―what you and I are facing now in the way of difficulties, won’t last forever. We are to fix our gaze on the eternal picture . . . which is glorious. What we cannot see presently is unending. Isaiah describes how we are to live in the meantime, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” ―which is why we never give up.
Music: “Away in a Manger” Libera Angelic!
Bonus: “Away in a Manger” Home Free Beautiful video with original tune
Father in heaven, who hast brought us to this day, let the peace of Thy love descend upon us. May every stormy passion be subdued, every unquiet thought cast out, every earthly care and anxiety forgotten, that in the calm of Thy loving Presence we may find a remedy for our souls’ unrest, and in Thy loving-kindness an answer to our every need; for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ―Source Unknown from The Quiet Corner, p.91