Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘restoration’

From Groans to Glory*

Why do we groan?  Often it’s an expression of physical or mental anguish.  Like when hearing a bad pun (wish I’d thought of that myself!), being hit with bad news, or coping with a migraine….

Groaning appears three times within just five verses in Romans 8—groans coming from three different sources.  But these are not all bad news; there is hope in each scenario!

1)  All creation groans (verse 22) as it endures its imperfect state, the ravages of sin which holds it captive.  But the day will come when it will all be restored to the paradise it was meant to be (verse 21).

2)  We who are God’s children through faith in Christ groan (verse 23).  We are also enduring the devastation of sin—pain and problems, illness and death.  But “we eagerly wait with patience” (I’m afraid I’m more eager than patient!) for the time when our bodies will be fully redeemed and we will enjoy the full benefits that belong to us as citizens of heaven.

3)  The Holy Spirit groans as He expresses our cares and needs to the Father (verse 26).  We are not alone as we struggle to pray. And the result of the Spirit’s groaning is that God’s will is done in wonderful ways.  The outcome is glorious—God working out all things according to His purpose and for our good, glorifying Himself and bringing us to glory as well.  This is the triumphant peak of the book of Romans, culminating in a thrilling hymn about God’s powerful, incomparable, enduring love.  (Romans 8:28-39)

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? … 
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?
Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity,
or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? …
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ,
                   who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
      Neither death nor life,
          neither angels nor demons,
               neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—
                    not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
                         No power in the sky above or in the earth below—
indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

*Section title of Romans 8:18-30 in HCSB version

Frustration & Restoration

My heart aches, and admittedly responds with indignation, as the daily headlines bring more news of God’s righteous standards being ignored, compromised, mocked, and blatantly violated.  God Himself is being dismissed as a tolerant grandfather-figure who would never judge anyone for anything, rendering Him quite ineffective and irrelevant.

So I was comforted this morning as I read God’s encouragement to those who choose to truly follow Him. 

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong
you who cherish my law in your hearts.
Do not be afraid of people’s scorn,
nor fear their insults.
For the moth will devour them as it devours clothing.
The worm will eat at them as it eats wool.
But my righteousness will last forever.
My salvation will continue from generation to generation.”  Isaiah 51:7-8

Lord, give us the courage to endure the frowns of society out of our loyalty to You!  We look forward to the day when You put everything to rights.

Under What Conditions Peace?

Jeremiah has a lot to say about peace.  He pens the word “shalom” 31 times in the book that bears his name.  But it’s mostly about false hopes of false peace based on false prophets’ promises of peace for people rebelling against God, refusing to listen to Him, and plotting against their neighbors (6:10, 14; 9:8; 23:16-17 et al.).

Of course they hoped for peace, especially protection from the threatening Babylonian and Egyptian superpowers (e.g. 14:19) which were playing tug-of-war over them.  But what God promises them instead is destruction and devastation.  In fact, this is what happened and is mourned by the same writer in his book of Lamentations which mentions “shalom” only once:  “Peace has been stripped away!” (3:17)

In the end there is hope—but only under God’s conditions.  After all the judgment and devastation, God will  heal, restore peace, rebuild the ruined nation, cleanse his people of their sins and forgive their rebellion.  This is the only positive reference to peace in the book:

“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns.  I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.” (Jeremiah 33:6-9)

When I read about the people of that day, I want to shake those deluded peace-dreamers awake and help them get a grip on the source of true peace.  But no, they had to suffer excruciatingly for their willful blindness.  How about us today?  I pray God will have mercy on us, opening our eyes to see the way to true peace.  And most of all, I look forward to the rule of the Prince of Peace on this earth. 

Your kingdom come!  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!  Amen!!!

Peace and the Prophet

God’s chosen nation was collapsing from the moral vacuum caused by rebellion against God and corruption in leadership. And on the outside, Nebuchadnezzar’s army was attacking.  God’s patience had finally run out.

Jeremiah was God’s man on the scene.  A dozen times in his book he debunks the false prophets’ repeated assurances that all would be well.  Like this in chapter 14:

13 Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well—no war or famine will come. The LORD will surely send you peace.’ ”

14 Then the LORD said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.

But there is hope of peace after the punishment has been endured and the hard lessons have been learned.  Peace on God’s terms necessarily involves cleansing from sin and rebellion.  But wow, the benefits are out of this world!

“The time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth!  Jeremiah 33:6-8

What kind of peace are we looking for in our world and our lives? 
A fragile peace on this earth, IF nations and individuals can solve their differences and piece back together shattered economies? 
Or the true and lasting peace that comes only by turning to God and accepting it on His terms?

 

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