December 5 – December 11, 2017

WORD

8But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.

9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.  10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

11Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness,12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire?  13But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.  14Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 

Waiting is difficult.  I am sure I am not telling you anything you do not already know!  Wait in a long line, in stop and go traffic, or for some important piece of mail to come and you will realize how patience can never seem to be found when you most need it.  It is easy to be patient when we are not waiting, but if we pray for patience – watch out!  You might just get an opportunity to try your patience.  We might say we want patience, but none of us are clamoring for an opportunity to practice it.

And yet, patience is revealed as one of the fruits of the Spirit.  It is as important as love and joy in our lives.  In fact, to be patient is to be like God.  But why?  Because God’s patience is an opportunity for grace to work.  And when we are patient, it is likewise an opportunity for grace to be experienced – by us and by the ones with whom we are being patient.  When you are patient with your child, it gives your child an opportunity to grow and learn.  When you are patient with your co-workers, it gives them the opportunity to surprise you with diligence.  When you are patient with your enemies, it gives you the opportunity to grow more forgiving and them the opportunity to change their hearts (or vice versa when you are in the wrong!).

When we work and live impatiently, we are often destructive in our own lives and in the lives of others.  But God is in the business of building: building relationships, building character, and building a kingdom of holiness and goodness.  Such blessings can only come with patience.  Patience is an act of mercy giving birth to hope, a movement of grace expecting change.  Someone might just need a patient response from you today in order to turn their life around and experience the love and anointing of God.

How long should your patience remain?  What is the limit of such waiting?  Ask God, for whom “one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.”  Think of how carefully God has been preparing the cosmos, throughout the ages, for its redemption and restoration.  You have a part in that redemption and restoration because of God’s patience.  When you feel like you are at your wits’ end, remember the one who is continuing to perfect you in patient grace and know that someone is waiting for the mercy of your long-suffering spirit today.

 

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace.

“Peace on earth” was announced at the birth of the Christ child, and yet we continue to wait for that peace to come in its fullness.  While we are waiting for peace, we should still be praying for peace!  It is a promise from the angel announcing Christ’s birth, and it is not a hollow promise!  Until it comes, we should not give up on the hope and expectation of peace, just because the world around us looks like the opposite of peace.  Pray for peace this week, asking God to bring shalom to the world through relationships on a personal, interpersonal, and international level.  Trust that God is working into the world a peace that passes all understanding, like a baker working a little yeast into a large ball of dough.  Ask God to show you how you might be an agent of peace in your family, in your community, and in the world.

Meditation Focus: The heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire.

Though this might seem at first to be a frightening image, it is actually an image of hope.  This statement employs the imagery of a refiner’s fire, in which a pure metal is placed within the flames in order for the impurities surrounding it to melt away.  When this is done, only the pure metal remains.  Imagine yourself being refined.  If fire is too frightening an image for you, then simply think about God removing the impurities from your life.  When surrounded by the holy love of God, what remains and what melts away?  What does God need to remove from your heart, mind, or spirit so that your true, God-created self might shine brilliantly like gold or silver?  What have you been holding on to tightly that you can now release in God’s anointing presence?  What must dissolve in order for you to be made whole?  Allow yourself to sit in the refining presence of the Holy Spirit and be made new through the removal of sin and the strengthening of your character.

Journaling Focus: But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. 

What a wonderful promise of the world to come!  Right now in our world, righteousness (what is good and right in God’s eyes) seems out of place.  But when the kingdom of God comes in its fullness, evil will be out of place and will have no room to abide.  What do you think such a place will be like?  What will it mean for “righteousness [to be] at home?”  What will being part of such a place mean to you?  Spend some time writing about your vision of the new heavens and new earth and the expectations you have for life in such a place.

Holy Action: 

Spend some time this week thinking about those things that will last.  Take an inventory of your life.  What will be here today but gone tomorrow?  What will endure?  Ask yourself how you might learn to actively treasure the things that will last in this life and the life to come.

Breath Prayer: Father, we wait for you.

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