So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. –Luke 7:12-15
It’s hard not to look around and get discouraged. People everywhere are angry or afraid about any number of things. It seems like the whole world is caught up in unrest or fear of getting sick or losing their source of income. The constant refrain from everyone is that things are not the way they used to be. Life has changed, if only for a time, but it has changed dramatically.
That leads us to a truth: everything we see changes. Whether it’s as predictable as the changing of the seasons or as unpredictable as a pandemic, everything we observe with our eyes changes. That’s what St. Paul was getting at in our devotion reading: “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient.” They’re short-lived. Even if it’s something we’ve familiar with for decades, that’s really only a very short time span in the grand scheme of the world.
So if we can’t look to those things that we see, where are we to look? St. Paul says, “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” But how do we look to something that’s unseen? That’s the trick. We don’t look with our eyes. We “look” with our ears. We don’t see, technically speaking. We listen.
If we want something that’s sure and certain, something that is not transient and changing, we should listen to the promises of God. He promises things like forgiveness, eternal life, to give us everything we need for our bodies and lives. Our eyes will only tell us one thing: everything is temporary. But our ears will tell us that God is forever. His promises are forever. His love is forever.
So even when everything changes, we don’t lose heart. We hear and believe God’s promises, even if the outer nature—those things we see with our eyes—is changing and passing away. We know that we have something more certain waiting for us, something more solid: an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. The day will come when our Lord returns and bestows that glory to us. It’s the glory of resurrection, the glory of eternal life with Him. He’ll set it upon our heads like a golden crown, heavy but glorious; permanent and unchanging. And then all that has been unseen—His promises, His love, His grace, His glory—will then be seen with our eyes when we’re called to be with Him forever. We’ll know that everything that was suffered in this life isn’t even worth comparing to the wonders and joys that the Lord already has prepared for us.
Heavenly Father, Your mercy is with us all our days. Be our strength and support through the wearisome changes of this world, and at life’s end grant us Your promised rest and the full joys of Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44
Have you ever wanted something so valuable that you have saved and saved and saved your money until you could buy it? Or like the parable talks about, have you ever sol
d everything to buy what you really want? It’s something not hard to imagine, is it? Think about if you knew that there was a parcel of land that was over a nearly unending supply of oil. You would be willing to pay a very hefty price for that land, wouldn’t you? After all, the return would be immense, possibly making you wealthy beyond your wildest dreams and expectations.
Do you think about the Kingdom of God in this way? Are you truly willing to give up everything for the Kingdom? Are you willing to give up all of your belongings? Are you willing to give up all of your possessions? What about your very life? If someone were to threaten to kill you for your faith in Christ, would you be willing to confess that faith in the face of danger?
While you might be able to answer that you are willing to give your life, the reality is you truly have not given your all for the Kingdom of God. You have not given up every last one of your sins. You have not given up every last one of your thoughts, which is contrary to our Lord’s will, as He has said, “We take captive every thought making it obedient to Christ.” You have not done this, not perfectly. And neither have I.
But thanks be to God, there is One who has. Jesus took captive every single one of His thoughts and aligned them with the will of God. What is even better though is that He is the One who gave up all of the riches that were His in Heaven to purchase His church, which is His field. In His great love for us, Jesus gave up everything, not utilizing His power, or His might when He well could have. But He gave up all of this so that in weakness He would be crucified for the sins of our whole world - His life a ransom for ours. But thanks be to God, He was also raised again showing us the receipt of the purchase, showing us that the transaction went through.
What an incredible blessing we have in our God who has redeemed us through the blood of Christ, and has made us His own, purchasing us to be His children. He has done all of this out of His desire to have us with Him eternally. This is His joy and the thing for which He was willing to sell everything. Hard to believe, but it’s true. Amen.
Lord Jesus, I give you thanks that in Your great love, you gave up the whole of the riches of Heaven to die for me. Grant me to always trust in this love, and to love others as You have loved me. Amen.
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only creation, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:20-23
As we go through life, we all experience aches and pains in our bodies. And as we experience those aches and pains, or even worse, as we suffer illness and loss of functions, or loss even of limbs, it can be easy for us to look forward to the day when we are free from these bodies. Because of this, we often imagine Heaven as a place where we will sort of just float around with God. We even see this caricatured in the traditional image of people with angel wings and harps as they sit on clouds near God. But what does scripture tell us about our bodies? In fact what does it tell us about all of creation?
Well it tells us that the whole creation has been groaning under the condemnation of sin. As our first parents, Adam and Eve sinned; they brought condemnation to a creation that was good. Before that sin, there was no death. No animals suffered, people didn’t suffer, and everything was good. But now because of sin there is death. And not only do we feel that death when we feel pain as we die, we feel that death in our own aches and pains, even in things as little as our own irritations.
Of course, it’s easy to blame this situation on those who came before, and assume that we are unfairly made victims in this, but the reality is that we put our own stamp of approval on our position. As we sin, as we neither love God with all of our heart, soul, mind or strength, nor love our neighbor as ourselves, we say that we like this position that we’re in with sicknesses and death.
But our Father sent Jesus to redeem us and all of creation. As Jesus came, He came in a human body. As He lived, He lived in that body as it was supposed to be lived in. As Jesus died on the cross, He died the death that we should all die, but as He was raised, He showed that our bodies have been redeemed. In fact He showed God’s care for the whole creation, and that He will in fact make a new creation at the end of time. In that new creation, we’ll be with our Lord Jesus, we’ll be with our God, and we’ll experience life as it was intended in the beginning: pain free.
We may think we’d like to get away from our bodies, but in the end, thanks to Jesus, we can really look forward to having bodies that don’t suffer. That will be even better. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for redeeming us and all of creation, grant me always to trust that the good work You have begun in me by faith will be brought to completion when You raise me from the dead on the last day to live with You forever. Amen
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:10-13
When we think about our God, we know that He is powerful. After all, He is God. As we hear the above words from Isaiah, we are reminded of that power again. We are reminded of how He speaks and it happens. This is just like what we saw at creation, God spoke and it was. “Let there be light.” And there was light. “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together.” And it was so. God is the One who is so powerful that when He speaks, what He says goes.
Of course, in our sin, that isn’t always a good thing, is it? After all, when God gave Moses His Law, He said, “Do this and you will live.” If we do what God says, we will live. After all, He has said so. We’ll live forever, with Him. But what’s the problem? We don’t always do what He says, do we? We might think we do most of the time, but the problem is that even 99.99% obedience to that Law, is 100% disobedience. Once we break His Law according to the most miniscule piece of it, we now have broken it. It is as if we have not kept the whole thing. And so what does that Word say to us now? “You shall surely die.” “The wages of sin is death.” And so we hear what we deserve. And this applies to absolutely every one of us. We all deserve everlasting death.
But thanks be to God, as He has spoken of His Word here in Isaiah, we see that there is more. There is joy, there is peace, and there is the sign that we shall not be cut off. Jesus is that sign. Jesus is the Word in the body of a man, and as He lived, He lived perfectly in our place. When He died, He suffered what we should suffer. And when God raised Him from the dead, He spoke another word beside, “You shall surely die.” He said, “You shall live indeed. Your sins are forgiven.”
God speaks and when He speaks He does what He says. As you hear that Word then, “Your sins are forgiven,” God speaks through the one whom He calls to speak them. And through that Word He creates that very life of forgiveness in you, so that in Him you may live forever and ever. Amen.
Lord God, Heavenly Father, in Your power, as You speak, it is done. I thank You that in Your Son Jesus, You have spoken to give me the forgiveness of sins. By that promise, create faith in me to always trust Your Word. Amen.