Advent Devotion for December 15
Candle Lighter says: “Forgetting the past…”
Response: “…and looking forward to what lies ahead…”
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 3:12-16
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. 16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
SOME THOUGHTS: The conversation today is about pressing on. If I’m honest, I admit there are times when I’m too tired to press on. I just want to rest. This “pressing on” is not about those times. Here, we are talking about following Christ relentlessly. It’s about looking to the future and progressing. I once had a professor say that “excellence is not a state of being, it’s a process of excelling. Am I improving?” In this pericope, Paul freely admits he has not arrived, because frankly, we never do in this life. Our pressing on is part of a bigger working of God. Habakkuk writes of the powerful moving of God in the world, concluding that God is the ETERNAL ONE! (v.6) You see, the pressing on of each of us is a small part of the biggest pressing on that God is doing. Our God is always pressing on. How do you think He created the Universe? Not by sitting back! Psalm 126 picks up the same theme in another way. The people plant in tears and reap in joy! They weep going only to return singing for joy. We plant in faith looking to the future for the harvest to come. As a young boy on the farm, and as an “older boy” from the farm, I remember first hand the joy of my dad and grandpa during the harvesting of the corn and beans. From time to time I’d hear them whistling! We knew well the long months between planting in mid-April and harvesting the end of September. Like farmers, we live with anticipation of what is to come. Press on in godliness and holy living, the King is coming for the final harvest!
MUSIC: Come, Ye Thankful People Come by Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra (YouTube)
PRAYER: O Lord my God, be not Thou far from me; my God, have regard to help me; for there have risen up against me sundry thoughts, and great fears afflicting my soul. How shall I pass through unhurt? How shall I break them to pieces? This is my hope, my one only consolation, to flee unto Thee in every tribulation, to trust in Thee, to call upon Thee from my inmost heart, and to wait patiently for Thy consolation. Amen.
—Thomas à Kempis, 1380-1471