Weekly e-Devotion: December 4 Edition

2 Peter 3:8-15a

The 2nd Reading Sunday 12/06/20.

8 But 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 people 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. 14 Therefore, 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. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him.

The Path to Wellness

    In the readings for this Sunday we find one of the most beautiful and hope-filled verses in the Bible. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord ….is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Some people ask, if this is true, why doesn’t God just forgive everybody and let all join him in the heavenly realm? Why would God allow any to languish eternally in lakes of fire? Bear with me while I tell you part of a story, with my daughter’s permission, that I think illustrates the answer.
    When my youngest daughter was 15 she was deep in the throes of a lesser known eating disorder called Orthorexia Nervosa. It was a textbook case but, after months of counseling, we were told that her only real hope was intensive therapy at a residential rehab facility. It was a terrible and terrifying decision to pull her out of school, sports, friends and deliver her into the hands of the experts. Two weeks later I received a call from her new counselor with bad news. Because her disorder was exacerbated by her obsessive compulsive disorder and severe malnutrition, they were afraid they couldn’t help her either. She was convinced that she was not like other patients, that her eating habits were very healthy (this is a defining part of Orthorexia). She would have to come to the conclusion on her own that she was not healthy and needed help. All they could do was keep educating her, keep trying, keep providing opportunities for her to recognize her illness and the solution. On the other hand, they told me, if she did finally choose on her own, she would not likely ever relapse…a silver lining in the OCD cloud. The solution and,ultimately, her life, was within her power alone to choose.
    This is not a story of my own struggles and conversations with God as I watched my daughter wither away. This is about God giving every possible chance for his people who are sick with sin to find the path to health. He provided the Counselor and the cure in Jesus Christ for all that ails us. He sent many prophets, including John the Baptist in this week’s gospel reading, to announce his coming and point us in his direction. John offered a baptism of repentance, a medicine sorely needed by every one of us.
    Repentance means to turn around, to stop going in the same direction and go back the other way. In spiritual terms, to stop traveling away from God and travel toward him. But God will not force anybody to journey on the road to heavenly health and life. John 3:16 is familiar. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” I would argue that God so loved the world that he allows us to have control over our lives, even to our detriment, if we absolutely insist. He will not kidnap us, dragging us kicking and screaming along the road to heaven for unwanted slavery to Christ. True, Christians are servants of the one true God. True, God is our master. But it is a servanthood borne of mutual love. One that provides freedom and life, not bondage and death. One that we enter into by choice knowing that it is the path to life. We get to choose to accept the cure, but humanity is simply too sick to do so without help, something Martin Luther describes as the bondage of the will. God has a solution for that, too.
    You see, God will patiently pursue until the very end. He will educate and reveal in every way possible. He will never give up because it breaks his heart to see his children perish. He wants all to come to repentance…come to the cure. He will make it possible for us to do what human nature can’t do on its own. And you, my Christian friends who have now recognized your need and repented, are part of his medical arsenal. We are the John Baptists, the arrows pointing to the counselor, the medical encyclopedia with the answer to the ailment. We are the ones that God has placed in the world to help others recognize their need and turn to Christ. Like my daughter’s counselors who came with bad news yet refused to give up, God will never give up on our friends, loved ones or strangers who have not yet chosen Christ. And neither should we.
    Though this is a little longer than usual, I can’t leave you hanging. A week or two after the phone call, my daughter agreed to a feeding tube, accepting that it was nutritious and that she was, indeed, too weak. As her body and brain began to receive the nutrients she needed, she was able to understand and make wise new choices. It took two years all together but, by the grace of God, she is now a very healthy young woman who chose life and is sticking to it. Your word of healing may be exactly the nutrient God is using in the life of somebody you know to help them do what sin won’t allow… to choose Christ.

e-Devotion author: Bobby Tomasek.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan at dhoeger@allsaintsphoenix.org or 602.866.9191.
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.


PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Heavenly Father, thank you that you never give up on us and give us the chance to repent, so that we may move ever closer to you Amen.


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BIBLE READINGS

Dec 6
2nd Sunday of Advent
Click HERE to read
Isaiah 40:1-11
2 Peter 3:8-15a *
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Mark 1:1-8

Dec 13
3rd Sunday of Advent
Click HERE to read
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Luke 1:46b-55
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

* eDevotion Bible text(s)


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