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Focal Passage:  Romans 8:18-29

Romans 8:21-22 “(…in hope) that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay 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.”

The very beautiful premise upon which Paul frames his point is hope.  We must always hang onto the hope that has been given to us in Christ Jesus.  Paul says that all of creation shares with us this hope and that it hangs onto it much the same way that we do.  All of this world is imperfect at present, not just its people.  And all of this world waits in eager expectation for the coming King, Jesus Christ our Savior.  Outside of Christ there is no hope, not for us and not for this earth.  Remain this day in the blessed gift we have been given in Him—hope of eternity.

Study/Meditation:  How is the earth now in “bondage to decay”?  What does it mean that it, too, will be set free from this bondage?

*Father, I long with Your creation for the day of Christ’s return.  Thank You for giving me the hope of glory in Him.  Amen.

By Lisa Blanco

I fed Adley for the last time before going to sleep, hoping she’d allow me to get at least a good cat nap before she needed me again, but I think a cat would have slept better than me. Adley woke up at midnight, 2:15 and 4:45. After the last feeding, I gently laid her back down, and then my 5am alarm went off. I pushed the snooze button and started to walk back to bed. I stood at the doorway, very tempted to lay back on that pillow. I knew things ran much smoother when I got up before the children, but I was also exhausted. I gave it another minute of thought, then prayed for help and walked downstairs to start the blessed coffee.
As I poured the coffee into the cup, I poured all my trust in there with it. “As long as I get a few cups of it, I can gather myself and be patient with the children today.”
I didn’t fully realize I had directed this thought towards an unknown pagan god of coffee as I sat down on the couch to pray to the one true Living God and read his word, (thank God for his patience).

I opened my Bible and began to read a little with tired eyes. I was just making my way into a passage and ready to gain strength for the day when the baby monitor crackled. Sure enough, Adley began to cry. I waited and waited, but she did not stop. Before I made the climb up the stairs, my head fell into my hands and I prayed one last prayer before my time alone was done:
“Lord, I tried. I want to rise early and meet with you before my day begins. I want to hear from you and read and pray before my kids wake up. I have done everything I can to make this happen, and yet you have allowed my baby to wake again and it has interuppted my time with you. It’s your power that causes them to sleep and to awaken them, so why right now? How am I supposed to commune with you in this long season of busy life?”
I lifted my head, feeling more tired than before. The other monitor lit up as a voice loudly cried, “Mommy I have to poo poo!”

This is a picture of what my nights and the early hours of the morning can look like. For a long time I have struggled with joy and thankfulness that God calls me to as his child. I love my children tremendously; they are deeply precious to me. But what I struggled with is feeling (rather believing the lie) that God cuts me short in my time with him, or for some reason that it seems he doesn’t provide the time. I believed that my only time to hear from God and receive help and wisdom was before my children woke up. I thought my only hope for being kind and patient with my children was if I had read my Bible, put the dishes away, and put some kind of order to our downstairs before they came down.  And if none of these were able to happen? You could just forget any kindness and gentleness (or any fruits of the spirit really) from me.

But over the last month The Lord has revealed all the ugly that has been going on in my heart. It sounds strange, especially after reading this, how obvious it should all seem, but I was blind to how much I really have been relying on my own strength to do what God has called me to do.

When I read Colossians 3 and how God calls us to walk and talk like a child of God with patience and gentleness and to be thankful, I don’t have to feel burdened. I used to, but God is rescuing me. Because if I read the chapter before, I’ll find Colossians  2:14 tells me that God has canceled the record of debt I owe by nailing it to the cross of his Son. And even further back in Colossians 1: 20 we are told that Christ’s work on the cross not only cancels the debt we owe for sin, but then he also presents us holy and blameless before God. So God isn’t holding a record against me of all the times I have failed with my children (or put my trust in the pagan god of coffee); he’s erased it and is conforming me into the image of his Son.  I am therefore free to pursue gentleness and patience with my kids and start over in repentance again and again–not burdened to pursue it, but free.

While rising early before the children is still my goal each day, God has shown me that it’s not where my hope lies, and it’s not the only time he wants to commune with me. It’s not only the quiet, alone times he wants to talk to me, make me like Jesus, and bring to mind his Word so that I might fight sin. He isn’t just the God of help for early morning times of trouble, but the God who is our very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
I have found that it’s also in the moments when the baby rises early that the Spirit asks me: Now, will you trust that The Lord will sustain you even if your plans did not pan out? Will you trust he’s making you look more like Jesus by sacrificing your time alone to care for these children? Will you trust that you can still obey and walk in patience even without the planned time of reading? Yes, it’s those times I can serve The Lord with gladness. (Psalm 100:2)

I have found that God is making me more like his Son and communing with me not just before my kids refuse to listen, but when I’m actually swimming IN the pool (or is it more like a dirty, murky lake?) of disobedience from them, and they have fought hard against my instruction for hours, and I have done everything in my power to warn them: “Listen to me! We don’t have to drown today! Listen to my instruction! Listen quickly!” It’s in those waters God has shown me 2 Thessalonians 3:5-

“May God direct your hearts to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ.”

That has been a life-giving verse for me when I feel I’m drowning in the murky lake of disobedience inside the walls of my house, alone, when no one else can see but The Lord. And that verse quickly helps me fight in two ways:

1. The Lord loves both my children and me deeply, so my heart can quickly reach for thankfulness.

2. Jesus is steadfast and never runs out of patience and love towards those for whom he laid down his life.

So I don’t have to throw in the towel, because Jesus never does.

Focal Passage:  Romans 8:18-29

Romans 8:20 “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it….”

Paul wants believers to also realize that they do not experience the frustrations subjected to them in this fallen state alone.  In fact, all of creation has been subjected to the same fate.  The fall of man did not only affect the earthbound future of mankind, but it also affected all of the earth.  And notice what Paul adds at the end.  He adds that creation isn’t in charge.  Mother Nature or the earth mother or the elements or any other thing does not rule, nor do they decide theirs or anyone else’s fates.  There is only one God and He is completely sovereign.  He created all that is and He controls and patterns the course for all.  As R.C. Sproul once said, “Either God is the God over the entire universe, or He isn’t God at all.”  We serve and are loved by the awesome Creator God, the Lord of the Universe.  Fellow believer, take solace in that during this day of trial.

Study/Meditation:  How do we as believers take inordinate comfort in knowing that God is sovereign over all things, both good and bad?  How might you explain that to an unbeliever?

*Father, You are the Creator God, the Mighty One.  I give You all praise, glory and honor.  Amen.

Focal Passage: Romans 8:18-29

Romans 8:19 “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”

How amazing is this declaration. Truly, Paul is telling us that not only is there nothing on this earth, either good nor bad, that compares to the glory we will see and experience in eternity, but it will be so wonderful that creation itself longs for that day. Everything that God created waits “with eager longing” for the day when God’s children will be glorified. This will be the culmination of God’s promises, our faith fulfilled, the glory revealed. If all of creation waits in anticipation of what we have been promised, how can we dwell on the cares of this world as if they are our defining elements? We have an eternity so magnificent in store for us that even the rocks long to cry out for it! These things are certainly worth our focus and our attention and our joy.

Study/Meditation: Why is it so important that our perspectives be correct when living in this world? How should our knowledge of eternity appear to a dying world?

*Father, thank You for what I know is in store for me. Thank You for choosing me to live in eternity in the unimaginable joy You have promised. Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 8:18-29

Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

None of us will deny the suffering we all endure.  Truly we live in a fallen world, and in that fallen world amidst fallen flesh, there is suffering immeasurable.  Sometimes that suffering seems as if it cannot be endured, that indeed we will be crushed under it, and it consequently becomes our reality.  Paul begins by recognizing this truth, but then he makes a startling declaration:  As horrible as it is here sometimes, this “horrible-ness” can’t even compare to the glory we will see and feel and know in eternity.  The very best thing and the very worst things you can imagine aren’t good enough or bad enough to be as wonderful as what awaits God’s children in heaven.  That is an amazing and wonderful truth!  We mustn’t minimize our sufferings here, because to do so would be to deny their validity as products of a fallen world.  However, if we can but for a moment remember that as awful as they are, there is no scale upon which to compare them to how glorious will be our eternity to come!

Study/Meditation:  What comfort does Jesus give us in John 16:33?  What does His overcoming the world mean in terms of this present reality and the sufferings therein?

*Father, give me the strength today to face the trials and sufferings in this life.  Help me remember that You have for me joy and glory beyond compare.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 8:12-17

Romans 8:17 “…and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Christians, it has been said, sacrifice their present on the altar of their future.  That’s not common.  The world will always sacrifice its future on the altar of its present.  In other words, the world wants their happiness and riches and inheritance now, so the future isn’t the focus—now is.  However, believers understand that as heirs of the promise of God, we are also aliens in this place.  As such, our present will understandably be riddled with troubles and trials.  We sacrifice this day and the treasures the world offers us on the altar of our futures, which is eternity, knowing that our futures encompass riches that far outweigh anything this world might offer now.  We suffer now with our Savior knowing that one day we will be glorified with Him.  That’s worth any sacrifice made today.

Study/Meditation:  Read 1 Peter 1:3-7.  What does Peter say is the point of trials in this life in relation to our eternal inheritance?  How do these teachings spur you on in this day?

*Father, help me remember my eternity today as I face the troubles that abound in this life.  I love You and I look to You for my future in glory.  Amen.