Advent Devotional for December 6, 2018 - Hoping in the Glory of God

"The Empyrean," or "The Highest Heaven" by Gustave Dore, an illustration from Dante's Paradiso of Dante and Beatrice beholding the glory of God. It is easy to forget that our life is moving towards something other than death. Advent reminds us that we are destined to see the glory of God, and spurs us on to live in that hope.

"The Empyrean," or "The Highest Heaven" by Gustave Dore, an illustration from Dante's Paradiso of Dante and Beatrice beholding the glory of God. It is easy to forget that our life is moving towards something other than death. Advent reminds us that we are destined to see the glory of God, and spurs us on to live in that hope.

SCRIPTURE

Romans 5:1-5
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

QUESTIONS

1. Children, teens, and young adults often look to the future with excitement and anticipation. They count down the days to Christmas and summer break, dream about getting their driver’s licenses, and repeatedly ponder where they will go to college, what they will do for work, and who they will marry. When you look to the future, do you have that same sense of excitement? Are there any goals that you long to achieve, or do you feel used up, simply trudging through life with no idea of a destination?

2. Paul says that we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” What do you know from the Bible of the glory of God? What do you think it would be like to meet him, speak to him, listen to him, and see him?

3. Teens work feverishly to be admitted to a college, and are always afraid that they haven’t done enough to get in. Unlike with college, Paul tells us that God has already accepted us. We have “peace” with him through Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again to ensure our future. What, then, would it look like for you to live with the goal of seeing God foremost in your mind, but without the fear that you might fail?

4. Paul says that we can rejoice in suffering, because suffering ultimately creates hope in God. Remember that hope = discontent with ourselves and the world + confident expectation of good from God. Suffering creates discontent automatically, but what about the expectation of good from God? Paul says that it comes from the Holy Spirit and the sense of God’s love that he places in our hearts. Do you have this sense of God’s love? If not, could it be that your discontent has drowned out the voice of the Holy Spirit? Does your discontent turn to bitterness, cynicism, or despair? Do you require some answered prayers now in order to believe in God’s love for you? How would you be different if instead you simply believed God’s Word when it says that he loves all who believe in Jesus (see John 6:37)?

SUGGESTIONS FOR PRAYER

Meditation
Spend five minutes in stillness and silence. Pay attention to your breathing, and repeat the phrase “I rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Again, as you notice your mind drifting to things that don’t concern God, use this phrase as an anchor to pull you back. If thoughts emerge in your mind that resonate with this phrase, hold them and savor them in the same way. Don’t analyze, but when your time is over, write down anything that bubbled up. If nothing jumped out at you, don’t be discouraged – that simply means that the Holy Spirit wished for you to do nothing else but to treasure this passage of Scripture, to lay hold of it and believe that it is true of you.

Prayer
When your time of meditation is done, move into a time of prayer. It may be that the Holy Spirit has prompted you to offer specific prayers of praise, confession, thanksgiving, or petition. If so, pray for these things! If not, consider using the following prayer as a guide for your own:

Heavenly Father, thank you that you accept me because of Jesus. Thank you that you have given me the Holy Spirit to assure me of your love. Thank you for using my sufferings to increase my desire to see and be with you. Help me to trust in your love and in the presence of your Spirit. Keep me from seeing my sufferings as signs that you are weak, asleep, or against me. Keep me from growing bored with life as I get older, but enable me to strive more and more to follow you, confident that you are you are waiting to receive me.