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Zero Gravity (Devotional)


ANTICIPATION  by Kevin Leigh Johnson - Arrival a 25 Day Christmas Devotion

When I was a kid, there was one family decoration that signaled the beginning of the Christmas season: the Christmas Tree Cookie Jar. There’s a particular day, sometime after Thanksgiving, where it shows up in the middle of the kitchen table.

I grew up in what I like to call a “Kool-Aid® and Little Debbie® Family.” The go-to after-school snack for us was a plastic wrapped snack cake and a cup of sugar water. But of all the Oatmeal Creme Pies®, Swiss Cake Rolls® and Fudge Rounds®, there is one Little Debbie that rules them all: the Christmas Tree Cake®. The cookie jar that showed up on our kitchen table was always filled with Christmas Tree Cakes, but not until a particular day. Every day, I would run to the kitchen, pull the top off the cookie jar, and look in to see if the jar was filled with Christmas Tree Cakes yet. My days were passed in complete anticipation of Christmas coming, and the snack cakes with it. As this happened over and over, each day was only an opportunity to get to the next, and another chance to open the cookie jar.

I think the story of God’s people is a story filled with anticipation. The story of God’s relationship with Israel starts with God’s special friendship with Abraham. God chooses Abraham and promises to make him into a great nation and bless the world through his children. No sooner does God make this promise than Abraham begins to anticipate its fulfillment. Abraham has no children for a very long time. He takes matters into his own hands, and that doesn’t turn out so well. Eventually God gives him a son Isaac, who has a son named Jacob, who is called Israel. Israel has 12 sons that become 12 tribes that become a nation. It is with this nation that God makes a covenant: an agreement based on love.

God promises the people of Israel that if they will follow Him and obey, they will be His treasured possession. But, if they choose to disobey, they’re going to struggle. They will struggle to make their crops grow, they’ll struggle to make their families grow, and ultimately, other nations will come and conquer them. If you know the story of Israel, you know that eventually, their disobedience mounts to the point of exile: God allows nations to conquer Israel. The prophet who delivers this news to Israel is Isaiah. As Israel stares down the reality of being conquered and humiliated, Isaiah delivers another message of hope.

Read Isaiah 55:1-13.

If you know the story of Jesus coming to save His people from their sins, you see the relief in this passage. But think how this must have felt for the Israelites. If one day, God was going to glorify them and use them to bless the world, why did they have to go into exile first?

We all have circumstances in our life we wish would end quickly. We’re waiting for a test result, or a problem with our parents, or a relationship to develop. We just keep thinking, “If I can push through, I’ll get to the other side.” If we’re not careful, we can become convinced that God is there when the circumstances change, but not with us now. What does Isaiah tell the people of Israel to do? He doesn’t tell them to grit their teeth and make it to the future where God is, but he tells them to “seek the Lord while He may be found,” because God’s ways are higher than theirs (Is. 55:6-9). In short, look for God now, because He can see a bigger picture that you cannot.

When I was a kid, waiting on those Christmas Tree Cakes, the irony I missed is that when it comes down to it, Christmas Tree Cakes are not all that special. They’re really just Zebra Cakes with different icing and some sprinkles. I spent so much time waiting on something that was already in the pantry. So often, I try so hard to see God in the future that I miss Him in the present.



Get Better Not Bitter

Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don’t be concerned about the fact that they won’t repay.  Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as sons of God; for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are very wicked.”  Luke 6:35 TLB

Is there any tougher commandment than the one that instructs us to love our enemies?  Not tolerate them, or simply do kind things for them.  Love them.  Those obnoxious, cruel, hateful people.  The teacher who treats you unfairly.  The fellow student who pretends to be your friend, then stabs you in the back.  The unhappy customer who unfairly criticizes you is consistently rude.  Or that certain someone who is simply annoying.

The first step in loving our enemies is praying for them (not for their humiliation, downfall, or destruction, by the way). And when we pray for our enemies, we need to pray as much for our own attitudes and behaviors as for theirs.  That way, even if our prayers don’t change our enemies’ ugly qualities, they will change us.

Often the first thing to pray for is simply the will and grace to want to love our enemies.

In praying for these people, we may come to realize that they are no less attractive to God or loved by God than we are.  And as we experience what hard work is to love unlovable people, we will value God’s love for us more than ever.

Who are the “unloveable” people God wants to love through me?

From God's Little Devotional Journal



Living Bible (TLB) 
The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God's Little Devotional Journal for Teens 
God's Little Devotional Journal for Teens copyright © 2001 by Honor Books. Used by permission of Honor Books, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80918. All rights reserved.

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