Scripture Focus: Revelation 21.5, 6
“I am making everything new!…It is done.”
From John: Little did we know how much we would need renewal from Christ at the end of 2019… This re-edited devotional is a vital reminder that spiritual renewal is powered by Christ and our surrender to him, not our own willpower and work.
Reflection: Ache for Renewal
By John Tillman
We have a constant, longing ache for renewal right down in our souls where we sense Eden’s loss. In Epiphany, we can find the blossoming, the revealing, the renewal that we long for.
This ache is magnified during the days surrounding New Year celebrations. Despite the depth of the ache in our souls, the renewals that we focus on are typically shallow and self-improvement-driven.
We want to change our diets.
We want to change our jobs. (or maybe just our boss…)
We want to lose weight.
We want to gain knowledge or skills.
We want to stop a bad habit.
We want to start a good habit.
It is good for us to work better, live better, grow in knowledge, grow in health, take a new career direction, or upgrade the food we eat. Even these surface-level changes typically improve not just ourselves, but the world around us.
We may smile more. We may feel better. We may be better able to live as loving revelations of Christ. But there is also a danger of merely enacting a secular (and selfish) ritual of self-improvement.
In Christ’s description of exorcism, the ousted demon finds the person he just left clean and empty with plenty of room for even worse spiritual corruption. If we do not deal with the demons at the root of our discontent, then we will only sweep out of our homes last years’ messes, to make room for new and worse in the coming year. The last state of our souls is worse than the first. (Matthew 12.43-45; Luke 11.24-26)
Christ declared to John, “I am making all things new,” then later, “It is done.” It is Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12.2). Christ declared his suffering finished on the cross (John 19.30), and he will eventually declare his renewal of the Earth finished.
The end of the Earth will be, rather than complete destruction, complete reconstruction. The world and everything in it, including us, will be renewed.
So rather than attempt to sweep our own house clean and empty, may we invite Jesus into our mess (Revelation 3.20), and let him do renewing, revealing work within and through us. He has work of renewal for us to join him in now. And he who begins a good work in us will see it through to completion (Philippians 1.6). When he is finished, we will have revealed Him to the world.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Bow down your ear, O Lord, and answer me…
Keep watch over my life, for I am faithful. — Psalm 86.1-2
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
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Visit the world again and again with awakenings by your Spirit that will sweep humanity into your Kingdom and bring greater justice and mercy into our homes, communities, and nations.