|View today’s reading at Bible Gateway 2 Thessalonians 1 1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving and Prayer 3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. 11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.|
If we’re not actively surrendering to Christ’s righteousness for us on a daily basis, then we all naturally default back to our version of self-righteous. Self-righteousness is a dangerous lie that will lead us into a ditch of arrogance. Working really hard to get God to like you is a fruit of self-righteousness. And what is that? It’s the effort to become righteous before God by your own efforts. Self-righteousness is always defined by self. You decide what is right and wrong. You vainly attempt to define what is good enough to please God. Or, more accurately, you determine what pleases you. You desperately work to get to the point where you can say, “This is good enough. I bet God likes me now.” However, the road of self-righteousness always has a deep ditch. If you travel this road long enough it will get so narrow that it will eventually push you into this deep ditch called arrogance. The ditch of arrogance causes you to think you’ve reached super-Christian status. You have now been granted a capital C on your chest with a gold-plated shield around it. It will stay buried under the shirt of false humility waiting for the perfect opportunity to bulge out. This is a dangerous ditch in which to find yourself because there’s only one judge on all spiritual matters there—you. Whether it’s the pastor’s sermon or the lyrics to the latest song the worship band covered, nothing is deep or right enough for you. You’re the smartest person in the room. You’ve got the inside track to the heart of God. However, deep down in your heart of hearts, you know it’s all a sham. You’re dying. You’re fearful. On top of it all, these all-too-sobering verses hang over your head: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18) God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5) Questions for Reflection: What is self-righteousness? In the moments of life when you’re not focusing on Christ, do you tend to be arrogant? What is a way to fight arrogance today? Truth: Christians are not saved by their own works, but by the work of Christ. Therefore, we have nothing to be arrogant about. We should only boast in Him.
Duration: 365 days
RESTORATION INSIDE AND OUT
Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 36:24–38
Did you know that heaven isn’t the Christian’s final destination?
The Bible makes it clear that when Jesus comes again we’ll receive new bodies and that God will restore the earth. The echoes of this promise are heard in Ezekiel’s proclamation of a coming Messianic age. We can call the “new” earth our final home. We won’t float on clouds, strum harps of gold or sing some never-ending worship song. Rather, we’ll find ourselves in a very real place, more real and alive than this world could ever be.
The prophet Ezekiel challenges the stereotypes of God’s restoration. God will purify and recreate what’s inside of us. He will give us a new heart and a new spirit (verses 25–26). Certainly we should embrace and cherish these promises.
However, Ezekiel’s prophecy of restoration doesn’t end with our bodies. God will also restore the earth: “The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, ‘This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited’” (verses 34–35). Ezekiel also describes the physical abundance and fruitfulness of the renewed earth (verses 29–30).
God accomplished the purification of sins in the death of his Son, Jesus. But he hasn’t restored the world yet. That great work still lies ahead; still today we wait for God to fulfill the second half of Ezekiel’s prophecy.
As we wait for that glorious day when God will make all things new, we do well to remember that God won’t forget the physical world he has created. His work of restoration moves from the inside out.
To Take Away
- Why won’t God abandon the world he has created?
- What do you think the renewed earth will be like?
- One day all of God’s people will be fully restored and will live in a new, perfect world. How might this knowledge affect your life today?
In Other Words
“We should stretch our vision of what’s in store for us. God’s redemptive work is far greater than we imagine because God himself is far greater than we imagine.” —Randy Alcorn
Copyright © 2006 by Zondervan.