Archive for November, 2014

Promise

New Day, November 25, 2014

“Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17

Within the last eight days Cheryl and I have made two trips to South Georgia—one for a family funeral and another to take in the play, “Oliver,” showcasing our oldest granddaughter and her father. Please Father, keep us off the road for a little while.

We saw every kind of sky imaginable over Georgia: dark and dangerous, bright and beaming, sunrises and sunsets, soaked and smiling. This morning’s sunrise is itself both cloudy and clear.

The sky is promise. Maybe today, it is where Jesus will call us to the grandest of meetings. And, joyfully, we will then live in His presence forever. It is simple and profound.

Like our skin—our biggest organ, entirely protecting and surrounding us—the sky may be the biggest reminder of God’s present care and future hope. It, too, engulfs us wholly and brings promise.

So, look up today and look forward to our sweetest trip of all!

New Morning Rising

New Day, November 21, 2014

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD [Yahweh] is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” Isaiah 40:28

After walking my fabulous wife, Cheryl, to her car this morning, I stood outside until I became cold and just stared at the new morning rising. While I prayed both the smallness of my knowledge about God and the greatness of what I know of who He is and how He manifests His Godness became real.

Isaiah 40 is best known for its last verse but the thoughts from God and about God run deep throughout the chapter. Verse 28 (above) is a magnificent verse all on its own. Throughout the chapter Isaiah has been asking questions and in verse 28 gives a pointed, rhetorical inquiry, “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” Of course they had! Were they–we–forgetting?

Isaiah portrays God who always was and will be, is the deliberate Creator, endlessly powerful, always compassionate, infinite in wisdom.

There is no question I can trust Him with everything today.

The Painter

I hope you’ve seen Bob Ross on television. Now gone but still on television, he was the painter who dazzled the world with his lush landscapes painted with knife-like tools and large brushes. Drink in this: trees in the foreground created by scraping the canvas, with a moonscape coming to life center stage with a three inch brush.

I love watching his sessions on public television and even took a class to learn his technique. In three hours we all did a painting and brought it home! Once, in her constant joy to do nice things for me, Cheryl secretly bought a ticket to a public demonstration by him. And then he unexpectedly died before the class!

I thought of Bob Ross, the lesser painter, last night as I stood outside and took in the sunset. Cold but with a sharply focused sky, with sweeping, broad strokes the Master Painter swept one-half of the sky with long, thin pink clouds. The sky, with puffs of white smoke-like clouds around the longer pink ones–and with a not-to-be-forgotten blue background–was cause for praise to God for His works.

It takes run-on sentences to begin to describe God and what He does.

The delight of God in His sunset must have been great in heaven. It sure was for me on earth.

Glorious Exuberance

New Day, November 19, 2014

“Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)

A friend recently asked why I get up so early. And miss the amazing crisp and clear and cold and colorful sky like this morning?! Isaiah 40:26 provides the best perspective: to see an echo of God’s glory.

They—God and His glory—are the starting place for the day, centering my heart.

“What is the universe but the lavish demonstration of the incredible, incomparable, unimaginable exuberance and wisdom and power and greatness of  God! What a God he must be!” John Piper

I am especially drawn to Isaiah’s phrase, “and not one of them is missing.” It reminds me of Jesus, who promised He would “never leave nor forsake” us. The God of strength and power and might and sovereignty is also caring!

Bank on it, John.

The Wineskins of the Heavens

New Day, November 18, 2014

“Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens…?” (Job 38:37)

Anxious clouds opened their hold on the sky for a moment this morning, and the glory of a crescent moon broke through. Clouds, ah the clouds.

Yesterday, Cheryl and I traveled to Macon, Georgia, and back for the memorial service of a sweet saint. The waterskins of the heavens were fully tilted and released torrents of rain. The sun briefly and wonderfully appeared for a few minutes as we reentered Tennessee at sunset.

Remembering God is a daily call and challenge—especially with real or figurative bursting waterskins-clouds. We are lifeless and helpless without Yahweh. A commentator notes, “This is at the heart of the real issue. The wisdom of God that created and sustains the universe is at work in Job’s suffering also.”

Father, thank You for faithfully sustaining earth and me, and for the subtle glimpse of Your presence and glory in the moon this morning.

We All Scream For Ice Cream

The Rhea Herald News

November 19, 2014

“…the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (ESV, Psalm 33:8)

During the Great Depression in the last century, President Franklin D. Roosevelt voiced these famous words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He knew the crippling impact unrelenting fear could have on our nation emotionally and financially. In our contemporary world we know of the devastating results when we let our fears control us. Spiders and mice scare many to jump on top of unstable tables. Me? I would climb a thorn bush to get away from a snake.

In the absence of real, genuine hope, fear is overwhelming.

“Fear” and “the fear of the Lord” translate the thought of dread, reverence, terror, timidity, wonder, stupendous, or awe. I like stupendous a lot. Fear is a two-edged sword. For those who reject the Son, Jesus Christ, fear in the sense of dread is unavoidable. Jesus Himself said, “Whoever believes in the Son [trusts in Him alone] has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). Ouch. What does that say about our call to intentionally invest in folks who are without Christ?

The sword of awesome fear has a wonderful side: God has given followers of Christ a new perspective and certain hope. Psalm 147 is encouraging: “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving…He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food…[But] His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 147:7-11).

John Piper writes of huge storms and stars: “…he cups his hands around us…And in that place of refuge we say, ‘This is amazing, this is terrible, this is incredible power; Oh, the thrill of being here in the center of the awful [awesome] power of God, yet protected by God himself!’”

In an unforgettable seminary moment, Dr. Ron Allen told of being in an ice cream shop with the teenage son of a famous Christian leader after the two men spoke at a conference. When the boy sat down at Dr. Allen’s table with a multi-colored, piled high cone of frozen delight, he shouted, “This is awesome!”

Dr. Allen laughed as he told the story and then became serious and said, “Gentlemen, ice cream is not awesome. God is awesome.” May we save the best words for God.

What brings you fear? Trust in Jesus Christ alone for your eternal destiny and you will have a sure hope now—and you will have the awesome, only God who will surround you with his steadfast love.

Now, that’s indescribably greater than all the Mayfield Butter Pecan ice cream in the world.

Hoarfrost!

New Day, November 14, 2014

“Praise the LORD…He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool [not yet in SE Tennessee]; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold?” (Psalm 147:1, 15-17)

I knew if I titled today’s post “Hoarfrost” you would smile and wonder about me. But it is a biblical word and we have it this morning.Hoarfrost is “a grayish-white crystalline deposit of frozen water vapor formed in clear still weather on vegetation, fences, etc.”

This morning, the moon was directly above with a bright planet closet beside. The sun couldn’t wait to fully shine and was bright even in the pre-dawn horizon. It is a cold (25 degrees) still fall morning. I love it.

Psalm 147 is strong with praise for all God does for those who love Him–and is fierce with warning for those who ignore and reject Him. Which one will I be today?

Awe and Ice Cream

New Day, November 12, 2014
“Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!…By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host…Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!” (Psalm 33:1,6,8)

Awe is an over used word in our culture. Ron Allen, one of my seminary professors, tells of the time the teenage son of a friend sat down at their ice cream shop table with a multi-scoop, multi-colored ice cream cone. As he licked it he screamed, “This is awesome!”

Ice cream is wonderful but it is not awesome. God is.

Though cloudy here, this new day, let us revere God, give shouts for joy, and reserve awe for our great God.

Where is the Cranky Old Man?

New Day, November 10, 2014

“I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known you faithfulness to all generation. For I said, ‘steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.’” Psalm 89:1-2 ESV

Early this morning the moon is waning in the clear, southwestern sky and thin clouds herald the reminder of God’s unfailing, steadfast love. Who could ever think God is like a cranky old man lurking around up there, trying to catch us in our sin?

I envision psalmist, pastor Ethan with clapping hands as he leads the heavens and us to sing: God’s loyal, steadfast, faithful, unfailing love (hesed) has many manifestations in creation (it’s plural). Consistent with His nature, He constantly acts in “great love” (NIV), and this steadfast love of the Father is firmly, forever established in the heavens each night and new day sunrise if we will just look and linger for a while. The cranky old man never lived there or anywhere, anyhow, anyway.

Our Father, who is in heaven, how we love Your reminders in the sky!

It’s Personal

New Day, November 10, 2014
“Give thanks to the LORD…to him who by understanding made the heavens…to him who made the great lights…the sun to rule over the day…the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever…” Psalm 136:1, 5-9
With some remorse and for brevity, I omitted the central idea of the song-poem Psalm 136–repeated with every verse: God’s steadfast love endures forever.

God’s steadfast love (“hesed”) is multifaceted. One stunning reality hesed expresses is God’s unceasing loyalty to those who love Him. Looking into the sky today, I will dwell on this: God has expressed and pledged His devotion to me all the days of my life. How great is Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiety you by his love.”

This morning’s showcase of wonders in the sky “declares” a small part of the person God is (Ps 19:1). But oh, what a bright shining it is!
In Jesus, this love is ultimately, savingly expressed in His life and cross (2 Corinthians 1:20). It is personal.

Enjoy glimpses of God’s glory today.


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