Archive for August, 2015

Show Stoppers

New Day, August 31, 2015

“Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever…to him who made…the moon and stars to rule over the night.”

Psalm 136:3, 7, 9

There were two show stoppers this morning while the sun yawned to wake up.

First, there was the nearly full, waning gibbous moon, high in the western sky, encircled by a thin, transparent collage of clouds. Radiant and quiet, it would have been such a loss to miss it if I only focused on the eastern sky while I waited for sunrise.

In the full range of the visible heavens there was a second joy. Just above the waking sun in the east there was Venus, the main morning star and the brightest of planets. In September, Venus and Mars appear before dawn with bright Jupiter appearing in mid-month below Venus and Mars. Jupiter will shine more brilliantly than any star. It’s the second-brightest planet after Venus.

I am curious: Did the Psalmist differentiate between stars and planets?

Did you know the “morning star” is used of both Satan and Christ? Satan was once the most stunning of angels until his fall (Isaiah 14). Christ is THE “bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16). In the New Jerusalem, capital city of our final eternal home (the new heavens and earth), “They will need no light or lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light…” (Revelation 22:5).

What an stupendous morning to give thanks for the gifts of God in the sky, His steadfast love, and the Christ who is the greatest of all lights!

Dead or Alive

“Give me life, O LORD, according to your word!” Psalm 119:107

 There is a lot to be said about what we have now when compared to where we have been.

I am slow-walking through Psalm 119 this month. With a cup of coffee in hand, one morning this week I waited for enough light to read and, instead, prayed the psalmist’s heart: “I love your word, O LORD” (v. 97). Father, may my heart have the joy of the psalmist for the Word of God—even more than a stunning early morning sunrise (v. 111).

Sunrises change each day; the Word of God stands forever. Life circumstances can change every hour; God’s Word and His steadfast love speak—sing—everlasting life every minute (v. 88). The psalmist asks for life “according to your word.” Here are some thrilling, thanks-inviting, worship-compelling words God has said about life in the Word of God.

  • Jesus Christ is the only true way to eternal life. Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6-7).
  •  We are now dead to self—crucified with Christ—and can really live because Christ is in us—now. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
  •  We are no longer chained by hopeless death but have begun eternal life—now: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
  •  Christ is everything. Life is Christ-centered and to die right now is to our advantage: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
  •  Jesus is an available safe, comforting, guiding, protecting shepherd for we who are His sheep—now and forever. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
  • God’s love is all around, in, and through life: “In your steadfast love give me life” (Psalm 199:88).

Certainly, there are passages that speak to the tough, sacrificial side of life with Christ. And daily, a gray day has serious temptations to a unscriptural thought, e.g., “Just pull the blanket over my head and go back to sleep.” Yet, God’s Word invites me: Get up for “This is the day [life] the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

Father and Giver of life, there are many competitors to the life You offer through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please help me to single-mindedly chase after Him with a heart for the One who is our life.

NOW

New Day, August 14, 2015

“…give me life, O LORD, according to your word!” Psalm 119:107

I am slow-walking through Psalm 119 this month. While sitting in the dark with a cup of coffee, waiting for enough light to read I prayed the Psalmist’s heart: “I love your word, O LORD” (v. 97). The early morning joy of a sunrise is only exceeded by the anticipation of the Word of God (v. 111).

Sunrises change each day; the Word of God, teaching us and guiding us each day does not. Life circumstances are altered sometimes every hour; God and His steadfast love undergird every minute.

The Psalmist asks for life “according to your word.” My databank quickly thanked Yahweh for “life” thoughts:

  1. Jesus Christ is the only way to life and the only true life (John 14:6);
  2. We are now dead to self—crucified with Christ—and can continue to and really live because Christ is in us—now (Galatians 2:20);
  3. Once dead and bound to sin’s penalty and power and presence, in Christ we are no longer chained by its hopeless death but have begun eternal life—now (John 5:24);
  4. Christ is everything. Life is Christ and to die right now is to our advantage (Philippians 1:21);
  5. Jesus is an available safe, comforting, guiding, protecting shepherd for we who are His sheep—now and forever (John 10:9-10).

Today’s gray sunrise does not diminish the smallest bit of reality and certainty of life today and, soon, in Christ’s presence!

Soul Laziness

New Day

August 11, 2015

“Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is in perfect knowledge.”

Job 37:16

 It is foggy this morning but the love of Christ is clear.

My favorite theme in Psalms is the steadfast love of God. It pops up over and again. Simply stated in the New Testament as love, it’s Old Testament family heritage expresses a complex of God’s character and operations including grace, mercy, faithfulness, and goodness.

Fog tempts me to soul laziness. If not intentional my heart’s remote control will take over and the reality of “The wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge” will be put on hold. I will forget God’s steadfast love.

But today’s fog bellows the chorus, “There is mystery in the ‘balancings’ of life with Christ. How astounding are Yahweh’s operations in a million galaxies and us—all done in perfect knowledge.

Putty Knives and Big Brushes

New Day, August 4, 2015

“…in his temple all cry, “Glory!” Psalm 29:9

 

I did a one day, take-a-painting-home class in the technique of Bob Ross painting. Do you remember Bob Ross? Now gone, he was the hippie-looking painter with the soft voice who used sophisticated putty knifes and big brushes to paint remarkable paintings.

We had a Bob Ross early sunrise yesterday, complete with layers of rich, full colors gently stroked with a large brush to take away the sharp edges, blend the colors, and overlap the striations together.

Today’s morning wake-up started more subtly, including the moon. Last week’s Blue Moon has traveled on. Oh how incredibly large and bright and in-our-face-full it was. This morning the moon stands far away, less obvious, but still reflecting God’s glory in quieter ways. Its purpose is not only fulfilled in grandeur but in quietness, too. Can we accept this about us?

God’s multiplicity in glorious displays is a chorus of praise, pursuing us to shout glory! Try it.

Blue Moon

“He made the moon to mark the seasons…” Psalm 104:19

 Yes, “Blue Moon” is the name of an old song. It was also a celestial event last week on July 31st. Did you see it? A Blue Moon is a second full moon in the same month. Unfortunately, it only happens once every three years. It appears blue only when light particles so color the atmosphere.

Perhaps the moon that night was more striking because it was a cloudless night sky. Just above the horizon, Cheryl and I stood in the driveway and gazed amazed—and we were nearly blinded by its brilliance.

For over a year I have made it a point to search the Scriptures most early mornings, specifically enjoying and praying through passages about celestial and creation wonders. Sometimes, I write about it on a blog: https://indestructiblelife.wordpress.com. The moon has been a sweet surprise. Unaffected by the clamor of city streets, families hustling to get ready for school and work, or sleepy heads hitting the snooze, the moon often stands by smiling, watching the sun wake up.

With the recent excitement about new and enhanced pictures of Pluto and the discovery of a distant planet “Earth 2.0,” our Blue Moon was a welcome pat-on-the-back for the sun’s cousin. Sadly, the moon is too familiar and forgotten. Without ice mountains or rings of frozen crystals it seems boring at first glance—that is, until we hear what Scripture has said about the moon.

  • Job described the moon as “moving in spendlor” (31:6). I see and like that a lot.
  • The moon humbles us and Psalm 8:3 describes its creation: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place…” Rather than diminishing us, the Psalm–and moon—elevate our significance.
  • Psalm 89:36-37 notes, “…the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” I’m increasingly thinking about it as a teacher about God and His work.
  • There is danger in it as a celestial seduction: “And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them…” (Deuteronomy 4:19). I saw evidence of this happening at a Mayan ruin where spiritual seekers go for annual festivals of worship. I wonder: Are we tempted to dangerously devote ourselves to God’s creatures or creation?
  • Psalm 104:19 notes God “made the moon to mark the seasons…” Psalm 136:9 states, “…the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;”

It’s stunning: In love, God gave the moon to fulfill His purposes for earth, to witness to His love, and to woo us to Himself! We’ll have to wait until January 2018 to experience a Blue Moon again. We don’t have to wait to worship the moon’s Maker and Sustainer.

How about now?



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