Saturday, August 19, 2017

God’s Warnings About the Solar Eclipse

And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage…..For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” – Deuteronomy 4:19; 24

On Monday, August 21, 2017 the sun and moon will do a special little dance called a “solar eclipse”.  The longest totality will be visible only 30 minutes from where I live.  This has brought hundreds of thousands of people to this area, threatened gas and food shortages, overwhelming internet usage and outages, and even power outages.  Grocery store shelves have been emptied, traffic has been backed up, and literally, I think some people have lost their ever loving minds over this!  Sorry not sorry.
That all just makes me wonder…how many of those people truly realize who is responsible for such a beautiful display of nature?  Many will say “Mother Nature”, to which I say…exactly WHO is that?  Others will fail to give creation a creator at all.  How disheartening it is to know that God is denied praise for such a beautiful moment in history.

God warns us not to give our worship to such a display of beauty in the sun, moon, and stars, but what is worship?  What would make the eclipse event that we’ll soon be enjoying into a moment of idolatry?  What would cause God to see it as our worship of the things He created, rather than honoring and praising Him for what we will see?  It’s simple.
If we leave God out of it, if we fail to give him the praise and honor only HE deserves, then it’s idolatry.  If we praise how beautiful the light rings are, how perfectly placed Bailey’s beads are, the magical effects of shadow snakes, and its full effect on animals and nature, and don’t give God the Creator the praise, we’ve robbed him of our worship.  Serving the things of the world that we see, even for a brief moment without giving him the praise is idolatry.  Something as simple as a sunset with vibrant colors can be idolatry if we give our hearts over to love the sunset, and fail to love the God who created it. 

This may seem petty to you.  It may seem like “OMG! Another Christian trying to be legalistic and throw a bunch of rules down our throats (insert rolling of eyes!)” Ya know what…I don’t care as much about your opinion as I do your disrespect of Him, so I will tell you the truth.  Now it’s up to you to determine what you will do with it.  He is a “consuming fire, a jealous God” and the One I love. 
To me, the eclipse will just be another way He shows us His magnificence, and His infinite wisdom in the creation of our world.  He didn’t have to give us the beautiful colors, sun rays reaching out like light shining through crystals, or create in the animals the mysterious ways of reacting to the eclipse.  It could have been just a simple as a shadow coming across a light bulb.  But NO! He did much more!  He made it something mysterious to see, something to be in awe of.  And why?  Was it for the animals to see? No, it was for US, His beloved.  How pathetically self-centered we would be if we didn’t give him the honor and praise for what He has given us.

If I have observed the sun when it shines, or the moon moving in brightness, so that my heart has been secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand (thrown a kiss);  this also would be an iniquity deserving of judgment, for I would have denied God who is above.” – Job 31:26-28

I will give Him my worship and adoration for what I see in the Solar Eclipse.  Will you?

photo creds: National Geographic





Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Grace Trumps Sin

“…But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,  so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5:20-21

Grace is so misunderstood.  I think it’s because it’s a gentle, quiet characteristic of God.  It’s not filled with fear, like God’s wrath.  It’s not to be avoided, and neither could we.   We don’t consider its value because it’s free.

Romans 5:20 says that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”  Consider the power of sin, and that is where you’ll see the value of Grace. 

Sin is ever present around us.  I’m convinced that every bad thing in this world is because of sin.  Violence, famine, health issues, relationship issues, wars, hatred – if it’s bad, it’s root is in sin.  I think the reason the Garden of Eden was paradise, a true utopia, was that there was no sin, and grace was at its fullest measure there.  God even walked with them in the cool of the day.  How beautiful is that visual?

And to understand that God sought with all He is and all He has power over to give us back that grace that we divorced ourselves from through sin is nothing shy of the most misunderstood love.  So many think that by believing in Christ we miss out on life because we are not to continue living in sin.  The fact is that life isn’t what it was meant to be without Christ. It’s meant to be peaceful, full of love and kindness, care free – like Eden.

Romans 5 goes on to say that when sin reigned over us by causing death, “even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.  We were made to be eternal beings, God breathing His own eternal breath into us.  But through our sin, we lost that eternal life, and death entered into us.  What sin cost us, grace through God’s perfect plan for Jesus to be our sin sacrifice restores.  John 3:16 reiterates Romans 5 by clearly says that believing in Jesus we “shall have eternal life”. 

You want your utopia back?  You want your peace back? Grace is the cure.  Jesus is the way.  His Holy Spirit is your guide.

If I can just mingle a little rock and roll in here, I’ll quote Prince who said “Dearly Beloved, we are all gathered here today, to get through this thing called LIFE.”  How you get through it is up to you.  The struggle is real, but so is grace.  Grace abounds.  Grace trumps sin.



Thursday, August 3, 2017

Need your Joy back?

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:11-15
God instructed me to search the Word for the phrase “My Joy” today.  This is where it lead me.

How wonderful that Jesus Christ would be concerned not only for our salvation, which He gave His life for, and put down His crown in Heaven to come to provide us, but He also wants us to have that same JOY as He had! He then tells us what it takes to have that heavenly Joy on earth. 

I’m just going to say it.  Seeing and hearing all the drama and hardships within relationships these days, we all – self included - need to take His advice and find the Joy that He had.  Seriously, I wonder if we grasp the worth of what He’s saying?  Do we understand that NO ONE has ever lived with the adversity and hatred that was spewed out on Jesus?  And yet, He loved us all.  Yet, He had JOY.  Don’t we all want that?

Joy isn’t the same thing as happiness.  Happiness is based on events.  I can be unhappy on a bad hair day.  But JOY – it has roots deep in our soul.  JOY is not determined by events.  Your JOY isn’t up for grabs when people put you down or you feel slighted.  JOY is that deep down peace and ‘all is right in the world’ feeling you have in your soul.

Jesus breaks it down for us by first saying that we must have peace through selfless actions for each other (“love one another as I have loved you”).  When’s the last time you did something for someone else without ulterior motives or anything to gain?  If you can’t remember, today is a good day to do that.  Find a total stranger and just determine to put a smile on their face.  There’s a unique feeling you get that is fueled by love when you know you’ve improved someone else’s day.  Try it and see.

But Jesus goes even further to tell us how to be His friend, and be in unbroken fellowship with Him.  It’s pretty simple – do as He has taught and is teaching.  He says we’re His friends “if you do whatever I command you.”  The Holy Spirit has been given to us that have accepted His salvation as our guide and our measurement of truth.  Listen to His Spirit in you and follow that lead. 

If you follow the Holy Spirit’s lead….you won’t be as easily taken down by what others say or do because you WON’T CARE!  People’s opinions become very small in the light of what the Holy Spirit of God requires.  Ask yourself instead, “but, is God happy with me in this matter?”  Release yourself from public opinion.  It is a prison cell without a door.

Instead, study God’s word to find approval. 2 Timothy 2:15 says “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needed not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  Get rid of the desires to please people by feeling no shame through pleasing God.  In the end, people’s opinion will not be the judge of your life – God’s opinion will.  I think we all place too much value on pleasing people, and when it becomes more important than pleasing God, they become our lord and master.  There is no Joy to be found in pleasing people, because it’s here today and gone tomorrow.  Instead, follow Christ’s instructions, and do whatever HE commands you and has taught you.
Joy is described as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”, and is even said to cause “tears of joy”, to bring jubilation, triumph, and delight.  Are you living with joy in your day to day life?