Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Let the Children Come to Jesus

13Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. (Matthew 19:13) 

Thoughts: People brought their little children to Jesus because children were precious to them, and God's blessing is the best blessing they could get.  In our secular society, we forget that God is able to bless and help us.  We may think that education, or money, or power/politics are the only blessings.  We may value the kiss of a politician or a coach more than the blessing of God.  But these blessings mean little without real hope or meaning or purpose to live.  God brings us strength in the tough times.  He also came to give us the abundant life and joy- and most would like that for their children.  The people believed Jesus, who healed and helped many, could bless their kids.
     But the disciples rebuked the people.  Perhaps they thought Jesus was too important to mess with little children.  Perhaps because it was a burden on them.  Maybe it was an inconvenience for them to stop their work in order for Jesus to mess with children.  Children, after all, could not do anything FOR the cause. They didn't know how to do networking or give connections.  The children could not give for the disciples or Jesus to get food.  The children were helpless and were a burden, and it was inconvenient for Jesus to stop His busy schedule to meet with them.
     Of course, Jesus rebuked them.  Jesus values us even when we are not productive or working for Him.  He values a little child.  He also values the very old- even if all they can do is sit and pray- or even just sit.
     Parents need to really value making sure their children come to Jesus.  In a secular world this is de-valued.  Sometimes the disciples of Jesus still get in the way, but you should do all you can to value Jesus' blessing on your children.  The people didn't give up when the disciples said no.  They didn't complain or whine.  They just waited, and Jesus made a way.  If you want to bring your children to Jesus, He will make a way for you to do that.  

Prayer: Lord help me to value your blessing above all others- for yours is an eternal and mighty blessing.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God

1The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4Yet their voiceb goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth. (Psalm 19:1-6)

Thoughts: The course and circuit of the sun was interrupted where I lived today with a total solar eclipse.  It lasted about three hours in partiality and two and a half minutes in totality.  But the heavens poured forth speech.  This is what they said, God is amazing.  He is creative yet purposeful.  He says the sun may be covered up for a time but darkness does not win.  All the expectations of normalcy in the day changed.  It grew dark at midday.  We could see Venus at 2:30 PM.  The animals calmed down or flew back to their nests to rest for the very short evening.  The crickets chirped at midday.  People stood agape or said "Wow" out loud at the diamond ring effect of the solar eclipse.  All the horizons turned orange.  No one needed a loud announcer to tell us that this is amazing, and that God is amazing.  We would do well to listen to the great God. 

Prayer: Lord, as you pour forth speech in creation, give me ears to hear.  

Shadow reflections of the eclipse through leaves on the sidewalk.  

Crowd gathered to worship and give thanks to God in the eclipse 8/21/17. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Biggest Eclipse- a Prediction From Jesus

DEVOTION 17- The Biggest Prediction of an Eclipse- from Jesus

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.29“Immediately after the distress of those days “ ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.b 30“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earthc will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.d 31And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:27, 29-31)

Thoughts: Jesus quotes from Isaiah 13's passage about an eclipse.  He speaks of the sun being darkened and the moon turning black- just like an eclipse.  Then He speaks of the sign of the Son of Man appearing in heaven.  The sign of the Son of Man is the cross.  It is a fairly common thing to see a cross right after the moon appears to move away from the sun.
      It is interesting that He mentions the ability of all peoples on earth being able to see Him at once. In the ancient world this would be impossible.  How could people in China see Jesus come back in Jerusalem?  In this same speech Jesus says, "Just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes into the west so will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Mt. 24:27).  The ability for every eye to see Christ has not always been available.  But thanks to cable TV and the internet and smartphones, every eye is able to see Him when He comes.
      It makes sense that if Jesus comes back in power and glory He would not come back in a corner.  Jesus may not come back in this eclipse.  But do not simply discount it either.  He can come back whenever He wishes.  Our task is to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.  If we do this, we will be ready to see Him.  As we spread that love to our neighbors it also enables us to be ready for Him.

Prayer: Come Lord Jesus.  Come as the moon comes, as the sun comes.  Come and bring refreshing coolness and hope.  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Thoughts on the Eclipse- and trivia too

I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; (Revelation 6:12)

Thoughts: An total solar eclipse is a fairly rare occurrence, but it is always a call to wake up to God.  Below is some thoughts and trivia about the Great American eclipse as seen from Chapin, SC just north of Columbia- one of the places where the total eclipse lasts the longest on the east coast. 

1) Interesting things that happen during an eclipse:
    A. There is a sunset glow on every horizon.
    B. Look for the diamond ring glow right when the sun disappears or appears.
    C. Animals may go to sleep.  The rooster may crow when the sun comes back.
    D. It gets cooler- about 20 degrees cooler in some places (from day to night temperatures).
    E. You should be able to see stars and planets in midday.
    F. Right before a total eclipse you should be able to see shadow bands- snake like figures- especially
        on white concrete or sheets.
   G. Weird projections on the ground from leaves- the leaves serve as pin-hole projectors.
   H. Bailey’s beads- pearls of sunlight shining around edge of the moon’s mountains/valleys-reddish
   I. Corona rainbows- when it is really cloudy or when it has just rained- tiny rainbows on the corona.

   J. Our view from Chapin.  The partial eclipse should barely begin at 1:05 and should continue til 3:00
  K. The total eclipse in Chapin begins about 2:39 and lasts 2 minutes 39 seconds in an area 71 miles.
  L.  This may be the most viewed event ever, and the most viewed eclipse ever thanks to the population   
       and the amount of cameras, social media, internet and TV access.  2 billion+ may watch live.
  M. It is estimated that between 547,000 and 2.1 million will come to SC to see this.  SC is the closest
       state to view the totality for 90 million people on the east coast.
  N.  The shadow of the moon (umbra) that makes the eclipse will be travelling about 1467 mph.

O. Do not look at the partial eclipse with your naked eye.  The church glasses are NASA approved.
P. You may only look at the eclipse without glasses when it is total (2:40- 2:43).
Q. There are pinhole projectors you can make and look at the projection of the eclipse.
R. While we may not have enough glasses for everyone-remember you can share! 
S.  Apple says you will not damage your phone lenses without a filter.  But it may not show up well.
T. If you are too busy taking pictures you may miss the 360 degree sunset or shadow bands. 

8/20- The Death of Jesus in an Eclipse

33At noon, 34And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Mark 15:33)

45From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,c lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)
51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection ande went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:45, 51-54)

44It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,45for the sun eclipsed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”e When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-45)

Thoughts: Some say that the darkness at the crucifixion could not be a solar eclipse because total eclipses only last about seven minutes.  But a partial eclipse can easily last three hours. NASA says that there were eight total solar eclipses between 26 and 36 AD.
     However, Jesus died at Passover which requires a full moon, while  solar eclipse requires a new moon.  However, there could be two causes of the darkness- dark clouds combined with a lunar eclipse.  Astronomers say that there was a lunar eclipse in Jerusalem April 3, 33 AD.  There also was a large earthquake that day.  The ancients not only followed signs in the stars when a special person was born (like the star of Bethlehem and the wise men), but also darkness was seen as a sign that a great person has died.
        The darkness at the crucifixion should not be seen as just an astronomical phenomenon that just happened at the crucifixion.  It was God trying to speak to us and wake us up.

Prayer; Lord, let me listen in the darkness and light to you.  

Earthquakes and Eclipses

 4On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquakea in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
6On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. 7It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.
8On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.
9The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. (Zechariah 14:4-9)

Thoughts: The United States Geological Society (USGS) has indicated that eclipses cause very high tides because of the alignment of earth, moon, and sun.  This also affects tectonic plates and can trigger earthquakes.  USGS suggests that during an eclipse an earthquake is 3x more likely to happen.
     Zechariah, Micah, Isaiah Amos, and Jesus (Mt 24) all combine earthquakes and the darkening of the sun.  The Mount of Olives is in the middle of an earthquake fault.  Tradition says that the Messiah will come back and split the Mt. of Olives in two.  Jesus left from the Mt. of Olives (Acts 1:9-12) and says he will come back in the same way- with angels, glory and power.  Perhaps Jesus refers to Zechariah.
        When God comes things are shaken up and are not normal.  So when things aren't normal- as in an earthquake- they remind us to look to God.

Prayer: Help me to lift up my head to yur glory.

(Kobe Japan post earthquake)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Prophets in Darkness

“As for the prophets
who lead my people astray,
they proclaim ‘peace’
if they have something to eat,
but prepare to wage war against anyone
who refuses to feed them.
6Therefore night will come over you, without visions,
and darkness, without divination.
The sun will set for the prophets,
and the day will go dark for them.
7The seers will be ashamed
and the diviners disgraced.
They will all cover their faces
because there is no answer from God.”
8But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the Lord,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression,
to Israel his sin.  (Micah 3:5-8- especially 6)

Thoughts: Micah's eclipse occurred on June 5, 716.  Micah calls for people to see God's power in the eclipse as a reminder that He is still around.  We may think God disappears  (as the sun disappears behind the moon).  The darkness at day is a symbol that their prophets are blind and in darkness.  God has stopped answering their prayers because they have turned away from God.  There are always people who will always say "It's okay" no matter what.  They proclaimed peace when the invaders were at the door.  The real prophets, like Micah and Isaiah, are willing to tell the people that they are  wrong when the people do not want to hear it.  The people want to hear it will all be okay.
    An eclipse is a reminder that life changes, and we continue to have the need to wake up to God.

Prayer: Lord, help me to listen to you and turn to you.  Hear my prayer.