Sitting in the silence of the night, what is it that compels me to the silence of the night? So much is to be heard in the darkness that surrounds my house. The bubbling of the fishtank, the spinning blades of the ceiling fan, the sound of my hubby's steady breathing beside me; these seem to call out to the reveries of old memories. Why is it that every silent night is connected to the hundreds of silent nights that slipped by before it? I believe it's the soulness of it. I believe that in the silence of every night, we feel the reality of God thick around us. I can't believe there are anymore atheists in the silent darkness of a waking pillow. Unbelievers are lost, stumbling around in the God-field of dreams; waking dreams. Yes, we all think about God in the dark. He is often the last light in our conscious thoughts as we drift off to sleep. And, He is the last thought that passes through our minds before we die. You say you don't believe in God? Then what are you thinking about right now?
And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shall put on. The life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them: how much more are you better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If you then be not able to do that thing which is least, why are you anxious concerning the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith? Luke 12:22-28
There are two sides to every coin. We come to Christ “Just as we are.” But, somewhere beyond redemption, 12 changes are transacted by the ultimate price paid on Calvary. Three bodies were hung up on trees, three bodies were brought down and buried, and one body rose up out of the earth. From one side of the Cross to the other a colossal change took place in the lives of millions of followers in the 20 centuries since.
Yes, twelve changes take place in the lives of those who lift Jesus up today. From the moment we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, we experience a turn-around in the elements of our spirit man. All of us have spirits; some just haven’t flipped the coins that were paid and accepted the “change.” One man threw the coins on the ground… at the feet of the judges who condemned Jesus… Judas. Another, Peter, accepted the change that would be transacted in his life and turned over the coins to a new existence. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4, outlined a dozen of these two-sided coins Christians have turned over since redemption.
1. Hidden Things/ Things Manifested (2 Corinthians 4:2)
We exchange craftiness and deceit for truth. We walk in the truth of God’s Word.
2. Blinded Minds/ Enlightened Minds (2 Corinthians 4:4)
The lost are hid in the darkness while the Christian walks in light.
3. Proud Boasting/ Servanthood (2 Corinthians 4:5)
We no longer live our lives for ourselves, but become servants of God,
living for Him.
4. Frail Bodies/ Mighty Power (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Our spirits walk in unity with the spirit of God, though we are just human.
5. Trials/ Triumph (2 Corinthians 4:10)
We go through trials like Jesus, so we can have the victory like He did.
6. Death/ Life (2 Corinthians 4:11)
We carry the cross of Jesus, manifest His death in our lives, and receive
the rewards of eternal life with Him.
7. Past/ Future (2 Corinthians 4:14)
Jesus was raised up in the past; you and I will be raised up in the future with Him.
8. Grace/ Thanksgiving (2 Corinthians 4:15)
His grace operates through our thanksgiving.
9. Outward Man/ Inward Man (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Even if our body is failing us physically, He breathes life into us day by day.
10. Affliction/ Glory (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Our afflictions will lead us to an unimaginable glory to come.
11. Seen/ Unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18)
We know that there is more to this life than meets the eye. There are things unseen.
12. Temporal/ Eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18)
We don’t place our hope in the physical life now, but in the ethereal life in eternity.
Now, it sounds like we came just as we were, and put on the wedding garments. Matthew 22:11-14 All that remains is for us to accept the change. Allowing the spirit of God to work in our lives completes the transaction. This is the reason that we do not need to wait until we “get our lives straightened out” to come to church. We come just as we are, and Jesus will make us just like He is. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Philippians 1:6 He who began a good work… will perform it!
Imagine, a place where the sun never fully sets; our day star visible throughout the night. The idea of Daylight Savings Time, of making hay while the sun shines, of time itself is moot. This happens naturally at the places where the earth leans toward the sun. There above the Arctic Circle and below the Antarctic Circle, the sun is visible 24 hours a day during the summer. Darkness is suspended, and the words of the Bible are reality. Revelation 22:5 "And there shall be no night there..."
The video time lapse was taken during the Midnight Sun of Iceland June 2011, by a photographer who traveled around the entire island over seventeen days. He reports a view of an almost permanent sunset during that time as the sun appears to travel horizontally across the horizon during the night. (Just picture yourself standing at the pole and watching the sun traveling around the equator.) Actual sunset was at midnight
and sunrise was at 3am, but there was no darkness at all. No stars are really visible, as they don't reappear until August. There are about six hours a day of "golden sunlight."
Jesus Christ, the son of man and the Son of God, He is the light of the world, and the Lord over the darkness. John 1:5 said that He dispelled the darkness and the darkness couldn't even get a hold on Jesus in this "wrestling match." Is your heart turned toward the Son? Lean in and bask in the warmth of His eternal Light. Nothing else matters when you just keep facing the Son.
Adam and Eve, by Gustav Doré
Genesis 2:21-23 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
This is my favorite Gustav Dore print. And the following print would be a close second...
Cain Kills Abel, by Gustav Dore
Genesis 4:6-8 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
What makes them both so beautiful is the candidness of the scenes. You feel as if you are actually an unseen observer, watching each of the events take place. You see the sleep that has overtaken Adam. You see the depravity that has overtaken Cain. You can almost see the Spirit of God hovering over these events, watching them take place. You can see the Spirit in the print. It is drawn from the perspective of God. You have a God's -eye view. (These scripture prints, and many others are available on the Visual Bible software, which is downloadable free online. )
It is the feeling that what took place here happened with or without an observer, that is so striking. The interplay of light and darkness speaks volumes in both works. In the Adam and Eve scene, the light in the background penetrates the darkness surrounding the first man and woman. In the Cain and Abel print, it seems as if the light from the streak of lightening lines Abel's fallen body. And, it is clear that the lightening is the Spirit of God and His attention to the deed, while the light lining Abel's body is the life in his blood crying out to His Maker. We are made in His image afterall. Light calls out to Light amidst the darkness.
This attention of God is present in both works. God attends to the needs of His creation in the first. God hurts with His creation in the second. God felt Adam's and Abel's pain. the Maker responded. He is not a grand puppetmaster, pulling all the strings, while we dance to His controlled, measured tune. He sees and reacts to man. It seems from Gustave Dore's work that the Creator is intimately interested in the life of the created. That is a fact that can not be escaped throughout the whole of Scripture. God cares for you, just as in the day that He created you.
I heard a message tonight about light and mirrors. Interesting take on how mirrors reflect light infinitely. The reflections just keep on going when you get two mirrors together. I was always entranced by that effect when I was a kid...I still am so much so that I can't get the metaphor off my mind tonight.
A slinky is one of my favorite toys, and I love to give them as gifts to students. They are like mirrors, prisms, kalidoscopes, and a tuning fork. Think about it. The comparison is striking. They don't all reflect light, but they all reflect. Mirrors and prisms reflect light. (Mirrors also reflect images.) Kalidoscopes reflect colors and light, but the emphasis is on the patterns reflected. A tuning fork reflects sound waves. What do slinkys reflect? Energy. It is a coil toy that reverberates with energy. None of these "toys" require batteries. The tuning fork is still fun in the dark, but the others are useless without light.
The world we live in is a world shrouded in darkness. Mankind lives so far from the source of light, that we live in an almost eternal night. Yet, even when I am peering into the darkness, the truth of God's words flickers clearly like a candle, or flames across the horizon of my conscience thoughts, and then I close the Bible, and see the dark night. So, I open the pages once again, wishing the words could be absorbed by osmosis while I sleep. Then I wake outside the dark night in some eternal day, to dreams of myrtle trees, mountains of brass, and women with the wind in their wings. I hear a startling whistle and turn to see the four horses of the Revelator: white, red, black, and pale, shaking their mighty heads, charging from Zechariah's mountains of brass across John's island horizon. There somewhere beyond those myrtle trees, I know is a sea of glass. Behind those tramping hooves of the horsemen, comes the flaming sword of Jesus, and He rides on his white horse.
Amazingly, the Bible reverberates through the ages, reflecting images and patterns, colors, from ages past to ages future. The Bible tells the end from the beginning, from the beginning to the end. The reflected images keep going back and forth of Jesus, reflected from one testament to the other, just like those mirror images. And, what is our job? We are to reflect the light of Jesus to the world. We are to show our true colors to a dark world....to light up the dark night.
I find myself loving the words John is speaking in the first sentences of the Gospel. I can quote them from memory in English, Spanish, and in Greek. They come to my mind often in any given day. But, do you know who the Logos the Word...is?
Logos: (log' -os) something said, a topic, also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension a computation; specially the Divine (when with the article in John;) account, cause, communication...
The Greek word Logos is usually translated as "Word." But, it hides in Acts 18:14 and in I Peter 3:15. The Last passage is the headline tag I use at the top of my Reason 2 Believe Him website home page:
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
So, as you can see, the same Greek word is translated not only as "word," but as reason...my reason for believing. Now try John 1:1 the other way around...which would still be correctly translated:
In the beginning was the "REASON," and the "REASON" was with God, and the "REASON" was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. John 1:1-5 God is our reason. Yet the darkness couldn't understand the reason.
We have a prayer list, whether on paper in our pocket, or tucked in our head for the next traffic light. Remember the honeysuckles? I spoke of them and the fact that I had never prayed for them and that some things we never expect. It is a sad footnote that the things we pray for are often in a limited set. Let's call the things we often pray for, Set P, in the mathematical sense of course. Let's call the things God gives us, Set G. G for Grace of course. Grace is such a broad term that you may have a hard time putting your finger on it, but it can be simply stated as God's favor and compassion; kindness. We translate that as gifts in our own heads of course. But that's ok with God, I am sure. He never complains does He? But, our source of frustration can usually be found in a venn diagram as I've illustrated below.
John 1:3-4 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
We have also spoken of light...and darkness. There are two sides to the battle between light and darkness... before and after the cross. We think of grace as including what God did for us at and since the cross, to save us, because we are saved by grace. But, grace is more than the crosswork of Jesus. Grace began at creation. Through the creative work of God, we are all given life, and sunshine, and a world to enjoy, which is considered common grace, or things provided to us through God's general providence. These are the things we are reminded to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day...common grace. We usually think of redemptive grace during the ceremony of communion, or at the altar. (Incidentally, if you do not believe in creation, skip redemption; it is a package deal. God can not redeeem what was not His to start with, can He? Redeeming is "buying back" what you've lost. We sold ourselves out in the Garden as a race, and individually since birth.)
What is in Set G above? All of nature belongs inside of Grace. Nature is God's grace. The same mind that worked out our salvation for us has been working for us throughout the ages, and heaping lovingkindness on us.
All nature is one big gift of God's providence. The sweet scent of the flowers, the breath of air from the trees, the mountains for climbing and viewing, the beauty and comfort we receive wrapped in the arms of nature are all part of the goodness of God. God gives us this Earth, the sun and stars, to enjoy and to live our life to the fullest. This can be expanded to include all material goods, God and man made. Redemption belongs in Set G. Redemption is given to us to draw us in love to the Savior. With salvation it is made possible for us to experience oneness with the God of the universe, an experience of connection on which all happiness can be built. So, God has given us the world, and He has given us Himself. How much can be left in Set P, that is not part of Set G? Really it only amounts to the particulars. Remember that I said before that I prayed for babies with big brown eyes? That is an example of a particular. What I really wanted to have was people to love and take care of, and to teach and give something of myself. I saw that as obtainable when my baby sister would come get in the bed with me sometimes, and she loved me because I did all of those things for her. She would talk and talk while I tried to stay awake, and I would lay there silently looking into her big brown eyes. So, that is the source of that prayer. God's grace included that this desire I had would be met in this way. And, He threw in the brown eyes for good measure. I guess He knew I would be thankful. He could have chosen to give me what I wanted in a different way. But, I often find that God has included "surprise" gifts in Set G, for which I never asked. Only when we can reach into the larger set can we find all that God has in store for us.
There have been times that I would allow my children to have something, which was not quite as much as they had hoped for; maybe less money, less time, or less things. Or perhaps it was more; more chores or rules than they had hoped at the moment. Sometimes they would seem upset about this arrangement. My answer was usually, "I agreed to this to please you. If you are not pleased with this, then I won't give this either, since that is not going to give me the pleasure of making you happy." Invariably, they suddenly became pleased instantly with what I had agreed. Sadly, even though God has given us much, just like children, we can become discontent and withhold praise that God is due for His greater grace, because of what it does not include.
There is no such thing as Plan B with God. He does have a plan, which he has been working since creation. Those things that seem wrong in your life, those things that are missing in Set P above; those all can be found in the outer part of Set G since they figure into God's grace. This is why God told Apostle Paul that His grace was enough. He did not mean that what He had given was all Paul was getting, in a limiting sense. He meant that Paul needed to reach into the outer part of set G and find what matched this need. Paul was asking for something outside of God's plan, from the outer part of Set P. It is not wrong to ask in prayer many times for things that are on your heart. The point is that continual prayer on a topic will change you. It will change you to the point that you can reach what you are praying for, or to the point that you understand God's grace for your need. All efforts to reach for God are God-inspired and are pleasing to Him. Afterall, no one is motivated to pray for anything by Satan. Satan doesn't want us to pray. God is honored that we bring Him our deepest desires, no matter where they are in the Venn Diagram. Let Him work out what is sufficient for you. If you never ask, you are not giving Him a chance to love you.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
This verse says it simply. But, it doesn't mean that you will receive everything for which you pray. It means that you will find the point where God's grace is enough for you. Do the Math!
John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
I sat awhile in the light today, this light, reading a beautiful passage from a beautiful book, John 1: 1-5. Going deeper into the light, I turned from there to Psalms 36:9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. That is prophetic of Jesus. I marveled at the use of the phrase to see light in light. Of course, it is obviously a figure of speech, much like the words " see the light of day" in our language, because the Hebrew word "ore" means light, illumination, luminary (in every sense, including lightning, happiness, etc.) as well as day, morning or sun. So, you could just as easily say that he is the light in our day (or the light in our light.)
I like the many ways John uses the "I am" phrase for Jesus. I am the bread of life- I am the bread which came down from heaven- I am that bread of life- I am the living bread which came down from heaven- I am the light of the world- as long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world- I am the door of the sheep- I am the door- I am the good shepherd- I am the good shepherd- I am the resurrection, and the life- I am the way, the truth, and the life I am the true vine.
All of these labels provide either life or access to life. Light gives life. Bread gives life, which is why Jesus called Himself the bread of life and living bread. Similarly, the door, the way, and the truth all provide access to Jesus who is the life. Jesus is everything. There is nothing that He is not.
Morn of morns, and day of days!
Beauteous were thy newborn rays:
Brighter yet from death’s dark prison
Christ, the Light of lights, is risen.
He commanded, and His Word
Death and the dread chaos heard;
Oh, shall we, more deaf than they,
In the chains of darkness stay?
Nature yet in shadow lies;
Let the sons of light arise,
And present the morning rays
With sweet canticles of praise.
- "Morn Of Morns, And Day Of Days" part of a Hymn written by Charles Coffin 1736
I am intrigued by the interplay of light and darkness in these three stanzas. It points right back to John's words...for he says it best... "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (1:5)
That word comprehended is from the Greek word katalambano, which means to take eagerly, to seize, possess, apprehend, attain, come upon, comprehend, find, obtain, perceive, or to overtake. It is a picture of opposition...a struggle between light and darkness. We often see darkness as the absence of light. But, it is striking how a lit match will dispel total darkness for a large area. The fact is, any light at all will prevent you from being in darkness. When we go stargazing or astroid watching, we have to wait for awhile for our eyes to adjust to the darkness. You feel blind at first when the light vanishes. I'm sure that must have been how John and the disciples felt when Jesus gave up the Spirit on the cross. Sudden dread chaos as the hymn says. The earth shook, the veil was torn, the dead walked earth...what a dark night! Darkness had seized the Light of the world. A full battle raged. Jesus had said that He was the Light of the world, as long as He was in the world. Now He was gone, and they felt the chains of darkness. But, when Jesus conquered death, suddenly the morning rays of the Light of lights dispelled the darkness all around us sons of light. He is morning and He is day. He is light. Do you see it?
This morning, while our house was still dark without electricity, I built my Blue Ninja model rocket, which we plan to launch Monday. It is over 31 inches tall and reaches an altitude of 750 feet. I get excited about space travel, and enjoy visiting the space center in Huntsville. I am still amazed that man can fly into space. Throughout the Bible, eagles, hawks, doves, and fowl fly. Angels and Seraphim fly. Our years are said to fly away. But, only God is seen flying on the wings of the wind. In the 1900 years since the writing of Revelation, man too has tamed the wind. But, no matter the progress we make, we only seem to increase our propensity for disaster...much like the opening of "Pandora's box." I mean think about it...what happens on a space station on Mars in the year 2020 when the power goes out? Will it be "oops, my bad!" or the silence of the damned?
2 Samuel 22:11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.
Psalms 18:10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
Perhaps our guardian angels will go to Mars with us. Let's hope. Either way they will be working over time to get us out of the scrapes we get ourselves into, like Georgia Power scurrying to save a city from the same effects of nature that cave man battled. Progress? Like the $700.00 I paid in Gym fees over an 18 month period compared to $500,000.00 in Medical bills accrued in the last 18 months. Next time you get sick, skip the hospital and go to the gym...you're sure to feel better... about the bill at least. :)
2 Samuel 22:17 He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;
Psalms 18:16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.
This passage is a lovely passage that is speaking about God's habit of flying to our rescue. No, you're not seeing double, but the same passage from Second Samuel was sung in the Psalms. It is something to sing about when God comes to your aid in times of trouble. This metaphoric song is all about God appearing in the cloudy times of fear, pain, doubt, turmoil...yes, Jesus still comes in the clouds. Why would you need to be rescued if you weren't frowning? Actually I meant drowning...that was a Freudian Typo perhaps?!
It's two in the morning...I hear icecubes crashing into the bottom of the empty ice bucket. I've had a nice boiling hot bath for the first time in days of only freezing cold water from the tank. The washer & Dryer are still chugging out laundry as fast as possible. The fridge is scrubbed and now holds bagels and milk for breakfast in the morning. The Glow of the TV looked beautiful tonight, and I noticed the neighbors had their house lit up like Christmas time, probably in a celebration of light and all its glorious possibilities. It looks like our troubles have flown on the wires, thanks to God and Georgia Power.
Darkness seems to consume when the power is out for an extended time, so my son and I lit candles for reading in bed after the storm last night. Shortly, Travis came into my room and asked where in the Bible the words, "Love is patient, love is kind..." were found. I told him it sounded like a variant translation I had heard of First Corinthians 13, the Love chapter, and I explained the context of the passage there in the middle of Paul's instructions on the Spiritual Gifts, or how to be truly spiritual...by loving.
He got his Bible, and sitting in a chair at the desk, began to read the chapter aloud, pausing occasionally for my comments. But, hearing the words, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known..." I was moved to silence as the candlelight flickered across his thoughtful face. He got his Fellowship of Christian Athletes NIV Bile and read the chapter again as I listened, and sure enough, the words were in verse four in that translation. As it turned out, the FCA was the reason for his interest in the passage. Someone in the club had read that passage in Friday's meeting, and apparantly made an impression on him.
I wasn't aware he was still attending those meetings. I had signed him up several years ago when he asked me to, when a membership fee was required. But, he didn't need anymore fees for some reason, so he just continued membership silently all that time. It is amazing how something as simple as that can impact a student. I haven't seen him compare Bible translations in several years. But, today I noticed he had two other versions out.
It illustrates the words in verse 12 there. We don't know what is really happening when "stuff happens." We only see dimly events taking place, without fully understanding the results to come. We get so caught up in the here and now, that we don't see the forest for the trees. We may not understand certain events or situations, but God will reveal the big picture to us in due time... if we can wait out the darkness.