Friday, April 9, 2021

Light in The Darkness

The season of darkness is slowly coming into spring and summer light. I like the snow of winter for skiing and ice for skating, but I do not like the darkness of winter. Scripture is replete with the image of God as light and the world as darkness. The hearts of men are described the same way, either light or dark.  However, “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God describes the hearts of men as stone-like and dark or sinful throughout the Old Testament. Even at Christmas time, at least as we celebrate it, the days are short and dark. Isaiah the Prophet speaking of Christ’s birth states, ‘”The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). This is telling the dark tale of woe for the Israelites under assault by the Assyrians. And yet the Messiah or “Light of the world,” was going to be born to bring “spiritual peace.”  Isaiah even said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20).  These are graphic and depressing thoughts of the world 700 years before Christ. But it seems to me, they are also describing our world today in drab Technicolor grey.


This pinhole image entitled “Prairie,” taken by my cousin Douglas F. Frank vividly displays a scene of light piercing through the darkness in the American heartland. Bestselling Author Frank Peretti wrote novels called, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, about the strong reality of evil in the world, symbolized by the darkness. We live in a world battling good and evil, light and dark. Many would say that the darkness is winning. I believe that this is sadly a growing truth. In fact there are ideologies of death that want to conquer and dominate the world for evil.

Our hearts are all in a battle for good and evil as well. The Apostle Paul said, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan is ruler of the earth and wants to destroy us one by one. We have a choice in the matter. We can look to the “Light of the World,” Jesus Christ who overcame the world. We must stand firm in the truth and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).


I want to be a light generator that spreads out wherever I go. I view the photo in this essay as if it is a pair of wings of an angel lifting and throwing light into the world. Psalm 34:7 says, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers Him.”  The angel of the Lord is God Himself in this Hymn of praise and delivery from danger and darkness. Become a “light-caster” and overcome the darkness.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Breakthrough


Do you need a “Breakthrough” in your life today: in your health, finances, job, family or marriage. I think most of us would say yes for something. For me it is health right now. God’s word tells me that He knows and is taking care of it. Philippians 4:19 tells us;“And my God will meet all your needs according to His riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). David said in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” In Matthew 21:21 we have another wonderful promise from Jesus: “Truly, truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt…if you believe you will receive whatever you asked for in prayer.” In this passage Jesus says this is the kind of faith that moves mountains.

 

Heal (ed) and healing occurs over 300 times in the Bible. The psalmist David exhorted, “I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners”(Psalm 57:18), a beautiful example of God’s promises to heal and restore. I personally am currently counting on it for pulling me out of depression where with help from a physician, God is already working.

 

Yes, He is our healer and redeemer. Our breakthroughs come through Him and His word alone. Over 20 years ago I was dramatically healed instantly of illnesses that doctors diagnosed as a futile, but God.  When I quoted Psalm 103 from my sick bed, I was instantly healed and jumped and danced praising God. 

Psalm 103 of David states:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,

I continue to pray the Scripture for healing today.

 

Breakthroughs come in praying and praising God. Psalm 22:3 exhorts that God is in or inhabits the praises of His people. That is why we praise our majestic and powerful loving and healing God. Praise occurs 365 times in Scripture and 180 just in Psalms alone.

 

We need to listen carefully to God as He is in the “gentle whisper” not the earthquake of 1 Kings 19:12 where the Prophet Elijah heard God telling him that he was not alone. God wants us to “be still and know” (Psalm 46:10) that He is the Israelites and our fortress, always working, even if we don’t feel Him. 

 

The victory has been won against evil on the cross; “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV). On Easter we celebrated His resurrection to life and He will do it for believers as we travel through valleys or darkness or death. Isaiah 43:2reminds us that when we go through the waters and rivers that they will not overcome or drown us and the fires we go through will not burn us.Exodus 15 promises why we heed His voice and follow His commands, “For I am the Lord who heals you.” We are to hope in the Lord and keep His ways. His healing never fails. Jeremiah Prays for Deliverance saying,Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise”(Jeremiah 17:14).

 

So hold onto His exceedingly great and precious healing promises no matter what breakthrough you need today, He can and will do it, because God is always with us, always in control, always good, always watching and always victorious. Keep asking, seeking and knocking and you will have your breakthrough, just maybe not in the way and timing you pray.

 

 

 

Do you need a “Breakthrough” in your life today: in your health, finances, job, family or marriage. I think most of us would say yes for something. For me it is health right now. God’s word tells me that He knows and is taking care of it. Philippians 4:19 tells us;“And my God will meet all your needs according to His riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). David said in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” In Matthew 21:21 we have another wonderful promise from Jesus: “Truly, truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt…if you believe you will receive whatever you asked for in prayer.” In this passage Jesus says this is the kind of faith that moves mountains.

 

Heal (ed) and healing occurs over 300 times in the Bible. The psalmist David exhorted, “I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners”(Psalm 57:18), a beautiful example of God’s promises to heal and restore. I personally am currently counting on it for pulling me out of depression where with help from a physician, God is already working.

 

Yes, He is our healer and redeemer. Our breakthroughs come through Him and His word alone. Over 20 years ago I was dramatically healed instantly of illnesses that doctors diagnosed as a futile, but God.  When I quoted Psalm 103 from my sick bed, I was instantly healed and jumped and danced praising God. 

Psalm 103 of David states:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,

I continue to pray the Scripture for healing today.

 

Breakthroughs come in praying and praising God. Psalm 22:3 exhorts that God is in or inhabits the praises of His people. That is why we praise our majestic and powerful loving and healing God. Praise occurs 365 times in Scripture and 180 just in Psalms alone.

 

We need to listen carefully to God as He is in the “gentle whisper” not the earthquake of 1 Kings 19:12 where the Prophet Elijah heard God telling him that he was not alone. God wants us to “be still and know” (Psalm 46:10) that He is the Israelites and our fortress, always working, even if we don’t feel Him. 

 

The victory has been won against evil on the cross; “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV). On Easter we celebrated His resurrection to life and He will do it for believers as we travel through valleys or darkness or death. Isaiah 43:2reminds us that when we go through the waters and rivers that they will not overcome or drown us and the fires we go through will not burn us.Exodus 15 promises why we heed His voice and follow His commands, “For I am the Lord who heals you.” We are to hope in the Lord and keep His ways. His healing never fails. Jeremiah Prays for Deliverance saying,Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise”(Jeremiah 17:14).

 

So hold onto His exceedingly great and precious healing promises no matter what breakthrough you need today, He can and will do it, because God is always with us, always in control, always good, always watching and always victorious. Keep asking, seeking and knocking and you will have your breakthrough, just maybe not in the way and timing you pray.

 

 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Image of God

Can you or do you see God? Scripture tells us that if we see God we will die. Elijah went out on a mountain in 1 Kings 19 to watch God pass by. He was not in the powerful wind or earthquake, but in the still small voice or whisper. We are told that John fell on his face in Revelation when he was before Jesus. Jesus Christ was made incarnate so that man could have a sense of what God looks like. We are made in His image and likeness Genesis 3 states. The second commandment says do not make any graven image of God or an idol to worship. We so often try to do so to get a hold of Him or even to pretend that we can control or put God in a box. But God is spirit. His image is veiled to protect us, but His word is vibrantly presented to describe God and tell us His will. 

Many will never see or experience God in their hearts, although this is His desire. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). There it is, the gospel of Christ, the “Light of the World.”  I have certainly seen Spirit-filled people who somehow reflect the heart or face of God like Moses did when he came down from Mount Sinai after meeting with God. Perhaps it is not the Shekinah glory of God that the transfigured Jesus emanated, but there can be a sweet aura or reflection that is beautiful.



This pinhole image taken by my cousin Douglas F. Frank in the Badlands of South Dakota is part of a collection that he generously provided for our project Great is God’s Faithfulness: A Devotional Based on The Psalms. I wrote in it a devotional based on Psalm 139 entitled Dreams, where David wonders if he can ever go from God’s Spirit. The bottom line is that he could not and neither can we. God is omnipresent and “hems us in.” I think that is a wonderful truth because His “hand will guide me, and His right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:10). He is everywhere and omniscient, knowing all, and omnipotent, all-powerful too. How do we describe such a person?  We can’t, even though there are characteristics or attributes of God that are true. He is faithful, mighty, merciful, loving, infinite, changeless, good, graceful, transcendent, just, pure and perfect. Is this photo an image of God? Perhaps it is in a way providing an almost transcendent, ethereal or even heavenly visage of God.  Writer David Duncan describes the photo as having a “passionate stillness or ferocious peace.”  I like this characterization of God in an image.  It is not to worship but to take you or me to a place of reverence and peace where we can find God.

I have experienced the presence of God in miraculous healing. I have seen images in my minds eyes of God high and lifted up with flowing robes filling all space like Isaiah 6:1 tries to describe. I see God in His creation of mountains, valleys, oceans, Redwood trees and a blanket of white snow or crying baby.  I hear Him in the wind and rain. I have heard His voice audibly only once saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” which is actually from His written Word, the Bible, Isaiah 30:21. I experience Him both exalted as well as warm and near with my tears running down His face, tears we can taste. Do you see Him too? How do you see Him? Where do you see Him? Let us count the ways.



Friday, March 26, 2021

Opposites

My wife used to call me a “pig won’t” based on a children story about a positive and a negative thinking pig. I have written before about my former negative view of life. It does not matter that my family of origin was difficult. No, I have a choice how I feel or speak. In fact I believe that we get into habits, good or bad. See, these are opposites. It seems to me that a lot influences our thought-life, but it is still a choice for us. Missionary Amy Carmichael was a famous Christian writer and poet. She had a negative attitude about many things. But a wise man suggested when speaking a negative to just switch it around to the opposite thought, like hot and cold. When we practice this with our emotions, it may have an uplifting affect on others and us. So I think that this is a great idea, not a bad one. How about you?  Let’s try it anyway.

Unforgiving                            Forgiving
Harsh                                      Gentle
Upset                                      Content
Angry                                      Peaceful
Sad                                          Happy
Dark                                        Light
Impatient                               Patient
Sarcastic                                 Complementary
Loud                                       Quiet
Complaining                          Praising
Wanting                                 Receiving
Closed                                     Open
Calming                                  Agitating
Impossible                             Possible
Crying                                     Laughing

How are you doing? Have you recognized yourself in any of these couplets? Have you thought of a few more for consideration? Perhaps you would like to join the game and add a few under the below Comments.

I don’t think this is easy to change if it is a habit. So, we need to practice and pray about it. It might help to ask a trusted friend to monitor your progress and suggest potential openings to our roadblocks, bringing sunshine to our rain.



Friday, March 19, 2021

The Ark and Arc of the Covenant

In Genesis 9 we read the story of the great flood and God’s desire to start over with the human race. He had endured enough of disobedience and sin. So He commanded Noah to build an ark to house animals with his family to survive a flood over all the earth. Noah, taking an unbelievable 100 years to complete, built the ark to detailed architectural design. Noah was 600 years old when God sent the 40 days and nights of rain to flood the earth and the ark floated until the rain stopped.

We read that God made a covenant to never flood the earth again. He demonstrated this covenant with a rainbow in the sky. Today we remember this covenant that God continued with other patriarchs. Today we have conflated this pact with lepricon stories of a bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow.  I think few people understand God’s faithful covenant with His people to always be we with them and never leave them.

The photo in this essay was taken by my cousin Douglas F. Frank, a renowned landscape photographer. It is a 6-hour pinhole exposure that gives it an almost living and ethereal quality. It is called “The Arc.” This light arc is formed by sunlight moving through the aperture over a long and enduring period, like our lives. Notice the almost lunar landscape background of the Oregon desert.  It recollects from Isaiah’s ancient prophecy; on, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). This light is almost too bright to gaze upon with unprotected eyes. Later in his prophetic work 700 years before Christ he says of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, “After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life, and be satisfied”  (Isaiah 53:11).  I am again reminded of God’s rainbow covenant light reflected in the skies declared to be everlasting. “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant” (Ezekiel 37:26). This is a covenant of prosperity and peace forever, even though His people would break their promises.

Now comes a new covenant again prophesied by Jeremiah saying, “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant…This covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my law s in their minds, and write them on their hearts, I will be their God and they will be my people…because they will know me…By calling this covenant “new,” He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete is aging and will soon disappear” (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:8-12). When does it come? It arrives with the incarnation of Jesus Christ as Isaiah again prophesies speaking of the One to be born of virgin who was to be called Immanuel (God with us). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7). Most readers are very familiar with this passage recited at Christmas time and referencing the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.

So the new covenant was born. He is Christ the Lord. We continue to remember Him who lived, taught and then suffered and died for our sins that we might be forgiven and saved from our sins. In Holy Communion we take the cup saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you, do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:20). This is a covenant or relationship between God and His people beginning in Genesis and faithfully kept by God through the Old Testament times to the promissory Davidic times to the New Testament. But then God in Jesus Christ had to renew it because His people had broken it. The throne of  the Davidic Covenant of an everlasting throne was reestablished in Christ and His atoning sacrifice of blood for His people. It once more was to supersede the broken law to make a new everlasting one in Him. He was the Pascal Lamb and covenantal meal. He was and is the glorious coming King and Messiah, the Son of David forming the important link between Old and New Testament covenants. This fresh covenant will obtain until the Parousia or second coming of the Messiah to rule and reign.


Returning to Ezekiel’s prophetic vision of the glory of the Lord, speaking of heaven and the Revealing of Christ says, “And brilliant light surrounded Him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around Him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 1:27b-28). This vision is repeated in Revelation speaking of the throne in heaven saying, “A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne…then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun; and his legs were like fiery pillars” (Revelation 4:3; 10:1). This is the Shekinah glory of God appearing in our midst. This is the symbol of the fact that, “God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). This is the ever-present covenant relationship He has made with us, to bring brilliant and lasting light in the darkness. This is the arc or light in the many colors of a rainbow, signifying God’s faithfulness. Next time it rains and the sun shines look up for God’s covenant of peace and praise Him.