Open the heavens, Lord, and come down. Touch the mountains so they billow smoke. Hurl your lightning bolts and scatter your enemies! Shoot your arrows and confuse them! Reach down from heaven and rescue me; rescue me from deep waters, ~ Psalm 144:5-7a NLT
Prayer for America – Reach Down, Lord:
“May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nutured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace. May our barns be filled with crops of every kind. May the flocks in our fields multiply by the thousands, even tens of thousands, and may our oxen be loaded down with produce. May there be no enemy breaking through our walls, no going into captivity, no cries of alarm in our town squares. Yes, joyful are those who live like this! Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord.” ~ Psalm 144:12-15 NLT
“Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them.” ~ Psalm 146:1-4 NLT
“May our people repent and turn back to You with humble hearts so that You will reach down, O Lord. We need Your Holy Presence now. In Your Powerful Name Jesus, thank You. Amen.”
The first thing I do every New Year’s Eve is to make resolutions to do a bunch of good stuff in the coming year. Then the very first thing I do after New Year’s Day is to NOT do any of that good stuff.
Why is that?
I’m pretty sure it’s because I am trying to do good stuff by my own will-power (slow learner). Anyhow, it’s past time for me to get off that yearly merry-go-round and give it all over to the God of Second Chances. Shame on me for forgetting the important stuff!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” ~ Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV
Still… traditions die hard, so the very first thing is a prayer:
“Lord, my New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to walk pleasing to You this coming year. I trust You, Father God, for what You prepared for me beforehand. Thank You, Jesus, for the greatness of Your power to keep me as I should be, regardless of my own shortcomings. Amen.”
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day, in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. ~ Luke 2:8-20 NKJV
As I am telling you now.
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Last night I wakened at three a.m. to a common local phenomenon. It’s the closest thing in nature I have witnessed to what the Glory of God must be like. Last night a heavenly display of color exploded in the night sky like a glorious snapshot. I call it The Glory Snap.
In northern latitudes, the effect is known as the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights. The former term was coined by Galileo in 1619, from the Roman goddess of the dawn and the Greek name for the north wind. Aurora – Wikipedia
Last night every window of my house showcased greenish ribbons of Aurora Borealis snaking through a myriad of stars like a needle and thread. If you can imagine the Big Dipper and other northern constellations buffeted by a sort of fan-dance of colored lights against the background of a midnight sky, it sort of looks like this:
Oh, of course there are more dramatic and colorful photos of the Northern Lights. But this is the closest one I found to what happened over my house last night.
However, God’s Glory shall never fade like the Aurora Borealis with the rising sun; or dim in the arctic twilight of winter. No. The brightness of God’s Glory is eternal and defies my comprehension. I searched the Biblical scriptures for illumination and these verses spoke to me:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ~ Isaiah 6:1-4 NIV
Wow! Picture a universal kingdom where ultimate power emanates from the throne of God. The train of God’s robe fans out just like the Northern Lights dancing across a velvety dark sky. The thundering proclamations, “Holy, holy, holy” by the angelic beings called seraphim shake the very foundations of God’s temple in Heaven. My spirit tingles in recognition of The Eternal One; The Creator; The GREAT I AM:
It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'” ~ Romans 14:10b NIV
It is spectacular!
What is your understanding of God’s Glory? For me, describing the Northern Lights is my feeble attempt to explain just a fraction of God’s Glorious Awesomeness. Perhaps you see a glimpse of His Glory in a sunrise or sunset.
“Thank You, Father, for giving us many descriptions of Your Glory in Your Word. The knowledge that You are “high and lifted up” gives me the understanding that You are to be revered; You are The One and Only God; that You are perfect, and unchangeable. Praising You today for creating the Northern Lights in our sky that gives us a wondrous snapshot of the magnificence of Your Glory. Thank You for Your unquenchable love, justice, and mercy towards humans. Thank You most of all for Your Son, Jesus, who died for mankind, in order for every sinner to experience Your eternal glory by simply repenting and accepting Your free gift. We lift high His Matchless, Beautiful, Glorious Name. Amen.”
Some people on the earth have never witnessed The Glory Snap. Have you?
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! ~ Philippians 4:4 NIV
The Apostle Paul wrote these words in his final message to the church at Philippi from prison. I have become so negative in the past year I realize that I need to practice rejoicing. What a difference I can make in God’s kingdom if only I will remember Paul’s message to believers:
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:5-7 NIV
On Resurrection Day, the victory belongs to Jesus. He conquered the grave, and the angels proclaimed to the women who discovered the empty tomb, “Do not be afraid! ” “Do not be afraid!”.
Jesus appeared to the women near the tomb and to His disciples later with greetings of “Do not be afraid!” and “Peace be unto you!”.
Today we can rejoice in our faith that Jesus is a Living Savior. There are no decayed remains of Jesus in a tomb or grave somewhere in Jerusalem. We can rest in the knowledge that God’s Word records a world shattering event when Jesus rose from the darkness of the grave. Jesus broke the chains of the penalty for our sins, and therefore salvation is free to all who believe in Him. Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven today. PRAISE GOD FOR SO GREAT SALVATION!
Even though the church is under attack and believers suffer persecution for following Christ (over 900,000 Christians killed per year); don’t let anyone steal your joy as you observe Resurrection Day. Celebrate the fullness of life in Jesus with family and friends and remain steadfast in your faith that Jesus is Risen.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. ~ Philippians 4:8-9 NIV
“I will practice, Lord. I will practice rejoicing and enjoy your gift of peace.”
Jesus enters Jerusalem riding not a lowly donkey, but the lowliest of the low – a donkey’s colt. How Messiah’s feet must have dragged the ground as the foal struggled to carry the weight of the Son of God! Perhaps the colt staggered at times along the road to Jerusalem. No matter. The people were wild with anticipation of their liberation from oppression by the long promised Messiah:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. ~ Zechariah 9:9
Have we not heard this story many times of how Jesus entered Jerusalem as a triumphant king in the minds of the people? How they yanked off their coats and threw them on the ground in front of the colt as it carried Jesus down the road? Others cut branches from trees and paved the road with them in a show of honor to Jesus. Multitudes sang, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”, and celebrated His coming (Matt. 21:9). Yes, it appears that they believed in the Messiah, but only as a liberating earthly king – the one who would free them from persecution by the Romans – not The One who had come to be crucified on the Cross at Calvary in less than a week.
As the procession neared the point in the road that led to the Mount of Olives, a whole crowd of disciples shouted,
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” ~ Luke 19:38-40 NIV
True believers will not keep quiet. We do not rely on the stones to cry out for us. Despite more bombings of Christian churches in Egypt today, believers focus on remembering our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem two thousand years ago. Whether Pharisees or Isis rebuke, we will not be quiet. We continue to shout, to glorify, and to worship the Name of our King, Jesus in the Highest.
“Father, we pray for those who have lost their lives, indeed, been martyred today for the love of your Son, Jesus. Forgive those who continually persecute your church. We pray as brethren today for those injured in these bombing attacks that they would be healed by Jesus’ wounds and that the families of those fallen will receive love and peace through your merciful Holy Spirit, our Comforter. In the Holy Name of Jesus, our Messiah, amen.”