Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bright and Morning Star

Morning Star -- Donna Pomponio

 (Painting above- "Morning Star" By: Donna Pomponio)


"I am the bright morning star.” Revelation 22:16

A morning star, ushering in a new day of beauty as the dawn breaks.

Jesus is our bright and morning star, a beautiful wonder.

He will bring the beauty of a new age when He returns, just as the bright and morning star announces a new day.

The bright and morning star, so far away, seemingly unreachable, and yet we can see it's wonder.

Jesus should be unreachable, so far away---because of our sin. But He is not, we can see His beauty. We can not only see it, we can experience it. Not every once in awhile, but every day.

The bright and morning star, a gift of beauty, passion, and romance to us from God.

We have a chance to "see" the morning star every day. We can see God, shining on us as a bright star every day.

...until the day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19

There is a rhythm to life. The night falls, and the morning comes. A new morning. Not an old one, not one to repeat the old mistakes. A new chance. A new day. This is grace.

"Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us..." Luke 1:78

What love God has for us. What a passion He has for His children. He makes His bright and morning star rise again. We have another opportunity. Each day we live, He gives us a new chance to see Him.

Like the morning star, we can rise again with God's help to be what God would have us be. It's never too late. The star rises each morning, and all the mornings we live we have a chance to see it's beauty.

Each day, we have to choose to see His beauty. We have to see every day as the new opportunity of grace, loveliness, and passion that it is.

Our days are not meant to be filled with dullness, they are meant to be filled with the sharpness of the passion and love of God.

He tells us this clearly, with the rising of the morning star each day. Live again, live for Me, start anew. He did not make the morning star only rise once, never to rise again. Each morning star--- a new chance for us.

"They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!" Revelation 2:28

Prayer: God, help me to see each day as you see it.  A new opportunity to see you and to do great things for you. Help me to know the passion you have for me, and the passion for each day you create in the universe. Each day of life is a unique opportunity to see you and to live for you. Show me how to live each day and see it in the full color you want me to see it, not in black and white. Amen.

"The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will." Isaiah 50:4

"Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." Lamentations 3:23

"It is the Lord who created the stars, the Pleiades and Orion. He turns darkness into morning and day into night. He draws up water from the oceans and pours it down as rain on the land. The Lord is his name!" Amos 5:8

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Nice Long Soak In Wholeness



"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit."  Romans 8:5


Without Christ's redeeming blood over us, we would all be irretrievably broken, separated from God. Our sins and hurts would be so vast and wide that nothing could cover them. Jesus died to close that gap for us. For all eternity we can worship God and on earth we can seek his face without shame.

"Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." 1 Chronicles 16:11

Yes, we are human, sinful, fragile--- we have struggles and burdens. We are "broken" and therefore we need Christ to make us whole. We need God's forgiveness, mercy and love because of our deceitful hearts.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Yet it seems even as Christians we get stuck. Stuck in the brokenness and bondage that Jesus died to heal. Instead of seeking wholeness, we stay in the brokenness. God wants us to seek to be well. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically he wants us to be whole. He didn't make his creation without the hope of being whole.

 Sometimes being broken seems to be a comfort zone. We don't know what it would mean to be whole. It seems different, frightening, unknown. Our struggles are familiar to us, we don't want to shed them and put on a new skin. We need God to make us whole because we are sinners---but we are not supposed to take a nice hot soak in our brokenness every day. We are then cheapening the blood of Christ that was shed for us.

God's power is shown in making us whole. Healing broken hearts, diseases, family dysfunction, healing bad patterns of thought and bad habits. Can we focus on allowing Him to make us whole? Can we live in the wholeness? Can we run a bubble bath, drain out the broken, put in the bath salts, and soak in the wholeness instead? Seeking to be whole won't feel familiar. It will feel like an uncomfortable new fashion. We will think it doesn't look good on us. But slowly we'll get used to it. To be whole will be our new normal. It will be peaceful and new, it won't grow old or wear out. It isn't a passing fad, it's a classic that will last.

This doesn't mean we will be perfect. We will sin and falter and need the grace and mercy of God to forgive us and cover us every day. What is new is that instead of seeking His mercy while focusing on brokenness, we are seeking His mercy while pursuing being whole. 

We cannot set our minds on and dwell on the things of our flesh or we will not become whole. We will block ourselves from progress. When we set our minds and hearts on God and the things of the Holy Spirit, we will find wholeness. 

"For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot."  Romans 8:7

To pursue being whole, we must pursue God. This takes prayer, discipline, steadfastness, courage and a willing heart. We must pursue Godly wisdom, and put it on. We must make this wholeness our new outfit. We are throwing out the old, and putting on the new.  Put the outfit of wholeness on, dress your heart with it, accessorize your mind with it, put on the shoes of wholeness. This new wholeness now clothes your whole being. How many times do we seek to do better, only to falter back again into our state of brokenness? Many times we are never really diving into being whole. We dip our toe in and it seems too hard. But once we dive in, we start to warm up, we get used to it.

God desires us to live in His state of peace and wholeness. He wants to repair the areas of our minds and hearts that need to be made new. There will be setbacks in life, challenges and tears, but we will still be whole. We won't be taken back to a childish brokenness when we experience a trial in life, we will take it head on with wholeness and a new Godly maturity.

This is God's desire for us as we grow with Him---that each day we put on the robes of being whole and healed.

"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:13-14

"And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." 2 Corinthians 1: 21-22

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." 1 John 1: 8-10


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Frilly, Luxury Christianity: A Modern Day Plague

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26

There's a plague going around! It's contagious. Everyone seems to have it. It seems normal to have it, it's long lasting. Very few fully recover. What is it?

Wanting Christianity to be cute, popular and frilly.

Jesus lived His life as a no frills kind of man. He did not walk the earth in search of possessions. He did not partake of the best things money could buy,  the latest and greatest of mans inventions or every good thing this earth had to offer. 

His life was lived with purposeful intent each day to accomplish God's plan for Him. 

He was not popular.  He challenged the traditions of man that were contrary to God's word. People loved their traditions more than they loved God.  "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." John 3:19

He lived a very humble and simple life by the standards of men.

He taught that spiritual riches are what we are to pursue and that only pursuing the material is vain.

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24

He was a humble carpenter, working with his hands. Yet He possessed the greatest riches the world has ever known. Being the son of God. The Savior of this world. The greatest King this world will ever know is Jesus.

"But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” Luke 22:69

 He died on the cross at the age of about 33 years old! He took no possessions with Him. 

We go to church, we worship with the worship band. We wear our nicest, most fashionable clothes, or whatever seem to be the styles of our church. We sit in cushy chairs. Buy a nice latte or cappuccino after church. We listen to the pastor's comedic jokes and laugh. We feel good about ourselves that we are Christians. There are a  few members that are humble, not so nicely attired, don't drive the nicest car--- do we get to know them, or do we scoff at them? Do we only like the "shiny" people? The ones with the shiniest clothes, cars and homes. The ones who are safe. The ones who don't seem "overly religious."

Do we fear man, or do we fear God? Do we go to church to hang out with a cool crowd? The ones who live in the nicest neighborhoods?

We've done our duty! We've gone to church! We've worshiped God! But have we? Have we adored God in our hearts? Do we have any idols above Him?  Did we pray, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10  Do we only go for the cushy seats and cappuccinos and because church is easy?

We go home to the nice decorations on our wall. The decorative plaque that says "God is love" or "God is peace." The nicely designed decorations that show our faith.

We plan our vacations, check facebook, go shopping. Turn on our air conditioning, eat a nice meal, and add things to our amazon wishlists. 

None of these things in and of themselves are wrong. We are only mistaken when we expect Christianity to be served to us on a nice silver platter. It's supposed to be frilly, silly, cutesy. A nice song here, a nice decoration there, a good book every once in a while. "Let's not get too uncomfortable," we say. "No need to change our life on account of this Christianity thing." "I don't want to seem too religious to others. Oh sure, I accepted Jesus into my heart. I'm saved!" "I don't want to look different, I'll just make mainstream choices. Everyone else is doing it!"

If we are trying to still be popular while being a Christian we are getting it all wrong! Many times in history, it has been a crime to be a Christian. Christianity isn't a popularity contest. We aren't going to win a nice sash and a nice crown while the crowd cheers.

Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified upside down. James was put to death by the sword. James (the brother of Jesus--not the apostle) was beaten to death with a club by his enemies. Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound.

They don't seem to have thought that following Jesus was going to lead them to a luxurious lifestyle. We don't see any of them ever having their eye on popularity and being the most liked. They followed Jesus, they followed God--they did what was asked of them. They furthered God's Kingdom.

They have gained riches that are beyond what any of us can imagine. Their treasures have not rusted. They are right now, today, alive with Christ. They are living in the most luxurious palace this world cannot even begin to imagine. The Kingdom of Heaven.

 "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:19

Where our treasure is...there will our heart be also. When we know where our treasure is we know the truth of where our heart is. Is our heart set on a frilly, luxury, cutesy Christianity? A perfectly comfortable life? Do we consider our treasure our popularity, our homes, our cars, our coasting through life?

Our heart should be with God, and God alone. The fire of God's love burning away the layers of our hearts until we are left with a pure heart, walls broken down, so that we can truly see God. 

Jesus saw God this way. He did not live a luxurious, comfortable life. He knew little earthly comfort, but He knew the comfort of God. He knew where His treasure was and that is what He followed. He never once promoted a Christianity that was all frills.

Readers, what are your thoughts?
"...and he said: “Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts." 1 Kings 8:23

"...and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Matthew 24:30

"...and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Acts 7:56

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." 1 John 3:1