Blog Archive - February 2009
The archives of The Sun Will Rise, organized by month.
I'm realizing lately that I have not sufficiently wrestled with Jesus' words in Matthew 24:21-22:
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
(Matthew 24:21-22 NKJV)
Jesus made such an alarming statement - there has never been a more difficult time in history and there will never be a time more intense and dramatic than what is coming. He's saying it's greater than the global effects of all of the world wars, and will include pestilence, fearful sighs from heaven, demonic powers raging at levels never seen before, and the earth being shaken like it never has before. It's so easy to "romanticize" and just gloss over these things, either thinking that we will be removed from the situation or completely protected in the midst of it.
In the days of Noah we can find similarities to the coming hour, but it is not sufficient to describe them completely. In Noah’s day, it had never rained before and there were never any boats. There was nothing to compare the flood to. But Noah acted in godly fear, saying “I don’t know what a boat or rain is, but I do know your voice.” Noah obeyed God for 120 years despite the accusation and revilement of his neighbors and even some of his own family. What Noah did made no sense before it started to rain. He went from being the most foolish man to the wisest man on the planet when the rain began.
Over a year ago I wrote this post on “pray-reading” the Word. I went back and re-read it and decided that it would be a good thing to write on again, because I absolutely love doing it!
One of my favorite passages to pray-read this past year has been Psalms 119. I find myself often spending 10 or 15 minutes on one verse alone, because I really feel the Lord as I do it. If you don’t pray-read the scriptures, let me just say that you’re really missing out! The Word was meant to be our “conversational material” with God. More than just bringing Him our personal, external needs, I’ve found that simply engaging Him in conversation over the Word has transformed my heart tremendously.
He knows all of our needs before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8). He invites us into prayer not for the sake of telling Him our needs, but simply for us to interact and dialogue with Him in conversation. What would it be like if an earthly father only heard his son or daughter’s voice when they needed to eat or borrow the car? There wouldn’t be any relational, heart-to-heart connect in that. Our heavenly Father is longing for a heart-to-heart connection with us. He’s not just the “big guy” that answers our laundry list of prayers after we pray them in dry repetition again and again.
Okay, Mark 6:45-51 is perhaps one of the craziest passages in the whole Bible! I've been meditating on it for a few days now, and I can't believe how much I've "missed" from the story. I'm sure we all know about the time when Jesus walked on water. But I've been challenged to "go deeper" and to really figure out what was going on. It's so invigorating to my heart to let my holy imagination get into the story and then to ask Jesus questions about it! So this post is just a splash of my thoughts and questions to Jesus on the passage.
“Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.” (Mark 6:45-51 NKJV)
So Jesus just got finished feeding 5000 men (plus women and children, so perhaps there were 15,000 people needing to eat. That's a lot of people to feed!) and sent His disciples rowing across the sea of Galilee (which was probably about 10 miles across, depending upon the direction). After He sent them away, He goes off privately to pray.
We just started our monthly 3-day fast together as a community, and more and more I am discovering God’s wisdom in the “seeming weakness” of prayer. Telling God what He told us to tell Him, skipping a few meals, and spending time reading and praying through the Bible seems like a foolish waste of time to the natural mind. Yet I’m finding that it is truly the pathway to a vibrant heart full of life, peace, and joy.
Today I was reading through Luke’s gospel when I flipped ahead a few pages to Luke 21 and something caught my eye. Jesus said that many would be going through life as normal when the events of the end of the age come and trap them. But the major “antidote” that Jesus gave to us to counteract a dull heart weighed down by life is prayer. He says:
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.””
(Luke 21:34-36 NKJV)