Impact Church

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Category: February Devotion 2018

Snow From Heaven

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11) So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth: it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Perhaps the human soul is never more tranquil than when the senses are engaged with the soothing sound of raindrops, or the silent stillness of a falling snow. It seems falling precipitation possesses a transcendence, an undefinable presence, that overwhelms the disquietude of earth’s care. At any rate, it’s likely the simple, therapeutic value of summer rains and winter snows have yet to be properly quantified, nor truly appreciated.

For example, how subtly the cluttered mind is cleared when a well-bundled body treks in solitude through solitary fields and forests under the pristine silence of falling snow? An hour of contemplation in such an environment releases immeasurable antidotal qualities; and a soul alerted to creation, cause, and Creator, through nature’s cloud-draining refreshment, can avert the missteps common in busyness.

Likewise, when nature itself is overlain with snow, our commonplace landscapes, easily unspectacular through daily routines, are magically transformed from winter’s exposed brown earth, fallen leaves, and drab fields to a seemingly unimaginable, creative display of speechless charm. Though winter cold envelops the slumbering countryside and snow conceals much of nature’s intricacy- yet innumerable, unexpected portraits of creation come into existence.

How embellished, then, are the conifer forests of green, when laden with snow’s complimentary, colorful contrast? And what brisk, gurgling brook is not picturesquely advantaged by fresh snowfall adorning its harsh rocks and sharp edges? And what tufted cardinal, though plumed majestically with the deepest of red, is not gladly photoshopped if juxtaposed on the snow-clad branch of the pine?

So it is with snow that Isaiah metaphorically elaborates on the effects of God’s immaculately delivered Word! Descending in human form to a lifeless and corrupt earth (and it spiraling uncontrollably toward terminal death), the Word became flesh and lived among the deplorable and destitute, engaging personally, impartially, and affectionately with both great and small.

Such was the hopeless ground into which this promised Snow fell. Into a world of fallen humanity, a creation separated from its Creator through disobedience, sin and death- this Life-giving substance was given the assignment of resurrecting the spirits of unworthy masses.

And, oh, what an awakening and reviving this most improbable Snow brought! What the prophet had declared centuries before is now humanity’s reality: the barren earth is now watered, the hardened seeds are now softened, and green buds are emerging all over a parched planet! Now the sowers of seeds have seeds to sow, and eaters of bread have bread to eat! And a land accustomed to poverty and shame is experiencing unmerited favor and blessings unmatched in the history of mankind! Oh, the infinite increase rising from heaven’s most enriching snow!

And there’s more! Yesterday’s foreboding mountains and problematic hills are now singing the praises of the watering One! The trees of the wood and grasses of the field are waving their hands in worship of the Blessed One! The scourging thorns and thistles unrestrained in uncultivated and barren lands are now gone, and in their place the silviculture of firs and myrtles!

And not only is the land materially blessed (sorry, sounding like one of those sleazy infomercials!), so is the crown jewel of His outpouring- The Redeemed- those chosen to inhabit the most envied of all nations, His eternal Kingdom! From that sovereign place of divine blessing- peace, joy, and glorious destinies are the promised, eternal norm! And to see all of this is contingent on descending rain and snow personified in the Son of God!

And as an additional assurance, the Word sent as rain and snow on humanity’s famished heart could never return as an unwise investment! This divine Precipitation must not return void! This Snow, sent in a season appointed by the Father, must accomplish precisely the purpose of its descent! Dust-made humanity, those creatures made in His image, must receive the life giving substance of His incomprehensible grace! And religious systems propping up mankind’s lifeless form must cease and desist under the cleansing and purging powers of an incomparable grace!

And of that Grace have many been healed! And of that Life have millions received forgiveness of sins! And of that Gift have innumerable sinners been born again! All made new for a time such as this- to demonstrate through word and deed this magnanimous life! To the hungry, bread to eat; to the filled, seeds to sow; to the worker, fields to harvest!

Now, according to prophecy and the prayer of Jesus, the glory of heaven has descended to earth; and that single, divine, gracious outpouring has the Church worshiping, angels singing, and heaven rejoicing!

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Maximized Living

A few weeks ago we celebrated (if, from a comfy recliner questioning the sanity of Times Square masses huddle in ten degree weather till a ball drops is considered a celebration, then yes, we did!) the ending of one calendar year and the beginning of another. And while calendar-consciousness should never govern worship, in some subliminal way the gift of time is a reminder of grace. Since, according to Scripture a fruit-filled Life, relative to time and chance, is the great pleasure of the Father – so as life affords us opportunity, our eternal purposes are satisfied in maximizing them.

As Christ in His earthen ministry went about doing good, healing those oppressed of the devil, so those in Him are admonished to follow His example. Contrary to fleshly instincts, but true according to scripture, we find Christian duty a rather simple and doable life. So that as God always works in us, both the will and the doing of all that pleases Him, so those indwelt of His Spirit are always in acute demonstration mode!

So let’s slow down and say this little truism together:

It’s… not… that… difficult… to… be… a… spiritual… light!

Yet, should we lack inspiration or direction (it happens sometimes!), here are a few quippy confidence boosters or compass readjusters!

  • Give thanks, not only in agreeable things, but yes, in everything!
  • If it’s to be done… do it wholeheartedly!
  • Rejoice in the Lord always! And for those in the back- Rejoice!
  • Forgive, ok. But how? As God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven us!
  • In giving… Press it down, fill the corners, shake it till it runs over!
  • In blessing, pour it on thick, especially on the few who dislike you!
  • In condemning, don’t! Just don’t go there!
  • In love… it’s pretty simple… Love all, at all times and in all places!
  • And to those perceiving the times and seasons of our present day: Be filled with the Spirit! Be pure! Redeem the time! Stay woke! Be holy! Pray always! Look up! Be honest! Encourage others! Be patient! Avenge not! Grumble not! Go to work! Be like Jesus!

And how amazingly opportunistic this wonderful life becomes when the Holy Spirit is given space to stretch! Knowing the mind of God and recognizing the Day of Grace, the Spirit excels in displaying Christ through those believing! And knowing things will not always be as they presently are, and that fulfillment of all things is nearer now than when we first believed, the Holy Spirit desires, above all, an undeniable manifestation of the children of God!

Have we noticed grace poured out now in desperate places? Yes, we’re witnesses. Is there in our preaching an urgency of reconciliation with creation and Creator? Is there a longing among the Chosen to be nearer to the heart of God – further from the divisions, violence, mistrust, scandals, hate, and the evils that sever the brotherhood? Have we noticed in our churches an increased hunger for fellowship around the Word of God? Are the mists, mysteries and mazes of man-made doctrines and religions being exposed – their authors, followers, falsity, duplicity and entrapments laid bare?

Yes, the Holy Spirit is doing perfectly what Jesus said He’d do!

Do we anticipate joyfully the great day of the Lord? Are we confidently sharing the Good News? Are our fears being overcome by love, our doubts removed through a reminder of His promises? Do we live in such joyful contentment that our sanity could sometimes be questioned by those without? If so (and I believe we do!), the glory inherent in Christ is by inheritance ours through faith, and soon to be our eternal reality! This will be our greatest year ever!

Numbered Days

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”Psalm 90:12

My daughter turns five this year. A truth, that honestly, is inconceivable. As a newborn she was colic. Therefore, she and I shared many mornings watching the sunrise without ever having slept. In the haze of sleep deprivation, her turning five seemed light-years away. Yet here we are. Soon I will leave her in a kindergarten classroom while my sweet husband is tasked with dragging me away. I’ll be the mom  sobbing like some kind of lunatic. I can hear time shouting, with volume I’d prefer to mute, “Like it or not here I come!”

Four years have passed. Four precious years consisting of a collection of moments that are unable to be retrieved. There are no do-overs and the clock simply can’t be rewound. James 4:14 says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Life, here on earth, is astonishingly brief.

Over the past few weeks I’ve contemplated all I may have missed already. What did my kids want to show me while I scrolled aimlessly on social media? What divine set-ups have I overlooked hurrying through my self-imposed to-do list? Did I miss something of eternal significance when insisting on folding that last load of laundry?

I am thankful for the last 20 days of prayer and fasting. Fasting isn’t a new idea. It has, in fact, been shaping and reshaping individuals for centuries. This intentional stripping away of distractions and wholeheartedly leaning into God’s presence is good for us. Read the rest of this entry »