The Setting Sun Rises

April 23, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Peter Lundell –

The jet took off as the last sliver of the setting sun dipped below the horizon, perfect timing to witness a rare sight. A moment later the gray sky and dark line of the earth was pierced by the same sliver of sun that seemed to push back up. Then a layer of clouds blocked the sun, but behind them the sky grew brighter in hues of orange and blue. As we continued to climb above the stratus clouds, the sun emerged bigger than before. High, wispy cirrus clouds veiled it in a dreamy skyscape, and as the plane continued to rise, the orange ball seemed to ascend with us.

The plane reached its cruising altitude of 36,000 feet, and after a full half- hour in flight, this sun, which had fully set at our moment of takeoff, had risen back up into a full round ball. Nature had gone in reverse.

Of course it was an optical illusion of our rising in altitude, which made the setting sun appear to rise. But still weird.

I wondered about mysteries of the natural world that defy our normal thinking. And I wondered about the supernatural, what we call the miraculous or impossible. From God’s perspective it may all be natural.

In God’s dimension, the Trinity is natural. So is being outside of time and existing in what we call the spiritual world. Probably the strangest thing on earth, Quantum Physics, must be normal to God.

Educated Westerners are probably the most answer-oriented logic-mongers on earth. We don’t like mystery unless we can solve it. But God is full of mystery because He is so beyond us. And sometimes the setting sun rises.

How have you experienced mysteries of God or His creation?

“Lord, open my heart as wide as my eyes. Let me see beyond my sight. Let me embrace the mysteries of Your world and appreciate them as mystery, appreciate You as mystery, for You are infinitely beyond me.”

“Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish” (Isaiah 29:14 NIV).

What Takes Your Breath Away?

April 6, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Peter Lundell –

What takes your breath away? For some of us that’s what defines the best of life.

Recently the snow was great in the mountains north of LA. I had to go. When I downhill ski, I gravitate toward two things. One is to go to the steepest, most ungroomed, most obstacle-covered slope and make my way down. The other is to crouch on a gradual descent toward a steep drop- off, where I can’t see anything beyond the ledge, and then fly over it in an OMG! instant as the slope appears beneath me.

Some people may suggest counseling, but enthusiasts know it’s stuff like that that keeps us from needing counseling.

When we have to give 100 percent focus to something—otherwise we court disaster—it has a liberating effect. We’re momentarily freed, as if suspended, from every other care in the world. And after the adrenaline rush, we can return to the world and its cares with renewed freshness.

Similarly, a stunning view can take our breath away. It encompasses us and demands 100 percent of our focus just because of its magnificence. And we are momentarily freed, suspended from cares. Renewed.

The same can happen when we fall in love. Or encounter God. Or even listen to the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

We live so much of our lives doing routine things, and we’d probably die of overload if we didn’t. Though “normal” and “routine” keep us sane day by day, they need to be invaded once in a while, lest we grow comatose.

So, what takes your breath away? What makes you stop and say, “Wow!”?

In 1 Timothy 6:17, Paul says that God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (NIV) Are you enjoying what God gives you? I hope you say, “Wow!”

Prayer: “Father of my life and all good things, show me Your glory in this life I live. Open my eyes, my ears, and all my senses to be always alert to the ways You may amaze me. Lead me to live above the mundane, with eternity in my heart, and in tune with the glory of creation all around me.”

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world…” (Psalm 19:1–4 NIV).

God Pops Out

March 12, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Peter Lundell –

I had the privilege of visiting St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continually occupied settlement in America. As I walked the narrow streets, ogling the quaint buildings, I came upon the St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine. What on earth? Weird. I kept walking. Then stopped. If it’s weird, I should check it out.

It was a fancy—really fancy—shrine to glorify a guy in the early Greek settlement years. Not interested. On my way out I looked at some historic photos then turned around and froze. Before me in big letters sticking out from the wall, about twelve feet wide and six feet high was the Nicene Creed. It was not boring.

I’m so used to the Apostle’s Creed that the different and expanded wording of the Nicene Creed grabbed my attention. And knowing the history and theology behind every word, I read slowly and carefully.“I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible . . . Jesus Christ . . . begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God . . . and He shall come again, with glory . . . whose Kingdom shall have no end . . . the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life . . .”

The meaning of the creed came to forceful life.

I began to weep—stopped after every phrase, sensed the presence of God all over. I felt as if I encountered not just God but the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In front of me. The Creator of the Universe.

He is all around us, usually unnoticed but sometimes overwhelming.

Finally I shuffled away, speechless. Full of joy. Awed at the God who shows up without itinerary to intersect my earthly world and stop me. Who in all His omnipotent glory doesn’t zap me but loves me despite myself. Loves me because of who He is.

I encourage you: Expect things like this in your life. You can’t plan them, but you can live in anticipation. God responds to that attitude of faith. And when you might least expect it, He is there. And He may blow you away.

Nicene Creed:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Great Irony

February 10, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Peter Lundell –

I messed up three times in two days in an area of my expertise, that of making and fixing things. I felt foolish, incompetent, and made no excuse for my errors. But rather than sink into self-condemnation, I talked to God about it. And as I did I grew closer to him. My mistakes and weaknesses magnify my human frailty and lack, as yours probably do to you as well. In a positive view, this enforces humility in me. In turn I crave the embrace of my heavenly Father, who loves me anyway.

Then I reach a profound irony, not unlike the Apostle Paul’s “when I am weak I am strong”: When aware of my human failing, I move closer to God and experience a greater measure of His peace, His power, even His pleasure, than when I am outwardly successful or victorious.

Success is great—I want more of it—yet the other side of the irony is that when I focus on my success or victory, I easily become self-confident. Which is fine, but it diminishes my sense of needing God and drawing close to him. I subtly lose intimacy with God.

The irony is capped with the result that I find myself gravitating toward whatever highlights my shortcomings—not that I try to be an incompetent fool, but that I cultivate a heart and mind to affirm my shortcomings. Doing this is truly better than the self-orientation we as humans gravitate toward if our focus is only on our victories and successes.

I think God lets us fail and struggle because he loves us. He has implanted shortcomings in us to draw us near to him and to receive completeness in him. In his eyes, that is the greatest success, the greatest victory.

“[The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV).

“Lord, I am so imperfect. Open my eyes and heart and mind to always embrace my inadequacies that they would draw me closer to You, that I would always find my completeness and my value in You.”

Which Kingdom Is Important?

December 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

As we think back on the past year and look forward in the next, we may or may not be happy with the state of the nation we live in.

We are naturally concerned about a host of issues: social, moral, spiritual, educational, economic, environmental, military, and more. But societies throughout history have gotten both better and worse just as we see today. The Bible also describes how things will change for the worse in the latter days.

Join me in a reminder that if a person is a believer in Christ, he or she is wise to remember who is on the throne. It is not the president, or any prime minister, governor, or congressman. It’s Jesus.

“And He told Pilate—the highest government official around, who thought he had control over Jesus—‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (John 18:36), then added, ‘If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.’”

Jesus’ intent is not a heaven on earth, but an earth permeated by heaven.

For a true follower of Christ, the ultimate concern is not fixing any earthly country—and they all have problems. Rather we are to live and act as channels through which God’s Kingdom invades earthly ones. He is Lord over the nations, Lord over history.

The less we cheer or fret about things on earth and the more we think and act as believers who love and change others, the better we’ll be at “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Imagine the possibilities. What would they look like in your life?

PRAYER: Lord, let me not succumb to those voices that seem to shout, ‘The sky is falling!’ Let me rather look to You, to Your heart, to what You are doing in the world. And may I be always focus on Your kingdom above all others on earth….

“Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’
‘Is that your own idea?’ Jesus asked, ‘or did others talk to you about me?’
‘Am I a Jew?’ Pilate replied. ‘It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?’
Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.’
‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate.
Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me’” (John 18:33-37, NIV).

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