2/29/2020 Leap Year
The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.
Every five years, my husband and I travel somewhere new for our anniversary. So far, we’ve gone to Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and the Mall of America. Our next plan is to see the Northern Lights from Alaska.
Each trip is enjoyable, memorable, and not long enough!
“Let’s stay one more day! We can call the airlines and change our flight,” Joe said when it was time to leave the Grand Canyon. We were captivated by its beauty. Of course, staying longer cost too much – changes in flights, car rental, and hotel; we couldn’t, so home we went.
Oh, the desire to have one more day. It doesn’t only happen with nice vacations – also with loved ones who have passed, dad or mom leaving for deployment, spending time alone with a close friend, etc.
Once every four years, the whole planet gets an extra day. It’s today, Leap Day!
I believe God’s a fan of having one more day.
“Earth is still here and we are still on it.”
God’s been watching this planet and all its activities since He created it. He created man in His image and desires for all people to willingly choose Him and His ways instead of the world’s. He’s been patiently waiting. He’s given us many extra days. But the Bible says one day it’s all coming to an end – no more days.
A few facts:
- The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with a fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10-13).
- It will be just like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39).
- Ungodly people will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:7).
- It will be dreadful for pregnant women and nursing mothers (Matthew 24:19).
- Jesus will be seen coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).
- Not everyone who says to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21).
- A mighty trumpet sound will blast and God’s angels will gather those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from all over the world (Luke 13:29, Revelation 21:27)).
Almighty God alone decides the day (Matthew 24:36), and He has held it off for one reason only – He loves us and doesn’t want anyone to be destroyed. Instead, he wants everyone to turn away from their sins and turn to Him (2 Peter 3:9).
I must admit I have mixed emotions. I’m elated because Jesus has finally returned and believers will be in heaven with Him forever – free from society’s injustices and immorality. Free from our own inability to live totally sinless lives. But, on the other hand, people we know and love who never believed in Christ are out of chances. They will suffer worse than anything we can imagine and be cut off from God. My soul despairs when I think of it. But, my human heart doesn’t even compare to Father God’s heart. He loves mankind! He gave us Jesus Christ! He had mercy on us. Untilthis day.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9 NLT)
We are never guaranteed another day on this earth. The most beautiful hope we have this day is that so far we’ve all had one more day to make things right with God and one more day to be bold witnesses of His life-changing power, available to all.
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 NLT)
Oh Father God, thank you for your mercy. Each day you delay Jesus Christ’s return is another day names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Help us all to be ready for your return. Amen.
Letting God Fill in the Blanks
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6 (NIV)
There’s this little painting that hangs in my home. Most people wouldn’t consider it a masterpiece. It was only $5 at an estate sale, but I like it because it speaks redemption to my soul every time I look at it.
I found it in a back room where the owner of the home used to sit and paint.
I don’t know what happened to the gal who painted it. All I know is it seems something about her life fell apart. And one day, a company opened her front door to strangers. They walked through all the sacred spaces she once called home and bought the stuff her life had collected. I guess I’m too sentimental to attend estate sales; I couldn’t stand it.
But I also couldn’t leave without rescuing something in her creative collection. Then I had the strangest notion to go on a wild adventure to find this unknown painter. I pictured it like an epic scene in a movie where the music crescendos, and I find her living in a New York high-rise. I would knock on her door and make the great assumption that she’d be thrilled with my announcement.
“I just want you to know I love your work. I bought one of your paintings, and it speaks a message of redemption to me every day. And I treasure it.”
Surely then she would get misty-eyed, invite me in for coffee, and share her devastatingly beautiful story. We would become wonderful, unlikely friends. She would go on to become a famous painter and live happily ever after.
But life isn’t usually as epic as what we see on movie screens.
It’s untidy and so unpredictable that our fragile hearts get broken at best, crushed at worst. And sometimes, it’s just easier to run away than to risk letting the shards of the fallout cut away the little bit of life still left in us.
No crescendo to the music. No epic arc to the story. No lasting friendship. Just a $5 painting that hangs in my kitchen.
And that’s all I know.
Life sometimes keeps us from details that are better left alone. It keeps some of the blanks empty on the outline of this message.
Does it ever drive you crazy when a speaker gives you an outline with blanks — but then skips some of the points? Me too.
We like complete outlines. All the blanks filled in. All the gaps closed. All the details disclosed. And all the why questions answered to our satisfaction.
But that’s not the way life is. Some speakers are disorganized and forgetful. Some gaps are too wide to close. And some questions have no apparent answers.
I believe that’s the way God wants it. Our all-knowing God not only allows this but actually designed life to be this way. It’s the truth we see tucked into today’s key verse: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).
Without blanks, we would have no room for Him to enter in and write His answers. For Him to become the Way when there is no way. For Him to be the Truth when lies long to consume our thoughts. For Him to be the Life He’s designed on the other side of our crumbling attempts to control our stories.
Our God is not fickle, forgetful nor fragile in any way. He does not make mistakes. He purposes the gaps. He allows sacred spaces and blank places. He leaves room.
If we had all the blanks filled in, we would explain away God’s part in our story. God doesn’t want to be explained away. He wants to be invited in. He wants us to make room for His additions to our story.
One time God was told, “There is no room,” and He turned an ordinary stable into an unforgettable sanctuary. “No room” became a space where Jesus Christ stepped through glory to the grit and grime of this sin-soaked world.
What did He come to bring? Redemption.
And what do the blanks and unanswered questions of your life provide space for? Redemption.
So why is it OK with me if I never know the details of my kitchen painting? Redemption.
“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” – Psalm 90:1-2 NASB
For centuries, most of the world followed the calendar developed by Julius Caesar in the first century BC. But there was a problem. In Caesar’s calendar, the years lasted longer than the solar year. As a result, dates never could be fixed. No one seemed to be able to provide a workable solution.
Then in the sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII developed the concept of a leap year, adding a day to the calendar every fourth year. Although flawed in minor ways, this approach represented an improvement and soon became adopted as the standard.
This leap day and its history remind us of the limitations of our human minds and God’s sovereignty. The Bible tells us He has been “our dwelling place throughout all generations.” He is beyond time and has been God “from everlasting to everlasting.” He is beyond our understanding, and a thousand years in His sight are just “like yesterday when it passes by” (v. 4).
Remember that God sees everything from the perspective of eternity. He is not worried and already has declared the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-11). We can trust Him. And when we seek Him, we should remember that He will answer our prayers based on what is best for us.
Place your life in His hands. Let Him take away all doubt, fear, and worry. God has everything under control. Today, tomorrow, and throughout eternity.
God Will Make Obstacles Serve His Purpose
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
I will make all my mountains a way (Isaiah 49:11).
God will make obstacles serve His purpose. We all have mountains in our lives. There are people and things that threaten to bar our progress in the Divine life. Those heavy claims, that uncongenial occupation, that thorn in the flesh, that daily cross — we think that if only these were removed we might live purer, tenderer, holier lives; and often we pray for their removal.
“Oh, fools, and slow of heart!” These are the very conditions of achievement; they have been put into our lives as the means to the very graces and virtues for which we have been praying so long. Thou hast prayed for patience through long years, but there is something that tries thee beyond endurance; thou hast fled from it, evaded it, accounted it an unsurmountable obstacle to the desired attainment, and supposed that its removal would secure thy immediate deliverance and victory.
Not so! Thou wouldest gain only the cessation of temptations to impatience. But this would not be patience. Patience can be acquired only through just such trials as now seem unbearable.
Go back; submit thyself. Claim to be a partaker in the patience of Jesus. Meet thy trials in Him. There is nothing in life which harasses and annoys that may not become subservient to the highest ends. They are His mountains. He puts them there. We know that God will not fail to keep His promise.
“God understandeth the way thereof and knoweth the place thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven”; and when we come to the foot of the mountains, we shall find the way.
—Christ in Isaiah, by Meyer
The meaning of trials is not only to test worthiness, but to increase it; as the oak is not only tested by the storms, but toughened by them.