The Harvest Moon

“O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
You have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!”

“O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8

This Sunday, September 27 the harvest moon will appear in the sky. It is sometimes called the blood moon. The harvest moon is the first full moon following the autumnal equinox, September 23. This month the full moon will be closest to the earth than any other time of the month making it the largest in appearance and giving it the title supermoon.

If you are fortunate enough to live near the coast, the harvest moon will provide the largest variance in the tides—the high tides being extremely high and the low tides being extremely low.

If you have never seen a harvest moon, then by all means set your calendar to go out and watch it crest on the horizon of the eastern sky. If you have seen a harvest moon, be sure not to miss this supermoon this month. It will appear low in the sky at sunset and be an enormous orange-red ball. The closer to the horizon it is the larger and more colorful it will be.
This year the harvest moon will coincide with a lunar eclipse of the sun making it an especially fantastic astronomical event. And all this can be seen with the naked eye—without any instrument!

Check the internet to see when it will crest in your time zone and to see what the visibility will be in your “neck of the woods”.


Job and I

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

In my readings today I am reminded of a precious and powerful moment with God in my life shortly before I was saved or had an assurance through the Spirit that I was a child of God. It was a moment of deep conviction. A neighbor had given me a Good News Bible. I had many times in my life longed to read the Bible and could never seem to read very far before I felt completely defeated by the gap between my desire and my ability to understand. Of course, I had always tried to read my little fine print, thin paged, white, leather-bound personal Bible, the only one I had, which, for a poor reader like me, was defeating almost before I began. But now I had in my hands a used paperback, modern English version with reasonably sized print and heavier pages that was instantly more inviting. And being moved by the Spirit, I opened it and began to read the first full book of the Bible I had ever read—the Book of Job—read in one sitting. I found that I could not put it down until I finished it.
As I read I became engrossed in Job’s trials and tribulations. Having had all my life an unhealthy awareness of all my own trials and tribulations and those of my whole family, I could identify with Job and commiserate with him in his. When he questioned God. When he doubted God. When he sat in despair and wondered where God was and why He did not show Himself or answer, I was at one with him. This was a God I could identify with, a God that you desperately sought, but who was illusive, distant, unreachable, unpleasable, and who did not come when called. Yet, somewhere deep in my heart, like Job, though perhaps not as intimately as he or unwavering as he, I believed that “my redeemer liveth.”
Then, in God’s time, God spoke to Job and He spoke to me and I shall never forget that moment in time.

“Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?,” God said.
“Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”

“Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
Let him who reproves God answer it.”

When I surrounded myself with my own strength to overcome adversity, or my willingness to suffer unjustly when I could not overcome, or my own good works, which I thought were many, and my own so reverent acts of humility in worship, I considered myself quite holy relative to others I knew. Such is the curse of a religion of works.

But now, I was, suddenly and instantly, deeply ashamed of the pure vanity of my heart. Of the fact that God was God and I was not.

But now, like Job, I abhorred myself and I repented in dust and ashes. Job and I replied,

“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”

I stood in the presence of the God of all creation, Himself, in the presence of true holiness and omnipotent power. And I was little. I was petty. I was self-absorbed. And I was exceedingly sinful and ashamed.

It is alarming to suddenly and unwittingly find yourself standing naked before almighty God, with the cloak of your own self-righteousness removed, like Adam and Eve in the garden. Standing before Him there is no place for the “boastful pride of life,” feeling that God owes you something simply by virtue of the fact that you are.

God in essence said to Job, When you can do what I have done; when you are my equal—“then I will confess to you that your own right hand can save you.”

I had been all my life aware, like the Apostle Paul, that the good that I wished to do, I did not. And that evil was ever present with me. My only hope was that my good works would be pleasing enough to God to merit His favor. And I thought that in the end they would be. It would be some months later when I could say with Paul, “but thanks be to God who gives me the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” It would be a few months more before God would reach down in love to me through His Word and say, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourself. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast.” On that day, I would fall to my knees before Him and weep for a long time over the goodness of God. On that day, I would know His love. On that day I would know I was His forever.

But I praise God for that first vivid, very personal, encounter with Him through His Word. For without it, I would not have known the depth of my own depravity, I would not have known the truly unreachable holiness and majesty of God. I would not have known that “apart from Him I can do nothing.” That moment was a precious gift, a gift of God’s grace. It was the preparation of the soil to receive the seed of the Word of God with gladness. It was the impetus of my love affair with God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit through His Word for the rest of my life—although, regretfully, not with the perfect faithfulness it might be and should be.

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

“Wonderful grace of Jesus
Greater than all my sin
How shall my tongue describe it?
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free
The wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.”

“All sufficient grace for even me!”

How shall I describe it? Where shall its praise begin? Grace is one of the most beautiful words and powerful concepts in the Bible. It is often described as “unmerited favor” which is a nice, brief and apt description but makes it sound so simplistic and so mundane, like a quick catch phrase. For that and other reasons I find it inadequate for such a phenomenal gift from our loving God. To me it sounds like a one time thing, which of course it is, when speaking only of the justification of our souls through the death , burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But God’s grace does not stop there. It is so much more. It is all pervasive in the life of the Christian and the non-Christian alike. God’s gentle rain falls on the just and the unjust. The warmth and light of the sun, the beauty of the whole creation which declares to all the glory of the one true God is available to the saved and the unsaved alike by the grace of God.

God’s grace is an outflow of his never ending mercy. It means that God is continually and perpetually favorably disposed toward mankind. For the Christian it is vital to her life in Christ. It is free, abundant and ever present like God Himself. I personally like the description, “grace is the divine influence upon the human heart.” That is all encompassing. It is God’s grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit that influences the human heart to be drawn to His Son, Jesus Christ. It is this divine influence on the heart that draws men and women into Christian service, and good works, works wrought by God. It is this divine influence on the human heart that draws us to God in times of trouble, sickness and death instead of causing us to look to the safety of our money or science and technology or to retreat within ourselves, or feel hopeless and become bitter.

The teacher of the first Bible study I ever did described “this grace in which we stand” as a room called grace, filled with grace—a safe space, a place of strength, a place of wisdom and learning, a place of continual forgiveness and freedom, a place of comfort where God wipes away our tears and brings joy in the morning, a place where we can bask in His lovingkindness and His light and truth. That is as all encompassing as God is omnipresent and omnipotent. And to sing the praises of God’s grace will take eternity, but we can begin now.

Music Link:  Wonderful Grace of Jesus