Signs in the Heavens–and Houston Hope
My wife asked me to step outside last night and take a look at the moon. We stood on our enclosed deck and looked up at an orange-red ball that we’d never seen before in the Port Orchard sky.
This morning, we woke up to a reddish sun and tiny particles of ash falling from the heavens due to some immense wildfires burning nearby.
Hurricane Harvey has already ravished Texas. Irma is on the way toward the Atlantic coast.
Are these signs in the heavens, and how do they point to hope?
A number of books have been written on “blood moons” and “heavenly signs” that indicate either prophetic events on God’s calendar or the ushering in of the End Times. I find these writings fascinating, but always read them cautiously.
I know that God uses “signs.” But I also know that He is the only One who truly knows the future.
When blood moons, earthquakes or hurricane disasters take place, the wise choice is trusting that God uses catastrophes–especially in His wrap-up of history–to bring people to repentance.
That’s message of Revelation and also the message of the prophets:
“When the earth experiences the Lord’s judgments, the people learn to do right” (Isaiah 26:9).
Translation: When we go through calamities, they focus us to change and live right–helping and loving one another–and turning to the Lord.
Many wildfires are currently burning up thousands of acres in the western United States and Canada. Washington governor Jay Inslee recently declared our entire state a “state of emergency.”
Most of the fires are east of the Cascades, but ash is falling on our side as a reminder of the danger. This summer, the Puget Sound area broke a record for consecutive days without rainfall. This morning–due to the ash in the air–we recorded the highest 6 am temperature in Seattle for September 5.
We pray for the fire-fighters and all first responders, and look to the Lord for his deliverance. It’s a time in the west to learn to do right.
Another “sign” God might use to speak to our nation is the looming threat of Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic.
“Irma spun into a monster storm Tuesday morning with sustained winds topping 180 mph, becoming the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, National Hurricane Center forecasters said in their 11 a.m. advisory.”
“As the hurricane churns closer to the U.S. coast, its path becomes more certain, with South Florida, particularly the Keys, increasingly likely to take a hit. Tropical storm force winds could arrive as early as Friday. Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties.”
The east coast (especially Florida) is about to experience another major storm. How will God use this event in the east to teach us to learn to do right?
These lessons have already blossomed in Houston and neighboring areas following the most destructive hurricane in history (Harvey) which is estimated to have caused $190 billion dollars in damage.
“The traffic jams are back on the vast highways lacing through the heart of Houston, and the sun is shining again. Many Houstonians are still trying to salvage what they can from their flooded homes. But one word captures the mood in the most racially diverse US city: solidarity.”
“‘That’s the spirit of this city, everybody is just helping everybody,’ says Sarah Osborne. ‘People just help each other. That doesn’t matter, the color of your skin, or where you’re from, or what your religion is, or whatever.'”
“‘We’re seriously exhausted,’ Sarah said. ‘But the way people come together, it’s very satisfying. Just the community spirit. . . You hear nothing but bad press, you hear nothing but, you know, this group hates this group, and then you find out: nobody hates anybody. Everybody comes together.'”
Before Harvey hit, our nation was experiencing the greatest hatred and resistance ever given to a U. S. president. Confederate statues were coming down, and neo-Nazi rallies and Antifa violence rattled cities. It was like the nation was coming unglued.
Then God used Harvey to impact Texas and all the fighting and bad press stopped and “serving one another” began.
Hurricane Harvey is truly bringing out the best in Americans.
Gary Randall reminds us: “The very people who are ordered by the media and a few far left puppet masters to hate one another, because they are part of another tribe, have come together. Blacks, Hispanics, whites, southerners, northerners and all kinds of “deplorables” from other places East, West, North and South have come to Houston to help, rescue, save, console and sooth one another. This is e pluribus unum on steroids.”
In other words: We are learning to love (do right) not hate. It’s a social revival in Houston. Can a full-blown spiritual awakening be far behind?
Revivals come when we pray. President Trump called the nation to a special National Day of Prayer on September 3. His unifying proclamation ends with these words:
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 3, 2017, as a National Day of Prayer for the Victims of Hurricane Harvey and for our National Response and Recovery Efforts. We give thanks for the generosity and goodness of all those who have responded to the needs of their fellow Americans. I urge Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers today for all those harmed by Hurricane Harvey, including people who have lost family members or been injured, those who have lost homes or other property, and our first responders, law enforcement officers, military personnel, and medical professionals leading the response and recovery efforts. Each of us, in our own way, may call upon our God for strength and comfort during this difficult time. I call on all Americans and houses of worship throughout the Nation to join in one voice of prayer, as we seek to uplift one another and assist those suffering from the consequences of this terrible storm.”
Today, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association announced that Franklin Graham will be holding rallies in different areas of Texas October 11-19 to share hope in Jesus. His other organization, Samaritan’s Purse, is already there with hundreds of volunteers helping with clean-up and restoration.
We should all be giving to Harvey relief. If every person in America gave $300 to the charity of their choice, then the 190 billion would be met. Some can give much more (J.C. Watt and friends raised fifteen million, McDonalds raised 12 million, and President Trump and Melanie donated one million).
Others can only give $10. Give what you can. I’m giving today to Samaritan’s Purse. Let’s all participate in a revival of giving.
As bad as events can be, God is using all these “signs” for our good.
A wise woman who lived through the Nazi terror was Mother Basilea Schlink, the founder of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. Canaan in the Desert recently posted her poignant prayer. Let’s pray it together as we encounter God’s signs in the heavens and their accompanying hope.
Prayer in Times of Natural Disaster – by Mother Basilea Schlinck.
Loving Father, in these catastrophic weather conditions we come to You. We thank You for the assurance that it is Your loving, fatherly hand which is chastening us for our good as individuals and as a nation.
We thank You for the assurance that when You have attained the goal Your loving will has set for us – that is, when we turn from our sinful ways and come back to You – You will show us grace again.
Our Father, We humble ourselves before You and accept Your judgment, for we are receiving what our actions deserve. We and our nation have brought this judgment upon ourselves by our sins, which are mounting up to heaven, and by offending Your divine holiness with blasphemies such as the world has never seen.
Our Father, for the sake of Jesus’ out poured blood, grant by Your Holy Spirit that we and many in our nation will wake up under this judgment.
We pray that those who have turned away from You will start praying again. May they cry to You in this distress and give thanks for every gift they have received from You.
We pray that as a result of this judgment many who had been following paths of sin will accept Jesus’ offer of salvation and begin a new life.
We pray that you will renew in us the spirit of repentance, so that You can turn Your judgment into grace again and end the plight.
We pray, help us to recognize this chastening as a preliminary judgment and help us to take it as an opportunity to practice for the coming times of testing by humbling ourselves deeply beneath Your chastening hand and submitting our wills wholly to Yours. Make us so one with You that we will be strong and not lose confidence in Your love when You are compelled to send even greater calamities in response to the sins of mankind.
Our Father, for the sake of Jesus’ out poured blood, have mercy upon us in this severe plight and hear our prayer for help.
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