The Stars in the Sky
When you fly as much as I do, you tend to see quite a bit of the country. I fly to Dallas more than any other destination and usually, I get a pretty good view of the Dallas skyline when we are landing; and an even better look from my room at the Renaissance. That’s where I am tonight after having spent last evening at a place I probably won’t visit again. I have always loved the architecture of the downtown area and one of the things that I find interestng in large cities is the way that the buildings are lit up at night. In Dallas, the skyline is filled with unusual architectural elements and many of the buildings are lined in various colors of lights. Whether I happen to be coming down from the sky, or looking out my hotel room, I never get tired of watching the lights in the city. There’s something about it that is strangely mesmerizing.
I have to admit that I also have a soft spot for the Chicago skyline. Janet and I periodically watch the show on the E! network with Guiliana and Bill Rancic; and every time I see the shots of the Chicago skyline at night, I remember growing up there. I even get nostalgic – Janet doesn’t, but I do. I just don’t think there is a prettier skyline that I have ever seen. New York has to also rank up there based on sheer size, but for interest, I’ll take Dallas or Chicago any time.
Sometimes, when the nights are clear and the air is a little cool, both Chicago and Dallas offer great views of the sky itself. Under the right conditions, the stars above and the lights of the city form a scene that is just about impossible to duplicate. The reason that I mention this is that God made a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the shores. I remember that every time I see the Dallas skyline, peering out at it like I am tonight. When you think about it, that’s a ton of people descended from Abraham as a result of God’s promise to him.
Most folks don’t understand that there are actually three distinct religious traditions that come from Abraham. Of course, the Jewish faith was the faith of Abraham and his family. Ishmael, the oldest son of Abraham, whose mother was Hagar, eventually led to the establishment of the Muslim faith; ans finally, Christianity, those people who followed the mandate of Jesus Christ, are also a result of the promise from God to Abraham. So you can see that a huge part of the world’s population is a result of the Abrahamic covenant.
I am sure that at the time, the patriarchs had no idea that their relationship with God would result in such a widespread impact. Of course, today, there are major differences between those three religions and unfortunately, it is impossible to get everyone on the same page. In fact, just within Christianity, there are tremendous differences of opinion as to whether salvation can be lost, whether women can be pastors, whether baptism is required for eternal life in heaven, whether communion is the actual blood and body of Christ or if it is a remembrance of the Last Supper.
There are other differences as well. Churches have major disagreements as to whether communion should be open to anyone, or whether it should be reserved for members of that particular church body or faith tradition. And then, one of the major differences is whether people can confess their sins directly to God or whether they need an intercessor to petition God on their behalf. The role of Mary in the church, local versus universal church beliefs and many other points also separate the various Christian denominations. Jewish and Arab traditions bring other differences into the mix.
The verse for tonight is one of the verses that underscores the promise that God made to Abraham. In Gen. 22:17, God tells Abraham, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” There you have it – right from God. My encouragement this evening is to confirm that God has been around forever and we can still have a relationship with the Living God. My prayer is that you will grow in your spiritual journey and that God will speak directly to you in strong and undeniable ways. After all, who knows the impact that you can have for the kingdom? Someday, people who come to Christ as a result of your effort may outnumber the lights on the buildings in downtown Dallas, Chicago and New York. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…