“Do You Hear What I hear?”

THE “FOUR VOICES” OF ISAIAH REVEALED IN STUDY

Scripture Study:  ISAIAH 40:1-11

VOICE #1,  “Comfort God’s People” – (40:1, 2).

“COMFORT, COMFORT my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”  [New International Version, NIV].

God Loves to Comfort His People!

Follow along with how the apostle Paul refers to God in 2 Corinthians 1:3:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…(and here is the description) “the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [who is the Source] of every COMFORT.”

And this isn’t the only place in the bible where we find God described as a COMFORTER…

PSALM 23, the psalmist says of God the Good Shepherd,  “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

“As one whom his mother comforts, so will I COMFORT you; you should be COMFORTED in Jerusalem.”  (Isaiah 66:13)

So God does love to COMFORT His people.

And…He is a great source of comfort…BUT…God recognizes we need someone with skin on them too!

"Sometimes we need someone with skin on them"
“Sometimes we need someone with skin on them”

A Mother’s Words of Comfort (See Footnote [i]):

Dr. George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for 50 years, told a story of a young, unbelieving couple in a sermon.

The young couple, who had lost their baby, came to Dr. Truett, asking him to conduct the funeral, so he did.  He said later, he had such joy of seeing them both trust the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many months later, he said the young mother who had lost her child stepped forward, went to a young girl’s side and said, “I passed through this and I know what you’re passing through.  God called me, and through the darkness I came to Him.  He’s comforted me, and He’ll comfort you.”

God recognizes that just like that young girl in the story, sometimes we need someone in the FLESH to come and sit with us, hold our hand and listen to our heartache.

In the first verse of the text, God says,  “Comfort, Comfort My People…”

This command [“comfort” spoken in succession] is of God to comfort His people is directed not only to Isaiah, but to ALL of God’s prophets.

BUT before COMFORT can come…SIN was dealt with–that God calls His prophet to comfort.

The first 39 Chapters of Isaiah…

God doesn’t call Isaiah to “comfort” His people.  It’s only after “their” sin has been absolved that He can send the prophet Isaiah with words of COMFORT.

So in reading Chapters 40-66 of Isaiah, the words will show TRUE COMFORT consists (not in telling people what their ‘itchy’ ears want to hear), BUT in presenting the whole truth concerning their tragic condition.  AND…in causing them to SEE GOD as their only HOPE.

It is only when reality and ugliness of SIN raises its head that the announcement of DELIVERANCE can be made.

There’s A Prerequisite for COMFORT…

Apart from the Declaration of Judgment found in Chapters 1-39 of Isaiah, the WORDS OF COMFORT in 40-66 are without much point.

The prerequisite for comfort seen here in Isaiah is much the same as JESUS taught on the Sermon On The Mount–(Matthew Chapter 5).

He too talked about people being “comforted”–But before they could be comforted, JESUS SAID, they must be “poor in spirit” and acknowledge their absolute dependence upon God–and then they mustmourn” over their sin and hopeless condition…

“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be

COMFORTED”

VOICE #2 – “PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD” – Isaiah 40:3-5

[3] “A voice of one who cries: Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord [clear away the obstacles]; make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God!  [4] Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places made plain.  [5] And the glory (majesty and splendor) of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”

Pope Francis was visiting the USA this past week, and as I watch all the proceedings on TV, I thought what preparations must have been made ahead of time for his arrival.

Isaiah here, pictures the scene played out by the Royal Road Builders–smoothing the way for their King, working diligently, removing barriers and obstacles in order to make the King’s journey somewhat easier.

The PROPHECY…

Though all the prophets had a part in preparing the way for JESUS’ entry into the world–this PROPHECY ultimately was fulfilled in the person of John the Baptist.

Three of the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke quote this verse from Isaiah and apply it to the Baptizer.

JOHN the Baptist Prepared the Way…

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John prepared the way by shouting out in the wilderness that the only way to get right with God–was to REPENT and be IMMERSED in baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

John also helped prepare the way by grooming some of JESUS’ first disciples – Peter, John, Andrew, and James.

Once John prepared the way–removed the obstacles–showed the futility of religious ritual–preached repentance–

Once John did this, then…the GLORY of the LORD was revealed.  John the Baptist prepared the way “FOR” (“I AM the way, the Truth, and the Light”)…

We still got some “PREPARING” to do today!

Is there now no more PREPARING for the Lord–since John the Baptist, clothed in camel’s-hair, eating wild locust, shouted in the wilderness?

In a way, YES.  But, in the way, NO.

YES, there is no preparing in the sense of preparing for the Lord’s earthly arrival.  JESUS has already come in the flesh.  John the Baptist prepared the way.

But in another sense, this PRINCIPLE still applies today.

The LORD still wants to REVEAL Himself in Glory to His church.  

But, before He can do this, there are OBSTACLES that must be removed; BARRIERS that must be torn down and ROUGH PLACES that must be made smooth again…So that JESUS can arrive and be EXALTED–LIFTED UP!

TODAY’S BARRIERS, OBSTACLES, AND ROUGH PLACES REVEALED: What has to be removed before the LORD’S GLORY shows up!

Making The Way Smooth…

Women labourers throw dust on a road tarmac under construction at Bharadva village in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave
Women labourers throw dust on a road tarmac under construction at Bharadva village in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave

What are we in the CHURCH lifting up rather than Christ Jesus?

We are lifting up…

  • Personal Sin,
  • Pride,
  • Prejudice,
  • Indifference,
  • Opinions,
  • Comfort,
  • Convenience,
  • Worldly Pleasures.

In a word, we are lifting up SELF.  If we want to see the Lord’s Glory revealed in His Church, we too must LISTEN to the voice of God and prepare the way…there is way too much talking and not enough listening to God’s Spirit.

We must make a straight path/raise valleys/lower mountains/level the rough ground and make the rugged places a Plain.

VOICE # 3  Is Crying, “Invest in the Eternal” – Isaiah 40:6-8:

[6]  “A voice says, Cry [prophesy]!  And I said, What shall I cry?  [The voice answered,  PROCLAIM:]  All flesh is as frail as grass, and all that makes attractive [its kindness, its goodwill, its mercy from God, its glory and comeliness, however good] is transitory, like the flower of the field.  [7] The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely [all] the people are like grass.  [8] The grass (a) withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

(a.)  The apostle Peter quotes this verse (1 Pet. 1:24-25) and then adds, “and this Word is the good news which was preached to you” –which confirms as fact that Isaiah is here referring to the times of Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One *** (Amplified Bible footnote, Page 1029.).

PETER then goes on to say,

“SO BE done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy and jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind.  Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation”  (1 Peter 2:1, 2).

Since God’s Word is ETERNAL and everything in this world is NOT–we should rid ourselves the things of the world and crave God’s Word.

Unfortunately, we find that many people more often than not are CRAVING the temporary…craving the things of this world (money, looks, physic, career, pleasure) with passion.

While they pursue God’s Word with casual indifference…“I’ll get God’s Word from my pastor on Sunday.”  God says INVEST in something that will last!

Making Foolish Investments In The Temporary, Ignoring the Eternal…

JESUS addressed this issue in a parableLuke 12:16-21:  “What good is it to gain the world, yet lose your very soul?”

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?  

DO YOU HEAR THE VOICES?

The VOICES are calling God’s people and they’ve been calling for centuries…

  • “Comfort, Comfort My people”
  • “Prepare the way for the Lord”
  • “Invest in the eternal”

And there is one more voice, and the VOICE IS CRYING out to us,

“GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN” – Isaiah 40:9-11:

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[9] You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain, You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”  [10] See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. See, His reward is with Him and His recompense accompanies Him.  [11] He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those who have young  (NIV Bible).

The Announcement of the Presence of God Must Be Proclaimed Far and Wide…

GOD’S PEOPLE are not to be silent; keeping the Good News of the Lord’s arrival to themselves.  We are to go up on a mountain, but not just any mountain.

We are to go on a HIGH MOUNTAIN.  And we are not to just softly speak about the Lord’s presence, we are to SHOUT!  Lift up our VOICE…

We are not to be intimidated but rather to shout…  

Here’s your God!!!  He is powerful and mighty!!!  He is a God who rewards greatly!!!”

The VOICE compels us to “Go Tell It On The Mountain” –

Matthew 5:14-16:

[14] You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  [15] Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  [16] Let you light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

ISAIAH began the second half of his ministry by hearing the VOICES OF GOD calling him to:

#1.  Comfort My people…

#2.  Prepare the way for the Lord…

#3.  Invest in the eternal…

#4.  Go tell it on the mountain.

And ISAIAH WAS FAITHFUL and answered those VOICES…

And the voices, are they still calling today?

Do you hear the voices?

Will you respond to what you hear?

Or, will you ignore them?


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/comfort-someti…h-skin-on-them/

Photo Credits- Google Image Search & Photo Pin.

Bible Translation:  The AMPLIFIED BIBLE, except where noted in the text.

Living Your Life With Intentional Expectation

Intentional-Living

Scripture Study Verses:  Isaiah 29:16 & Ephesians 5:15-16

“INTENTIONAL LIVING” BEGINS WITH “CONVICTION”:

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“CONVICTION” Definition:  “the act or process of convincing,” “the state of being convinced,” or “a fixed or strong belief”.

So then, “BIBLICAL CONVICTION” applied to a true believer, can be said to mean… a person whose convictions are derived from Scripture and whose convictions affect him spiritually.”   *[See footnote [i] ].

My Testimony of Living Under Godly “Conviction”–

Years ago, while trying to live out my Christian life… God was convicting me to a need in my spiritual life.  A need to be a person who does not live by default, but lives by decision.

To be a person who ‘determines’, is a person who STARTS at the beginning –

“I will do what it takes to know God better, to love Him more, so that He can work in and through me to be more Christlike.”  

Once I became aware of God’s plan in my life…not my plan…as prompted by the Holy Spirit, I became determined; determined to live my spiritual life intentionally.

THE CHALLENGE –

I have read somewhere in my studies over the years, that there are…

THREE TYPES OF PEOPLE:

  • Those who make things happen.
  • Those who watch things happen.
  • Those who wonder what happen.

My challenge?  Becoming INTENTIONAL in ALL areas of life.

I believe it was Dr. Randy Carlson of Family Life Radio who once said, “To be intentional is knowingly choose your direction and shake up the routine…or the autopilot of your spiritual life.” 

“SPIRITUAL GROWTH requires an intentional effort on our part, while SPIRITUAL STAGNATION and decline requires no effort at all”  

[See footnote [ii] ].

So if you find yourself in a state of godly conviction, of needing spiritual growth, let me try to help you understand how to be intentional; strengthening your relationship with God.

Living Redemptively–

God has redeemed you not just from SIN and its penalty, but He has also redeemed us from an empty life.

1 Peter 1:18-19 says,

“You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold,  But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.”

A FEW STEPS TO LIVING WITH “DECISION”:

THE PROBLEM.  Too many people end there.

“Look carefully then how you walk!  Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)”  (Ephesians 5:15).

*Note:  DETERMINED PEOPLE…strive to make wise decisions based on the Bible’s wise decisions, no matter what your coworkers, your neighbors, or family say.

THE NEED–

To put DETERMINATION on the Front Burnernot the back burner, then turn the flame on high!

stovetop

Being DETERMINED to live decisively–elevate correct priorities.

“He also is the Head of [His] body, the church; seeing He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent]”  (Colossians 1:18).

YOUR PRIORITIES should…

  • HONOR GOD
  • HONOR YOUR FAMILY
  • HONOR OTHERS

Being in COVENANT compliance in all areas of your life; to submit to His authority.

One way that The Fear of God can be explained is “To honor God, with the audacity to obey”  [Creflo Dollar sermon notes].  

Not in a “submissive” frame of mind?  If your answer is “no”, then you are living in rebellion.

Isaiah 29:16:

[Oh, your perversity!]  You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be considered of no more account than the clay? Shall the thing that is made say of its maker, He did not make me; or the thing that is formed say of him who formed it, He has no understanding?

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QUIZ TIME:

Who CREATED you?  GOD.

Who has the right to tell you what to do?  GOD.

Setting Aside Our AGENDA and Looking at God’s AGENDA –

Another STEP to look at, is we NEED to recognize that only by God’s grace, we’re even here.  

Surely, we should be so grateful, to allow the Ruler of the earth and heaven to have His way in our own lives.  He deserves that much.  He is LORD whether we want to admit it or not.

Allow Him to not only be the SAVIOR of your life, but the LORD, the boss, the C.O.O. (Chief Operating Officer), or whatever title you might give Him.

BUT…He is the One we need to SUBMIT to, above all others, especially ourselves.  Tell Him you are serious about following Him as LORD.

NEXT STEP…

Increase your time in the Bible and Prayer…

Colossians 3:16 says to…

“Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness…”

It makes sense to me, if I wanted to LIVE a life more decisively, seeking to please God, then I needed to know what pleases God.

The best way to learn what makes my Heavenly Father smile (pleasing Him)…is to read and study His Word.

Some need to increase some, while others need to just plain start.  That’s okay.  START!

  • READ 5-10 minutes a day.  It doesn’t have to be an hour.
  • CHOOSE a time that works best for you, and stick to it!  

Since retirement, I choose the morning.  The issue isn’t when you do it, but the fact that you do it.

It’s best to be consistent on the time.  If you are not in the habit of daily reading the Bible, then start off small.  But START!  Don’t procrastinate any longer.

Dr. Charles R. Swindoll says, “The habit of always putting off an experience until you can afford it, or until you know how to do it is one of the greatest burglars of JOY.  Be deliberate, but once you’ve made up your mind–jump in.”

And if you are in the habit, then bump it up a little.  PRAY while you are reading the Bible. as the Holy Spirit prompts your spirit into responding to what you’re reading, and then, just do it!

NEXT…Daily Renew Your Walk with God –

I have to make this decision every day, before anything else I do.  Setting aside a special time [before my bible reading] to meet with Him, to tell Him I LOVE Him and His Word.

Renewing Your Covenant Promise…(Daniel 9:4):

And I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession and said, O Lord, the great and awesome God,  Who keeps covenant, mercy, and loving-kindness with those who love Him and keep His commandments.

EXPECT GOD TO MOVE…

If you might be thinking at this point of study, that the RESULTS of living by DECISION is brought about by your own effort, you’re missing the point.

In fact, it is only by God’s Grace that He decides to move and work in yours and my life.

The STEPS presented in this blog are not an attempt to jump through a bunch of spiritual hoops, trying to please God with our spirituality.

The ideas, the concepts, the steps, are only tools that I use to gain insight into God’s LOVE & CARE, not because we’ve done everything just right, but because He is honored in doing them.

God Sees the BENEFITS it brings us…

So, He blesses the efforts, because it brings HIM glory, not us.

We put forth the EFFORT because it pleases Him and blesses us!

BUT…let me point something out here.  Even if God did nothing in your life because of your decisive efforts to become closer to Him, have you really lost anything?  I don’t think so.

Your clearer view of correct priorities will help you achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself and your family.  God honors that.

God Brings the RESULTS, not us.

We do these things, trusting God will be pleased to mold us and to be more like Him.  And by the way, before you start thinking, that it’s easy for The WORD Detective…I was in the working world most of my Christian life.  These principles have worked for me and still working for me, whenever I put them into practice, no matter what situation.

Living By DECISION Instead of DEFAULT!

JESUS is our example, for He did nothing by default and was decisive about everything.

Nothing shows that better than Luke 9:51:

“As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem”  (NIV).

The King James Version says that “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.”

4021b34d6feda5c5bac210ace5682ca1JESUS was decisive here, but more than that, is found in the first part of that verse:

“As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven…”

He knew what was coming up.

He knew that going to Jerusalem would bring about DEATH.

BUT the book of Hebrews, 12:2, tells us that Jesus went to Jerusalem and faced the cross, rejecting its shame, for the JOY set before Him.

Huh? The “JOY”?

How could the thought of being tried illegally in secret be joyous?

How can knowing that He would hang on a cross for hours and hours, suffering in the most agonizing way of capital punishment cause JESUS to see JOY?

ANSWER:  Because He saw beyond Jerusalem.

He saw the result–Pardon, Forgiveness, Freedom, Opportunity for you and I to know Father God on a personal level.

He knew what would be needed to be done before time!  And, He decided that He would do it.  That my friends, is being “intentional”!

JESUS waited for just the right time, and then He came to make it happen!!

In comparison to what JESUS has done for us, is it really too much to ask ourselves that we spend a bit of time each day to deepen our relationship with the One who made that RELATIONSHIP possible?

Believe me, it isn’t easy.  But God works and makes it worth it.

Making A Bold Decision of Commitment to Live Decisively–

In study this past week, I came across a Bible verse that brings out the heart of this blog’s message:

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are blameless toward Him…”  (2 Chronicles 16:9).

If you’ve been LIVING a life on autopilot, of “default”; a failure to fulfill an obligation as a result from ignoring the conviction presented by Abba, Father, you are going to have to make a choice.  You don’t have it all figured out right now, but you need to decide to be determined with a decisive effort to deepen and strengthen your walk with God, so it affects every area of your life…24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

And I guarantee that if you make the effort, God will change your life as He has changed mine. Believe me, He wants to do that for you.

But you need to be INTENTIONAL about being “INTENTIONAL” about that!

Expecting God’s PROMISE…(Romans 4:18-22 READ)

Abraham is called “the father of us all”  (Rom. 4:16).

From the standpoint of FAITH, Abraham was certainly the epitome of a man with ‘biblical conviction.’

When all odds were stacked against him, and even though at times he tried to give God a hand by taking matters into his own hands, he was DECISIVE in holding on to the PROMISES of God.

It’s up to you.  To decide today to start Living With Intentional Expectation! 

Ephesians 5:15-16:

“Look carefully then how you walk!  Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise–sensible, intelligent people;  Making the very most of the time–buying up each opportunity–because the days are evil.”

**NOTE:  If you feel liking sharing with other readers, a new decision of walking intentionally in your life, please do so in the comment section of this BLOG.

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i] : Bible.org. – Mark #6 by J. Hampton Keathley, III ;  Footnote [ii] : from C. S. Lewis – Screwtape Letters.

Scripture quoted from the AMPLIFIED BIBLE, except where noted.

Photo Credits by Google Images Search.

 

 

Smiling On A Cloudy Day

A CLOUDY DAY!

A VIEW from my porch
A VIEW from my porch

My wife and I were sitting on our front porch at the end of summer, looking towards the western sky.  We started a new tradition this year, borrowing it from my brother and sister-in-law, of ringing a brass bell while the sun is setting.  The “ringing out” of the end of another day.

But on this particular evening, a wisp of clouds seemed to be layered over the horizon, and as I grabbed the wooden handle of the bell, I stopped, looked at my wife and smiled…

“You go, God!”

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“Clouds come floating in my life no longer to carry

rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset day.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds ~

SCRIPTURE VERSE – ISAIAH 19:1:

9fbd131ec772ec0b081af7ceaa27f231

“AN ORACLE concerning Egypt:

“See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before Him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them” ~ New International Bible.

As I continued with my reading and study in the Book of Isaiah this past week, I soon discovered, how closely the above verse identifies “CLOUDS” with GOD (Isaiah 19:1; Revelation 14:14).

GOD USES A “CLOUD” IN THE BIBLE…

  • To guide the Children of Israel through the wilderness.
  • GOD spoke to Moses in a CLOUD on Mt. Sinai.
  • GOD appeared to Aaron on the Day of Atonement, at the Mercy Seat, in a “CLOUD.”
  • The GLORY of the LORD left the Temple in Jerusalem, in a “CLOUD.”
  • When Elijah predicted rain, his servant saw a “CLOUD” the size of a man’s hand.
  • GOD spoke in a CLOUD at the transfiguration of JESUS.
  • JESUS ascended in a CLOUD.
  • We will be caught up in the CLOUDS in the Rapture.

A.  Bible verses where GOD used a “CLOUD” –

  1.  Genesis 9:13-16 – God Teaches Us About HIS PROMISES:

[13] “I set My bow [rainbow] in the cloud, and it shall be a token or sign of a covenant or solemn pledge between Me and the earth. 

[14] And it shall be that when I bring clouds over the earth and the bow [rainbow] is seen in the clouds,

[15] I will [earnestly] remember My covenant or solemn pledge which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters will no more become a flood to destroy and make all flesh corrupt.

[16] When the bow [rainbow] is in the clouds and I look upon it, I will [earnestly] remember the everlasting covenant or pledge between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.”

THE RAINBOW –

One of God’s covenant SIGNS to the world is that there will never be another FLOOD like that one!

It’s a PROMISE from GOD… 

It had never rained before the flood (Gen. 2:5-6) and when GOD caused the great flood, He caused it to RAIN for 40 days & 40 nights.

Can you imagine what NOAH must have done, when he got off the ARK, saw a DARK CLOUD in the sky?  He might have run back to the ark.

UNTIL…he smiled and remembered God’s PROMISE…the RAINBOW.

Maybe…there are some DARK CLOUDS in your life right now.  Remember the cartoon character who always had a dark cloud following him everywhere?

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LIL’ Abner

Looking Beyond the Dark Clouds…

There can’t be a RAINBOW, without clouds!

There’s an old saying, “Beyond every cloud there’s a silver lining.”  While that may not be true, there’s always a RAINBOW of God’s presence… behind every dark cloud.

There’s NOT A DARK CLOUD without a RAINBOW of promise.

DARK CLOUDS always mean showers of blessing – “Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised” ~ Romans 4:21.

2.  Exodus 13:21-22 – God Teaches Us About His GUIDANCE:

“The LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.”

GOD used the CLOUD to GUIDE people through the wilderness –

Where the cloud went, Israel went and when it moved, they moved…when it stopped, they stopped.

There were no road maps, roads or a resident travel agent…they had a CLOUD.  They didn’t need to stop and ask for directions (Moses was a man…he wouldn’t have anyhow!).

The CLOUD didn’t go faster than they could follow…

BUT…they had to keep up with the CLOUD.  They could see it…it didn’t go away…it was always there.

IN A LIKE MANNER…we are to walk by FAITH, not by sight.

We can’t see the CLOUD…BUT…we still have a GUIDE through the wilderness of our own lives.

We NEED to keep our eyes on Him, for He will never LEAD us astray.

3.  Exodus 14:19-20 – God Teaches Us About His PROTECTION:

[19] “And the [i] Angel of God Who went before the host of Israel moved and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before them and stood behind them,

[20] Coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. It was a cloud and darkness to the Egyptians, but it gave light by night to the Israelites; and the one host did not come near the other all night.”

NOW…the CLOUD goes behind the children of Israel (“I got your backs!”).  They didn’t need to be guided across the Red Sea…it has opened up for them.

What they needed now was PROTECTION–a GUARD at their backs…BECAUSE…the Egyptian army was closing in on them.

The CLOUD became a partition between them and their enemy.

God Stands in the Clouds, as a PARTITION between you and your enemy, the DEVIL – 

Psalm 34:7:  “The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe] and each of them He delivers.”

4.  Exodus 16:10-12 – God Teaches Us His PROVISION:

[10] And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud!  [11] The Lord said to Moses,  [12] I have heard murmurings of the Israelites; speak to them, saying,  At twilight you shall eat meat, and between the two evenings you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God. 

God had guided them; protected them so far… Would He NOW, not PROVIDE for them?

God continues in my life to provide for my family, for we are His children and He provides for us ABUNDANTLY, and He does for you as well!

  • ABUNDANT LIFE – John 10:10
  • ABUNDANT POWER – Eph. 3:20
  • ABUNDANT SUPPLY – Philip. 4:19

When Israel looked at the CLOUDS, they must have smiled.  

I ran across a humorous account in my study of clouds the other day that made me smile. It was in regards to the observation of clouds in the overhead sky:

“Aren’t the CLOUDS beautiful?  They look like big balls of cotton…I could just lie here all day and watch them drift by…If you use your imagination, you can see lots of things in the cloud formations…what do you see, Linus?”

“Well, those clouds up there look like the map of the British Honduras on the Caribbean…That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor…And, that group of clouds over there gives me the impression of the stoning of Stephen…I can see the apostle Paul standing there to one side…”

“Uh, huh…That’s very good…What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?”

“Well, I was going to say I saw a ‘ducky’ and a ‘horsie’, but I changed my mind! “

[See footnote [i] ].

When Israel looked at the CLOUDS…it probably wasn’t viewed a “Linus” and “Charlie Brown” ‘s.

The CLOUD reminded them of God’s presence…His guidance…His protection…His provision.

Will GOD do any less for you and I?

My, how God supplies the necessities in our lives…

  • Have you missed a meal in the last couple of days?
  • What kind of vehicle did you drive in your garage today?
  • Did you walk into your church this past week, or did someone have to carry you in on a mat?
  • If you were to die before 8:30 PM, would you spend eternity in Heaven?

GOD PROVIDES!

5.  Exodus 24:15-18 – God Teaches Us About His GLORIFICATION:

[15] “Then Moses went up into the mountain, and the CLOUD covered the mountain.  [16] The GLORY of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the CLOUD covered it for six days. On the seventh day [God] called to Moses out of the midst of the CLOUD.  [17] And the GLORY of the Lord appeared to the Israelites like devouring fire on the top of the mountain.”  [“CLOUD”and “GLORY” were capitalized for emphasis. ]

MOSES goes up into Mt. Sinai to receive God’s law – (24:12).  And God, once again, MANIFESTS [disclose one’s self] in the form of a CLOUD.

I can almost see myself gathered with the Israelites that day (24:17).  What a privilege it must have been to see this CLOUD…to hear the voice of God…to see His glory!

We too, can See God’s Glory Today!

“And all of us, as with unveiled face,  [because we] continued to behold  [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever-increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit”  (2 Corinthians 3:18 AMP).

You and I are then to REFLECT the glory of God.  If we aren’t, it’s not because there’s anything wrong with God’s glory.  It’s because there’s something not right with the ‘reflectors’.

Maybe we’re like dirty mirrors at times; smudges everywhere, distorting the image of His true glory.

The “DO’s” of Reflecting God’s Glory –

  • By Good Works – Matthew 5:16.
  • By Bearing Fruit – John 15:8.
  • By Consecration – 1 Corinthians 6:20.

The Process of Constantly being changed–

The GLORY of God should be REFLECTED in each one of us who believe in Christ Jesus.  We should be constantly “being changed” in clearness of the IMAGE–the glory of God:  “From glory to glory” means spiritual growth…from a carnal (fleshly) Christian to a Spiritual Christian.

6.  EXODUS 40:33b-38 – God Teaches Us About His PRESENCE:

GOD’S PRESENCE (the “manifestation”) filled the tabernacle in a CLOUD.

As Christians, we are also filled with the Holy Spirit of God.  We are His “temple”…the dwelling place of God.

Because of His ‘infilling’ and His fullness, and His PRESENCE, we can have strength and victory in the Christian life.

The Israelites saw the CLOUD of the PRESENCE of God every day.  This should be true in our lives as well.  The HOLY SPIRIT lives within us…indwells us, so we too should experience His PRESENCE continually.

7.  ACTS 1:9 – God Teaches Us About His COMING AGAIN:

“And when He [Jesus] had said this, even as they were looking [at Him], He was caught up, and a cloud received and carried Him away out of their sight.”

JESUS ascends to His Father in a CLOUD…the visible image of an invisible God.

JESUS had broken visible fellowship with His disciples on earth, and entered His Heavenly home.  BUT…ten days later, Holy Spirit would come to indwell them.  He didn’t leave them without His PRESENCE.

Just like it was a CLOUD that took JESUS home, also a CLOUD will one day take US home (1 Thessalonians 4:11-17).

hurricane_clouds__gulf_of_mexico5

The CLOUDS we have seen here, REVEALS the glory of God.  The only way we can go home to be with JESUS, is ONLY if we are accompanied by His GLORY,

We have no GLORY of our own…we are only reflectors of His Glory!

WHENEVER we look up into the sky, and see a CLOUD…like Linus in the Charles Schultz story, we should smile, reminding us of…

  • THE PROMISE of God…that will never fail you.
  • THE GUIDANCE of God…that will never lead you down the wrong path.
  • THE PROTECTION of God…that He is always there to give you victory over the Devil.
  • THE PROVISION of God…that He will provide ALL your needs.
  • THE GLORY of God…that He is to be seen in your life, reflecting His glory.
  • THE PRESENCE of God…that He will never leave nor forsake you, because of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  • THE COMING of God…that JESUS will return in the clouds to take you home with Him.

So when the storm clouds darken your life…just remember, the Light of God’s glory will always shine through.  That certainly makes me smile!

Let the CLOUDS remind you of the PRESENCE OF CHRIST!!!

 


 

Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i]: Charles M. Schulz, The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 5: 1959-1960.

Photo Credits for this Blog:  Front Porch Clouds at Sunset: Courtesy of my wife, Dianne [Thank you honey].  

Balance of photos used, by Google Images.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

 

 

“Whew, I Need Another Drink!”

going-without-water-21309806
I Need A Drink of Water!

Scripture:  Isaiah 12:2-6; John 4:4-15

Do you remember that moment when you were first SAVED; became a Christian, accepted JESUS as your Lord and Savior?

I remember not only the “moment”, on August 15th, 1972, I remember the next day, the next week after.  I wanted, I had to share with everyone I came in contact with, what had happened in my life.  I sure the people who knew me were thinking, “Yeah, sure things are different in his life.  We’ll see.”

I had no idea what “evangelism” was, nor was I familiar with the Bible; although I knew ‘about’ the book, but never read it.

Bubbling Springs
Bubbling Springs

There seemed like there was a fountain of living water, like a fresh water spring bubbling up and flowing out of me.  So much so, a young woman who sat next to me in the office, came to Christ that same week from the ‘bubbling over’ , the JOY, the exuberance of my spirit!

I’m sure many of you who are reading my story could share similar conversion stories.

So, what happened?  What happened to all the JOY, the EXUBERANCE we once demonstrated in front of others?

I’ll tell you what has happened, you STOPPED DRINKING the Fountain of Life!  

YOU NEED ANOTHER DRINK!

You stopped eating The Bread of Life!

YOU NEED TO EAT!

ISAIAH 55:1-2 (NIV Bible):

“COME, ALL you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

ISAIAH 12:2-6 (AMP Bible):

[2] “Behold, God, my salvation! I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and song; yes, He has become my salvation.  [3] Therefore with joy will you draw water from the wells of salvation.  [4] And in that day you will say, Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name and by means of His name [in solemn entreaty]; declare and make known His deeds among the peoples of the earth, proclaim that His name is exalted!  [5] Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done excellent things [gloriously]; let this be made known to all the earth.  [6] Cry aloud and shout joyfully, you women and inhabitants of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

MATTHEW 5:6 (AMP Bible):

“Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!”

An Old Testament Scenario Keeps Repeating Itself –

Over and over we read in the Book of Judges, “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD.”

We LEARN from reading of the Book of Judges, Jews repeatedly fell in a cycle of SIN–

A CRY FOR HELP–OUTWARD REPENTANCE–DELIVERANCE THROUGH A JUDGE–A TIME OF PEACE–BACK TO SIN AGAIN.

The Book of Ruth starts out, “IN THE days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land.”  

Why was there a FAMINE in the land?  The reason for the famine in the land was because of SIN in the land!

“NO BREAD IN THE HOUSE”!

Bringing the BREAD home!

Bethlehem MEANS “House of Bread.”  In Hebrew, Beth-lehem is two words: means “house” (Beth as in BETH-EL, “house of God”) and “bread” (lehem).  [See Footnote [i] ].

The reason Elimelech took his wife and kids and moved out-of-town was because the was no bread in the house!  (Ruth 1:1-7)

One reason people are not going to church in America anymore is there’s no BREAD in the house!

And the reason there’s no bread in the house is….there’s SIN in the house!  The same reason God sent a FAMINE in the time of the JUDGES.

GOD WANTS TO PUT BREAD BACK IN HIS HOUSE…

BUT…we’ve got to pay the price!  REPENTANCE–TURNING WHOLEHEARTEDLY BACK TO GOD!

THE BREAD OF LIFE –

It’s no coincidence that JESUS was born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread, because JESUS is the BREAD; He is the Bread of Life and you can’t live without Him!

Coming back to JESUS and satisfy your spiritual hunger. 

Many spiritual functions parallel physical functions.  As our bodies hunger and thirst, so do our souls.  But our souls need spiritual food and water.

WATER AT THE WELL (John 4:4-12 & Isaiah 12:3):

“Give Me a Drink”

 Isaiah 12:3; John 4:4-12
Isaiah 12:3; John 4:4-12

Pausing and reflecting on what JESUS said to the Samaritan woman in verse 10:

“If you had only known and had recognized God’s gift and Who this is that is saying to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you living water.”

*If you want to satisfy your thirst, you must ask for it; you must be earnest in PRAYER to God for it.

Those who have the right knowledge of Christ Jesus will continually seek Him out, and if we fail to seek Him, it is a sign that we don’t know Him.

Psalm 9:10:

And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who SEEK YOU…

Then JESUS continues speaking in verses 13 and 14:

“All who drink of THIS WATER  will be thirsty again,  But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling)  [continually]  within him unto (into, for) eternal life

Obey your thirst!”  

All of us church know, we have access to this spring of living water.  But we’ve got to continually drink from the fountain!  If we don’t, we’ll find ourselves as the man in the introductory image of this blog.

It’s not enough to LIVE on our past experiences with JESUS; not enough to know the ‘spring of water’ is there; it’s not enough to drink once from the fountain of life!

Church, it’s time to get another drink!  It is time for all of us to get another drink of the Holy Spirit!

“If anyone is thirsty”

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said,  ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water'”  (John 7:37-38 NAS).

Then John the Apostle explains what JESUS meant by His words (verse 39):

“But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Back to the Woman at the Well –

John 4:19-26:

[19] The woman said to Him, “Sir, I see and understand that You are a prophet.  [20] Our forefathers worshipped on this mountain, but you [Jews] say that Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary and proper to worship.”  [21] Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither [merely] in this mountain nor [merely] in Jerusalem.  [22] You [Samaritans] do not know what you are worshipping [you worship what you do not comprehend]. We do know what we are worshipping [we worship what we have knowledge of and understand],  for [after all] salvation comes from [among] the Jews.  [23] A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers.  [24] God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality).”  [25] The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming, He Who is called the Christ (the Anointed One); and when He arrives, He will tell us everything we need to know and make it clear to us.”  [26] Jesus said to her, “I Who now speak with you am He.”

The lights are beginning to turn on for the Samaritan Woman –

She recognizes JESUS as a prophet because He had supernatural insight into her personal life, exposing SIN.

The next thing she does is to bring up the issue of multiple religions and whose right.

When we’ve  ‘WITNESSED’ to people, they frequently bring up this topic:  They say something like,  “There are lots of RELIGIONS in the world, what makes your religious beliefs the only one?  Who’s to say you are right and they are wrong?”

Then they will usually say something like, “I believe there are good things to be gained from ALL religions and that no one religion has the exclusive rights to eternity.”

How then, should we handle this question?  

The same way JESUS did!

THE ARGUMENT–Samaritans vs. Jews (John 4:20):

The stated comment in verse 20 highlights the fact that altars were built at Mt. Gerizim [Abraham – Genesis 12:7; Jacob – Genesis 33:20].

Mt. Gerizim was the scene of THE BLESSING of the people (Deut. 27:4); with the tradition that Abraham’s offering of his son Isaac took place on this mountain.  Also, where Abraham met Melchizedek at.  No wonder this was an issue of heated conversation.

How does JESUS handle it?

He simply refuses to be drawn into the argument.  Instead, He predicts that a time is coming when worship will be possible in neither place.

The Samaritan woman appealed to the example of “our fathers” but JESUS points her to the one Father.

JESUS IS CALLING…

What JESUS is calling this woman at the well to do–and also calling us to do, is to learn to WORSHIP the True God, our heavenly Father–not at a particular place, but in spirit and truth.

We must be careful not to consider it WORSHIP just because who showed up on Sunday, Saturday and other days of the week.

Just because we went into a building designated for worship doesn’t mean we worshiped.

We need to LEARN to worship in “SPIRIT and TRUTH.”  This means we need to come into God’s presence with complete sincerity and complete honesty.

The OPPOSITE of “TRUTH” –

You can’t lie your way into the presence of God and expect to get away with it:

  • IF YOU want God to touch you?
  • IF YOU want God to feed you?
  • IF YOU want God to satisfy your thirst?
  • IF YOU want God to move supernaturally in your life?
  • IF YOU want to bring spiritual excitement back into your life?
  • IF YOU simply want more God?

Then you NEED to get right with God!

No more “fake it till you make it” approaches to your WORSHIP.  You need to confess your sins, change your lifestyle.

If you do WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH and you want more of God, then choose to seek His face.

If you find yourself today in a ‘spiritual wilderness’ and you are thirsty…there’s hope!

The fountain is flowing and I don’t know where you are right now in your spiritual life, but for me and my house…“Whew, I need another drink of water!”

A Bubbling Fountain
A Bubbling Fountain

 

 

 


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] :  www.desiringgod.org/articles/bethlehem-house-of-bread

Photo/Image Credits:  Google Image Search; Photo Pin.

Commentary:  Sermons From John – The Gift of Living Water.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted in the text.