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:

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“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).

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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.

 

 

Living Like KINGS In This Life!

ROMANS 5:17  (KJV):

“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”

When I study and meditate on God’s Word through the Scriptures, I love to look at bible verses in different translations.  It gives on perspective.  Although  in my library, I am fortunate to possess many different translations to compare, I also use the Internet to broaden my search, sites such as Bible Gateway or Bible Hub.

So in saying, let me give you a translation, of the same verse, from the Weymouth New Testament:

Romans 5:17  (WNT):

“For if, through the transgression of the one individual Death made use of the one individual to seize the sovereignty, all the more shall those who receive God’s overflowing grace and gift of righteousness reign as kings in Life through the one individual, Jesus Christ.”

THE IMPACT OF GOD’S WORD:

The apostle Paul, who wrote the Letter to the Roman church–inspired by the Holy Spirit–gives us a comparative look:

1.  The CONDEMNING ACT of Adam–

2.  The REDEMPTIVE ACT of Christ Jesus.

Adams sin (transgression), brought universal death to all of mankind (Romans 3:10, 23) when he accepted Satan’s lie:  “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

However, Jesus’ sacrifice brought salvation to those who believe (John 3:16).  Jesus’ one act of redemption was immeasurably greater than Adam’s one-act of condemnation.

HOW MUCH IS “ABUNDANCE”?

Romans 5:17 b…all the more shall those who receive God’s abundance of grace…

Did we get just enough to get by when we were saved by believing in Jesus?  Is that all there is?  Did we get just a teacup full of “grace”?

As some of you who follow my blog know, my favorite verse in the New Testament is John 10:10:

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I [JESUS] came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”  [Amplified Bible]

Having “ABUNDANCE” till it overflows!

Given without a hitch, without strings attached, without measurement.  It’s like the Eveready Battery commercial: It keeps on giving every moment of the day throughout our entire lives!

Unlike Adam’s Act In Genesis…

Christ’s Acthas and will–accomplish exactly what He intended.  He called us as Christians TO “REIGN!” : That is a period during which something or somebody is dominant or powerful, has authority.

GOD’S ORIGINAL PLAN:

Genesis 1:27, 28, 30 b:

[ 27]  “So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.    [28] And God blessed them and said to them,  Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion (authority, dominance, power) over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth.  [30] –to everything in which there is the breath of life–“

“Reigning in Life” (Romans 5:17):

Living like Kings
Living like Kings

The word “REIGN”  here, means to reign in life as a KING (not just in the masculine sense), to have kingly rule…possess kingly dominion as God originally intended before Adam’s act

Reign in circumstances…

Based on the authority of God’s Word, you are destined to “reign in life” as a king; “kingly dominion” over all your challenges and circumstances.  The time has come for us to stop “ABDICATING” our right to rule in life!  Remember, God has positioned us through His Son, to reign!

Ephesians 2:4-6  (AMP):

[4]  But God–so rich is He in His mercy!  Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us. [5] Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses,  He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are SAVED (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).  [6] And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the anointed One).

NOTICE VERSE 4:

But God, who is RICH IN MERCY, because of His great LOVE with which He loves us; yet we were Spiritually Dead, but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love…

SALVATION IS FOR GOD’S GLORY!

GOD took you and I who were Spiritually Dead, gave us His boundless mercy and love.

IN VERSE 5:

Spiritually speaking here in verse 5, “at your best, you were dead in trespasses.”

Salvation brings Spiritual Life to the Spiritual Dead…

Remember, the POWER that raises the BELIEVER out of death, is the same POWER that brought you to life and it’s the same POWER that energizes every aspect of our Christian living–our circumstances, our trials, our doubts.

ALSO VERSE 6:

When we are SAVED from eternal death, we are raised up together; made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  Your physical body is still on earth, but your spiritual body…you get the picture here I hope.

The tense of “RAISED” and “MADE” indicates that these are immediate and direct results of SALVATION!

Verse 6 says, in the HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ Jesus.  It is the supernatural realm where God reigns.

LIVING IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM:

The SPIRITUAL is as real as the PHYSICAL world–BUT…it is different because it cannot be seen and tested.  Though the body itself is in the PHYSICAL REALM, the life within the body comes from the spirit.  [i] –See footnotes.

The Bible states clearly, we are to REIGN in life through Christ Jesus and… RECEIVING two important things from Him:

1.  The ABUNDANCE of Grace

2.  The GIFT of RIGHTEOUSNESS   (He declared you “righteous” at the Cross).

Worldly Thinking By Man–

Man’s thinking goes like this:  For God to BLESS him/her, he needs to DESERVE, EARN and MERIT God’s favor.  Man thinks that God’s blessings are based on his performance and good works.

God’s Way–

God’s way isn’t about ACHIEVING, but about RECEIVING!  (We are to receive!).

The WORLD’S SYSTEM Regarding SUCCESS in Life–

The SYSTEM is driven into our heads from the time we are children, through the teenage years, and emphasized through our working years.  All built on SELF EFFORT and DILIGENCE.

How many times did my parents advise and direct my paths?  “Quit being a procrastinator…a lazy teenager!”  Continue with your schooling; with the idea of being successful in life.  Now that IS good advice, don’t get me wrong.  However, a stigma can sometimes arise in a impressible child growing up:  “If I keep at this thing…due diligence will lead to my success!”  We can be sometimes find ourselves on the deserted island of “I”  (I did it).

We are driven to “do, do, do,” forgetting that Christianity is actually “done, done, done.”  [ii] See Footnotes.

k5929537The Question of “CHAIRS” and “SITTING DOWN”:

I’m a very visual person when reading and studying God’s Word and the Bible can certainly give us a picture of the believer, resting in finished and completed work of JESUS.

Hebrews 10:12, 14:

[12]  “Whereas this One [Christ], after He had offered a single sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] for ALL TIME, sat down at the right hand of God.”

[14]  “For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.”

VERSE 14 once more–

DECLARING that you were PERFECTED FOREVER!

Our works, self-efforts, will, and can rob us of REIGNING in life by His grace.  You cannot earn your SALVATION, your HEALING, your FINANCIAL breakthrough by your own efforts.

GOD has called the REDEEMED to REIGN!

Revelation 1:6  (Young’s Literal Translation):

6  and did make us kings and priests to his God and Father, to him [is] glory and the power to the ages of the ages!  Amen.

So if that’s you, reach out to Him in your spirit and RECEIVE your DESTINY…your AUTHORITY!  How do you reach out?

YOU PRAY…Lord, your Word is true and I believe it!  I’m tired of trying to be worthy in your eyes and everyone elses.  I was made worthy when your Son’s blood was shed on the Cross for my sins.  I am the REDEEMED in Christ.  I am worthy to RECEIVE the gift of kingship and to receive my destiny.  Have Your Holy Spirit empower me to take dominion over my life.  In JESUS’ Name I pray.  AMEN.

 

Footnotes and Photos:

Photo Inserts:  Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe Courtesy of Starpulse.com and Disney Productions & Foto Search.

[i] – From ChristWords.com–Christ’s words in Ancient Greek.

[ii] – Quote from a Howard Strickland sermon.