A Picture of REMEMBRANCE

Scripture for this blog-Bible study:  Hebrews 10:12-25, Luke 24:13-14

UNITY IN COMMUNION –

COMMUNION, Paul’s term describing the nature of the Lord’s Supper is the term used by many church groups, referring to their CELEBRATION of Jesus’ final memorial supper with His disciples.  Paul used the Greek term “Koinonia” to express the basic meaning of the Christian faith, a sharing in the life and death and more importantly in the resurrection of Christ, which radically creates a relationship between Christ and the believer and of the believers with one another – a partnership of unity.

Hebrews 10:12, 14 (NIV)

[12] But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God…[14] because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

The words speak to the present.  It’s a symbol of our unity, reminding us whom we are to be living for in this life.

  • It reminds us to keep our eyes focused on Him.

It tells us that He is who he said He was and is and we can trust Him today with our lives.

It points to the future.  We proclaim His death…He comes again!  It points to our complete redemption and glorification in Heaven before the Great White Throne.

What does Jesus want for us at this gathering?  Yes, Jesus wants something from us.

When we celebrate, and that’s what COMMUNION should be, is A CELEBRATION, not a ritualistic ceremony.  That’s what worship should be – A CELEBRATION!

WHAT IS JESUS’ PURPOSE?

Let’s together take a walk along the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13, with two disciples of Jesus who heard the two earlier reports of the Resurrection – Mary’s and Peter’s.

However, because they hadn’t personally seen the evidence, rather, they didn’t want to check out the evidence for themselves, probably because they were afraid of being caught and possibly receiving a death sentence, they decided to pack it in and head back home some 7 miles away from Jerusalem, and go back to their old way of living.

Alright, they gave up on Jesus…but thank God, He didn’t give up on them!

Notice verse 15 says, “Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them…”.  I especially like the English Standard Version (ESV) of the passage – “Jesus himself drew near…”  The thought here isn’t that these two disciples were simply geographically distant, but that their FAITH was distant as well.

JESUS knew their need…so He DREW NEAR. 

He didn’t say, “Fine!  You want to leave, you want to doubt, and you want to turn your backs on me?  Go right ahead.  Don’t expect me to come to you.  When you clean up your act and smarten up and return to where I am, I’ll consider taking you back.”  Thank God, Jesus isn’t like that.  He knows our weaknesses and struggles.

“I would have never been like those first disciples!”

We think WE would never act the way they did.  Fact is, we would…and we do…and most likely we will.  Our lives can often fog our vision, our understanding, our faith, and our hope…We allow circumstances to overshadow the truth.

  • It’s easy to lose focus.
  • It’s easy to doubt.
  • It’s easy to forget.
  • It’s easy to fall away.
  • It’s easy to reject.
  • It’s easy to take for granted.
  • It’s easy to misunderstand.
  • It’s easy to give up and give in.

THANK GOD…that in spite of:

  1. Our clouded situations and circumstances…
  2. Getting lost frequently along the way…
  3. The times we decide to hit the road again and run away from our difficulties…

…there’s a God who not only comes looking for us BUT…ALSO DRAWS NEAR AND TRAVELS WITH US UNTIL WE SEE AGAIN!  That’s good news!  That’s grace!  That’s Jesus!

He spoke with them for hours.

He spent the day with them explaining the truth of the Scriptures; this wasn’t a 20-minute sermon!  He was there physically with them until the sun was beginning to set.

They saw Him…

They smelled Him…

They walked near Him…

And yet, with all this physical closeness they still didn’t recognize who he was!

Hello, you two.  You are so caught up in your own pity party.”

WAIT!  Before we begin casting more stones here in judgment, we must confess that there have been times, even seasons, when we’ve been distant.  Times when we wanted to throw in the towel and lost hope over a particular circumstance.

It happened with our children – “This is your last chance!”…At our workplace – “It’s no use.  People around here don’t care.  I’m not going to take it anymore…I quit!”  [I’ve been there before!]  At school – “It’s too hard.  I’m in over my head.  I’m going to drop out!”…And even with God, “I’ve been praying for 8 years and you still haven’t helped me!…I’ve asked for patience and I get more problems…I’ve prayed for healing…all I get is sicker by the day.  HELLO, is anyone up there?!!!”

We live in such a fast pace society.  We’ve become so impatient, so “me” focused.  And as a result, we give up way too easily, way too early, and way too frequently.  THANK GOD we are not left alone.  I’m not saying that you’ll never feel alone.  Truth is you will, but that’s not because God has abandoned you, it’s because you’ve abandoned Him!

God won’t go where he’s not welcomed.

If we want to keep pushing God out of our life…if we continue to ignore His Word…if we continue to break His commandments, and I’m not just referring to the ‘BIG TEN’, but all His commandments recorded in the Bible–then what gives us the right to expect Him to “be there” for us?

BUT THANK GOD that where He is welcomed, where there are those who are genuinely struggling with their FAITH, who sincerely want to believe, but because of a lack of hope…just can’t see God in their circumstances, you can be sure that you’ll find Him a lot closer than you might think.  You might even be BLIND to His presence right now, BUT He’s right there sitting or standing next to you…or walking beside you on the road you chose to escape.  Even though we all go through seasons of BLINDNESS, the good news is that sooner or later He will do for you what He did for those TWO DISCIPLES on the road to Emmaus.  Sooner or later you WILL see Him.

You see it wasn’t until He broke the Bread…that finally “Their eyes were opened” and they recognized Him.

Remember Jesus’ words…

“…Do this in remembrance of me…”

REMEMBER ME, DON’T JUST THINK ABOUT ME, REMEMBER ME.

Communion is a very intimate act.  So let’s communicate to our spiritual leaders that we require more than a ‘traditional’, a ‘run-of-the-mill’ type ceremony.  Communion should help us to focus on Jesus instead of ourselves.  It should point us to the One who has been near to us all along.

In this act of remembrance, HE REMINDS US of His constant LOVE and as we break bread we see that He HAS come near.  At least we should!  God wants our eyes to be opened – the eyes of our mind…the eyes of our hearts too.

And that’s why we are to gather at this table…not OUR table but HIS TABLE! 

NOTICE the CHANGE in the disciples’ attitude:

  • From despair to hope
  • From depression to joy
  • From doubt to belief
  • From defeat to victory
  • From dismay to courage
  • From disillusionment to enlightenment
  • From “…stood still, looking sad and downcast…” to “It is true!  The Lord has risen.”

Why the change?

“Jesus drew near…broke bread”!

The next time we gather to CELEBRATE, know that Jesus wants to do something!  And as we remember a historic fact…eat and drink these common everyday elements…we are reminded of ETERNAL reality –

JESUS IS here among us!

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CREDITS :

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP);  English Standard Version (ESV).

Photo Images:  Google Image Search.

Music Video:  Remembrance by Matt Maher with lyrics – YouTube.

 

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?

images (1)
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.