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.

 

 

“Soul Fasting” (Part Two)

“SOUL FASTING” or “TRUE FASTING” (Part One continued) :

CONTINUING in Jeremiah 58 verses 6-7 (NIV).

[6]  Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  [7] Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood? 

With the title, as The WORD Detective, I like to break down sentence structures in the Bible while I study and meditate on God’s Word for a perspective blog-POST.  Verse 6 & 7 is but one example.

INFINITIVE VERBS–

An infinitive verb is a verb with the word “to” in front of it (eg. “to loose”, “to set”, “to share”, etc.) showing action.  (See Footnote [i])

In Verses 6 and 7, I learned through and by my investigation, the importance of TRUE FASTING and the desired outcomes of my actions.  Yes, there should always be an outcome from FASTING!

My whole outlook into God’s desires  has changed my point of view towards the practice of FASTING.  Not of my desires, or the churches desires, or someone elses, but God’s desire through my fasting can and will be accomplished.

We cannot be saved by deeds of service without FAITH IN CHRIST; but our faith lacks sincerity if it does reach out in compassion.

The PURPOSE of Soul Fasting–

The FOUR INFINITIVE VERBS in Verses 6 & 7, all pertain to LIBERATION.  God says He wants our service to go beyond our own personal growth to acts of kindness, charity, justice, and generosity.  FASTING should be more than what we don’t eat.  It is obvious that this type of FAST is not a ritualistic one but for spiritual strength, bringing liberation to God’s people (the Church).

Have you ever felt “liberated” after you’ve fasted? The few times that I have fasted, LIBERATION never entered my mind.  Counting the hours so I could end my fast was all that I desired.

THE FIRST DESIRE OR PURPOSE–

The first desire of “soul fasting,” which honors God, is to loosen the bonds of wickedness (“chains of injustice”); while in our FASTING, that God would open the wicked bonds that have been placed upon you or someone else or a congregation.

Unchain the binding yoke
Unchain the binding yoke

The SECOND CLAUSE, to “untie the cords” or undo the bonds of the yoke, indicates the people who are mutually beneficial to one another, are to FAST that this oppressive yoke of burden, misguidance or direction over us is broken.

God tells His people, “If you want to FAST the way that pleases Me, start getting right with your brothers and sisters that sit next to you, in front of you, and across the aisle from you every Sunday.”  [“I don’t smoke and I don’t chew. And I don’t associate with people who do!”].

The NEXT CLAUSE, to let the oppressed go free while we are FASTING; to pray for those who are oppressed in whatever form (socially, culturally), will be set free to serve God.

The statement “break every yoke” pictures the complete destruction of the means of oppression.  Those who are then freed by God can then spread the freedom to others.

The results of “soul fasting”, pursues and continues in VERSE 7

Not only does it require God’s POWER to enact justice, it also enacts God’s POWER to enact FAVOR, BLESSING, BENEVOLENCE to those around us.

“NO NEGLECT HERE!”

God’s people were not to neglect each other.  When someone shared with one in need, it was a reminder of everything one owned belonged to the LORD.

FASTING THAT CHANGES THE HEART:

“SOUL FASTING” changes the heart and make it compassionate.

“YOU” is singular.  The statements in VERSE 7 are directed to each person, to each of us.

Notice that you are to DIVIDE YOUR BREAD with the hungry of the same food that you are eating.  We must deny ourselves, that we may SHARE with that person that’s hungry.

stock-photo-breaking-bread-close-up-180998312
Dividing your BREAD with the hungry

Second, you and I are to provide lodging to those that do not have a house–provide shelter for the cast out poor, forced from his/her dwelling, turned out of house and home.

Third, we are to provide clothing for those who lack them.  “OUR OWN FLESH” probably refers to close relatives (Gen. 37:27).  God expects us to see the situation of our family and to take care of them.

My son once told my wife and I, that in our old age, if we can’t take care of ourselves, we could come and live at his house.  Now I don’t know how our daughter-in-law feels about that proposed idea, but the compassion of family is there.

God’s people SHARE with those who lack the basic needs of life.  Those who know in their own lives the compassionate blessing He brings, should in turn extend it to others.

These acts on behalf of others becomes the outward evidence of inward faith and righteousness (Job 31:17-20; Ezek. 18:7, 16).  JESUS identified with the hungry and naked (Mt. 25:36).

“TRUE FASTING” is to be concerned with more than our physical and spiritual benefits.  God wants us to go beyond concern of our own spiritual growth.

“SOUL FASTING” is more than NOT eating.  It is the emptying of SELF in order to find what we need in Christ Jesus, in order to please God with word and deed.

THE PRECIOUS PROMISE, Verses 8-12:

VERSE 8 begins to set forth some BLESSINGS upon a life that becomes right with God:

“Then your LIGHT will break forth like the dawn, and your HEALING will quickly appear; then your RIGHTEOUSNESS will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard” (NIV).

God offers PRECIOUS PROMISES for those who FAST in TRUTH--“Soul Fast”.  To be changed and have the situation changed to those in need of change.

God wants me to know that He will honor those who TRULY FAST in order to honor Him.

FOUR BLESSINGS ARE PROMISED–

LIGHT, HEALING, GUIDANCE and PROTECTION.

I don’t know about you, my desire is to have these four blessings in my life.  It’s not a wish, but a PROMISE to us who observe the TRUE FAST.

The FIRST PROMISE of LIGHT that comes is when we are focusing our life on SELF, resulting in DARKNESS.  Unless JESUS is the center of our interest, LIFE, in and of itself, is heading towards darkness.

The next BLESSING is…your recovery will speedily spring forth.  This recovery indicates to us HEALING or RESTORATION when unconstrained speed of LIGHT is accentuated.

The peoples RIGHT BEHAVIOR causes the righteousness of God to protect and guide them on their way.

The Advance Guard and the Rear Guard is in Place–

As the advance guard and the rear guard provide protection, so the RIGHTEOUSNESS and the GLORY OF GOD (revealed in the manifested presence), will guard against whatever came against God’s people.

Thus, REPENTANT people are surrounded by divine protection.

If the people had inner RIGHTEOUSNESS (revealed in outward acts of justice and mercy, vv 6 & 7), then…the LORD would BLESS them (Deut. 28:1-14) with LIGHT, HEALING (spiritual restoration), RIGHTEOUSNESS (high standards), and PROTECTION from trouble.

OTHER CONDITIONAL PROMISES, Verse 9:

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say; Here am I.

Under these conditions, the FAITHFUL BELIEVER could call upon God and expect answered prayer.

They had been trying to use God while at the same time, oppressing the weak and needy.  God thus was holding back His response (the COMPLAINT of vv. 1-3).

Selfish Religious Activity…

Our “selfish religious activity” will certainly have a hindrance to our PRAYERS (59:1-2).  God is ACTIVE for His people when they are ACTIVE for others.

Other Problematic Areas, (Verse 9 b.)–

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk.

The FIRST of the problematic concern is the need to remove the yoke.

Pointing a finger of accusation and blame at another or gossiping maliciously (speaking wickedness) about another is SINFUL and it pushes God away from the accuser–the one who is doing the “finger-pointing”.

Having a critical spirit towards others during my life has been a spiritual burden over the past years.  All my “trying not to…” hasn’t worked.  So when these feelings overcome me today; criticizing others and pointing a finger, I REPENT, letting the POWER OF JESUS who is inside of me, live through me.

The Conditions for the BLESSING to continue, Verse 12:

Living as a BUBBLING SPRING!
Living as a BUBBLING SPRING!

And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the DESIRE of the afflicted, then your LIGHT will standout in the darkness of your gloom as midday.

In verses 11 & 12, the BLESSINGS are continued:  Our LORD promises GUIDANCE, SATISFACTION, STRENGTH, and REFRESHING (like a spring).

Oh, to be GUIDED continually by God through the decisions of life; to be SATISFIED  when the world around us is on fire with thirst.

To be PLEASING and ATTRACTIVE like a well-watered garden to those around us.

To be FOUNTAINS OF JOY and COMFORT to the dry and weary soul around us.

All this and more for fulfilling certain conditions God gives us through the prophet.

And, there is even more, Verse 12.

RESTORATION and the REBUILDING of the RUINS OF MAN–

God promises to His compassionate people, that RUIN and DESTRUCTION can be overcome from His Blessed People.

Though the SIN of the fallen race eventually destroys everything it touches, God is greater than our sin.  He gives us the POWER to restore and repair what has been ruined (friendships, family, new relationships, etc.).  [See Footnote [ii]].  Oh, to be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets where people dwell.  God will enable us to put back together that which was ruined and broken.

To Fast or Not to Fast?

I hope that you just might have a better understanding of the FASTING pleases God.  The TRUE FAST, the “Soul Fast”.  So ask yourself before you deny yourself food, and that is what the Hebrew word som means: “abstaining from food and drink in the ritual sphere of Israelite worship.” [See Footnote [iii]].  Remember, JESUS own “FASTING” in the wilderness prior to the beginning of His public ministry is noted in Matt. 4:2. 

So the question isn’t “To fast, or not”, but what is the condition of our heart, mind and spirit (our souls) before, during, and after we FAST?

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]     http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/infinitive_html.

[ii]   Oswalt, NIC, 507.

[iii]  Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.

Photo Credits:

All from Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Umbrella of “Goshen”

TEXT:  John 17:11-19 NAS TRANSLATION.

Jesus is praying to the Father in behalf of His disciples, saying  [11] “And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are IN the world, and I come to Thee, Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are.  [12] “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  [13] “But now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves.  [14] “I have given them Thy word; and the world hated them, because they are not OF the world, even as I am not OF the world.  [15] “I do not ask Thee to take them OUT OF THE WORLD, but to keep them from the evil one.  [16] “They are NOT OF THE WORLD, even as I am not of the world.  [17] “SANCTIFY them in truth; Thy word is truth.  [18] “As Thou didst send Me into the world, I have also sent them into the world.  [19] “And for their sakes I sanctify MYSELF, THAT THEY THEMSELVES ALSO MAY BE SANCTIFIED IN TRUTH.” 

6307059684_4f7747965cTHE UMBRELLA’S PROTECTION:

Living in the Northwest of America, you almost get use to the weather.  Well, almost!  Although I keep an UMBRELLA in the trunk of my car, the old saying in this part of the land when seeing an umbrella is,  “The must be a tourist!”.  After all, you can’t live under the protection of an UMBRELLA all the time.  Or can you?

In John, notice what JESUS says in verse 15:

“My prayer is NOT that you take them out of the world…”  ~ John 17:15.

JESUS didn’t want the Father to lock us up in Fort Knox; gold protected by steel, concrete, bobbed-wire, security guards,  impenetrable to the outside world.

Back in the Old Testament…

GOD did provide the protection needed for the Israelites.  The Book of Genesis tells us God went to a great deal of trouble to send the people of Israel down to Egypt in the days of Joseph.  Granted there were 70 or so of them at the time, but once Jacob and his sons moved to Egypt, they were given a special land called “the land of Goshen.”  That’s where they lived for the next 430 years or so.

The Land of Goshen
The Land of Goshen

Isolation–

Israel was literally isolated from the rest of the world– sheltered, protected from the influence of paganism and the outside world.  They had limited contact with their Egyptian neighbors and hosts; Egyptians were vegetarians, where the Israelites were meat eaters.  GOD created a cultural barrier of the two people s.

Now GOD could have done the same with us today…

Once we’re BAPTIZED into Christ Jesus, GOD could have whisked us away to some isolated and exotic land.  Personally, I pick an island in the Caribbean.

It would be wonderful for GOD to just take us away from this world’s temptations and lusts.  To a tropical paradise where we would sing praises for the rest of our lives.

BUT, that’s NOT what GOD had in mind.  JESUS prayed that we would NOT be taken “out of this world.”

JESUS prayed that we NOT be physically ISOLATED from people around us.

As Christians, God intended us to LIVE IN this world…but NOT OF this world.  As Peter wrote that we are to live “as aliens and strangers in the world.”  (1 Peter 2:11).

God has entrusted a very SPECIAL MINISTRY once we’re SAVED!

We are to be “the salt of the earth”; “the light of the world”–

GOD saved us to represent Him as Christ’s Ambassadors right where we are.  But there is a danger in that.  We might become like our neighbors–WATCH THE SAME MOVIES; READ THE SAME BOOKS; LISTEN TO THE SAME MUSIC.

The DANGER for Christians…since we LIVE IN the world, we might become LIKE the world and think like the world.  The apostle Paul warns us in Ephesians 4:17-20:  

This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,  being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart,  and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.  But you did not learn Christ in this way.

So if that’s the DANGER and GOD isn’t going to isolate us from temptation, how does GOD protect us under His umbrella as JESUS prayed in John 17?

SANCTIFICATION: 

“SANCTIFICATION” is a $20 word meaning “being set apart”.

Examples:

When you are attending church, you might have recognized people sitting in the “sound booth”; they, are “sanctified.”  They are “set apart” from the rest of us.

When your pastor is up on the stage preaching…“sanctified” from the congregation; set apart.

Anyone who is SEPARATED from the rest of us is “SET APART” and are SANCTIFIED.

A Powerful Tool…

Now as simple as it sounds, God has given us SANCTIFICATION, as protection under His Umbrella.  It’s the setting ourselves apart from the rest of the world while living IN the world, allowing us to be God’s servants to those around us.

THE FREEDOM OF BEING A SERVANT:

Your car is a wonderful thing.

– It helps you to go to church,  the grocery store,  a friend’s house, or drive to the country.

Your vehicle gives you almost total freedom to go anywhere, do anything.  But driving a car can also be dangerous.  The force of your car running ahead on into a tree with speeds of 55 or 65 mph; having the effect on your body, as if you were to fall from a 6th or 7th story window to the ground.  I read that it’s not the fall that kills you…it’s the sudden stop.

Over the years, manufacturers have created protection for us from this kind of danger:  Seat belts, Air bags, Bumpers, designs of the chassis allowing the front of your car to absorb most of the impact.  You are literally encased in a metal box that contains all the aforementioned protections and that METAL BOX literally “sanctifies” you while you drive down the road.  You are SET APART from the rest of the world; you are IN the world, but not OF it while you are in the car.

That is what SANCTIFICATION does for us.  When GOD sanctifies us, He “sets us apart” from the dangers of the world.  And when GOD sanctifies us this way…we are FREE to live IN this world, but not OF it.

We’re not locked away in a closet somewhere…we’re not walled off from people around us that need to know the LOVE OF JESUS.  We are FREE to be GOD’s Ambassadors; Servants IN a lost and damaged world.

How Does GOD Sanctify Us?

Here are several ways I discovered where GOD accomplishes this:

—  We are “sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:16)

—  We are “sanctified in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Corinthians 1:2)

And when we become SAVED, we are added to His church that sets us apart–sanctifies us.

LIVING UNDER THE WORD UMBRELLA:

JESUS praying to the Father says in Verse 17:  “Sanctify them by the TRUTH; your word is truth.”  John 17:17.  The word TRUTH is found in your Bible and the Bible is God’s tool to help us to be set apart from the world.

Paul wrote,  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”  (Romans 15:4 NIV).

And he told Timothy:  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.  So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NIV).

Thus, when we study and take-to-heart GOD’S WORD, His word IN us, teaches and gives us hope.  We become equipped for not just a few, but for every good work.

How can the Bible do all that?

JESUS tells us in the TEXT:  GOD’S WORD SANCTIFIES US….it PROTECTS US.

That was what David wrote about when he said:  “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee”  (Psalm 119:11 NAS).

And in Psalm 119:9, David wrote:  “How can a young man keep his way pure?  By keeping it according to Thy word.”

When we use God’s Word correctly, the Bible becomes a “sanctifying umbrella” for our hearts, our minds and our souls.

God’s Word IS Truth.

We need to be so familiar with God’s TRUTH–you know it, you believe it, you live your life by its counsel.  By contrast, if you don’t guard your heart with God’s given word, you’re prone to be influenced by lies OF the world.  And if you hear those lies enough, you start to believe what the world believes.

PROTECTION COMES WITH A CHOICE:

When Jacob and his family were encouraged to go down to the Land of Goshen, where they would be protected from hunger, plagues, neighboring influences, they must CHOOSE:  Live their lives UNPROTECTED in their current circumstances,  or live PROTECTED under God’s “umbrella” in a foreign land.

Living in the Northwest of America, the rain seems somewhat constant.  You never know whether to make plans or not with RAIN always in the forecasts.  Now you can sit in your homes 365 days of the year; set apart from the elements or you can venture out with preparation.  I CHOOSE to have an UMBRELLA in the trunk of our car, or near an exit door of the house.

With the SANCTIFICATION UMBRELLA close at hand,  I can be IN the world without being OF the world without protection.  The UMBRELLA is God’s Word and it comes with a choice.   Either you can use it, or ignore it!

WHAT IS YOUR CHOICE?

Protection in the Storm
Protection in the Storm