Pause and think about it!

Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category

The Ministry of Tears

The Ministry of Tears

By the bottle-full or the bowl-full

Tears. Tears. Tears. Why so many tears? Why can’t everything be laughter and joy? Even when our own tears are not flowing, we know others whose cheeks are never dry. It is easy to explain a smile, but how do we explain a tear? I’ve heard a tear is made up of salt and lime and other component parts, but such an explanation falls short of expressing the emotion that actually produces the word. Tear (produced when crying) and tear (to pull apart) are spelled the same. There are tears of sorrow, tears of grief, tears of repentance, tears of embarrassment, tears of agony, tears of pain, tears of joy, and so on the list goes. Through the decades many songs have been written about the purpose of tears.

I remember as a child, often when I cried with self-pity or anger my father would bring a bottle and, with a twinkle in his eye, tell me to cry the bottle full of tears. It was many years before I realized that the phrase, “crying a bottle full of tears,” actually came from the Psalms (58:6).

The Tears of David–A Bottle-Full

David’s tears flowed freely on numerous occasions. He was sorry for his transgressions against God’s law, and he repented with tears. Often he writes in the Psalms, I cried unto the Lord…(Psa. 3:4; 31:22; 34:4; 77:1; 120:1). He was an emotional man! On one occasion, he writes to the Lord: “Tell my wanderings; Put my TEARS into your bottle” (Psa. 56.8). He knew that God paid attention to every detail. Often it is the ministry of our tears to give an outward demonstration of our inner dependence upon God. Without Him, I am nothing.

The People’s Tears of Repentance–A Bowl-Full

A psalm of Asaph asks: “O Lord God Almighty, how long will you be angry against the Prayers of your people? You have fed them with the bread of their tears. You have made them drink TEARS by the bowlful” (Psa. 80:4-5). God’s people had turned away from following after Him and ended up having to live without His provisions. Now aware of what had happened to them, they cried out to Him who is faithful to deliver! Often it is the ministry of tears to confirm our repentance and set us on the right road.

The Sowing of Tears. Reap Joy

Those who have experienced the Lord’s deliverance now pray for the restoration of others. The desire to see friends and loved ones come into the fullness of the Christian life brings forth tears. Those tears touch the very heart of God. “They that sow in TEARS shall reap in joy. He that goes forth weeping will return rejoicing bringing sheaves with him” (Psa. 126:5-6). Are you praying with tears for those you want to experience salvation and a change of heart and life-style? Then this scripture is your promise for the ministry of those tears.

The Tears of Jeremiah–A Fountain of Tears

The prophet Jeremiah experienced intense grief over the sin of his people. He cried out, “Oh that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of TEARS. I would weep day and night for the slain of my people. If only I had a traveler’s lodge in the wilderness, I would abandon my people and depart from them, for they are all adulterers, a crowd of faithless people.…” (Jer. 9:1-1). You can almost see Jeremiah’s swollen eyes and tear-stained face. How many times have you cried for someone who was enslaved by sin and just couldn’t seem to get free?

The Sinner Woman’s Tears–Repentance and Love

The whole town knew that Jesus was at the Pharisee’s house. A woman, who was known as a sinner, came to see Him, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with her tears (Luke 7:37-38) —maybe the tears she had kept in a tear bottle. Great was her love for Jesus. Jesus preached a sermon to the Pharisees which were angry that He allowed the woman to touch Him (7:39). Jesus said, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house, you gain me no water for my feet; but she has washed my feet with TEARS, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. You gave me no kiss, but this woman since the time I came in has not ceased to kiss my feet You did not anoint my head with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet. Wherefore, I say unto you , her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much” (Luke 7:45-50). 

Jesus knows whether our tears are real or self-pity. He knows the condition of our heart. Tears of repentance wash away the bitterness, pain, and grief caused by a life of sin and abuse and invite Jesus to come and fill the void.

The Tears of Paul–Tears of Humility

The Apostle Paul was not at all embarrassed about his tears. In fact, he makes a point of mentioning them. Sensing that he may be near execution and unable to make another missionary journey, Paul called the Ephesian Church Leaders to meet him in Miletus and admonished them to watch over the church. He reminded them, “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia I served the Lord with great humility and with TEARS” (Acts 20:17-31).

To the Church at Corinth, Paul wrote: “For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many TEARS, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you” (2 Cor. 2:4).

The Tears of Timothy–Memories

Obviously Paul was quite moved by Timothy’s tears when he wrote to him: “Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy” (2 Tim. 1:4). We don’t really know whether these tears were simply tears shed when Paul and Timothy had to part ways, or just some experiences they had together in church services and other situations. These tears were important enough for Paul to mention them.

The Tears of Jesus

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they didn’t “know the time of their visitation” (Luke 19:41). He had come, but they hadn’t really seen Him for Who He was. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, had called for Jesus to come, but when He arrived Lazarus had already been dead four days. In Hebrew tradition they believed that after three days the spirit left the body, so the situation seemed to be impossible. Nevertheless, the master spoke, and Lazarus came forth! I’ve often wondered if Jesus wept when He arrived there because we are to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and TEARS to the one who could save Him from death and He was heard because of His reverent submission” (Heb. 5:7). 

Warning–God is not Moved by All Tears

Said of Esau, but a warning to all those who sell their birthright: “Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears” (Heb. 12:17). For those who reject the Lord on earth, Jesus says: “…and angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the righteous, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt.13:49-50). Those tears will be eternal fountains of gushing waters of despair and agony. Tears that come too late.

The Final Tears

Apparently in our eternal home, there will be no need for the ministry of tears. It was prophesied by Isaiah: “The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken!” (Isaiah 25:8). And repeated in Revelation: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17).

There is quite a controversy going on in some circles as to whether tears will reach that eternal shore. It isn’t clear here whether the tears will be wiped away as we cross the Great Divide, or after we are there. What is clear is that God will wipe away ALL tears of those who reach their heavenly home for those tears will have served their purpose on earth.

© C. Yvonne Karl, The Alabaster Box, VOL 09 NO 10 1994; revised 1999.

yvonnekarl@gmail.com 

My daughter gifted me with this painting of Psalm 58:6 the weekend before my husband died. January 1999.

🎶No Tears in Heaven

No tears in heaven, no sorrows given
All will be glory in that land
There’ll be no sadness all will be gladness
When we shall join that happy band.

No tears (in heaven bear) no tears (no tears up there)
Sorrow and pain will all have gone
No tears (in heaven bear) no tears (no tears up there)
No tears in heaven will be known.

Glory is waiting, waiting up yonder
Where we shall spend an endless day
There with our Savior we’ll be forever
Where no more sorrow can dismay.

Lyrics by Robert Arnold

 

Help, Lord! My Life is Like the White of an Egg

Help, Lord!

My Life is Like the White of an Egg

JOB 6:6

THE STORY OF JOB has been passed down through the centuries. Even folks who don’t read the Bible know about Job. You know his story, too, but let me repeat it. In Job 1:1 we meet this man whose name was job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and abstained from and shunned evil because it was wrong. He had ten children: seven sons and three daughters. A perfect family! Job was extremely prosperous–the richest man in the East.

AT A MEETING IN HEAVEN, the Lord was bragging on Job. Have you seen my servant Job? There is none like him on the earth! He is blameless, upright, fears God, and stays away from evil (1:8). Satan, who had been going to and fro seeking whom he could devour, also came to listen in on the meeting. When he heard the comments about Job, he immediately began to accuse him to the Lord, Does Job fear God for nothing? Isn’t it because You have blessed him and caused him to prosper abundantly? No! God assured satan that Job was righteous and no matter what he did to him, Job would still serve the Lord. Satan walked away from that meeting with a mission: to maim, kill, and destroy Job. 

Job was a righteous man and prayed fervently for his children. They liked to party. On this particular day, Job either wasn’t invited or didn’t want to be a part of the reveling. While his children partied at the older brother’s house, a messenger came to Job’s house to tell him that the Sabeans had stolen his oxen and donkeys and killed the servants. Another messenger came to say that lightning had struck and burned up all Job’s sheep and the shepherds with them. While he was still speaking there came another with the news that the Chaldeans had stolen Job’s camels and killed their keepers. In the twinkling of an eye, Job had lost his prosperity.

The last messenger was not yet finished speaking when another messenger came to tell Job that a tornado had leveled his eldest son’s house and all of his children were dead. Job was distraught to say the least. He did what everyone in those days did when they were grieving: he tore off his robe, shaved his head, fell down on the ground. Although he didn’t understand what was happening,

JOB WORSHIPPED THE LORD! He said he didn’t have anything when he was born and he couldn’t take anything with him when he died, so he might just as well praise the Lord anyway. Blessed be the Name of the Lord! And Job did not sin by becoming bitter and blaming God (1:22).

Satan didn’t like that response at all! He smote job with ugly, painful, oozing sores from top of his head to the soles of his feet. They hurt so badly that Job sat on an ash heap to try to get some relief. He took pieces of broken pottery and scratched the infection out of the sores. Job’s wife had reached her breaking point and finally spoke out: Job, she said, You didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, you did everything right and look at you now! You had better just forget this God of yours and go ahead and die! She couldn’t imagine that any miracle would be big enough to take care of this situation. Soon the word of Job’s tragic circumstances reached his good friends, and they decided to come to console him. But when they saw Job, they were speechless. They sat for a whole week unable to talk. When they finally did say something, it was the same thing you and I usually say: “Why?”

Job ‘s name means hated, persecuted. By whom? By satan! He’s the accuser of all the brethren. Sure, Job is discouraged. Who wouldn’t be! Material possessions are gone. Family is gone. Wife and friends have turned against him. Then he says, 

MY LIFE IS LIKE THE WHITE OF AN EGG ….

Is there any flavor in the white of an egg?(6.6) Did you ever try to eat just the white of an egg? When boiled, it’s flabby and rubbery. You start chewing it and if you don’t swallow it, you’ll still be chewing it hours later. You can take raw egg white and beat it full of air, but if you don’t add sugar to it, it’s not edible; and if you want it to retain any shape you have to add a pinch of cream of tartar. Is your life like that? Tasteless? Hard to swallow’? Bitter? Do you need some yellow nourishment? Some SonShine in your life? Job surely did. Job had the strength to make it through this difficult time in his life because he made a commitment:

THOUGH HE SLAY ME, YET WILL I SERVE HIM (13:15).

Yes, we know it was satan who was inflicting the tragedies on Job, but Job didn’t know that. We know the plans that God has for us are for good and not for evil (Jer. 29:11), yet, when problems come, all too often we waste precious time asking, Why? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo faced the fiery furnace saying We know our God is able to deliver us, but even if He doesn’t we won’t bow down… They were committed to God because He is God–not because of temporal blessings, powerful positions, wealth, and happiness. They believed there was something better waiting for them beyond this life. Job put it this way:

I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVES and in the end He will come back. And after my skin, even this body, has been destroyed, then from my flesh, or without it I shall see God, Whom I, even I, shall see for myself.. And my eyes shall behold Him, and not as a stranger” (19:15-17). I KNOW! I know that no matter what it looks like, my Redeemer lives! I know that no matter what my situation is all around, my Redeemer lives! I KNOW! I KNOW! I.KNOW! 

Paul says it this way: I KNOW in Whom I have believed and that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him…(2 Tim. 1:12). If you KNOW He is able to keep, then you’ll commit it to Him. Cast ALL your cares on Him for He cares for you! When there’s no way you can do it, it’s time to KNOW Whom you believe. .

The reason your life is like the white of an egg and is tasteless, blah, and/or you are unable to swallow what’s happening, may be simply that God is messing up YOUR plans in order to accomplish HIS purpose. Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand (Prov. 19.21). Maybe satan just knew human nature when he accused Job before God that day. As long as everything goes their way, most people will sing and praise the Lord. But let things go wrong and hardship come, they hang their harps on the willow tree and recite: “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…” Not Job! He knew God is able!  

GOD IS ABLE!

He is able to save to the uttermost (Heb. 7.25). 

He is able to keep me from stumbling (Jude 24). 

He is able to build me up and give me an inheritance (Acts 20.32). 

He is able to make me stand; to hold me up (Rom. 14:4). 

He is able to help them that are tempted (Heb. 2:18). 

He is able to make all grace abound toward me (2 Cor. 9:8). 

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask (Eph. 3:20). 

He is able to perform what He has promised (Rom. 4:21). 

He is able to scramble my egg and give it some flavor! The white of the egg is only the outside–our body and external circumstances. It will decay and return to dust anyway. What you do with the yellow–the inside-will last eternally! That’s where the nourishment is. Are you saying today, ‘Help, Lord! My Life is like the white of an egg? Blah. Tasteless. Difficult to swallow?” Let this be the moment that you determine in your heart to serve Him and KNOW He is able to bring you through–but even if He doesn’t, let it be said of you that you died in faith believing… (Heb. 11:-39-40) so He can present you faultless before the Throne (Jude 24). I KNOW He is able!

© C. Yvonne Karl, The Alabaster Box, V10N9

yvonnekarl@gmail.com  

Trading a Title for a Towel

I’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of the wicked (Psalm 84:10).

It was another beautiful morning in Ghana, when about 6:30 AM I looked out the window and saw Stephen cutting the grass with a small sickle—an implement consisting of a curved metal blade with a short handle. Where, I queried, was the lawn mower? Of course, there was none. This was quite a large courtyard full of lovely bushes, flowers, and nice green grass. The young man was diligently manicuring the lawn with his body bent in a 90 degree angle as he moved along as if he were a machine. I was intrigued by his thoroughness and the beauty of the well-maintained courtyard. Who was this young man who always had a big smile on his face? He was obviously full of joy and had no bitterness or resentment toward his job.

Stephen’s main function at the compound was Gate Keeper. He arrived promptly at 6 AM, six days a week, and left at 6 PM, or whenever his alternate arrived. During those twelve hours on duty it was his primary responsibility to unlock the big gate when official residents arrived and departed and to make sure no unauthorized person gained access to the area. He watched over my friend and me when we walked across the alley to purchase a bag of cheese balls. He monitored the levels in the outdoor water tanks so if the city didn’t pump enough water that week, he could warn the residents and they could order a tank-truck of water to get them through until the next pumping time. He fed and watered the dog and cat. He did the ironing for the residents (I discovered that ironing is a man’s job in Ghana), and any other job delegated to him. In addition to all this, he maintained the mango trees and all the flowering bushes and beautiful shrubs, flowers, and grass in fresh and vibrant condition reaching heavenward for the daily sunshine. In the middle of the afternoon, at rest time, he could be seen sitting on the bench with a dictionary and a Christian book—the ones I saw were dealing with theology and the Christian life.

Who was this young man, really? I had to get to know him. One morning I prepared to leave the house well ahead of my driver’s arrival. This would give me time to linger a while outside and talk with Stephen rather than just exchanging greetings as I came and went.

NAME CHANGE

“Stephen,” I said, “I’m curious. Where did you get your name?”  Ah, the joy on his face and the thrill of being able to share his testimony with me.

His father, who had been on active military duty when he was born, gave him the name Michael after one of his close comrades. He was taken to church regularly and was taught the Bible. As he grew up he continued to participate in church services and activities and called himself a Christian. One day he landed a good job as gatekeeper for a missionary. In the compound where he worked, there was a “boys house” where those on duty could rest and eat; and he brought his girlfriend there one day when the missionary was away. However, on that particular day, the head missionary came to check on the property of the staff member on furlough. When he saw the girl there, he asked Stephen, “Are you a Christian?” to which he replied, “Yes.” Then the missionary asked, “Are you sleeping with her?” to which Stephen also replied, “Yes.” At that point the head missionary looked right into Stephen’s eyes and said: “Then you are NOT a Christian. Christians don’t do that.”

Stephen told me that the Holy Spirit spoke to him so clearly through the missionary that he broke up with the girlfriend immediately explaining to her that he wants to be a true Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Then he changed his name from Michael to Stephen after the biblical Stephen who was a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ until it his death.

That happened several years ago. Since that time, Stephen has set himself apart as a servant of Jesus Christ. He expressed his belief that the Lord has given him this opportunity to serve the missionaries as their “gatekeeper.” This is his ministry, and he is making good use of free time to study and prepare himself for whatever else the Lord may have for him in the future. Meanwhile he is joyful, content, and witnessing to all those around with his life of servanthood.

SINCERE VS PHONY SERVING

Speaking of serving, there was another story that came to me about Stephen. A couple of years ago when the flood of the century came to Accra, Stephen had already gone home from his job. However, he knew that the missionary’s house was likely in danger of being flooded and went there to check on the property. He arrived in time to save some valuable things although it was impossible to control the water and mud which eventually permeated every part of the compound. He did what he could and realized later he himself had probably lost everything from his own modest little home. To his surprise, his neighbors had seen him leave and went to his home, pulled out everything valuable, and put it on higher ground. “In giving we will receive.”

It’s the difference between the sincere and the phony. Jim Fletcher writes, “I once accompanied a well-known author to an interview. As we were walking toward the escalators, he asked if I would refill his cup of ice, yet he was much closer to a juice cart than I was. His ego demanded that he be waited on. For me, his ministry message of love for his fellow man rang hollow.

“Another time I saw the positive attitude. Over lunch, I visited with an author who has a different agenda. Curious about his goals as a writer, I asked the usual questions: ‘Do you think publicity is the key to fame [in publishing]? How would you like to package your books in order to really put your name out there?’ He glanced at several celebrity authors and their entourages, then looked at me. ‘Jim,’ he began gently, ‘do you remember the story in the Bible of Moses on the mountain?’ I nodded, not sure of his point. ‘Well, he found himself in that place in the rock, near God. That’s all I want, to be near God.’ This was a private conversation, and the author was never going to speak of it publicly, but his attitude made a profound impact on me. (He gets his own ice too.)”[1]

The Psalmist expressed this principle of contentment, servanthood, and fulfillment when he said: A  day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents (palaces) of (the wicked) wickedness (Psalm 84:10).

SERVING GOD BY SERVING OTHERS

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand spent elsewhere. To feel God’s love, to rejoice in the person of the anointed Savior, to survey the promises and feel the power of the Holy Ghost in applying precious truth to the soul, is a joy that thrills true believers. Even a glimpse at the love of God is better than ages spent in the pleasures of sin.

“I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

To bear burdens and open doors for the Lord is more honor than to be “somebody” in this world. Note how the psalmist calls the tabernacle the house of my God; if Jehovah is our God, His house, His altars, His doorstep, all become precious to us. We know by experience that where Jesus is within, the outside of the house is better than any place where the Son of God is not to be found.[2] Some of the Levites had the assignment to keep the doors of the Lord’s house, (see 1 Chron. 26:1). Or think of the beggars that lay at the gates of the temple for alms (see Acts 3:1). And remember the servant that was desirous of continuing in his master’s house, and serving him for ever; who was brought to the door post, and had his ears bored through with an awl (see Ex. 21:5).

Like the psalmist, God’s courts were Stephen’s choice. He had chosen to be a Gate Keeper and loyal servant to the missionary; he was caring for the property as unto the Lord.  WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

The Pharisees loved synagogues well enough, provided they might have the uppermost seats there (Mt. 23:6) so they could be noticed and acknowledged. Not the Psalmist. Not Stephen. God Himself was their hope, and joy, and all. Therefore they loved the house of their God, because their expectation was from their God[3] and not from people. It is easy to imagine what pride the Pharisees took in having the preeminence, (3 Jn. 9). It is not possessing the uppermost rooms, nor sitting in the chief seats, that is condemned (somebody must sit uppermost), but loving to sit there.

Along with desiring pre-eminence comes the demand to be addressed with titles of honor and respect. The Pharisees loved greetings in the markets, loved to have people put off their hats to them, and show them respect when they met them in the streets. O how it pleased them, and fed their vain humor…to have way made for them in the crowd of market people, and to be complimented with the high and pompous title of Rabbi, Rabbi! The greetings would not have done them half so much good, if they had not been in the markets, where everybody might see how much they were respected, and how high they stood in the opinion of the people.

To give respect to them that teach and preach is commendable; but for the teachers and preachers to love and demand that respect, to be puffed up with it, and to be displeased if it be omitted, is sinful and abominable.

TRADING A TITLE FOR  TOWEL

In our early morning conversation, Stephen told me about an incident involving his pastor and dear friend. Some time earlier, the pastor had a burden for his people to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and in his attempts to challenge them, he began to recite the litany of his own successes, educational accomplishments, and titles earned. As Stephen was hearing this, the Holy Spirit within him was grieved. After the service, he spoke to the pastor and told him how as Christians we should be laying down our titles and picking up the towel to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters. That’s what Jesus did. He has called us to humble ourselves and be servants as well. It may have been helpful for the pastor to share his past with the congregation, as the Apostle Paul often did; but he needed to go a step further so they would know he was not demanding obeisance. At first when Stephen talked to him, the pastor was caught off guard and took offense, but soon he came to Stephen in all humility and thanked him. Today they are good friends. That’s the mark of a humble man—a meek man, one who is teachable.

Here is a precept of humility and mutual subjection: He that is greatest among you shall be your servant; not only call himself so, but shall be so.  John Wesley’s Rule says: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can and as long as you can.[4]

A writer for a great newspaper visited India. One day he met a missionary nurse who lived among the lepers and helped them. How tender and loving she was to the poor lepers. The porter looked upon her with amazement. He said, “I wouldn’t wash the wounds of these lepers for a million dollars!” “Neither would I,” answered the missionary nurse, “but I gladly do it for Christ. I have no thought of any reward other than His smile of approval upon me!”[5]

Stephen wasn’t interested in a title, the name of his job, or recognition for his labor. He chose to take up the towel—he was a true servant, one who served with joy and purpose in the Name of the Lord and as unto the Lord—not just in church services but equally in his everyday life at home and work. He first humbled himself and repented for his sin, in compliance with his God, and now continues to humble himself in service and submission to his brethren. He shall be exalted to inherit the throne of glory.

May all of us follow in Stephen’s footsteps and give up our demand for titles and pick up the towel of service to God and to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Editor’s Note: A special thank you to Stephen for giving me permission to share his story.

 [1] Fletcher, Jim, “The Great Secret,” as published in The Christian Communicator, Volume 15, Number 2, p. 6. The Christian Communicator, PO BOX 110390 Nashville, TN 37222-03900.

[2]http://www.gospelcom.net/eword/comments/spurgeon/psalm84.htm

[3] http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/c/1043514619-2131.html

[4] Knight’s Treasury of Illustrations, Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 357.

[5] Knight’s Treasury of Illustrations…

© The Alabaster Box/yvonnekarl  Vol 18 No 03 2007

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

Drawing Near to Jesus (James 4:8)

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20)

Jesus is ALWAYS there. He will never leave you or forsake you: The problem is that sometimes we don’t “feel” His presence. A fake wall attempts to block us from realizing He is there even if we don’t “feel” Him. It is none other than the enemy of our soul who is on the prow to separate us from the one and only Savior.

How do we overcome that psychological fake wall? How do we draw near to Jesus with our mind and emotions?  James tells us:

SUBMIT yourselves, then, to God. RESIST the devil, and he will flee from you. COME near to God and He will come near to you” (James 4:7-8a).

How can you can submit yourself—your mind, will and emotions, and overcome the distance you “feel” between you and Jesus? How can you resist the devil from bombarding you with his pessimism and discouragement?

#1- Speak!

The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” -that is, the word of faith which we preach (Romans 10:8). Post verses here and there. Look at them as you pass by and read them out loud. There is something about “hearing” the words going into our ears from our own mouth that goes deeper than if we just just read them. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Yes, reading scripture is good. Yes, listening to scripture might be better. But reading or quoting scripture out loud is best. It strengthens us. It causes our faith to increase. It is strengthening us to resist the enemy’s temptations. And it helps us “feel” that Jesus is there listening!

COME near to God by speaking His Word aloud, and you will find He is there with you.

#2 – Remember, and Tell it!

I’m sure you’ve heard testimonies from others that you will never forget. They stirred your heart. Just thinking about your own stories of times Jesus intervened or spoke something specific in your life reminds you that Jesus is present—wherever you are, whatever the circumstances may be.

Don’t just remember. Also, TELL your stories. Whenever Jesus is exalted, the enemy flees. You encourage yourself just by telling your stories. If there’s no one to listen, tell them out loud to yourself! Listen to them over and over again. Eventually they will crowd out whatever negative circumstances you might be in.

The Old Testament tells us of a time when the Israelites pursued the Philistines and won. Afterwards, Samuel took a stone, placed it as a memorial, and called its name Ebenezer; he said, “The LORD has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12). What are the Ebenezers in your life? How many times has the Lord helped you? Think back. Remember them. Tell them to others again and again. It helps you to keep them vividly “set in stone” in your mind and remind yourself that if Jesus did that once, He will also help in your current situation. He is still THERE, wherever you are.

In Malachi we read: Those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name (Malachi 3:16-18).

COME near to God by remembering what He has done before, and you will find He is there with you.

 

#3 – Sing!

When you can’t “feel” Jesus near, don’t go out and get drunk …  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:18-20).

Speak to one another in songs! But also sing to yourself. Sing songs you’ve heard, Sing words that come to you seemingly out of nowhere. But sing! Whether you can carry a tune or not, Sing! Whether someone is listening or not, Sing! Sing scripture. Sing your prayers. Sing your feelings.

Listening to uplifting music can activate the presence of Jesus and give you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (See Isiah

I grew up in church from birth and words of hymns I learned before I reached ten years of age are still engraved in my mind and heart. They have strengthened my faith time and time again. When I feel discouraged, a song will pull me out of the pit. As I sing, I’m drawing near to the Lord in my “feelings” and the devil has to flee because he doesn’t like to hear me praising my Savior. I wasn’t given a beautiful voice, but I sing when I shower. I sing when I clean. I sing when I drive.  The songs make me forget I even have a problem.

Charles Naylor was 36 years old, and had been a minister in the Church of God for 13 years when a tent pole fell on his back during an evangelism campaign in Florida, injuring his spine and kidney. A year later he was in a bus accident that made him an invalid for the next four decades. In spite of his physical impairment, he went on to write 150 hymns and publish 8 books and numerous articles. Music helped him draw near to Jesus and silence the enemy’s accusations.

COME near to God by singing hymns and spiritual songs, and you will find He is there with you

 

#4 – Pray!

Always give thanks to God the Father in everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20). One kind of prayer is prayer of thanksgiving. When you start giving thanks, one thing leads to another and you keep pulling out reasons to be thankful. Tell the Lord one of those reasons, and another will follow.

Apostle Paul says: Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). Paul likes the word ALL—leaving out nothing and no one.

There’s not just one way to pray. There has been a plethora of books written on prayer. They talk about how to pray and how to get your prayers answered. The truth is, we don’t need to read any of them. Most people who read them are sincere in wanting to know “how” to pray and reading these books sometimes intimidates them ever further. Do not judge another person’s prayers. Just talk to Jesus from your heart. He already knows how you feel so talk to Him about it.

Pray on all occasions:

  • fear
  • mealtimes
  • car rides
  • playtime
  • schoolwork
  • church services
  • sickness
  • disease
  • operations
  • danger
  • prayer meetings
  • birthdays
  • deaths
  • weddings
  • graduations
  • ordinations
  • dedications
  • sports events
  • travel
  • financial deficits
  • emotional situations
  • loneliness
  • vacations
  • and you continue adding to the list           

Pray all kinds of prayers:

  • long prayers
  • short prayers
  • scripture prayers
  • one-word prayers
  • crying prayers
  • moaning prayers (Romans 8:28)
  • thankful prayers
  • grieving prayers
  • sad prayers
  • happy prayers
  • written prayers,
  • asking prayers
  • complaining prayers
  • seeking prayers
  • knocking prayers
  • silent prayers when necessary (He knows what you’re thinking! Psalm 139; Hebrews 4:12),
  • and you continue adding to the list.

COME near to God by praying, and you will find He is there with you.

Be proactive! We need to know how to encourage ourselves in the Lord like David did.  “David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him … but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (I Samuel 30:6).

Did he speak God’s promises aloud?

Did he remember and talk about how God had helped him kill Goliath?

Did he sing some of the songs (Psalms) he had written?

Did he pray?

Did he do all four activities?

What about you? Are you wiling to speak, tell, sing, and pray in order to “feel” that Jesus is there with you?

SUBMIT yourselves, then, to God.

RESIST the devil by using your voice to speak, tell, sing, pray; faith precedes victory, and he will flee from you.

COME near to God–speak, tell, sing, pray; and you will discover He is there — wherever you are. Jesus, the Word, is near you–even in your mouth (Romans 10:8).

(James 4:7-8a).

Heavenly Father, We love you and thank You for giving us ways to be aware of your presence and to evict the devil from our minds, in Jesus’ Name.

 

___________

C. Yvonne Karl – Message given at Taylors Church of God, Sunday Morning, March 15, 2020

God Gave us Voices!

VOICES FOR SPEAKING. Some are low, some are high. Some are deep, some are shrill. Some are loud, some are soft. Some are happy, some are sad. Some sound sweet, some sound sharp. I’ve often complained about the pitch of my voice. Since God called me to teach, why didn’t He give me a deep, commanding, soothing voice—the kind that causes people to want to listen?  I’m not sure, but we all have to overcome our dislike for what He gives us and use what we have to His honor and glory and the blessing of others.

Different voices are appealing to different folks. Some people like quiet teaching and praying. Others don’t feel like they’ve been to church if the sermon isn’t delivered in loud, forceful tones. In fact, some people confuse loud with anointing. But most of us know that volume doesn’t measure the presence of Almighty God for sometimes He chooses to manifest Himself in a “still small voice.”

VOICES FOR SINGING. I am an eclectic when it comes to music. I like all styles. I enjoy the old hymns and the new ones, the old choruses and the contemporary ones. I enjoy opera as well as guitar led praise and worship.  I’ve heard many wonderful singers with all kinds of voices that are a blessing to many in the body of Christ. I used to listen to Billy Graham crusades just to hear Ethel Waters sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” And I can still listen for hours to the singing of Luciano Pavarotti.

As to the voice used for singing there are many varieties and preferences. Known and unknown. Whether it is David Phelps or Jessy Dixon or Cece Winans or Vestal Goodman or Bernice Byrd or Frances Dunn, or my niece, Jennifer—all are identified with the sound of their voice.  When they sing, something happens in my mind, in my emotions, and in my Spirit. In fact, I can trace victory over a certain circumstance in my life to a moment some years ago when Cissy was singing “My Anchor Holds…in spite of the storm!”

Last year at a family gathering, my brother, sister, and I got together and sang the night away. Some precious friends had gifted my sister with a beautiful new ivory baby grand digital piano so we all took turns playing to initiate it, then our daughters invited us to sing. Memories were flowing along with the laughter as we tried to recall the lyrics of the songs we had sung so frequently when we were kids. For two or three years when we were young, we went with our dad to sing in a number of country churches. I still have the receipt for the accordion my parents bought for me to accompany our little trio. As we reminisced we realized our brother was only four to six years old during that time. No wonder the people seemed to enjoy our singing—they were obviously taken with that cute little guy singing lead at the top of his lungs. 

As I got older, I sang with friends, church groups, choirs, duets, trios, and quartets, always aware of the fact that I was NOT a good singer—I just loved to sing. It didn’t take much for me to realize that singing was not my gift. In the Bloomington Church I attended, the choir director assigned me a five-word solo part—a bridge—in the cantata, and I botched it. I know that God gives us all a “new song” and I still love to sing—in the congregation, in the choir, or in my private worship time but prefer to leave the “special singing” to others more gifted.

JOYFUL NOISE. One of my favorite scriptures on this matter is Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. In fact, six out of the seven times this command occurs in the Psalms it refers to singing:  Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands (Psa 66:1). Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob (Psa 81:1). O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation (Psa 95:1). Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms (Psa 95:2). Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise (Psa 98:4). With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King (Psa 98:6). Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands (Psa 100:1). It must be that God’s heavenly filter of love processes our off key singing so that when our joyful noise rises, He only hears beautiful music.

Before I was married, I lived alone and was accustomed to singing as loudly as I wished in the privacy of my own home. I was making a joyful noise! However, soon after our marriage, my husband asked me one day to please not sing. I was offended and asked how could I release my joy if not in song? He was serious about his request; my singing played on his nerves. Soon I learned why. Before he met me, he had kept company with an opera singer. I knew there was no way I could compete with that voice! I would just have to save my singing for times he was out of the house.

However, after a year or two of married life, we began to get out the old hymnals at home and sing through songs together—in German and in English—but it caught me by utter surprise when my husband started asking me to sing in church. By then he had grown to like my twangy voice and nasal tones—or more likely his love for me produced deafness to them! I was thankful the Lord kept our congregation supplied with many talented and capable musicians so I was simply not needed. He disagreed and began asking me to sing solos.

I suppose he became weary of my excuses so he stopped asking me in advance. Instead, after we arrived at the church for a service, he would come to me and say “I’d like you to sing this song this morning.” In obedience to my pastor-husband, I would sing (mostly not to embarrass myself or him by arguing). However, when we got home, I would say, (occasionally prefaced with “please”), “Don’t do that to me again.” He obviously didn’t hear. Before long, he was asking me to make a loose leaf folder of his favorite songs and keep them at my seat to sing on a moment’s notice. “Lord,” I prayed, “I want to be obedient to my husband, but You and I both know I’m not called to sing!” The Lord ignored my prayer. He did not deliver me from my internal conflict. My husband disregarded all my protests in spite of the many times I explained to him why “I” shouldn’t sing and preference should be given to others. The longer and the better my husband knew me, the more he seemed to like my voice.

Reluctantly I acquiesced to his requests knowing the Lord could not bless the people through a wife who held anger and resentment toward her husband. I realized it was a pride issue and gave it to the Lord. My desire to be in harmony with my husband was stronger than my desire not to sing. Sometime later, we visited another church and the pastor asked if we had a musical selection to share. You guessed it! My husband volunteered me! I nearly slid under the pew. To sing in the comfort of my own congregation who knew and loved me was very different from singing in front of people I’d never met. However, it would do no good nor would it be appropriate for me to protest. The Lord was strengthening me to respond without anger or resentment—to sing, not only as unto the Lord, but also as a gift to my husband. A few times in recent years, I have actually volunteered to sing. That’s victory!

THE VOICE OF THE HEART. Years ago I heard a story about a group of monks who every year at Easter time got together and sang the Gospel story in what was called a cantata. Because they lived in a very remote region, it was most unusual for any visitors to come by. However, one year they invited a specially trained choir to come sing the Gospel story for them. The voices were wonderful and they were thrilled with the rendition. After the visitors left and the monks went back to prayer, they heard the Lord say, “Where was my choir this year?” “Why Lord,” they said, “we brought in the best this year. Their voices were clear. They sang in tune. Their harmonies were exhilarating.” To this the Lord answered, “But I’m not looking for the best voices; I’m looking for pure hearts.” In other words, man hears the voice but God hears the heart.

In three different passages, David said: I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah (Psa.3:4). I cried unto God with my voice, [even] unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me (Psa.77:1). Both times he says, God heard him. And when he was hiding in the cave, David said: I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication (Psa.142.1). Hundreds of years later, the Apostle Paul recounted the story of David and commented that God gave this testimony: I have found David the [son] of Jesse, a man after mine own heart (Acts 13:22). When God heard David’s prayers, he heard them through the condition of his heart, not the tone or quality of his voice.

The Apostle Peter writes, For the eyes of the Lord [are] over the righteous, and His ears [are open] unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord [is] against them that do evil (1 Pe.3:12).  Again, we see that God hears the prayers of those whose hearts are in the right condition. This begins with a prayer of repentance. Many testimonies are given by people who were selfish, did not honor or worship God, yet when a calamity arose and they cried out to Him, a miracle happened. At that moment, their heart so earnestly desired to know God, that He heard their prayer.  It’s not the words we say, nor the tone or volume of the voice that moves God, rather it is the condition of our heart.

THE VOICE OF JESUS. When we sing in the congregation, we are never singing solos. Jesus sings with us! For both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified [are] all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto You [God] (Heb.2:11-12). Furthermore, He says we will recognize His voice! Jesus says, My sheep hear my voice; and I know them and they follow me (John 10:27). The Greek word used here is akouo which means more than just listen; it means to hear with understanding

The Pharisees contended that they were the religious leaders and as such were the ones who “called the shots.” Jesus, however, neither submitted to them nor to their law. This angered the Pharisees who continually opposed Him and demanded that the people align with them and ignore Jesus.  It was in this context that Jesus describes them as false shepherds and pointed out: My sheep hear my voice. They hear their master and understand what He is saying. He calls His own sheep by name, and They know His voice and can distinguish it from that of a stranger and a stranger will they not follow. Anyone who has a pet animal understands the simplicity of this statement. The dog knows the voice of his master—how much more do we as human beings with developed mental faculties discern the various voices in our lives—including the voice of Jesus. Most of us do not hear an audible sound, but deep down inside we KNOW what He’s saying. The times we aren’t sure, it’s usually because we want Him to be saying a certain thing to us and He is not confirming it. 

It’s interesting to me that a friend I haven’t talked with for twenty or thirty years can call me on the phone, and the minute I hear the voice, I recognize it!  Voices are so unique that they are stamped indelibly in our mind. Even when we can’t immediately put a name with the voice, we remember it. Adam and Eve knew God’s voice:  they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden (Gen.3:8).

VOICE OF JOY. In Jeremiah’s day, he prophesied that the voice of praise would cease because of the iniquities and idolatries of God’s people. The voice of God’s prophets was neither heard nor heeded and therefore no longer did they hear the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride, or of the songs that used to grace the weddings. Although these are voices we love to hear, it is threatened here that there will be nothing to rejoice in as a result of disobedience on the part of God’s people. There will be no joy of weddings; no celebrations. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth (joy) and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate (Jer.7:34; 16:9).

Isn’t it still true today that the comforts of life are abandoned and everything that makes us happy and joyful disappears whenever unrighteousness prevails. Just as in Jeremiah’s time, there is no joy of prosperity when sinful acts have swallowed up our profits. As a result, people look around and see no reason to rejoice. This unfolds quickly right before our eyes. Our disobedience, and that of others, mars the joy of even the most cheerful. 

The wonderful thing about our relationship with the Lord is how quickly situations can be reversed. God intervened then, and still intervenes today, on behalf of His people: Thus says the LORD…Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know…I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me…and …Again there shall be heard in this place…the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say:  Praise the LORD of hosts, For the LORD is good, For His mercy endures forever and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD…(Jer.33:1-12).

Our voice interprets our emotions.

VOICES. Whether soft or loud, timid or bold, sweet or brash, soprano or tenor, we identify with voices. Voice inflection varies from language to language but those fluent in the language identify the spoken tones and pitches with various emotions of joy, sorrow, despair, panic, relief. Whether or not we hear God speak to us in an audible voice as He did to Paul or in a still small voice as He did to Elijah, He does speak to us. We recognize His voice—it brings conviction of sin or commendation for faithfulness such as “Enter into the joy of the Lord.” 

It is with our heart that we hear His voice, the voice of love, peace, and joy. It is with our voice that we give Him praise from our heart. And it is with joy that He hears our voice giving Him praise and worship.

Reprinted from (c) The Alabaster Box, Vol 18 No 05 1993, by C. Yvonne Karl.   yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

JOY!

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save; He will rejoice over thee with JOY; He will rest in His love; He will JOY over thee with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

Do not grieve, for the JOY of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Introduction

Some people think unless something spectacular happens, Jesus didn’t show up for the church service. However, we know when we come together as the people of God, He is in our midst, for Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). In fact, He said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). So lift up your countenance (put a smile on your face!) and rejoice. The King of kings is always with you wherever you are, whatever your circumstances.

Not only is Jesus WITH you, He wants to live IN you. “For it is God which works IN you both to will and to do HIS good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is IN you, which you have of God, and you are not  your own?” (1 Cor. 6:19).

Is He your God? Have you been washed in the blood of Jesus? Have you repented of your sins? Are you putting off the “old man” (your old ways, habits, language, attitudes,  desires)  and  putting on the “new man” (Jesus’ language, attitudes, desires)? (See Eph. 4:20-32). If so, you can confess according to Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord MY God in the midst of ME is mighty! He dwells in the midst of you, and He is mighty! He lives way down deep in your soul (in the midst—the middle—of your heart). He is the mighty God sitting on the throne of your heart.

God is  mighty.

What does it mean for God to be MIGHTY in you?

He is all-powerful

  • He is able to perform supernatural deeds deep inside your heart.
  • He enables you to WAIT and be of good courage while waiting.
  • He enables you to FORGIVE those who falsely accuse you, who betray you, who use you.
  • He enables you to RESIST the devil thus giving no opportunity to him. It’s HIS enabling power—not yours! You would faint in the day of adversity without His power to sustain you. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
  • He is mighty!

He is all-sufficient

  • In Him there is no lack, and if He lives in you, then He brings all His provisions with Him and shares them with you.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want (lack)…” (Psa. 23:1)
  • “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11).
  • “My God shall supply all your (and my) need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
  • He is Jehovah­ Jireh, the I AM.
  • He has provided.
  • He is mighty!

He is all-knowing

  • He knows what you have need of even before you ask (Matt. 6:8).
  • He knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of your heart (Heb. 4:12).
  • He is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (if you permit Him to do so) (Jude 24).
  • He is mighty!

He is always present.

  • “Lo, I am with you ALWAY” (Matt. 28:20).
  • He is present in storms of life (like the disciples tossed upon the sea).
  • He is present in the fires of life–when things get hot, like He was as the fourth man in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednigo.
  • He is ever-interceding for you (Heb. 7:25) that you will not bow to idols, not yield to temptation, not allow satan to “sift you like wheat,” and that you will endure hardness like a good soldier and not give up but be faithful!
  • He is mighty!

God will…

If this mighty God lives in your heart, and sits on the throne way down deep in your soul, in the midst of you, then…

He Will Save.

  • This comes from the Hebrew word which means He will ease your burden. Stay yoked to Jesus. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He invites you to come to him if you are weary and heavy ladened (Matt. 11:28-29).
  • If you are being crushed by the burdens you carry, you need to learn how to cast care on him (1 5:7).
  • He will save you!

He will rejoice over you with joy.

  • The Hebrew declares: He will enjoy you! He will say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” When He sees your obedient heart and your desire to let Him control your life, you really enter into the JOY of the How He delights in His people! His joy–not yours–is your strength (Neb. 8:10).
  • He will rejoice over you with joy!

He will rest in His love.

  • He has already paid the price for your salvation.
  • The Hebrew word says here that He will hold His peace.
  • He hangs onto the accomplished work of redemption.
  • His love for you was so great that He gave His very life for you.
  • He rests in that love.
  • He is persuaded that He is able to keep whatever you commit unto Him. Commit your very life, your future, your family, your church, your health, everything unto Him. Now you can be persuaded that He is able to keep whatever you commit to Him (2 Tim.1:12). You, too, can rest in His love!

He will joy over you with singing.

  • This is one of my favorite In Hebrew it means, He’s having a party!
  • What is He celebrating?
    • Your spiritual birthday!
    • Your spiritual growth!
    • Your victories!
    • Your perseverance!
    • Your faithfulness in times of stress, poverty, failures, disappointments as well as in times of joy and success!
  • He parties with singing.
  • He loves singing – especially singing over you with joy.
  • In fact, Jesus stands and sings praise to God in the midst of the Church (Heb. 2:12).

Who is the Church?

  • You are! Every individual who is born again is a part of the Church.
  • Jesus sings out through you when you sing praise to God.
  • He sings with the gathered Church when we sing praise to His Father God.
  • He celebrates!
  • He has a party with singing.

Conclusion

That’s why out of your belly (innermost being) shall flow rivers of living water; out from the throne of your heart; out from where THE LORD YOUR GOD  DWELLS;  where He is mighty (John 7:58).

  • Personalize the scripture.
  • Make it relevant to your life.
  • Remember it: The Lord MY God in the midst of ME is mighty. He will save ME; He will rejoice over ME with joy; He will rest in His love for ME; He will joy over ME with singing.
  • Hallelujah!

Amen.

SUMMARY

“The Lord our God in the midst of you is mighty. He will save. He will deliver you”

  • from all the power,
  • from all the guilt,
  • from all the pollution of your sins;

and when thus saved,

  • “He will rejoice over you with JOY.”
  • “He will rest in His love.”
    • He will show the same love to you that He did of old to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  • “He will JOY over you with singing.”
  • Your conversion will be a subject of peculiar delight and exultation to God Himself! There will be a more than ordinary joy in heaven when you come to God through Christ Jesus. (Zeph.3:17). [This is] the JOY of the LORD that is your strength (Neh.8:10c). (cf. Adam Clarke Commentary)

© C. Yvonne Karl, The Alabaster Box, Volume 08 Number 09 1993

Updated October 2019

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

If the Shoe Fits

A Word from Yvonne:

Isn’t it exciting that the Prince of Peace has chosen YOU!  All you have to do is accept His Peace. Believe me, it WILL fit!

A few months after my husband and I were married we attended a church convention where I was reunited with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I was eager to “show off” my handsome husband. My hair was no longer red, but blond–in response to my husband’s request. (Doesn’t the Bible say the wife should seek to please her husband? See Eph 5:22: Wives, be submissive and adapt yourselves to your own husbands as a service to the Lord.)  Although I had not seen him for four or five years, a pastor, whom I had known most of my life and was very dear to me, was standing in the distance. I took my husband’s arm and rushed toward him expecting the pastor to throw out his arms and receive me with joy. Instead, I was stopped cold. He saw me. He stared at me. He asked whether I was me or my sister and when I gave him MY name, he spit on the ground in front of me and turned away from me.  He asked me no questions. He gave me no opportunity to introduce my husband. I was too stunned to pursue him and attempt conversation. That was the last time I ever saw him. His problem? He had judged me to be an outcast from the church because I had changed my hair color. It was more than he could handle. Did it hurt me? Of course. Did I forgive him? Yes and yes again!   Scriptural truths must of necessity be followed; however, man’s opinions often separate even good friends. I realized the problem and knew that my loyalty relative to man’s opinions had to be to my husband and not to another man. Peace came….and stayed in my MIND and my heart!

Many, many people have written songs, stories, poems, and books about being chosen by our Lord Jesus. What a special privilege to have the Prince of Peace invite you to wear His shoes!  It’s THE Kingdom of Peace–and it’s within you!

ON COURAGE

“So you think I’m courageous?” she asked

“Yes, I do.

Perhaps I am. But that’s because I’ve had some inspiring teachers. I’ll tell you about one of them. Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save Liza.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in a bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?” Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all his blood.

  “Yes, I’ve learned courage,” she added, “because I’ve had good teachers.”

( -By Dan Millman from Chicken Soup for the Soul  Copyright 1993 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen)

CONSIDER THE PREPARATION OF PEACE IN THE WORDS AND STORY BEHIND THE FOLLOWING HYMN:

“I BELONG TO THE KING”

1) I belong to the King, I’m a child of His love,
I shall dwell in His palace so fair;
For He tells of its bliss in yon heaven above,
And His children in splendor shall share.

Chorus:
I belong to the King, I’m a child of His love,
And he never forsaketh His own;
He will call me some day to His palace above,
I shall dwell by His glorified throne.

2) I belong to the King, and He loves me I know,
For His mercy and kindness, so free,
Are unceasingly mine wheresoever I go,
And my refuge unfailing is He. (Chorus)

3) I belong to the King, and His promise is sure,
That we all shall be gathered at last
In His kingdom above, by life’s waters so pure,
When this life with its trials is past. (Chorus)

(Words by Ida L. Reed. Music by Maurice A Clifton)  

THE STORY BEHIND THE HYMN

“I Belong to the King” was literally beaten out of a humble life by the flail of burdensome trials and afflictions. Ida L. Reed, author of the hymn, rightly deserved to sing “I belong to the King.” She was born and reared in the mountains of West Virginia. Her life was one long, continuous burden-bearing journey. For many years she was compelled to do heavy and arduous work [common] to farm life. This she did in support of an invalid and widowed mother. 

Broken at last by the strenuous toil and privations, she was sorely afflicted and bed-ridden for years. Even then, in her hours of pain, she wrote poems for publishers to eke out a meager living. She was removed to a hospital in Washington, D. C., as a last resort, in the hope of prolonging her pain-wracked, yet beautiful life. From her hospital bed of pain, she wrote the words of this poem which came to be a hymn of the church.

“I Belong to the King” is a golden nugget from the mine of character of one of God’s most humble children. For, as often the most beautiful flowers grow in inconspicuous places, so from the inner garden of one of the least of the children of the Lord there comes this flower of thought… 

(Taken from Forty Gospel Hymn Stories by George W. Sanville, 1943, p. 56.)

“She hath done what she could…” [Mark 14:8]

HE CHOSE ME

There were so many others that He might have chosen To follow Him;
Others with learning and greater distinction To follow Him;
Men with authority and forceful ability
Who know how to speak and be heard.
I don’t know exactly why I’m here at all,
But today I follow my Lord.

It was bus’ness as usual for me ‘til I heard Him say, “Follow me.”
I left all behind me that day when Jesus said, “Follow Me.”
I emptied myself of my old life completely
With no thought that this could be wrong
And as long as I follow the steps of the Master,
I know I’m where I belong.

For He chose me.
He chose me;
I could not say no when He said,
“Follow me and you’ll be a fisher of men.”
And from now on … From now on
I will not look back on the things left behind;
He chose me to follow Him.

No, I will not look back on the things left behind;
He chose me to follow Him.

(-Author and composer unknown. If any reader knows the author and composer please contact The Alabaster Box so we can give proper credit Thank you.)

______________________________

(c) C. Yvonne Karl. The Alabaster Box. Vol 14 No 05 & 06. 2000. 

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

IF THE SHOE FITS – MFC CONFERENCE – 2000

(c) C. Yvonne Karl. The Alabaster Box. Vol 14 No 05 & 06. 2000.

The article above and all three parts below are from the Maranatha Fellowship Women’s Conference in 2000. All are on this website: http://yvonnekarl.com or you can click on the link following each part:

Part 1 – There is a Shoe that Fits (c) Yvonne Karl – https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/there-is-a-shoe-that-fits/

Part 2 – Does the Shoe fit? (c) Virginia Wright; UBP – https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/does-the-shoe-fit/

Part 3 – If the Shoe Fits – (c) Yvonne Karl – https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/if-the-shoe-fits/

Does the Shoe fit?

by Virginia Ruth Wright (1999)

Once upon a time there was a daughter who had been abused and used by the world. Those she was living around would give her commands, “Clean that fireplace; sweep that floor; cook that meal.” The world had rubbed her the wrong way long enough. Disgust was rising up within her. She was tired of the world and the things in the world. In the midst of her great disappointment, depression and discouragement, a great invitation was sent out:

“Go into the highway and hedges and compel them to come in; the lame, the halt, the blind, that my house may be full.”

A little stir started in the corner of her heart. “That sounds like a great celebration.” She asked herself, “What will I wear?” Her friend of the world began to laugh. “What makes you think He was inviting you? You are not good enough to go. Here. Press our clothes. We have what it takes to get in among the religious folk. We will be recognized at the great celebration.”

She did as they said and self-pity and rejection began to play on the strings of her heart. Suddenly, she heard a whisper: “Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.” Her spirit began to rise within her. She started to say, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name.” The darkness and gloom fell from her face and her mind. He dressed her in clothes of righteousness. He shod her feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. She was ready for the great celebration.

Sunday came and Grace picked her up to take her to the great celebration. When she arrived, the Prince of Peace met her at the door and said, “Come, dance with me.” Her heart leaped within her, as she celebrated with the Love of her life. She had a glorious time and then the prince of the power of the air was upset with her excitement and joy over meeting the Prince of Peace. Satan wanted her to go back to her old life and live in self-pity and rejection. He started attacking her mind, “Flee from here, you look foolish; you are going to die. What you are experiencing isn’t real!”  Her mind was about to explode. 

She hurriedly turned and ran from the celebration. Running down the steps of time, back to the old life, she lost one of her slippers, the shoe of the preparation of the gospel of peace. Confusion and doubt flooded her mind. She realized she had lost one of her shoes. Now back in the harassment of worldly associates, she was being put down by their ugly and devilish comments, but she still had a little peace and a little joy.     

She slipped away into her secret closet. As she wept, she studied her one clear shoe. The words came through to her spirit, “We see through a glass darkly, but one day we shall see Him face to face.” Mercy came running and hope filled her soul. Outside the door, she could hear the Prince of Peace. He had been talking to her worldly associates. “If this shoe fits, you can wear it. It is yours… “My peace I give you not as the world gives, do I give…My peace I leave with you.”  

One by one they rejected His word. By choice, they chose not to try the shoe. She thought He was about to leave. She stood up to run to Him and say, “That’s my shoe I want to wear it. I want your peace and love and joy in my life.” She put her hand on the doorknob and opened the door. He was there, the prince of peace. He took her in His arms and said, “My mercy is new this morning.” She sat down. He knelt down and slipped the shoe on her foot. The shoe fit perfectly. Peace began to flood her soul. Mocking and laughing were all around, but she walked in the midst of it with the Prince of Peace and took the Gospel of Peace with her everywhere, celebrating with joy… and showing off her shoes.

 The End.

______________________

IF THE SHOE FITS – MFC WOMEN’S CONFERENCE – 2000                                 

Maranatha Fellowship Church – St Albans WV                                                                                                                                   (Check out the “shoe” name tag!)

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c) C. Yvonne Karl. The Alabaster Box. Vol 14 No 05 & 06. 2000. 

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

IF THE SHOE FITS – MFC CONFERENCE – 2000

 

(c) C. Yvonne Karl. The Alabaster Box. Vol 14 No 05 & 06. 2000.

The article above and all three parts below are from the Maranatha Fellowship Women’s Conference in 2000. All are on this website: http://yvonnekarl.com or you can click on the link following each part:

Part 1 – There is a Shoe that Fits (c) Yvonne Karl – https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/there-is-a-shoe-that-fits/

Part 2 – Does the Shoe fit? (c) Virginia Wright; UBP –  https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/does-the-shoe-fit/

Part 3 – If the Shoe Fits – (c) Yvonne Karl –  https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/if-the-shoe-fits/

THERE IS A SHOE THAT FITS!

How many people do you know who buy and wear shoes that don’t fit? There are many reasons for this. My late husband confessed to me that as a young adult he bought shoes a size too small because he thought it somehow unfitting for a man to have a big foot. (He only wore a size ten!) 

I must admit I have many confessions on selecting the wrong shoes. I used to think one should never buy shoes that felt comfortable because they would stretch with wear and become uncomfortable. For years I walked in shoes that pinched my toes!  I recall, at 16, walking barefoot down the streets of Philadelphia with my shoes in hand and blisters on my feet.  Did you ever try to wear someone else’s shoes? I remember, as a 12-year old, begging and pleading with my mother to wear her ankle-strap, two-inch-high wedgies on an all-day orchestra and dinner with my sixth grade class. Reluctantly, she agreed. My joy lasted but a short time.  My sore feet went without shoes most of that day!

SHOES THAT NEVER WEAR OUT?

Can you imagine a pair of shoes that not only fit and feel comfortable but that don’t wear out for 40 years? If your feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, you have shoes that will never get old. They’ll keep you from slipping and sliding through whatever comes into your WALK of life. The Lord told His people in Deuteronomy 29:5: I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes have not worn out upon you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. The Lord wants you to wear these symbolic kingdom shoes. They will last forever! 

GOOD NEWS!  THERE IS A SHOE THAT FITS!

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15, Amplified).

The word  “shod” simply means “having shoes on.” The shoes referred to in this passage of scripture are the military sandals of the Roman private soldiers and centurions. They were made of very strong leather, and the soles were thickly studded with hobnails in order to give a sure footing. Thus Christian soldiers, having the gospel as a sure footing, can stand firmly against the attacks of their spiritual foes.

Michaeis says, “Barefooted was a term of reproach and probably signified a man who had sold everything, a spendthrift and a bankrupt.” The prodigal son certainly fits this description’ When he came back to his father’s house, shoes were put on his feet (Luke 15:2). Obviously, this was symbolic of the son’s departure from his corrupt and perverted ways (barefoot, shoeless). Now he needed preparation to walk firmly in his new life–the shoes would give him “sure footing.”

When the angel came to bust Peter out of prison, he said Gird thyself and bind on thy sandals (Acts 12:8)…Fasten them. Be sure they aren’t just slipped on or they’ll fall off.

Peter had been sleeping in prison, but now he had to get back into the firing line of ministering in the kingdom. He must not slip nor fall. He must prepare for battle knowing that “peace” comes to those who are prepared for any and all circumstances of life.

When you face life’s everyday challenges, it is imperative that you wear shoes that will protect you from gravel, tar, hot pavement, fires, forests, marsh, nasty weather–you name it! You need to have assurance that you will have PEACE as you travel through these various situations. The shoes PREPARE you for peace. You know they will protect you from the thorns and briars; therefore your mind is at peace.  

THE KEY WORD IS PREPARATION

The footwear of the Christian soldier is suggested by Isaiah 52:7: How beautiful are the feet of him that brings good tidings…that publishes peace. (See also Romans 10:15.)  The gospel of peace is itself “the equipment” which the warrior wears. There is something paradoxical in presenting the warrior in the midst of battle:  equipped with the gospel of peace. To establish peace of God in your heart—you must do battle against the spiritual evil which disturbs that peace.

When I was about ten years of age, I desired to go play in my neighbor’s yard because she had made a nice playhouse tent over her fence. My mother said “no;” but I knew she was busy with her baking and probably wouldn’t miss me, so I decided to sneak over to my friend’s house just to take a peek inside her tent. However, I did not prepare ahead. I did not think. I went barefoot and stepped on a tent peg that pierced my foot. Now, not only did I have a bleeding, gaping hole in my foot, I would have to face my mother knowing I had rebelled. I had not PREPARED FOR PEACE!

You don’t go ice skating on roller blades.

You don’t go hiking in sandals.

You don’t play football in house slippers.

Yet, spiritually, you’ve been trying it… getting hurt… blaming God and others. 

Everywhere you walk, God has made provision for you to have the “good news of peace.”  Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).

CHANGING SHOES

When changing your shoes, be sure you always wear the same brand: the Word of God!  Don’t borrow advice or preparation tactics from the world. There is a way which seems right to man but the end thereof is death (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25).  Get the scriptural shoe that FITS the situation.

For example, Are you tired? Weary? Rejoice! He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might, He increases strength–causing it to multiply and making it abound (Isaiah 40:29; 2 Corinthians 12:9). The battle is won or lost in the mind. Just think of Him who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself–reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials–so that you may NOT GROW WEARY or EXHAUSTED, losing heart and relaxing and fainting IN YOUR MINDS (Hebrews 12:1-3, Amplified; Isaiah 40:29-31).  This shoe will fit!

Here’s another description of the shoe that fits: And let the peace which comes from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts–deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds … and be thankful, appreciative, giving praise to God always (Colossians 3:15, Amplified). Let the peace of Christ determine your mindset. Don’t let panic rule you. Don’t let hysteria rule you. Don’t let emotions rule you. Don’t let feelings rule you. Don’t let your circumstances determine your state of mind. Let the Word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom…(Colossians 3:16), and allow what the WORD of God says to determine your state of mind–how you deal with the circumstances you are going through.

ONE APPLICATION OF THE SCRIPTURE:

PREPARING FOR PEACE IN MARRIAGE AFTER STARTING OFF ON THE WRONG FOOT

 

My husband and I did not consummate our marriage until after our wedding took place, but out of many years of experience in counseling I know that one of the major reasons marriages in the United States are troubled and often end in divorce is due to premarital intimacy. Even people who are believers often fall into the trap. It grieves me to see couples, even in the Christian ministry, who are still bitter about their spouse’s actions toward them before marriage. What a hindrance it is to their work in the kingdom! 

If you and your spouse had an intimate relationship before you were married, you need to ask each other and God for forgiveness for allowing it to happen (even if it is now years later). God holds you both accountable for your actions.  The consequence of not dealing with this sin openly is that each secretly blames the other. When verbal forgiveness is neither sought nor given, each (perhaps subconsciously) makes the other suffer for it. The idea is conveyed either by words or body language: “Don’t touch me.” “I don’t feel like it now; after all, you got it before you were supposed to so now you’ll just have to do without.”  “How can I trust you not to do it again with someone else?” “You think you can be a Christian, a role model, a leader after what you did? I can never respect you.”

Without realizing it, the couple has not prepared for peace but war. And war it is! So what to do now? God’s Word comes to our rescue. The gospel shoes you need are those of “forgiveness.”  Jesus taught us to pray to the Father to forgive us our debts (sins, faults, trespasses, shortcomings, wrongdoing) as we forgive others theirs (Matthew  6:12; 18:35; Mark 11:26; James 2:13). You need to sit down together and share your failure to keep under [your] body and bring it into subjection lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway  (1 Cor. 9:27).  A “castaway” is someone who has experienced God but chosen not to sacrifice self to have a relationship with Him. Ask for forgiveness. Thank each other for asking and receiving that forgiveness. Pray together thanking God for forgiving you as you have forgiven each other (Matt. 6:12). Now it is your responsibility to become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted [compassionate, understanding, loving], forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32, Amplified). 

Now you are PREPARED for peace! You are able to WALK together having your FEET SHOD with the PREPARATION of the gospel of peace. You can pray for each other without guile or resentment. You can share your failures and successes with each other without hypocrisy knowing you will be loved and accepted. You can encourage one another through all the difficulties of life, against all the enemies that come against you.

This principle of forgiveness works in ALL situations where there has been a break in relationships due to ungodly behavior. What if the other person is not receptive to this scriptural approach to PREPARATION for PEACE? Then your own heart is cleansed and free from guilt because you have asked for forgiveness and extended it to the other. 

OTHER LIFE APPLICATIONS? Write to me. 

Space does not permit me to give examples of the other symbolic scriptural shoes you must wear to face the enemies of life. Most Bibles have a Concordance or Index in the back that lists where you can find certain words in Scripture. Look up a word that has to do with your circumstance and read all the scriptures listed with it. Ask the Lord to show you how to deal with it so that you may be PREPARED for PEACE.

If you wish to write to me about a situation, I shall do my best to respond with the scriptural approach to dealing with it so you can have peace in your life–even in the midst of the storm.  The “peace” that is talked about in scripture is the peace in your heart–down inside you–which no man can take from you no matter what happens. That’s the peace that passes all understanding and keeps your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). MyPeace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).

REMEMBER:  God’s Word is your PREPARATION for peace. Be certain your feet are WALKING in THE WORD!

 

(c) C. Yvonne Karl. The Alabaster Box. Vol 14 No 05 & 06. 2000. 

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

IF THE SHOE FITS – MFC WOMEN’S CONFERENCE – 2000

 

(c) C. Yvonne Karl. The Alabaster Box. Vol 14 No 05 & 06. 2000.

The article above and all three parts below are from the Maranatha Fellowship Women’s Conference in 2000. All are on this website: http://yvonnekarl.com or you can click on the link following each part:

Part 1 – There is a Shoe that Fits (c) Yvonne Karl – https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/there-…a-shoe-that-fits/

Part 2 – Does the Shoe fit? (c) Virginia Wright; UBP. https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/does-the-shoe-fit/

Part 3 – If the Shoe Fits – (c) Yvonne Karl –  https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/if-the-shoe-fits/

Clouds are the Dust of God’s Feet: Nahum 1:3c

One of my favorite high school teachers was the late Mr. Robert Burke. His influence on my life went far beyond that of being my ninth grade Biology teacher. He showed genuine interest in my abilities and ambitions. He set high academic standards and expected me to reach them. He pointed out errors on my exams with a smile. He served as faculty advisor to the Bible Club of which I was President in my junior year. In the final days of my senior year, I handed him my yearbook asking for his autograph. When I saw he wrote more than his name, I eagerly looked to see what wonderful words of commendation he had penned. To my consternation, I read: May there be just enough clouds in your life to create a beautiful sunset.

Up to that point, I viewed clouds and storms as companions, and I certainly didn’t want any storms in my life. For some time after this incident, I interpreted the message negatively and allowed his words to “cloud” our relationship. In the years that followed, I had many opportunities to meditate on the phrase “enough clouds in your life”.  Then one day as I was reading the Bible, I came across Nahum 1:3c: …the clouds are the dust of God’s feet. Hallelujah! Wherever there are clouds, GOD IS PRESENT!  Furthermore, I read in Scripture:

  • The Lord makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind (Ps. 104:3).
  • Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds—His name is the Lord…(Ps. 68:4).
  • See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud…(Is. 19:1).

OLD TESTAMENT

We have many examples of God’s Presence in the clouds. When He called Moses to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt, the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them on the way (Ex.13:21). On a clear day, you can see forever and go where you want; but on a cloudy day you must walk by faith knowing that God is present to lead you in the way He wants you to go.

  • And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you and believe you forever…(Ex.19:9).
  • And the glory of the Lord abode on Mt. Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and the seventh day He called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud…and Moses went into the midst of the cloud, up to the Mountain (Ex.24:16,18).
  • And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door; and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door (Ex.33:9-10).

In the Old Testament, there are many references to the Presence of the Lord in the cloud: leading the children of Israel, guarding and protecting them, and giving them words of direction. In 1 Cor. 10:1-2, Paul referred to this when he wrote:  For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud [under God’s leadership and guidance—see also Exodus 13:21-22; Numbers 9:15-23; 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:33; Psalm 78:14] and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea [His guidance did not fail them—He successfully led them through the sea—Exodus 14:22,29] (NIV).

GOSPELS

Given this background, we should not be surprised to read that When Jesus was baptized, He went up at once out of the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on [Jesus]; and lo, a voice out from heaven said, This is my beloved Son, in Whom I delight (Matt 3:17).

Some time later, Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him up to the Mountain, and While [Peter] yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him (Matt. 17:5; Luke 9:34-35). This was God’s last speech from the clouds. After this incident, He spoke through His Son, and now He speaks by His Spirit through His Word.

REVELATION

One summer Sunday evening when I was 16 years old, my family was visiting with my grandparents on their estate in the open fields of Black Betsy. I heard someone gasp and say, “Look! There in the clouds!”  We all ran to the back porch and looked up to see “Jesus coming in the clouds.” The body shape we saw was a perfect duplicate of the artist’s rendition of “Jesus”.  He appeared to be walking straight toward us. We were all quite paralyzed by the sight. It seemed as if the Scripture were literally coming true at that moment:

  • Lo, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him…(Rev. 1:7).
  • He [Jesus] was taken up in a cloud before their very eyes…this same Jesus…will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven (Acts 1:9) 
  • And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory (Mark 13:26).
  • At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory (Matt. 24:30).
  • Yes, it is as you say, Jesus replied, But I say to all of you: in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64).
  • After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17).

I thought my heart would burst within me. This was an intense moment of self-examination—no time for theological interpretation of Scripture. Even after the clouds separated and we realized this was not “THE END,” the moment of reckoning had its impact. It was a day never to be forgotten. God was out walking and we saw evidence in the clouds.

DISCERNING THE CLOUDS

When the trials of life press in on you, look up!  Do you see clouds? Remember that the Lord walks on them, rides on them, and raises them when He pleases. He stirs them up, and He causes them to disperse. 

There are two Greek words used in the New Testament that are translated “clouds”.

(1) Nephos denotes a cloudy shapeless mass covering the heavens, hence, metaphorically it is used to refer to a dense multitude, a throng, as in Hebrews 12:1:  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

(2) Nephele is a definitely shaped cloud, or masses of clouds possessing definite form. It is used (a) of the physical element of the “cloud” on the mount of transfiguration in Matt. 17:5, and (b) of the cloud which covered Israel in the Red Sea, 1 Cor. 10:1-2; (c) of clouds seen in the visions in the book of Revelation, Rev.1:7; 10:1; 11:12; 14:14-16; and (d) metaphorically in Jude 12, and in 2 Pet. 2:17, of the evil workers there mentioned (Vines Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

  • These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind…(Jude 12)
  • These men are springs without water and clouds [mists] driven by a storm…(gone before a drop of water falls) (2 Peter 2:17).

Some clouds that come bring neither beauty of sunset or sunrise, nor lovely blue skies. They bring neither rain or sleet, or snow; they are merely empty formless clouds called “fog”; they lay close to the ground and obstruct our view. In themselves, they are harmless, yet because of their presence many highway accidents occur. Often these are chain accidents—one loses his way and bumps into another, and so on. How much this scene relates metaphorically to spiritual “fog” as well. Sometimes this “fog” comes into our lives in the guise of people who lay close to us. They appear to be active and full of the Holy Spirit and living water, but soon we realize they are EMPTY—professing a form of godliness but denying the power of God to change lives. Their very presence has clouded our vision and our hope causing us to lose our grasp on spiritual reality. The sooner we realize the deception, the faster we’ll move out of the “fog” and back under the clouds that rise high above us.

Some clouds bring much needed precipitation into our lives. It’s the rain that brings life to the plants, trees, flowers, grass, and gardens. It’s the rain of the Spirit—fresh from on high—that brings growth to our Christian lives. Without it, we are parched and dry; drought takes its toll:

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God (Heb. 6:7). 

CLOUD CLASSIFICATIONS

As we have seen by example in Scripture, not all clouds are the same. They have different shapes and different purposes. Cloudman’s Mini Cloud Atlas gives 12 Basic Cloud Classifications in four families. There is the HEAP Family consisting of Cumulus Congestus, Swelling Cumulus, and Cumulus of Fairweather.  There is the LAYER Family consisting of Cirrstratus, Altostratus, and Stratus. There is the HEAP/LAYER Family, consisting of Cirrocumulus, Altocumulus, and Stratocumulus. And finally, there is the PRECIPITATION FAMILY consisting of Cirrus, Cumulonimbus, and Nimbostratus. Each set of clouds has a description and a function. (To read more about these, go to http://www.cloudman.com). In addition to these categories, there are simply HIGH clouds, MEDIUM clouds, and LOW clouds.

All shapes. All sizes. Many descriptions. Many purposes. It is a relatively low percentage of clouds that brings storms, yet often we see clouds as carriers of negativity. Let’s get a fresh, new image of clouds. Look at them. Analyze them. How lovely is the sky with the little cloud puffs scattered about, or with the layers of clouds forming an ascending stairway to heaven, or with the heaps of clouds that appear to have golden light or silver linings. How welcome are the clouds that dump the precipitation on a dry and thirsty ground. Even after storm clouds have come and gone, there is the refreshing, cleansing smell of “life after the storm”. 

Now transfer this picture to situations that come into your everyday life. We all need some clouds in our life. We Michiganders understand this. In the winter, a cloudless sky means the nighttime temperatures will dip low. In the summer, a cloudless sky means there will be no nighttime relief from the sweltering temperatures. Thus, we welcome the clouds! Have you ever thought how boring, barren, and colorless your life would be without the challenge and/or gift of “cloudy” circumstances? We often think life would be perfect if we didn’t have to deal with the interruptions, solve the problems, resolve the conflicts, and receive the blessings. Yet these make up the very spice of life that brings the beautiful sunrise, or sunset, as well as awesome daytime and nighttime scenery.

CLOUDS: GOD’S CHARIOT OR THE DUST OF HIS FEET

As one comes to the end of this earthly existence, how wonderful it will be to look back and see that the clouds which have come into life over the years are producing a beautiful sunset. They have come to cover, to rain on us, to protect, to guide us, to witness to us. They remind us that God has been walking in our lives all the time; we know, because we see the clouds. Sometimes when we want to rebuke the clouds, we need to stop and inquire as to whether the Lord Himself is riding on them!

May there be just enough clouds in your life to create a beautiful sunset!

_________________________________________________________________

(c) The Alabaster Box, VOL 16 NO 01 2001, C. Yvonne Karl

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Tag Cloud