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Standing on the edge of yesterday and the brink of tomorrow

David, the psalmist King, often reflected on his past only as a reminder of how the Lord had helped him. He used these memories to help him focus on the future with faith and hope in Almighty God.

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side! Let Israel now say—If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive when their wrath was kindled against us. Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,. The stream would have gone over our soul. Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. (From Psalm124)

A plot has been devised to destroy every Christian’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but God has extended His protection, His strength, and His power to His children. David describes this plot as being like a trap set by a bird catcher. It appeared he had trapped us, but by God’s grace the snare was broken, and we escaped. Who broke the snare for us? The Lord! He’s our helper. When the snare is broken, we have to run away from it. (See Psa. 124:7)

One of the most prevalent ways the enemy traps us is getting us to take offense. Jesus said, Offenses will come![i] We cannot prevent them from coming. But we’re also told, Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing causes them to stumble. (Psa.119:165). Whether to take the offense or not is our choice.

The Israelites were offended that God sent them the same food every day. They felt they deserved better. They blamed Him for bringing them out of Egypt—where they were slaves—to this free place where He did the grocery shopping for them every day! I can’t imagine anyone being unhappy about not having to slave in the mud to make bricks while a soldier stood by ready to beat them if they didn’t work fast enough. Yet here they were, complaining. It’s true, they left their homes behind never to be revisited, but rather than seeing their future prosperity, they took an offense toward God, became bitter, and began making their list of demands. What might have happened if they had said, “God we wish you would vary the menu a bit; nevertheless our hearts are full of gratitude that you’re feeding us and we don’t have to make bricks in the hot sun anymore. It’s okay, God. We love you. And we thank You for the manna.” With this attitude, who knows what blessings God might have poured upon them.

Like the Psalmist, I look back over my life and say with conviction, If it had not been the Lord who was on my side, where would I be? I can point to specific times and situations where I realize that nothing or no one except the Lord could have saved me. David comments that men rose up against him and his people to destroy them. I have experienced this. We have all been between a rock and a hard place. We have been pressed into doubting that God really cares at all about us. We have wondered whether He really hears when we cry out to Him. Then we understand the Psalmist’s joyous exclamation: If it had not been the Lord who was on our side… When it looked like an impossible situation, God made a way of escape.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1Cor. 10:13).The word picture here is one of a strong column or pillar that holds up an overpass. In other words, God will strengthen us and uphold us that we may be able to get through the danger zone. Many of God’s people have been on the brink of ruin only to see God intervene miraculously at 11:59 and 59 seconds!

When their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive. Why? Whenever a person allows anger to build up inside, he strikes out at his target. He shoots daggers at it. I know how that feels. I’ve been that target! I could literally feel the fiery darts trying to penetrate me. I felt like I was about to drown under the circumstances. The Psalmist understood this feeling well.

The flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. The anger of our enemies, like water, poured over our lives. They were determined to destroy us, our comforts, and all that is dear to us. But remember what God has promised? When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they shall not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; and the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isa.43:2)

Did He not do this for the Israelites as they fled from Egypt? They stood with the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army coming upon them from behind. The Lord was on their side! He parted the waters so they could go across on dry land, and then He brought the waters back together to swallow up their enemies. Did He not do this for Daniel? He didn’t escape the lion’s den, but the Lord was in there with him and shut the lion’s mouth so he wasn’t harmed . (see Daniel 6). Did He not do this for Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego ?(see Daniel 3) They did not escape the furnace, but the Lord was in there with them and didn’t allow them to be burned. And most assuredly, He has done that for me! Of course, I would like to have avoided going through the waters and the fires, but with the Lord was on my side, so why should I fear what man could do to me? (Psa. 118:6)

Satan is seeking whom he may devour (1 Pe.5:8).  He is a thief and has come to steal our joy, our health, and our assurance of salvation; then he’ll kill us and totally destroy any evidence of our existence. He’s not content to just tear us to pieces; he wants us lost forever! But Blessed be the Lord who is on the side of His children. The victory, my friend, is in our soul! Paul and Silas were in prison and their feet and hands were placed in stocks so they couldn’t move. Their enemies had succeeded in stopping their bodies, but their souls were free! They had escaped the snare of the fowler. They sang praises at midnight when all was dark and looked hopeless. Yes, they sang praises! Those praises broke through the enemy’s territory, and God sent an earthquake and set Paul and Silas free. (see Acts 16). The Lord lives in our praises (Psa. 22:3).

OUR HELP IS IN THE NAME OF THE LORD

Which lord? The Lord who made heaven and earth (Psa.124:8). We may be caught in a situation where we have no helper but God. Rehearse the praises penned by so many who have been where you are. Think about His love. Think about His goodness. His Name is higher than any other. His name is Jesus! Jesus! Oh, how sweet the Name. Jesus! Name above all names. There’s healing in the Name of Jesus. There’s deliverance in the Name of Jesus. There’s victory in the Name of Jesus. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Up to now, we have stepped across many timelines from one day to the next, one week to the next, one year to the next. We remember with the Psalmist, If it had not been the Lord on our side, we would not have been able to walk across the bridge that took us from the edge of one time period to the brink of the next.

When the Israelites stood at the Jordan River and wanted to cross into Canaan Land, they could not look back to their failures. They had to let go of the past and forgive. They had to march forward to the land flowing with milk and honey. As a nation, they had missed the opportunity once, but they determined not to miss it again. The Lord said to them and their leader, Joshua, forget the past, press toward the future. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law… Be strong and of good courage; Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Josh 1:9). The Lord is on our side!

We’re at the end of a year that people have been wishing away since March., and we’re on the brink of a brand-new year. Exactly what lies ahead, no one knows, but everyone hopes Covid19 will somehow disappear from the scene.

Every day is the edge of a yesterday and the brink of a tomorrow. Every day is a day of decision and choices.

If you are not a child of God, pray now. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your heart. If you have grown weary and fainted in your Christian life, repent. Confess your weaknesses and transgressions to the Lord. Give Him your failures and disappointments, discouragements and defeats of the past. Determine to serve Him with all of your might as long as He gives you life. Follow Jesus.        Acknowledge the Holy Spirit as your helper. Be sure you are on His side. Then you will have the assurance that the Lord is on your side and you can say, Whether I live or die, I am the Lord’s I know (Rom. 14:8).

That’s victory! That’s joy! That’s real living! That gives great hope for tomorrow. That’s what I did. Now I look forward to God’s deliverance in the difficult situations of life. He’s the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He goes before me and comes behind me. Everywhere I am, He is. He is the foundation upon which I build. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith. I am the apple of His eye. I am engraved in the palm of His hand.

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Edited from The Alabaster Box Vol.11 No 01. © C. Yvonne Karl

Angels? I choose to believe, yes!

Do you believe in angels? I do. Have you ever been led by an angel? I have. Many times. Let me share a few simple stories that profoundly impact my belief in angels.

Mom and her little girl

On the way home from a Bible study when our daughter was almost three years old, I looked in the backseat to see how she was doing – and she wasn’t there! I turned all the way around and saw an open door. With all calmness, I said to the driver, “Please stop the car; Caroline has fallen out!” It was raining, and we were in the city so we weren’t going fast. I jumped out and saw Caroline hanging onto the handle of the swinging car door with her knees pulled up to her chest. She had not touched the pavement! I checked her out and we got back in the car. Then she began to cry – not because she was hurt; she didn’t have a scratch—but because her clothes were wet from the rain. Oh, I had believed in angels before, but that day I believed in angels again!.

Time Passed

Mom and her two little ones

It was a lovely fall day. I was in the middle of a seven hour drive from Detroit to West Virginia to visit my parents. My five-year old daughter was in the back seat reading her books to me. My infant son was in the car bed secured beside me on the bench seat in the front (would not be permitted today!). Suddenly the car jolted. As I pulled off to the side of the road, there was a tin-can sound banging beneath me. I was clueless. Carefully, I opened my car door, got out, and bent down to look under the car but saw nothing. As I walked around to the other side, I saw it laying a little distance behind me. I knew enough to know it was the muffler. In those days, we did not have a phone to carry with us. What to do? Pray! Father, help! Show me what to do. Immediately a driver pulled off the road in front of me. A disheveled old man looking every bit of 80+ years old, tall and lanky. At that point, he looked into my car and saw my little ones. Without question, he knew my predicament and said: “I’ll tie it up for you ma’am and follow you to the service station up the road.” My mind was saying he wasn’t strong enough to lie on the ground and scoot up under the car to make that connection, but he brought some wire from his trunk and went to work. By then his female companion, looking every bit as old as he, had come to join us and talk to me while he was scooting under the car.

I was still in disbelief, feeling so indebted to this man who was obviously older than my grandfather, and praying he wouldn’t hurt himself. It occurred to me I didn’t have any extra cash—only enough for the trip. I told this to the lady and gave her paper and pencil from my purse to write down their address (assuming they were a married couple) so I could send them some money later. She refused, saying “Oh no! He’s not doing this for money. He just sees a lady in distress and wants to help.” I begged her to at least give me the address so I could send a thank-you card later assuring her my husband would feel greatly indebted to them for stopping to help. At last, to shut me up, she scribbled down a name and address in another state.  He completed the task and told me to follow them to the gas station and the attendant would tell me what I had to do.

At the station, he simply waved good-bye and they continued on down the road. I explained to the attendant what happened and he got down under the car to check it out then allowed me to use their phone to call my husband. I told Julius what had happened and put the attendant on the phone. He reported to my husband that the muffler was secure and would hold up just fine until I got to my parents’ house. I breathed a sigh of relief, thanked him for his help (with no charge even for the telephone call), and got back on the road.

A week later when I got back to Michigan, my husband and I wrote a thank-you note and put $20 with it and mailed it to the address the lady had given me. Within a few days, the note came back to us in the mail stamped: “No such address.” We double checked the address she had given me with what I had written on the note. Correct. We looked at each other and knew immediately that those two were angels sent by God on assignment that day—and I and my little children were the targets.

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it (Heb. 13:2).

Many times we write people off because of how they look, dress, or behave. In no way did this couple give any possible hints or clues that they could be angels. I’m convinced we spiritually discern between their actual form and how they have appeared. Their true and actual form has not been fully revealed to us. Many stories have been penned—both truth and fiction—about angels. And I’m quite sure those of you who are reading this now have already recalled times where you were convinced you were helped by intervention from angels—even though perhaps unaware of it at the time. I choose to believe.

Be careful how you treat people. You just might be unaware. They might be angels disguised as people.

Time Passed

My two little ones were in the car with me as we headed a couple of miles from our house to the church where would meet dad for lunch. Just before the railroad tracks, the back, driver’s side, tire blew out. It was flat! We had no choice but to leave the car and walk the rest of the way. Only about a mile, but it was a challenge—walking on the narrow gravel shoulder along the road and across the tracks. I had to carry the one-year old while the six-year old held tightly to my hand as we sang loudly: “All night; all day. Angels watching over me, my Lord!” That day no car stopped to see if they could help, but I’m convinced that my little daughter, as well as I, were acknowledging that the angels were accompanying us to the safety of Daddy’s arms. I choose to believe.

Years Passed

Near midnight, after visiting my husband in a hospital for several hours, I left to discover a heavy snowfall and no footprints to follow. In those days there was no car alarm button on the keys. Prayer led me to find my car in the parking lot. As I cleaned the snow off the windows, I asked the Lord to get me to the exit and show me which of two routes to travel home. Right then, a little yellow Volkswagen appeared in front of me. Its tail lights were shining brightly and since there were no visible car tracks on the road, I just followed that car. It proceeded steadily at 30 MPH and led me from one highway to another for 25 miles—right to my street. There it paused momentarily while I turned and went to the second driveway—my home. I knew for a fact that the Lord had sent an “angel out before me to keep me in the way and to bring me into the place…” (Ex.20:23). I choose to believe.

My Perspective on Angels

The above stories don’t even scratch the surface of the numerous personal stories I could tell about how angels led and protected me at various times in my life—some of them even when I was seriously injured in accidents, one of which was thousands of miles away in South Africa in 1999. I lived to tell about them, and to me that is proof in itself of “ministering angels.” I choose to believe.

In South Africa with Ruth Nortje, my hostess and the one driving when we were broadsided very close to her address after she picked me up at the airport. You can see the injuries on her face. I had a broken wrist and five broken ribs. I had been invited to speak to a group of professionals. Where were my angels? My response: I was there to share some specific biblical principals so I was on holy ground … and for sure there were angels all around. Although experiencing tremendous pain when getting up and down, it did not interfere as I fulfilled my responsibilities.

 

 

Theological Incongruity?

There comes a theological argument at this point. How, when, where and to whom does God choose to send His ministering angels? Why not in every situation? Why did my wonderful Christian loved ones die in accidents? Where were the angels at that moment? I do not have the answer to these questions. It is only that I give God thanks, praise and all the glory for those times when I was aware of their presence.

What the Bible teaches us about Angels

Throughout the Bible, we read about ministering angels who lead, guide, protect and strengthen God’s people. “For He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psa.91:11). “But … the angels … are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb.1:13-14).

Jesus said, “I am the Way …” God says that the angel will keep us on the Way and bring us into a place—a place that He has prepared, a place of victory, a place of restoration, a secret place of the Most High—under the shelter of the Almighty (Psa.91:11).

Apostle Peter freed by angels

The Apostle Peter had experiences with angels. One specific account in Acts 12 tells how the angel of the Lord led him. He had been apprehended and put in jail with sixteen soldiers placed around him to keep him from escaping. In addition, he was bound with chains and there were other guards placed at the doors. Obviously, his enemies wanted to be sure that he could not escape. “The angel shall go before thee and keep thee in the way…”

Do you ever feel like you have guards all around you? Like your hands and feet are tied? You feel bound and helpless against the obstacles and circumstances in your life? Peter was in that situation; he knew he needed help and he trusted the Lord to send it. So he went to sleep!

Please note in verse five that while he was sleeping and allowing his body to be restored, the church was praying for him without ceasing. When we see a brother or sister in bondage, we need to pray until he/she is delivered.

“And behold the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison; and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, ‘Arise up quickly.’ And his chains fell off from his hands” (Acts 12:7).

The angel of the Lord showed up. The light shined on him in his bondage. The angel smote (slapped) Peter. That’s the beginning of cutting off the bondage. When it happens to you, it feels like you are being slapped around when really it is the angel of the Lord trying to get your attention. Peter obeyed the voice of the angel and got up. Immediately his chains fell off.

“Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him.” (Acts 12:8).

The angel didn’t say “Come here, and I will dress you.” No. He commanded Peter to dress himself and to follow him. And Peter did! He obeyed the voice of the angel!

Peter had spent time with Jesus and had been aware of the angels ministering to Him. I believe Jesus had taught Peter about the angels and therefore he just knew to obey. “Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.” (Acts 12:9-10).

The angel led Peter out of bondage, through two wards and through the iron gate. Iron stands for judgment and the Lord says that for iron He will give us Silver (redemption!) (Isa. 60:17) . The iron gate could not hold him; all the judgment against Peter just melted away. The angel had come to lead him out of prison. He led him into the city. I believe this is symbolic of Zion, the city of our God. And he led him right through a street—onto Praise Avenue! At that moment, the angel left because Peter knew where he was and could again go free.

Angels and Us today

I wonder how often the Lord has sent angels to lead us out of bondage and we didn’t recognize them. We just thought they were a yellow car, a unique circumstance, another person. But now we are free. We know where we are. Jesus said, “Blessed are you who believe and have not seen” (Jn. 20:29). The angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to us as an heir of salvation (Heb.1:14).

You are not fighting a battle single-handedly. There is a host of angels encamped around about those who love the Lord. Prepare for an angel of the Lord to lead you, to protect you on the way, and to bring you to a place of victory.  “All night, all day, angels watching over me, my Lord.” I choose to believe!

______________________________________________________________

The Alabaster Box, Vol 19 No 05 (2005) © C. Yvonne Karl

Reprinted in MUSINGS, December 12, 2020.

Feel free to reprint as is.

Write to me:

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

 

 

RUTH ARISTON HICKS

 

Nearly thirty-five years ago, Ruth Hicks introduced herself to me at a conference where I was speaking at Blue Water Shiloh in Ontario, Canada. A discussion ensued and I found out she was a friend of Sharon Wilson and Nola Brunelle who were on staff at our school, New Life Christian Academy. Little by little, I drew out of her that she was not only an evangelist but also an accomplished musician—both in voice and piano. That fall, we welcomed her on our Academy staff. She assisted the classroom supervisors, taught piano, directed vocal ensembles, and encouraged and inspired the staff and students every day. We were delighted to have her two grandchildren, Christina and Terri, as students.

In the summer, after three years of working in the Academy, Ruth made a tearful resignation. She was finding the days more and more tiring as her commute was long. She left home early and, especially in the winter, didn’t get back home in the evening until dark. My last visit with her was a picnic at Belle Island. We met, had lunch, and walked around the Island reminiscing about the goodness of God and her time with us. After many hugs and a tearful time of prayer, we parted–knowing the Lord had brought us together and we would always love each other.

During those three years, Ruth also attended our church and often wrote and sang a song in response to the pastor’s sermon. She was humble, but a tremendous encourager with deep spiritual roots and amazing biblical knowledge and wisdom—a truly gifted lady. Her heavenly Father called her home in 1997. 

ORDINARY PERSON (Words and Music by Ruth Hicks)

IF I HAD JUST ONE SONG TO SING (Words and Music by Ruth Hicks)

  1. If I had but one song to sing, that song would be about Jesus (repeat)

Refrain) For at that name, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (repeat)

2) If I had but one song to shout, that song would be about Jesus (repeat)

Ruth with her granddaughters and their friends at school.

Ruth’s granddaughters in Mrs. Bettega’s Kindegarten Class

A parting note

 

Ruth was truly a saint of the most high God and a treasure among us.

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

 

My Thanksgiving Reflections Outside America

THANKSGIVING IN AFRICA

A REFLECTION

By Yvonne

On Thanksgiving Day in November 2002, after teaching my three classes at the Bible College from 8am to 3pm, a taxi took me about 45 minutes across the city to join missionaries who were celebrating American Thanksgiving complete with turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie.

Although not my first time in Africa, it was my first time to celebrate Thanksgiving outside America. I was overwhelmed that day by the sight and smell of familiar food but also by the gratitude those missionaries expressed for blessings. I was thankful the missionaries were able to join together and celebrate the Thanksgiving of their homeland—one of the few days each year they had such a bountiful spread. It was a special privilege for me to be included as a member of their team and family.

That American Thanksgiving dinner at the missionary’s home was perhaps the most significant Thanksgiving I’ve celebrated in my life. They had saved up for that day. We ate at a table of plenty in the midst of a people in the village who had neither a table nor plenty. We sat on chairs whose legs rested on a tiled floor in the midst of a people who lived in huts with dirt for floors. Electricity was intermittent. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Most huts had one bare bulb hanging down in the middle of the room. Temperatures in the tropics were always hot and there was no air conditioning to ease perspiration. Termite mounds were as tall as the huts.

There was an obvious contrast to be seen between American prosperity and the lack among nearby residents, many who did not have an indoor toilet or running water. In most areas, a water pump could be found, but there was no choice of hot or cold water. Pumped water was poured into a large tub outside the hut in full view of passers by, and the children in the family were immersed and washed one after the other. For sure, in contrast to our American Thanksgiving, they had not experienced a table spread with an abundance and variety of foods from which they could eat until there was no room to take another bite. That day, the missionaries were remembering their homeland and celebrating the prosperity there.

Third world countries have struggled to empower their people across all socioeconomic groups. There are those of higher rank who live well and shop freely, yet a large percentage of their citizens live below poverty level.

On every trip to a third world country, I’ve came back to the comfort of my home in America with an overwhelming feeling of God’s mercy and provision. Why us?  I think this question was answered several years ago by a visiting teacher from Nigeria. When asked what made him want to come to the USA, he responded:

I read about America and their God and how He was blessing them. The more I read, the more I determined to come to America and meet their God. I thought perhaps I could convince Him to come back to Africa with me and prosper my country.

Those of us in America would do well to ponder the Nigerian brother’s words.

In all due respect, neither the United States or any other country can lay claim to “thanksgiving.” Verses are scattered throughout the bible reminding us to be thankful, to come to God with thanksgiving in our hearts, to give thanks for all of His wonderful gifts. Whether poor or rich with wealth, whether sick or ill in health, our hearts should be full of thanksgiving to our God for giving His Son with thanksgiving so that we might have life abundantly here and now: A life that carries us into life eternally with no distinctions between us and any other of His children who inherit eternal life.

Reflect on His grace and mercy and express thanksgiving to Him! Here are a few scriptures to fuel our thanksgiving:

With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord. –Ezra 3:11

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.Psa. 69:30

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. -Psa. 95:2

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. –Psa.100:4

From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. –Jer. 30:19

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. – 2 Cor. 4:15

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. -2 Cor. 9:11

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  –Eph.5:4

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. –Phil.4:6

 

 

 

 

 

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* https://tinyurl.com/ybzru34u

 

 

 

 

(c) C. Yvonne Karl, Reprinted 11/14/19 from The Alabaster Box, Vol. 25 No. 11.

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

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

 

Celebrate Halloween?

Halloween    Hallow (holy) een  (Evening)

Halloween is undoubtedly more misunderstood than any other holiday event. Is it hocus-pocus superstition or truly Christian focused? It can appear to be nothing more than a pagan event dreamed up by some deviant opportunist and/or candy and costume manufacturer, but All Hallows Eve was actually intended to be a righteous opportunity purposed in history past to commemorate old saints. 

 Halloween, which comes from the word All Hallows Eve is tied directly to All Saints Day celebrated on November 1 of each year to commemorate the old saints who have past on. These “saints” were heroes and martyrs for the Christian Faith.

Christian Halloween – The Pros and Cons. We understand that much of Halloween has manipulated and “tricked” by the secular pagan world and much of what happens on Halloween is far from spiritual. In fact, some of the Halloween traditions have pagan origins.

The Bible doesn’t speak directly about Halloween, but some biblical principles apply. One thing is clear — all pagan practices are to be avoided. Witchcraft, occult practices, sorcery, etc. are strictly forbidding in the Bible (Exodus 22:18; Acts 8:9-24; Acts 16, 19).

It is obvious that a small child dressing up as a princess or a cowboy isn’t involving themselves with witchcraft, so what is a biblical stance on Halloween?

Parents, the decision is up to you. If you decide Halloween is something fun for your children, make sure they are kept far away from the evil aspects of Halloween. When believers participate in anything (even Halloween), their attitudes, dress, and behavior should glorify Christ (Philippians 1:27). That’s why it’s great when churches have special harvest festivals, trunk or treat. and other alternate ways to celebrate Halloween to provide an alternative for the cultural trick or treat with witchcraft and other death and demonic symbols.

Christian Halloween? – Take Advantage!

  • Halloween can be a “hands on” learning opportunity about God’s control over Satan and the fallen angels. God keeps them held powerless according to His will. Christian Halloween and All Saints Day come together in purposeful unity as the one protects and covers the other. It is a time for the Gospel to devour the ghouls.

Like Halloween, other religious holidays have also been secularized. For example, Christmas should be centered around the “Christ Mass” or the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, but these days Santa Claus is more worshipped than Jesus. While there’s nothing wrong with Santa Claus—in fact, his history has religious significance—but the main focus of Christmas should be JESUS.

Easter also has been hijacked. Instead of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, more emphasis these days is placed on the Easter Bunny and easter eggs which are not related to either.

So let’s keep our priorities straight, and be sure our children understand the differences between the Christian and cultic customs.

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

The Alabaster Box 1990

 

 

 

MFC 30th Anniversary Cruise – March 2007

Click below for itinerary and photos.

2007MFCCruise.pdf2

 

Also see MFC Eleven Week Revival – https://wp.me/p1buYw-iM

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!

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

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Julius E. Karl’s Life in Photos

Click here to see Julius’ life in photos

Julius E. Karl – His Life from birth to marriage – https://wp.me/p1buYw-dl

Julius E. Karl – His education and degrees (see below)

Julius served an apprenticeship in cabinet-making before leaving Germany. With that training, he assisted with building homes for relatives in Canada then did various construction projects in Indiana to help fund his education. After marriage, he built a house for his family while he and Yvonne were teaching for 2 yrs in Louisville, Ky. (1974-1976).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His accomplishments on earth were many, but like Apostle Paul he would say: “I rely on what Christ Jesus has done for me. I put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could… I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (From Philippians 3 NLT)

 

 

 

 

 

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