Acting on Acts … Ride on a Cloud!

Flag and a cross

Our reading through the bible with Good Morning Girls kicks off the fall season in the book of Acts today. Acts is the story of the church, when it began and struggles the early Christians faced.  In reading this book, what can I read that would be a call to action?  What was the first verse that really spoke to me?  Was I influenced because we just had a three week sermon series on Resurrection? Possibly, in chapter 1:9 I read “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on,  t he was lifted up, and  u a cloud took him out of their sight.”  This was after Jesus resurrection from the tomb, after he spent 40 more days on earth in his resurrected body.  So what can I glean from this?

As I continue my hunt for old testament pictures of Jesus, did I expect to find it here in the first chapter of the book of Acts?  No, but I did!  God brought Jesus up on a cloud.  So what does that picture say to me? It brings me back to the Old Testament. In Isaiah 14:14
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ –  Is this a fulfillment of prophecy? More research on it to be done, but it  was Lucifer saying he would make himself “like”… but only Jesus ascended above the heights of the clouds to be with the Father, from earth on a cloud that would take him even higher than the clouds!
I also thought about the pillar of cloud and what it represented in the scriptures.  That pillar of cloud showed the people that God was with them, it showed them he was leading them and they could trust him and follow.  So I look at God’s lifting Jesus up on the cloud, Jesus is God and he had been present on earth living among the people. I see Jesus pictured in that pillar of cloud in that way.  Jesus leads people to God ~ I love this Old Testament picture even more now that I consider it through the first chapter of Acts!

So what else did that cloud do for the people of Israel? It brought them to a place of worship (Ex 33:10) and it caused nations to talk about God (Nu 14:14).  Christians all over the world worship Jesus for who he is and for what he has done for them.

Just before crossing the red sea the pillar of cloud separated the people of God and the people against God (Exodus 14:19-20).  Jesus separates God’s children from children of the world.  In the first chapter of John we are told this…   The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  The right to become children of God, available to all people, given to those who receive him and believe in his name. Jesus is the separation, in John 14:6 Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  The right to become children of God, available to all people, given to those who receive him and believe in his name. 

… JESUS now lifted back to the Father on a cloud… the same things that were done by the pillar of cloud for the Jewish people through out their journey home, I see now in this picture of Jesus going up on the cloud to be with God.

Look forward, look at what Paul wrote in his letter to the  Thessalonians “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”1 Thes. 4:17
For the Christian that hope of eternity is the hope that keeps us in peace through anything the devil throws at us! Hope, peace, joy… in Jesus!

I then thought about Elijah on the cloud, and the song by Robin Mark “These are the days of Elijah”, a song I love, but now has new meaning for me because of The story behind These are the Days of Elijah; after reading this, watch our Marines singing Days of Elijah!

These are Elijah Days, God is here, he is in control, we can bring new life to the hurting. We have the message of salvation, we have the love of Jesus, we can share the message and share his love.  On this Labor Day, be thankful for those who serve and labor for us, celebrate that as you consider ways to serve others.

Living Sacrifice

relaxing with a cup of cocoa

I have just completed reading the book of Matthew, fresh in my mind is the Lord’s last days.  The sacrifice he made for me, the sacrifice he made for you.  Now I begin the book of Leviticus… not knowing what to expect… how will it speak to me, a book of laws that the Jewish people would not be able to full fill completely? Chapters one and two showed me Jesus! Pure, loving and perfect.

God was very specific in how sacrifice was to be made, whether it be a blood sacrifice or a grain offering.  It was to be pure and perfect.. Jesus was that!  It of course then would be held as important to the one offering it… Jesus again! In these chapters of Leviticus, the offerings made would be a sweet aroma to the LORD.

Jesus’ sacrifice was an atonement for our sins, it was to restore a right relationship between God and us.  In all of our shortcomings, Jesus pain, suffering and crucifixion  was an act of love for us, a gift of grace.  So, I think about this all, and focus on that gift…

With all the things going on in our day to day lives, we can get distracted from his grace.   Sacrifice ~ made for me ~ love ~ grace.  The Old Testament can seem old, just as it is called.  But it is filled with pictures from what is new!  As a new Christian, one of the first verses on my own I committed to memory was Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ESV

I am reading through the bible with Good Morning Girls. (http://womenlivingwell.org/2015/04/introduction-to-leviticus-resources-chapters-1-5/) We are being guided to look at Leviticus as a book of Worship… I looked at that verse I memorized so many years ago and wanted to see it in a fresh new light… so on to more modern translations I turn.  I love that we can see the word in so many different versions!  Here, The Message puts it so clearly,

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

This also goes along with what our message was about on Sunday in King Solomon’s life.  Things around us can pull us away slowly, gradually. The key words I took from that was “start well ~ finish well”.   When we Focus on Grace,  keep our attention on God, he brings out our best!  Our best attitudes, our best character, it gives us gratitude for what he has done for us and given us.  It helps us to look at all things around us, things going on in our lives that may seem like interruptions, and see them as opportunities! It will help us to finish well!  I hope to live my everyday, ordinary life for Him, as a living sacrifice.  As I do that, I have peace and joy because of his mercies and grace.

Whatever season you are in, God is on the throne!  He is able, he is faithful.  Focus on His Grace and live in gratitude. Pace your live before him!

  

Rich History of the Past

If you have not figured this out yet, I do keep telling myself I want to be more consistent with posting, but it hasn’t worked.  Winter in the northeast has not been kind during this past month and they are telling us we can expect another storm this weekend.  So be it, if it does come, it will be good to stay in and do some reading!

The reading plan I have been going through with Good Morning Girls has had us in Exodus.  I am a bit behind because I keep going back to what I thought I finished.  There is such rich history, and I have been in God’s instructions to Moses after leaving Egypt.
The Tabernacle, I used this picture on Sunday. It was my turn for Communion meditation. I used this song by Kutless to set the focus… 
The hight priest was only allowed to enter the holy of holies one day a year. He was the only one allowed that one day, and it gave him a time of exclusive fellowship.  He entered into a place filled with all of the glory of God, bringing a blood offering for the sins of the people. The thing is, what he did had to be done over and over, every year. The offering of blood covered over the sins of the Israelites, but was never enough!
The Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant; inside the Ark were items representing sins of the people. Things to remind them of their need for forgiveness, their ugliness, their rebellion against God.  God didn’t stop there though, his instructions continued that the ark be covered with pure refined gold, lovely and perfect.  This covering was called the mercy seat or the atonement covering.  So,while the interior represented the sinfulness of man, the covering represented a place of forgiveness, mercy and redemption.  The ugly sin inside the Ark is not what the priest saw when he entered, he saw the pure and lovely, beautiful gold.

Jesus blood covers us with mercy and grace.  When we come into the presence of God, he sees not the ugly inside of our hearts or the rebellious attitudes we hold on to. He sees us pure, and clean, and lovely, covered with the blood of Jesus.  The Ark of the covenant, a beautiful picture in history showing what would be to come, showing Jesus the Messiah, the one who would free the people of their sins once and for all.  Jesus frees, the law condemns.  There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!

What a plan God had for us! You can read in Exodus 26 the detail God laid out for the tabernacle, even detail in the curtains alone separating the ark from the priest. This was all done so that on that one day he could rip the veil in two, eliminating the separation, giving us direct access to him… not on one day a year, not one day a week, not only when we meet around his table, but every day and any time we choose. What a joy to be able to call God my Father… to be able to call out Abba, Father (Daddy, Daddy!).

In the Old Testament here is so much to treasure! I love seeing reflections of the New in the Old, this is rich! We are richly blessed indeed!

Thank you Lord for providing this path for us to choose. Thank you for setting up everything so precisely. Thank you for your grace and mercy over me. Thank you for not seeing the ugly in me but for seeing me pure and refined through Jesus. As we are entering the season that we celebrate the victory he has over satan, we remember the suffering and pain Lord Jesus that you experienced because of how much love for me you have. May I live a life worthy!

Additional reading :

  • Exodus 24 – 27
  • Hebrews 9-10

If you enjoy meditating on music, this version of Take Me in is a long version, but worth it! 

Determination

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“GAZE AT ME; GLANCE AT PROBLEMS—THIS IS the secret of living victoriously.   Your tendency is to gaze at problems for prolonged periods of time, glancing at Me for help… I have called you to live supernaturally, and I have empowered you to do so…  Invite Him (the Holy Spirit) to alert you whenever you get overly focused on problems so you can redirect your attention to Me.”  From the daily devotional by Sarah Young, Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence.

This little devotional is speaking to me this year.   I am currently working through several different studies and reading plans,  one of them being the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study Made to Crave.  Last week the word was #EMPOWERED, this week’s is #DETERMINATION.   I have found one short devotion confirming both to me. Choosing a healthy lifestyle with healthy food choices, choosing to crave God instead of food;  how perfectly this ties it together!

In the Made to Crave study, we were encouraged to use a craving as a prompt to pray.  In doing that I achieve VICTORY!   Rather than letting a craving control me, my thoughts will go to prayer, therefore setting my sights to gaze on Jesus.

Gaze at Jesus, not just glance, but gaze.  Wow!  Think of driving up the top of a mountain, seeing a rest stop and pulling over to admire the view, or looking over another amazing part of creation, such as the Grande Canyon or Niagara Falls.  That is gazing, with wonder and amazement, looking out and wondering how anyone could not believe in a creator at such a sight.   I am sure you know the feeling.

Gaze at Jesus, how much love he had for us to walk the road he walked.  The pain he suffered, the death he died, he died so you and I could live free! He claimed victory when he rose to live again.

I know that we can live victoriously through Christ as we allow him to lead and direct us.  Our thoughts and our actions, day-to-day, are directed by him.  We make a choice in allowing his direction to guide us or not. Determination is, or is not, in the choices we make.  I am determined this year to focus on my Savior and doing what is pleasing to him.

~Day- to-day, in every way, choose to let Jesus lead~

~Set your gaze on him~

Winter Study Good morning girls

Winter Study Good morning girls

If you are looking for an online Bible study, I always am blessed by the Good Morning Girls studies.

January is a time for fresh new starts, new goals, new dreams.  Why not start with a new study.  This can be your daily devotional time, a time to reflect and grow in your walk.  If you enroll and want to join a Face Book Group, I am a part of one and will be happy to connect you.

There are different areas in my life that I want to be intentionally focused on, how about you?

God Bless and have a wonderful day.

FOCUS ON BLESSING, YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF BLESSED