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.

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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! 

Pondering the Psalms

It is the time of year we are all busy in our preparations for Christmas.  Shopping to be done, decorating to be finished, cookies to be baked… yes busy, busy, busy!

Oh, but in our reading through the bible we are in Psalms this month.  I am seeing David, a servant of God.  Imperfect, like all of us and so many before him.  But, he gives his praise and worship to God.  God is the creator of the universe, he is seated high in the heavens.  David talks of humility and being righteousness, the fact that we are crowned with glory and honor.  He talks of the pride of the wicked but finishes off Psalm 10 with this reminder…”The Lord is king forever and ever

Pondering the Psalms…at Christmas.  Most would choose to read about the prophesies or the life of Christ.  We celebrate the birth this month, the birth of the King of Kings, the Lord who is king forever and ever.  No matter what we see happening in this world we live in, Jesus came here in complete and utter humility.  A baby is completely dependent for life.  Dependent on the love and nurturing for nourishment, protection, provision. Jesus showed us what humility is.

We are to be humble before God.  Let us not get lost in all the glitter and glitz of the season.  Let us not forget that the reason we celebrate is because God loved us so much he sent his son to suffer and die in our place so we might have a relationship with God the Father.  What a savior we celebrate!  Grace ~ the gift sent from above into a stable so many years ago, born that we might have life!

Blogging through the bible…For Such A Time As This

Esther 1 Esther 3 Esther 4
I love the book of Esther…having completed an in depth study with Beth Moore less than a year ago, I was entering this study looking at the first 10 days rather light heartily. Certainly, I would remember what I learned last year.  Instead, the Lord showed me that every time is fresh and new, like looking out the window and seeing the snow that blanketed the ground overnight. Seeing a view like that is fresh and new, even if you are not looking forward to going out in it or driving in it, you still love and appreciate it’s beauty.


I see Esther, poor in spirit, humble and obedient. I see Mordecai, gently leading and guiding her, standing firm on what God has taught him. I see the pride of the King and Haman…now we go on to the rest of the story… focusing on what is good and how we can apply this story of the orphaned little girl whom God used in a mighty way. We all have our story, we all can be used by God, we all have the power to influence people. May God bless you all on this journey!

So, now, having read half of the book of Esther, new nuggets are coming out at me.  From chapter 1, I am reminded that my Lord, King Jesus, freely offers forgiveness and grace!  I have an inheritance with the Father that cannot be repealed as Queen Vashti’s was by her earthly King.  My inheritance is set; it cannot be given away to someone else. Through his eyes of  love God sees his children as perfect and complete, none better than another.  Reading this reinforces in my mind the desire to do my best, for him, in whatever I do.  He gave his best for me.

The King may have exchanged Vashti for Esther, but, God had a plan for Ester’s life and for his people.  He was preparing the way for that to come to pass. God’s fingerprints cover the book of Esther, even though his name may not be mentioned.  

Pride, what do we know about it from bible?  We have all heard the famous verse, “Pride comes before the fall”.  Well, think about those words, the fall of Adam and Eve came about from pride. Pride seems to be at the root of most sin.  We see in Esther great pride of Haman and also of the King Ahasuerus.  Haman’s pride was so great he ordered every Jew be killed and even after that was ordered he became filled with wrath against Mordecai for not bowing down and trembling before him.  Oh, my, Haman, if he only knew the gallows he was having built would be used for his own death and all the mighty honor he was having the king give would not be going to him, but to Mordecai.  

The drama continues in the book of Esther, like a play of drama, pride, passion, rising and falling.  The story encompasses it all!  The story, of the little orphan girl, the girl who’s course was set for the purpose of saving the lives of the people of her heritage in her kingdom.  We know the end of her story.  God wrote it perfectly.  

She allowed it to be carried out because of her pure heart and her respect for her adopted father, Mordecai.  Her obedience to his leading in her life put her in the proper place for such a time as this.  Our obedience and respect for our Father will put us in place for his story of our lives to be perfectly cast and acted out…we are now living in our for such a time as this. How we respond is up to us.    

 Have a listen to Mandisa’s song about Esther

 

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