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In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith. “The clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3). They are a sign that God is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow, bereavement, and suffering are actually the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near us without clouds— He does not come in clear-shining brightness.
It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child— a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows. Until other people become shadows to us, clouds and darkness will be ours every once in a while. Is our relationship with God becoming more simple than it has ever been?
There is a connection between the strange providential circumstances allowed by God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.
“. . . they were fearful as they entered the cloud” (Luke 9:34). Is there anyone except Jesus in your cloud? If so, it will only get darker until you get to the place where there is “no one anymore, but only Jesus . . .” (Mark 9:8 ; also see Mark 2:7).
“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”Ecclesiastes 1:14
Baseball fans will always remember the 2007 season—an interesting summer of baseball to say the least! Tom Glavine joined the elite club of pitchers who have won 300 games, the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th home run, and Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s record for most home runs in Major League history.
I’ve been a baseball fan since I was a boy. Growing up near New York City, I was a Yankee fan when Yogi Berra was behind the plate, Whitey Ford was on the mound, Moose Skowron was on first, and my hero Mickey Mantle was in center field. Through the years I’ve taken great delight in telling anyone who would listen that I was at the game when Mickey Mantle wowed all of baseball by hitting the ball out of Yankee Stadium—a hefty swing that hasn’t been repeated to this day!
What I find interesting is that telling that story now has lost some of its impact. Years have passed, and no one seems to care how far Mantle could hit the ball. The passing of time has a way of making what was once significant no longer all that significant. As Barry Bonds will someday find out, the passing of time will crown someone else Home Run King and Bonds’ achievement will be mere history.
In his class-act speech played on the giant screen in center field the night Bonds broke the record, Hank Aaron said, “Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball, and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement.”
So here’s the sobering lesson. No matter how important your accomplishments are now and how much applause they generate, time will eventually erase the headlines of your life. Ultimately, all that will be left is your name and dates on a seldom-visited tombstone.
Unless, that is, you live your life to do something of significance for eternity. Like the preacher says, “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last!” So here are some suggestions for living a life that counts forever.
|JULY 29, 2014From: Crosswalk
Overcoming the Need to Please Disease
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” Proverbs 29:25 (ESV)
Hello, my name is Lysa and I want people to like me. So, I will sometimes say yes when I really want to say no. And when I do say no, I sometimes worry about how much I’m disappointing that person.
I would much rather write this in past tense. Like, “I used to struggle with this, but I’ve matured past it. So, let me share how I bravely say no and never fret over that decision.”
But this isn’t a past-tense issue in my life.
No matter how I want to spin what this is, I have to be honest. I was born with the Need to Please Disease.
My heart races. I feel sick to my stomach. And I wish I could become invisible when someone requests something from me that I know is unrealistic right off the bat. My head says no, but my mouth says yes, and before I know it, I’ve just added another item to my already overflowing to-do list.
It’s part of my DNA to love others and not disappoint them. But I have to realize real love is honest. Real love pursues authenticity rather than chasing acceptance.
We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.
So here’s how I’m challenging myself to overcome the Need to Please Disease by making peace with these realities:
I am going to disappoint someone.
Every “yes” will cost me something. Every “no” carries with it the potential for disappointment.
Either I will disappoint this person by not meeting their expectations, or I will disappoint my familyby taking too much time from them. Do I wish I could say yes to everything and still keep my sanity? Yes! But I can’t. So here’s how I will say no:
“Thank you for asking me. My heart says yes, yes, yes — but the reality of my time says no.”
A good verse for this is our key verse today, Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe” (ESV).
I must pause before giving immediate answers.
Sometimes it might be realistic for me to say yes, but I’ve learned to let my yes sit for a spell. Pausing allows me to assess how much stress this will add into my life. The person asking me for this favor probably won’t be on the receiving end of my stress. It’s the people I love the most who will start getting my worst when I say yes to too many people.
So, here’s how I will give myself time to make an honest assessment:
“Thank you for asking me. Let me check my calendar and think through some other commitments I’ve already made. If you haven’t heard back from me by the end of the week, please connect with me again.”
A good verse for this is Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come” (NIV, 1984). What this says to me is we don’t set our hearts up to dread what lies ahead.
Some people won’t like me.
In an effort to keep my life balanced, I will have to say no to many things. If someone stops liking me for saying no, they’ll eventually stop liking me even if I say yes right now.
There are some people I won’t please no matter how much I give. And some people won’t stop liking me no matter how many “no” answers I give. My true friends are in that second group, and I love them for that.
Here’s a great verse for this: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” Galatians 1:10 (ESV).
I challenge you to pause this week when asked to add something new to your plate. And remember … pursue authenticity by being honest rather than chasing acceptance by always saying yes.
Streams In The Desert
Hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the day of trouble? (Job 38:22-23).
Our trials are great opportunities. Too often we look on them as great obstacles. It would be a haven of rest and an inspiration of unspeakable power if each of us would henceforth recognize every difficult situation as one of God’s chosen ways of proving to us His love and look around for the signals of His glorious manifestations; then, indeed, would every cloud become a rainbow, and every mountain a path of ascension and a scene of transfiguration.
If we will look back upon the past, many of us will find that the very time our Heavenly Father has chosen to do the kindest things for us, and given us the richest blessings, has been the time we were strained and shut in on every side.
God’s jewels are often sent us in rough packages and by dark liveried servants, but within we find the very treasures of the King’s palace and the Bridegroom’s love.
–A. B. Simpson
Trust Him in the dark, honor Him with unwavering confidence even in the midst of mysterious dispensations, and the recompense of such faith will be like the moulting of the eagle’s plumes, which was said to give them a new lease of youth and strength.
–J. R. Macduff
If we could see beyond today
As God can see;
If all the clouds should roll away,
The shadows flee;
O’er present griefs we would not fret.
Each sorrow we would soon forget,
For many joys are waiting yet
For you and me.
If we could know beyond today
As God doth know,
Why dearest treasures pass away
And tears must flow;
And why the darkness leads to light,
Why dreary paths will soon grow bright;
Some day life’s wrongs will be made right,
Faith tells us so.
“If we could see, if we could know,”
We often say,
But God in love a veil doth throw
Across our way;
We cannot see what lies before,
And so we cling to Him the more,
He leads us till this life is o’er;
Trust and obey.