My Smog & God’s Cloud

Burning Sugarcane in Maui

This morning as I was driving down the mountain I saw a familiar scene, but something was different. Fields of sugarcane were being burned; and the heat of the smoke was actually pushing away the beautiful white clouds that were being formed around the west Maui mountains. Brown, smog-like haze was beginning to overtake the white clouds. And I thought to myself, “I wonder how many times God has wanted to come down and hover over my life with His presence, but I have such a carnal smoke cloud burning that it pushes Him back.” But I came across a scripture that gives the believer courage in times of struggle.

“Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way they should go.” [Neh. 9:19]

Here, God’s Word is saying that even when the children of Israel were creating the “smog of self-centeredness”, (#1.) They weren’t forsaken by God. And (#2.) The cloud did not depart from them! Just when you think you’re at your worst, and that God is “holding His nose” to your “fires of sin”, He stays with you, showing you mercy, and gives you a real hope that you’re still His, and that He’s not going to leave.

No matter where you’re at today – you may feel like a failure, or that you’ve worn-out your welcome at the altar of God by your multitude of transgressions, but God Word is true! You cannot chase Him away from you. Your “smog” is no match for His “cloud”. He saved you, He changed you, He’s got a vested interest in holding on to you! Think about it, He’s invested too much in you to, somehow, let you go now. No! He’s drawing near to you, and causing His presence to blow away all the carnal pollution that you’ve been spreading in your life. He’s letting you know that, the change you’re seeking is right around the corner, and that you’re new beginning can start today!

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The Unexpected Visit

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him.

It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it one side of the hearth, all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon.”

(via: Pastor David Sumrall, of Cathedral of Praise)

Man Accuses Doctor of Stapling Buttocks Shut

[And you thought you had problems…] Maryland – Arguments began Monday in a federal lawsuit alleging that a Maryland doctor stapled a man’s rectum shut during an operation, rendering him unable to move his bowels for 17 days, the Baltimore Examiner reported.
Ronald Watkins, 64, of West Virginia, has accused Dr. Manuel Casiano, a doctor in Frederick County, Maryland for botching a September 2004 surgery that left him with permanent bowel problems, according to the report.

The Cleansing Sea

I just love the Sea. In the early 90’s I lived in Maui and the ocean has such a calming and cleansing effect on the human spirit. Whether you surf, swim, or just stare at it – the Sea is the place to be.

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Chron. 1-4

“He (Solomon) made a Sea–an immense round basin of cast metal fifteen feet in diameter, seven and a half feet high, and forty-five feet in circumference. Just under the rim, there were two parallel bands of something like bulls, ten to each foot and a half. The figures were cast in one piece with the Sea. The Sea was set on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east. All the bulls faced outward and supported the Sea on their hindquarters. The Sea was three inches thick and flared at the rim like a cup, or a lily. It held about 18,000 gallons.” 2 Chron. 4:2-5 MSG


This “Sea” must have been a sight to see! It was so huge they actually called it a “sea”. The main purpose for this Sea was for the priests to cleanse themselves ceremoniously before they ministered. I wonder what people thought about the Sea as they saw it. I’m sure some thought, “What a Sea of Sin! All those sins are just floating there!” But I’m sure others saw it differently, “What an incredible Sea of Mercy! Wow, they just get in there and they’re cleansed and set free!” Matthew Henry says that this “Sea” was right in front of the Temple, as if it were right at the front door of the Church. It made me think how that many today see Church. Some see it as a place of hypocrites that they avoid like the Bubonic Plague. Others though see the Church as a place of mercy, a place to be cleaned and set free. But as Christians, (and especially as Pastors), we are to be those who are daily being washed in the Blood of Jesus and cleansed in the water of the Word of God.

There were also these 12 bulls that were actually built-in to this sea – three facing in each direction. I see these bulls representing the 11 disciples (and the 12th – in my opinion is the Apostle Paul), who were send out by the Lord Jesus…

Matt 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. NKJV

And in the same way Jesus has commission us to bring cleansing to everyone in the whole world. And not only that, but we are to be so joined and melted together in a lifestyle of purity. When the world sees us they ought to see the beauty of holiness (Ps. 29:2). It’s not a contrived self-righteousness that is “holier than thou”, but it’s supernaturally natural because we are so connected to the life of God, which is holiness and purity of heart.

Are you really in the Sea of Mercy? Are you an authentic representative of Jesus Christ? Or is your life dirty and impure? As people see your life and think about God, Jesus, the Church, are they thinking, “Yeah right, just another hypocrite. No thanks”, or are they attracted by what you have and seem to represent? Wherever you’re at today there is a Sea of Mercy for you. The Lord wants you to jump in and be cleansed and refreshed in it. It’s open to anyone who wants to get in.

Micah 7:19 says, “And compassion is on its way to us. You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing. You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean” MSG.

Let the Lord sink your sins today. You’ll never be the same!

Around the World in 3 Verses

Stuck in Church?“Lord, please don’t send me to Africa!” is the prayer of many Christians today. But maybe that prayer is twisted for a reason. Could it be that we’re not seeing something?

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 67-68

SCRIPTURE

Psalm 67:1-3 “O God, in mercy bless us; let your face beam with joy as you look down at us. 2 Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind. 3 How everyone throughout the earth will praise the Lord!” TLB

OBSERVATION
1. MERCY: Mercy Comes First. God is always the initiator, and man is the respondent. What a wonderful thing Mercy is! When we ought to be judged, God has mercy!

2. SHINE: Then God’s Face Shines Upon Us. No mention here of us doing anything to make God happy. And yet when we receive His Mercy it thrills the heart of God. No longer is there any barrier. Now we have wide-open fellowship and communion with God.

3. EVANGELISM: The Right Response. Here the Psalmist is so overwhelmed with the Mercy and the shinning Face of God that he says, “Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind!” This is God’s desire. It’s not something we have to conjure up. It’s not that we’ll have a world-wide ministry, but it’s the natural prayer of someone who has experienced God’s Love. How can we not want everyone to know this great Mercy and Love?

APPLICATION
Barriers, walls, sins, strongholds, transgressions, anger and resentment – this is why we need Mercy. Until we humble ourselves and ask for Mercy we won’t get past any of it. But as we do – anything is possible with God smiling over your life! If I don’t have this burning heart for world evangelism and Missions could it be that I haven’t experienced Mercy? Could it be that God isn’t pleased with me? I want to take some time to really pray about my heart today. Because deep down I really want everyone to hear the Gospel, but I am willing to pray that God would literally send me around the world to do it? What kind of sacrifice are we talking about here?

PRAYER
“Lord, how I desire to pray like the Psalmist. But my heart needs Mercy. My heart needs You. Please have Mercy on me this morning. Let my heart burn with a day-by-day passion to see the Gospel declared in all the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”