Presence of God
C. S. Lewis
Being sheltered by God while on house arrest is the perfect cloud of love anyone could imagine. He is my source of joy and peace while serving this sentence. My wife and I are in love with the fact that He is grooming us while in this storm of being stripped of independence and pride. To get time to study and be ushered into His presence while doing it is an awesome experience.
NTRODUCTION: “Clouds” are mentioned several times in the Scripture. They are closely identified with God.
Isaiah 19:1 – “Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt:”
Rev. 14:14 – “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.”
Can you name some instances where God uses a “cloud” in Scripture?
• To guide the Children of Israel through the wilderness.
• God spoke to Moses in a cloud on Mt Sinai.
• God appeared to Aaron on the Day of Atonement, at the Mercy Seat, in a cloud.
• The glory of the Lord left the Temple in Jerusalem, in a cloud.
• When Elijah predicted rain, his servant saw a cloud the size of a man’s hand.
• God spoke in a cloud at the transfiguration of Jesus.
• Jesus ascended in a cloud.
• We will be caught up in the clouds at the Rapture.
TONIGHT, I want us to take a look at several instances where God used a “cloud”.
1. – Genesis 9:13-14 – God teaches us about His PROMISES.
The RAINBOW is one of God’s covenant signs to the world … THAT … there will never be another flood like that one. It’s a PROMISE from God. It had never rained before the flood (Genesis 2:5-6). When God caused the great flood, He caused it to rain for 40 days & 40 nights. Can you imagine what Noah must have done, when he finally got off the ark, and saw a dark cloud in the sky? He might have run back to the ark … UNTIL … he remembered God’s promise … the RAINBOW.
MAYBE … there are some dark clouds in your life. Remember the cartoon character who always had a black cloud following him everywhere?
We often sing the song:
“Tho clouds may gather in the sky, and billows round me roll;
However dark the world may be, I’ve sunlight in my soul.”
We need to look BEYOND the dark clouds to the RAINBOW that God always has for us. There can’t be a rainbow, without clouds! You’ve heard the old saying, “Beyond every cloud there’s a silver lining.” While that may not be true, there’s always a RAINBOW of God’s presence beyond every dark cloud.
Dark clouds may be brought over our life by God – 9:14. When they come, they are there so we can see the RAINBOW of His grace and glory. There is no dark cloud without a RAINBOW of promise. Dark clouds always mean showers of blessing. Romans 4:21 – “And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”
2.- Exodus 13:21-22 – God teaches us about His GUIDANCE.
Where the cloud went, Israel went. When it moved, they moved … when it stopped, they stopped. God used the CLOUD to guide them through the wilderness. They didn’t have a road map, roads or a guide … they had a CLOUD. They didn’t need to stop and ask for directions (Moses was a man … he wouldn’t have anyhow!).
The cloud didn’t go faster than they could follow … BUT … they had to keep up with the cloud. They could see it … it didn’t go away … it was always there.
IN LIKE MANNER … we walk by FAITH, not by SIGHT. We can’t SEE the cloud … BUT … we still have a Guide thorough the wilderness of our life. We need to keep our eyes on Him. He will never lead you astray.
3.- Exodus 14:19-20 – God teaches us about His PROTECTION.
NOW … the cloud goes behind the children of Israel. They didn’t need to be guided across the Red Sea … it has opened up for them. What they needed was a GUARD at their rear … BECAUSE … the Egyptian army was closing in on them. The cloud became a partition between them and their enemy.
God stands in the clouds, as a partition between you and your enemy, the Devil. Psalm 34:7 – “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
4.- Exodus 16:10-12 – God teaches us His PROVISION.
God had guided them, and protected them thus far … Would He NOW, not PROVIDE for them?
God continues to provide for us, His children. He provides for us ABUNDANTLY:
• Abundant Life – John 10:10 – “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
• Abundant Power – Ephes. 3:20 – “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”
• Abundant Supply – Philip. 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
When Israel looked at the clouds, it reminded them of God’s presence … His guidance … His protection … His provision. Will God do any less for us? My, how God has provided for you & me.
• Have you missed a meal in the last couple of days?
• What kind of a vehicle did you drive up in?
• Did you walk in, or did they have to carry you in here tonight?
• If you were to die before 8:30 PM, would you spend eternity in Heaven?
God provides … AMEN? What are we to think about God’s provision? 16:12b. We are to realize that God is our provider.
5.- Exodus 24:15-18 – God teaches us about His GLORIFICATION.
Moses goes up into Mt. Sinai to receive God’s law – 24:12. God once again manifests Himself in the form of a cloud. Can you just picture it? – 24:17. What a privilege it must have been to see this cloud, and hear the voice of God … and see His glory.
Can we see the glory of God today? (ASK) HOW? By looking in a mirror. Turn to 2 Corinthians 3:18.
You & I are to REFLECT the glory of God. If we aren’t, it’s not because there’s anything wrong with God’s glory. It’s because, there’s something wrong with the REFLECTORS. Maybe we’re like dirty mirrors, who distort the image of His true glory.
How can we reflect the glory of God?
• By Good Works – Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
• By Bearing Fruit – John 15:8 – “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”
• By Consecration – 1 Cor. 6:20 – “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
The glory of God should be reflected in each one of us. We should be constantly “being changed” into a clear reflection of the image of the glory of God. “from glory to glory” means a PROGRESSION in Spiritual growth … from a carnal Christian to a Spiritual Christian.
6. Exodus 40:33b-38 – God teaches us about His PRESENCE.
The manifestation of God filled the tabernacle in a cloud. As Christians, we are also filled with the Holy Spirit of God. We are His “temple” … the dwelling place of God. It is because of His filling and His fullness and His presence that we can have strength and victory in the Christian life.
They saw the cloud of the presence of God every day. This should be true in our lives as well. The Holy Spirit lives within us … indwells us. We should experience His presence continually.
7.- Acts 1:9 – God teaches us about His COMING AGAIN.
Christ ascends to His Father in a cloud … the visible image of an invisible God. Jesus had broken visible fellowship with His disciples on earth, and entered His Heavenly home. BUT … 10 days later the Holy Spirit would come to indwell them. He didn’t leave them without His presence.
Just like it was a CLOUD that took Jesus home, it is also a CLOUD that will take US home. 1 Thess. 4:16-17 – all turn. The clouds we have seen here, reveals the glory of God. The only way we can go home to be with Jesus, is ONLY if we are accompanied by His glory. We have no glory of our own … we are only reflectors of His glory.
Whenever you look up into the sky, and you see a CLOUD, it should remind you of:
• The PROMISES of God … that He will never fail you.
• The GUIDANCE of God … that He will never lead you astray.
• The PROTECTION of God … that He is always there to give you victory over the Devil.
• The PROVISION of God … that He will provide all your needs.
• The GLORY of God … that He is to be seen in your life, reflecting His glory.
• The PRESENCE of God … that He will never leave nor forsake you, because of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
• The COMING of God … that Jesus will return in the clouds to take you home with Him.
Whenever the storm clouds darken your life … just remember that the light of God’s glory will always shine through. Let the clouds remind you of the presence of Christ!
STAND – PRAY