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Saturday, August 8, 2009

CLOUDS

"Behold He cometh with clouds…" Revelation 1:7
I want us to think about this one word "clouds." This may seem like a peculiar subject to some. Yet, I believe it is one that deserves our attention from the Word of God. In our text the Scriptures remind us that the Lord is going to return with "clouds." However, "clouds" also tell us many other stories from the Bible.

I. CLOUDS SPEAK OF CREATION

Since God made all things, we know that clouds are a part of His creation. God made clouds for a purpose. There is a purpose in all that He does. Clouds are the vessels He fills with water to send us rain. Without the clouds to carry us water to irrigate our lands, none of us could survive for very long. Ecclesiastes 11:3 says, "If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth." Yes, clouds carry out their duty in helping to provide our food and water as they are a part of God's creation.

II. CLOUDS SPEAK OF LIFE

I think clouds also speak of life. Have you ever noticed the many colors of clouds? Before a storm, they are dark and black. On a lazy summer afternoon, they may be white as snow. During a sunrise or a sunset, they turn many colors. Clouds come in many colors. Life also comes in many colors. One moment we may be on the mountain top of success and achievement, the next moment in the valley of failure and defeat. One moment the white clouds of joy, health, and happiness come our way, then without warning come the black clouds of sadness, sickness, and sorrow. Yes, the many colors of the clouds speak of the many extremities of life.

III. CLOUDS ALSO SPEAK OF GOD'S PROMISES

Thirdly, clouds also speak of God's promises. In the antediluvian period the world became marred and stained with sin, violence, and corruption. The Book of Genesis tells us that God saw the wickedness of man and decided to send judgment and destroy him from the face of the earth. But one man, Noah, found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He commanded Noah to build an ark which would save himself and his family when the flood came. Noah obeyed God! Noah believed in God's promises. God sent the flood as He had promised. God kept Noah and his family safe in the ark as He had promised. When the flood was over, and Noah and his family came out of the ark, God made another promise. He promised Noah that He would never destroy man with a flood again. God sealed this promise by placing a beautiful rainbow in the clouds and saying, "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth, that bow shall be seen in the cloud. And I will remember my covenant" (Genesis 9:13-15). Every time we look up at a rainbow arched across the clouds, we can be assured that God is keeping His promises. We are told by Dr. Lee Roberson that there are 32,000 promises in the Bible. We can be certain that God will faithfully carry them out.

IV. CLOUDS SPEAK OF FORGIVENESS

Clouds in the Bible, also speak of forgiveness. In Isaiah 44:22, God says, "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins." Did you ever think about this? The sun is the strongest force in the universe with all its light and heat. Yet, a thick cloud is able to blot out that light and heat and make it ineffective. On a dark and dreary day, I have often been traveling by plane; the jet would take off and in a few moments pass trough the thick layer of clouds. Then suddenly the sun would break through in all its brightness. The sun was there all the while. The only difference was the thick cloud between the sun and the earth. So it is with your sins. When you bring them to Christ they are blotted out as a THICK cloud. In Isaiah 1:18 the Lord says, "Come now, and let us reason together…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

V. CLOUDS SPEAK OF GUIDANCE

God's people were in bondage in Egypt. God had promised to deliver them. He appeared to Moses in a burning bush on the backside of the desert. He told Moses He wanted him to go bring His people out of bondage to a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses began to make excuses. But God said, "I will be with thee" (Exodus 3:12). Finally, God put a rod in Moses' hand and sent him to do the job. After the Lord had performed many miracles, sent many plagues, and instituted the first Passover, He instructed his people to begin the journey. Of course, Moses did not know what route to take, so God sent a pillar of clouds before them to show them the way. Exodus 13:21-22 tells us, "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them the way;…And He took not away the pillar of cloud…before the people." What does this tell us today? It tells us that God will lead His people. He doesn't lead today by a cloud, but by His Holy Spirit. When a person is born again, the Holy Spirit comes into the believer's heart to guide him in the way he should walk. Thus, what the cloud was to the Israelite in Moses' day, the Holy Spirit is to the believer today. When Jesus went away He promised to sent the Holy Spirit, and "When He is come, He will guide you in all truth" (John 16:13). As you and I travel the pathway of life, often we come to the crossroads. Which way shall we go? Which way is best? If we trust our own feelings and wisdom we will often go the wrong way. But Jesus said the Holy Spirit will teach us and guide us. As the Israelites were to follow the cloud, we need to follow His guidance.

VI. CLOUDS ALSO SPEAK OF CHRIST'S RETURN

After Christ arose from the grave, He appeared many times to the disciples. He finally met with them on the Mount of Olives, gave them the Great Commission, and while they looked on in amazement, He went to Heaven on the bosom of a cloud. Acts 1:9 says, "While they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight." His work on earth was finished. The plan of redemption had been completed. The way of salvation had been made. What a reception must have been awaiting Him in Heaven. The Scriptures also teach that as Jesus went away, He shall so come in like manner (Acts 1:11). I Thessalonians 4:17 tells us that all believers "shall be caught up together…in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Yes, Jesus will come again on a cloud.
Dr. W. Herschel Ford related the following incident:
John Knox, the great Scotch preacher, went away to minister in Southern Europe. The Scotch people were so anxious for him to return that they flooded him with letters, begging him to come back and preach for them. Finally the message came back to Scotland that Knox would soon return. The news was so glorious that everyone became a messenger. Every time one man met another, he would say in jubilant tones, "John Knox is coming, John Knox is coming."
Thank God I have another message for you today! JESUS IS COMING! Jesus is coming on a cloud! Let's get the message to others before it is too late. Many years ago a tourist was traveling along the shores of a lake located in Northern Italy. He came to a castle. He was greeted by a friendly old gardener who opened the gate and showed him the grounds, which the old man kept in perfect order. The tourist asked when the owner of the castle had last been there. "Twelve years ago," replied the gardener. "Does he ever write to you?" asked the tourist. "No," said the gardener. "From whom do you get your instructions?" asked the amazed tourist. "From his agent in Milan," answered the gardener. "Does he come?" said the tourist. "Never," was the quiet answer. "Who, then comes here?" said the tourist. "I am almost always alone; only once in a while a tourist comes." "But you keep the garden in such fine condition just as though you expect your master to come tomorrow," replied the tourist. The old gardener promptly replied, "Today, sir, today!"

JESUS IS COMING. He is coming in the clouds. He may come today. Are your prepared for His coming, as the gardener was prepared for his master's coming? If not, why not make that preparation now? Receive Him now. He will save you. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).