Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Devotional 290709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for another beautiful day in Burlingame. Many of our staff either on vacation or sick leave, the office is extremely quiet today. It is a perfect environment for meditation. Silence is gold only if you know how to enjoy the presence of God in it. It could be very noisy in silence; you would hear your own cravings or complains. But if you tune in to God, you will find yourself hearing the loving words of God through His gentle voice in silence. It is so soothing and sweet!

"Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen" (Revelation 1:7). In the Bible clouds are always connected with God. Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to block us from seeing the glory of God and contradict with the true nature of God. Nevertheless, it is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith. "The clouds are but the dust of our Father's feet." The clouds are a sign that He is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow and bereavement and suffering are the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near without clouds; He does not come in clear shining.

It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials: through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child - God and my own soul, other people are just shadows. Until other people become shadows, clouds and darkness will come to me from time to time. Is my relationship with God getting simpler than ever it has been?

There is a connection between the strange providences of 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. Unless we can look at the darkest or blackest fact full in the face without damaging God's character, we do not yet know Him.

In their experience of witnessing the Transfiguration of Jesus on the Mount, the disciples recalled, “While Peter was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them…they fell facedown to the ground, terrified” (Matt 17:5-6). The disciples were frightened as they entered the cloud. Is there anyone else still in your cloud than Jesus alone? If so, your cloud will get thicker; you must get to the place like the disciples had experienced, “When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus” (v. 8).

Indeed, through suffering and hardship we came to know God better. On a contrary, when life is smooth and prosperous, we tend to ignore His presence. Yes, we still maintain our religious habit of attending church or Christian activities. But our desire to seek His face gradually fades away. We careless of what He wants from us, or have anything to do with us. We basically just want Him to be out of our complacent living. Jesus becomes one of the many alternatives or attractions in our lives. Even during hardship or sufferings, some people may still be looking at different alternative to save themselves or to resolve their problems. They become more “spiritual” or conscious in prayer as a way to buy out hardship or exchange “favors” from God. They are not really interested in God, but their own desires or the people whom they care a lot. Their clouds getting thicker and they don’t understand why. “I have prayed but I am still in the rut or get stuck!” Until they see God in the rut, or else they will still get stuck. This is truly a spiritual reality in life.

Love you because of His providence,

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