I Kings 18:41-45 (NKJV) Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’” Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.
As I begin to share my heart today, I do so realizing to some this is going to sound crazy and farfetched. Perhaps, I look too intently to see My God in all things. The Word of God tells us that is how He planned it to be that all of creation would be evidence of His Glory. Everything created through His Son, Jesus for all mankind to see and know Him. It seems as of late that I have become quite sensitive to rain. The gathering of storm clouds on hot summer afternoons is nothing new. In fact, it is an annual occurrence for as many years as I can remember. Yet for some unknown reason when the clouds rise up a sense of awe and worship begins to collective in heart and soul. A need to cry out to the Lord, sing His Praise and invite His Presence closer. It can be in the car or even looking out the window at work. It doesn’t stop there. As the rain begins to fall so do the tears, not in sadness or depression as some feel in gloomy weather, but simply because I am overwhelmed by God’s Love in a tangible way. The rain makes me feel like He is falling all around me and saturating my life with His Presence and all those things that He gives in such a place. This is the natural workings around me.
I could stop right here and turn this thing around with a feel good story of some sort or relate the Lord to some personal experience or tangible object like this blog often does but not today. God is taking us deeper. He is stretching us farther. Out of ordinary circumstances and mediocre lives – see His Glory is coming. No, wait it is already here all around us. Today – Jesus wants to show us His Glory. I got a call this week from a friend from church. We do not speak on a daily basis. I knew when her name came up on the caller ID that something was up. We chatted for a few and then she said, “You are gonna think I am crazy…” I love it when fellow believers preface a conversation with those words because my faith makes me feel that way so many times. When the Lord does something or says something in or around me that is just too incredible for mere human beings to comprehend or accept. I promised that I would not so she told me her story.
I prayed for her daughter in church while she faithfully served in the nursery. We have a live feed so the serving saints of God can be a part of the service. As I lingered with her child, she felt her heart pressed to join us. As she opened the door to the sanctuary, she was met with a rushing wind and felt something heavy sweep over her. She look up and “saw” a cloud circling the top of the building. Quickly looking around to see if anyone could see what she could, it was clear she was the only one. She met us at the altar. I guess at some point I reached for her hand and she shared that she felt God’s Power rush through her. She knew what she was experiencing was of the Lord but could not comprehend if it what she saw was as real as what she felt. The Presence of God is real. It is real and thick in the atmosphere. It just so happened at that moment a group of people invited Heaven to come to earth. The same group of believers have been pressing God and praying for His Revival. Desiring the latter day rain, it is coming in the Cloud called Presence. Are we ready?
Elijah was a man of faith. His faith was real. It is was tangible. He believed God at His Word. So much so that Elijah based his attitude and actions on it not reliant on natural conditions or physical circumstances. When it was time for the drought to end and rain to come, Elijah saw it in the spirit. Prayed for it as a person. Instructed others to prepare for its arrival. Jesus is coming back. He is coming in the clouds. Are we surrounded by the very clouds that precipitate His Arrival? Can we see the rain coming? Can we hear His Approach? Are we prepared for the latter rain and outpouring that will come just before He gets here? If not, we definitely should be.
Revelation 1:4-8 (NKJV) Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
This is not about religion or the way of worship that you choose to practice in a building built by man and filled by people each week. It is not about the doctrine you have determined to be your way or the religious commitment to your church. This is about Jesus. The One who took on the form of a human being, lived a perfectly sinless life to be my example, who walked a way that I am to follow, loved unconditionally and died brutally for me. It is about the stone that rolled away just three days later revealing a stunning victory. It depicts a Savior not weak or wavering, but resolute in purpose who obtained my freedom and gave it back to me. That is what it is about. He is coming back. He is coming for me. Am I ready? Is my head in the clouds? My heart must be there, too.
The psalmist tell us that the Lord clouds surround the Lord. (Psalm 97:1-6) We know this to be true in watching the plight of the Israelites whose fear and faithlessness would not allow them to walk straight into their promise but would require years of wandering to find their way to God. All who left Egypt died in the wilderness but the ones born in freedom were the ones who claimed victory inhabiting the Promise of God. Exodus 40 says that the cloud accompanied God’s People throughout “all their journeys”. Before us, the cloud lights the path for the righteous. Behind us, it blocks the enemy’s advances in a covering of darkness.
This isn’t Old Testament fodder. Daniel saw the Lord in a cloud too. (Daniel 7:13-14) Ezekiel said, “Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” (Ezekiel 1:28) Is it possible that my friend saw the Glory of the Lord in our place of worship? Can it be that the Lord came in close enough for human eyes to see Him there? Have we seen so many clouds for so long that we lose sight of them? Not me. Not anymore.
The Lord is moving in closer. It sounds cliché as a Christian to say that Jesus is coming back. We have been threatening it for years. But what I am discovering is that as I see the Glory of the Lord drawing nearing as His Presence becomes more frequently tangible around me in the spirit that Jesus IS coming back! For now, we must open our eyes and see He is coming in closer than before. Am I a crazy Christian? You be the judge. Have I lost touch with reality? Yes, I believe that I have. I want the IMPOSSIBLE to be possible which only happens in the Presence of God. I want revival. Not just a service, but the kind of encounter with the Lord that sets captives totally free, delivering people from addiction, miraculously healing the sick and even raising the dead. I believe it can happen. I see a cloud. Though maybe not the overpowering reality that is coming, it is a revelation that shakes my awareness and causes me to examine my life.
Exodus 14:15-16 (NKJV) And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
The Egyptians agreed to let God’s People go…for the moment. The Israelites leave captivity being led by a cloud during the day and pillar of fire at night. Now God did not lead them straight to the Promised Land but because the Philistines (or opposition) laid between the people and their promise they would take a detour. Fear will lengthen our journey until faith arrives. Well, lo and behold the Red Sea is before them and the Egyptians who came to their senses are pursing them. The people who are faint in heart are complaining to Moses. He answers them with a powerful message of faithful encouragement to stand and God will deliver them.
But in reality Moses was crying out to the Lord because he wasn’t sure how to get out of this one. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Lord tells Moses “why do you cry to Me?” Tell them to go forward. To step out in faith. Put your money where your mouth is Moses. The most power part of this story comes next – “Lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.” I wonder if Moses had a meltdown right there. I mean he was not Charlton Heston in real life. There would not be fifty takes until he got it right. If the sea did not split wide open, they were goners. I would lie if I said that I don’t freak out over faith sometimes when God tells me one thing but everything in the natural makes it seem impossible. Well, we all know that the sea did open up to allow the Children of God through and become a watery grave for their enemies. Praise God!
Is the Lord asking you and me the same thing today? Why are you crying out to me? The same power that brought Jesus back from the dead now lives in me. It lives in you as a born again believer. It is like a cloud filled with rain about to burst. Moses was aware of God’s Presence in the clouds. He acknowledged Him and God kept bringing Him closer and closer to the cloud until He was in the cloud and moving deeper in God’s Presence. The rest of his life would be in the wilderness following the cloud. We have been given an opportunity to step into the cloud and live in His Presence experiencing His Glory. How do we get there from here?
Joel 2:1-3 (NKJV) Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them.
We usually skip down in Joel 2 to the part about the Lord pouring out His Spirit again in the last days. The clouds are stirring. The Glory of God and His Presence is circling the earth ready to do just that pour out His Spirit on us again. He has chosen His Army. Look in the mirror, friend it is you. He is in those clouds. They are filled with latter day rain. It is the day of the Lord. The remnant army has assembled with the faithful few willing to forsake religion and tradition striking out after God. With militant and committed obedience they are the Lord’s Army not an organized religion but those in radical relationships with Jesus Christ who will follow them without counting the cost but desperate to be with Him.
With this great uprising comes a need for heart ripping repentance dissecting who we think God is and deciding who we know Him to be. Revival requires a wholehearted passionate pursuit of Jesus with disregard for the world. It is fasting, weeping, mourning, repenting and repeating over and over again. It is time for us to put our money where our mouth is. The same power that brought Jesus back to life lives in us. Are we exercising its power? Are we executing godly authority on the earth? Refusing to live with conditions like poverty, sickness and disappointment – we look to the clouds and see Him coming. God is about to restore His People. It is coming in the latter day rain. His Abundance is attainable in His Presence. It is there for the asking. It is reachable. Are you reaching?
Joel 2:28-29 (NKJV) “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
The Lord wants to pour out His Spirit on all mankind. It is sprinkling in our midst. I see the droplets surfacing in many churches and in the midst of believers going after the Lord. The tiny cloud is getting bigger and bigger. Thunder and lightning announce His Approach. The earth is literally quaking under the pressure of His Perfection. This is not an exclusive call but a widespread offering. God’s Love is for you. His Grace is enough to overcome everything you think the Lord is holding against you. Religion does not dictate rules and regulations that is called doctrine to create order in their purpose and program. What about our relationship to God through Jesus Christ? This is the only way to answer the call. When we repent, Jesus offers us His Spirit. His Father wants to adopt us and saturate us in His Love. He wants to take us where He is. The rain is coming but it is the clouds that announce its arrival. The King is coming in those clouds.
Proverbs 16:15 (NKJV) In the light of the king’s face is life, And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.
Everything that I need is found in the Presence of God. His Favor is all I really need to live a prosperous life soul, mind and body. I didn’t wake up and believe it. I had to wander through a whole lot of wildernesses, live through several droughts, and fall into more pits then I care to recall. I have discovered that in the Presence of God there is an overwhelming love and grace like I have never known before.
So you think all this is kind of crazy, to see a swirling cloud in a closed up building or to feel electric power shoot through you in prayer. I know I used to feel the exact same way…crazy Christians. Until I was broken beyond repair, had sinned beyond saving, and wandered too far to come home. When I repented turning to find Him, Jesus was right there. He is with you. He is in every cloud you see. His Favor is each tiny droplet of rain covered in enough grace to get to the heart of things. Do not be afraid. Jesus is not coming to get you. He is coming for you.
When it rains, there is usually thunder and lightning that comes with it. People are afraid of the water in the rain but the storm-like conditions surrounding it. God is in control. This world is not out of control just spiraling toward destruction. Our Savior is coming to take us home. He is in those clouds that seem so foreboding. We have nothing to fear. We just need enough faith to see the cloud coming.
Matthew 26:64 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”