The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all peoples see his glory.
- Psalm 97:1-6
The Lord reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
Great is the Lord in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.
- Psalm 99:1-3
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
- John 6:60-69
“A person who has not been born again by the Spirit of God will tell you that the teachings of Jesus are simple. But when he is baptized by the Holy Spirit, he finds that ‘clouds and darkness surround Him….’ When we come into close contact with the teachings of Jesus Christ we have our first realization of this. The only possible way to have full understanding of the teachings of Jesus is through the light of the Spirit of God shining inside us. If we have never had the experience of taking our casual, religious shoes off our casual, religious feet— getting rid of all the excessive informality with which we approach God— it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence. The people who are flippant and disrespectful in their approach to God are those who have never been introduced to Jesus Christ. Only after the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does, comes the impenetrable ‘darkness’ of realizing who He is.
“Jesus said, ‘The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life’ (John 6:63). Once, the Bible was just so many words to us — ‘clouds and darkness’— then, suddenly, the words become spirit and life because Jesus re-speaks them to us when our circumstances make the words new. That is the way God speaks to us; not by visions and dreams, but by words. When a man gets to God, it is by the most simple way— words.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (devotion for January 3)
In the low points of my life, I might wonder if Jesus had truly entered my heart, but then I realize that I would not have had my eyes opened to understand His great wonders (if only in part). Then I know.
I have heard so many people today that say they tried Jesus and He did nothing for them. In what way did they try? Did they demand a sign in order to believe? Did they demand worldly wealth, and the skies did not rain $100 bills into their lap? Did they ask God to heal them or someone else and nothing happened? Or did they simply ask God in their hearts for the weekend? There are too many wrong ways to do it. I said the salvation prayer hundreds of times, but God only changed my life when I surrendered unconditionally. Odd, I even prayed that I unconditionally surrendered, but God read my heart at the time and knew I was holding back. There is no right way to pray. There is only a right way for your heart to be to receive Him.
Then people argue that it is an exclusive club. You only understand after you totally surrender. Yes, a thousand times, yes, but anyone can surrender to God. Rich, poor, young, old. We just do not know how many breaths we have left.
But Rev. Chambers speaks of three stages. Without God, the things of God seem simple. My wife saw a video of a school board meeting in Pennsylvania. The place was packed with angry parents. The school allowed children to have a Christian club in the school, probably something like Youth for Christ, not connected to the school at all, but the angry crowd wanted to combat the Christian club with a Satan club. They really did not believe in Satan, but they wanted a club of thinkers and creative people. The angry crowd thought that Christianity was so simple that their children would become dull and unable to think if they joined the club.
But in truth, when you become a Christian, your eyes are opened to such a deeper truth, that God Himself appears in clouds and thick darkness. Not really. God reveals Himself, but only in little bits at a time. As we work past the first cloud or two, we see so many more clouds ahead. To grow in the faith, you must be a thinker with God giving us what we need to understand, and if you are creative, there could be no limit of how much of God can be revealed, for as a creative person, you can express what you have experienced.
But remember that no matter how much is revealed to you, God is infinite and none of us have grasped more than a bit of who God is.
But in the portion that we can comprehend, God is awesome indeed.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.