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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Look Up! Eight Ways to Rise Above the Clouds

By Ken Horn
Nov. 27, 2011

It was a blustery December day in Concord, Calif., when we took a family trip to the summit of Mount Diablo. We bundled up for the excursion and had little hope for much of a view.

But about halfway up the mountain, we emerged into sunlight. Diablo’s upper half offered a stunning view. From the summit, we looked down on the cloud deck that covered the valley below. It dawned on me that thousands down there were spending the day in dreariness, while the few of us who had ascended the mountain were enjoying sunshine.

You don’t have to be in outer space to see the sun on a dark day. You just have to be above the clouds.

The apostle Paul was clear that that is where a Christian’s mind should be focused: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2, NIV). In other words, look up!

Taking off in an aircraft and rising through the clouds on an inclement day can be turbulent. For the infrequent flier it can also be uncertain. Seasoned travelers know what to expect, yet even they can be uneasy. But it’s almost always better once you’ve gotten through. Going through the clouds can be the most disturbing part of a flight. But, if you’re ascending, you have the expectation of sunshine and peaceful skies above.

Those who are below it see only what is nearest the ground. The cloud deck shuts out the light to those beneath it. But above it the sun is shining.

Let’s look at eight biblical ways to rise above the clouds spiritually and put your life on a positive course.

1. Take care of business.

Get right with God. If you have unconfessed sin, confess it! First John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Then follow that with an intimate walk with God that includes daily contrition and repentance.

A.W. Tozer said: “We get our moral bearings by looking at God. We must begin with God. We are right when, and only when, we stand in a right position relative to God, and we are wrong so far and so long as we stand in any other position.”

Make sure you also get right with others. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23,24).

2. Quit the pity party.

As a child, didn’t you hate it when you were in a bad mood and your parents tried to make you laugh? I remember this as a kid — trying to hold it as long as I could, then unwillingly bursting out loud with laughter.

What must our pity parties look like to God? We probably look like small, pouting children, refusing to be consoled. How can you get your spirits up if you enjoy feeling sorry for yourself?

Instead, try to view your circumstances as God would. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2, NKJV). God will bring good out of them (Romans 8:28).

Having a hard time doing that? Then count your blessings. You have reasons to be joyful.

3. Get in your place.

“Lift yourself up by your own bootstraps” sounds good, but it’s not the biblical way of doing things. Your best chance of being up is starting low … before God. There is even a promise that goes with this. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (NIV).

This is not about reward but about partnership with God as part of His body. If we try to stand alone, Satan towers above us. But if we are in a humble place before God, He lifts us and eventually “crush[es] Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).

Jonathan Edwards said, “Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil’s reach as humility.”

4. Let go.

Consciously let go of things that drag you down. Loosen up. Make a decision to enjoy life. Let God take charge. Trust Him. Don’t worry (Philippians 4:6). Don’t judge others (Matthew 7:1). That’s God’s job. A judgmental spirit precludes a truly joyful one. And “lay aside every weight” (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV). Let God bear the weight of your past life. Satan delights in condemnation, but God delights in forgiveness (Romans 8:1). To whom should you listen?

5. Pursue God ?wholeheartedly.

It has been said that real enjoyment comes from being totally immersed in something. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23). Get wrapped up in Jesus. “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

A Christian should be excited about life! Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10, NIV). If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, believe in what you’re doing — living for God!

Learn to exalt Jesus as a regular part of your life (Psalm 149:5,6). A spirit of praise is a joyful spirit.

6. Have godly goals ?and dreams.

Many psychology-based self-help programs encourage people to dream big dreams — and rightly so. But the Christian outlook elevates this concept to a less-selfish (and more likely to be fulfilled) perspective. Let your dreams be God’s dreams for you. Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” John 15:7: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

Get to know the Giver and seek to do His will. Then set your sights high — for the will of God in your life.

7. Get rolling.

Do it now! Don’t wait until everything is in order. You may just wait all your life. Get “someday” out of your vocabulary. “The time is short” (1 Corinthians 7:29).

Think of what you might be missing. Don’t let life — God’s best for your life — pass you by.

Richard Baxter said, “You shall find this to be God’s usual course: not to give His children the taste of His delights till they begin to sweat in seeking after them.”

8. Keep your spirit full.

That Ephesians 5:18 instruction to “be filled with the Spirit” is literally “Be being filled with the Spirit.” It is intended to be a continuous experience, not a one-time event.

Fill your mind with the good things of God (Philippians 4:8). (Be aware of the bad but don’t dwell on it.) Put as much of God as you can into your everyday living. Read, listen and view things that are spiritually uplifting. Talk about the things of God. Be in church.

God wants our minds focused above spiritually. Life offers its own cloud decks — trials that seem to shut out the sun. You need courage and resolve to break through. In the cloud, to keep you from crashing into the side of a mountain instead of soaring above it, you need guidance (the Holy Spirit), confidence (faith in God), and communication (relationships with other believers).

Not every day will be sunny, but with God’s help, you can be triumphant regardless of the circumstances.

So … look up! And rise above the clouds.

KEN HORN is editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

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